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It can be hard for a powerful woman to hold onto a relationship. Possibly harder than it is for a powerful man to. I think that’s just a testament to the fact that perhaps men aren’t becoming progressive at quite the rate we thought they were. Sure, you have some men who are happy to be the support system, to stand behind their woman and help motivate and inspire her (and help make dinner and do laundry because she doesn’t have time to). You have some men who are like that, but I don’t think you have many.

 

No matter how much men say they love powerful women, I ultimately believe that, deep down, most men would feel most comfortable always being at least a bit more successful than their female counterparts. Do they admire a woman with some hustle? A woman with drive, dreams, and ambition? Absolutely! But maybe so long as those dreams or that ambition doesn’t surpass their own.

 

Even the men who I believe are quite progressive and truly admire their ambitious wives will make comments that make it clear to me there is still this stigma there for them. “Well, I guess I’m the wife,” they’ll joke, because their partners make more money than them. They aren’t necessarily upset about it, but, still, that joke exists—it’s that idea that the person who is making less money should naturally be the woman. So, if a man is less successful than his female partner, he starts cracking those jokes about being the stay at home mom in the relationship. Why can’t he just be the…man? Who happens to make less money? Centuries of misogynistic messages can be hard for men to shake off. Here are reasons (very dumb ones) that men often leave powerful women.

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Fear she’ll leave first

Sometimes, they just leave for fear that, if they didn’t, their partner would leave them first, anyways. If a woman is powerful and successful, she is likely surrounded by men who are, too, which can leave their partners at home feeling insecure. Their partners can start to believe, “My wife must compare me to those guys she works with, and they must look so much better.”

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Even though we love our support system

The deeply sad thing is that, so often, powerful women don’t even for a second compare their partners to their successful colleagues. But if they do, it’s only to say, “Wow, my colleagues make sh*tty husbands. I’m so lucky to have a partner who supports me and spends time with me.”

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We can’t be there all of the time

Powerful women can’t be home for dinner at 6pm every night. They can’t be at their sister-in-law’s baby shower every weekend, or family game night with her husband and his parents on Sunday evenings. She might need to work late, or she may even be traveling for work. So that “normal life” may not be an option, and some men don’t like that.

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Even though, we don’t ask them to be

Funny enough, women who are with powerful men very much expect that they won’t get a totally normal life. They are grateful when their partners can make it home for dinner some evenings a week, and can attend a few “normal” activities each month. They don’t fixate on every dinner they eat alone, the way men with powerful women might.

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Their ego is hurt

The male ego can be quite fragile. Don’t let all of that huffing and puffing fool you. It’d odd and sad because, when a woman’s male partner becomes successful, she doesn’t start to look inward and say, “Uh oh. This makes me look bad.” No way! She’s typically just proud of her partner. But in the reverse situation, the man can think his partner’s success makes him look bad.

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Someone else will stroke it

Of course, there is always someone else around who is willing to stroke the fragile ego of a man who feels embarrassed by having a powerful partner. There is always some younger, less-ambitious, less, well, admirable woman who is so impressed by the guy’s…100 pushups? Sneakers collection? Who knows. But so, those men may cheat with those women.

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If they can’t provide, they feel useless

For men, feeling like the providers for their families is a very big thing. Some men don’t realize how much they need to be the financial provider, until they are not, and then they feel like they don’t even know who they are. It can be hard for men to realize that they still offer plenty to the relationship, even if it’s not money.

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Which is antiquated and misogynistic

Truly, that’s quite the antiquated ideology—that if a man doesn’t provide resources (aka money, food, shelter) he has nothing to offer. Nobody feels that way of a woman. A woman can make less, and people see what she brings to the table in the relationship—like the love and support.

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Her attention is pulled in a million directions

Naturally, if a woman is extremely successful, her attention is pulled in a dozen directions. She always has phone calls and emails coming in. Life demands a lot of her. Her partner cannot have her attention all of the time. Date night may be interrupted by a quick work call.

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Though women are used to that from men

Of course, women are so used to having to share their partner’s attentions with his career. I’ve always understood that my partner may need to work for a few hours when we are on vacation, and that, when he gets home at night, he may have to say, “I need to finish some things on my laptop for an hour before we hang out.” I don’t feel abandoned. But men do.

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They want a SAHM

Some men just want a stay at home mom in a partner. They always envisioned a partner who would eventually give up working, to be a mother. Even if they get involved with a woman who has a career, ultimately, they believed she’d quit all of that when kids came along. Or, in some cases, men don’t even want a stay at home mom, but a kept woman who just waits at home for them.

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Not a mom who can pay a nanny

Ironically, a successful woman can provide for her kids in many ways—if that’s what her partner was looking for. A successful mom can pay for childcare, and for things like ballet lessons and that expensive prep school. But, to the chauvinistic man, that’s not what it’s about—he wants his partner in the trenches with the diapers.

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The trophy husband jokes

I mentioned earlier how some men will show their hand by making these jokes—saying they’re the “trophy husbands” (or even “trophy wives”) because their partners make more than them. But, sometimes, it’s not the men themselves that make these jokes, but everyone around them. Their friends and colleagues can tease them like this.

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Which only hurt if they’re true

For the record, those jokes should only hurt if they’re true. In other words, look, if a guy really is just mooching, spending all day going to the gym, playing video games, and not working then, sure, he’s a trophy husband. And those jokes will hurt. But that’s his own fault. A man who is out there hustling shouldn’t be hurt by these jokes.

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They’re motivated to do more

Sometimes, having a successful wife motivates a man to work harder and go after his dreams, too. She can be a source of inspiration—that fire he needed under his a**. That would seem like a good thing—something he may thank his partner for—but, it only bites the woman in the butt because…

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So they become too busy

Men aren’t nearly as good at time management as women are. So the second a woman’s partner decides to hustle harder, he’ll go seriously MIA and never be around for dinners or date nights. While women can do a decent job of juggling it all, men really can’t.

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