I’m a pretty ambitious person. I have a Pinterest “Inspiration” board that’s filled with quotes about chasing your dreams and persevering in the face of despair. I practice what I post: “I write. I travel. I try to change the world.” So I’m used to having my share of jealous people who’d rather waste their energy discrediting my success than creating some of their own. I’ve witnessed my fair share of frenemies and fairweather friends, but one thing I can never seem to get used to is dating men that seemed to resent my success.
Whenever I landed a dream job or got a promotion, the first person I always wanted to share my happiness with is the person I laid my head next to every night. But I can’t get over the number of guys I’ve dated who as soon as I had some good news to share, met me with dismissal as they casually reminded me of their annual salary or made a comment downplaying how my success was pure luck, because it couldn’t possibly be through any skill of my own.
I understand men thrive off of competition and ego. In fact in the study, Gender Differences in Implicit Self-Esteem Following a Romantic Partner’s Success or Failure, showed that when the women examined experienced a certain level of social, financial or academic success, the self-esteem of their male partners almost always plummeted. Ironically, when their male partner experienced any kind of success, women’s self-esteem was usually unaffected.
With so many strangers waiting to sabotage you in this rat race of life, the last person I want to compete against is my own teammate. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there are days when Barack looks at Michelle like, “I just revolutionized the state of healthcare as we know it and you’re on the front page news because of your ‘State of the Union Style’?”. But if a man is emasculated because his right hand compliments his “fly”, that sounds like a personal problem to me. Here are 11 signs your biggest hater might be your boo:
He belittles your accomplishments.
I hate when men assume that if you’re not doing manual labor, you don’t deserve to be tired after working all day. I once dated a guy who couldn’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that teaching and office work are mentally intense tasks and can sometimes take even more out of you than driving forklifts and lifting heavy objects. Life isn’t automatically harder because you can pee standing up. If your man has this mentality, he’s got a lot of growing up to do.
He focuses on everything you still need to do.
When it comes to my writing, every new contract I signed or publication I was featured in, there was some guy who suddenly became my personal assistant, “That’s great and all but you should really work on putting yourself on a schedule, pitching to other publications and creating your own brand.” I could never understand why we couldn’t take 5 minutes just to enjoy my journey and say, “Good job, kid.” When a man is extremely insecure, instead of congratulating you he has to take you down a notch by reminding you he knows more and you need him in order to get to that next step.
He makes everything about him.
I have a friend I’ve been close with since high school, but as our lives have taken different paths, I’ve found that I’m only able to take him in small doses. That’s because every time I call him and share any small success, he will talk for a half hour non-stop about all the big plans he has, business meetings he has scheduled and potential clients he may score. Someone who truly supports you will allow you to have your moment and be able to honestly share in your happiness. Life and love aren’t a checkers game and no one should be keeping score.
He reminds you (and everyone else) how relevant he is to your success.
I never miss an opportunity to thank that same high school friend from earlier for all of the late night rides to campus and flat tires he drove two hours to change when I finally got my own car. But if you have him tell it, he deserves credit for anything I ever achieve in my career although it’s been almost 5 years since I was an undergrad. Driving me to school doesn’t mean your name should be on my degree too because frankly, he wasn’t with me in the library typing up term papers. A resentful man will hold the smallest favors over your head forever.
He focuses on only the things that can go wrong with your goals.
As optimistic as I am, sometimes I truly believe I will ride a unicorn over a rainbow right to my dreams, so the truth is I need some realists around me on the regular to keep me grounded. But pessimism isn’t the same as realism and if a man is constantly reminding you about everything that can go wrong with a dream and never uplifting you in the right direction, it might be because secretly he doesn’t want it to work out for you.
He dismisses your attempts to teach/advise him.
If a man can teach me about fuel distribution in an engine and how to fix a leaky drain, there is no reason I can’t show him a thing or two about varying his vocabulary and how to properly write a thank you note. But time and time again, I’ve been told that those type of things aren’t important skills to have all because a man didn’t believe there was nothing to be learned from a woman. It’s never a sign of support if a man allows his ego to keep him ignorant.
He feels the need to remind you of your “role”.
When a man doesn’t feel threatened by a woman’s success, he’s fine with her being more than a big butt and smile on his arm when he’s with his friends. If he just wants you to shut up and look sexy, then it’s clear he doesn’t truly want someone who’s his equal.
He never seems to be on your side.
A true partner will ride for you, even when you’re in the wrong (before privately reminding you that you really need to check yourself later). But if you come home complaining about lazy bosses and conniving co-workers and he jumps on their side before you can even slide out your stilettos, it may very well be you on your own against the world.
Your accomplishments become the culprit to unrelated problems in the relationship.
Some people use any minor disagreement as a reason to bring up everything at fault within the relationship. If an argument over who forgot to pay the cable bill suddenly becomes about your salary and you being too busy with work, it could be because there’s been some simmering animosity all along that you weren’t aware of. Your success/happiness isn’t to blame for someone’s own insecurity.
He makes major decisions without your input.
When a man feels threatened by your success, he may use any opportunity to prove that he has some authority in the relationship. He might decide that he wants to get a new car with an expensive note or put a down payment on a trip without asking you if you can take time off all in an attempt to prove anything you can do he can do better.
He uses your achievements opportunistically.
If he isn’t downplaying your accomplishments he’s highlighting them only when he has something to benefit. I had to explain countless times to an ex that it didn’t matter how much he bragged about me to friends and family, if he wasn’t telling me how proud he was I didn’t feel supported. True support means highlighting all the good things about your partner whether it makes him look good or not.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.