Intimidated by a successful man...what to do?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2014
Intimidated by a successful man...what to do?
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Sun, 01-05-2014 - 7:08pm

Hi... I am in serious need of advice.

I just started dating an exceptionally accomplished man.  He is wealthy, smart and articulate.  On top of it all, he is a really nice person.

Here is my issue.... even though I am a successful, professional woman, I feel SOOO intimidated by him.  It is plaguing me and making me question how I act and look, whether I am appropriate, rich enough, etc.  Please note... he knows that I do not have what he does and never makes a point to boast or anything of that nature.  Still, though, I feel inadequate and I hate the feeling.  I am never prone to low self esteem and, frankly, this is the first time that I have dated a man whom I actually admired.

Is it wrong to playfully tell him that I am intimidated by him?  I am looking for any way to put myself at ease.  I am hoping that he will respond with something that allows me some relief! 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-05-2010
Wed, 01-08-2014 - 4:54pm

Mahopac-

Sorry that I'm not politically correct enough for you. I'm just telling it like it is--what does and does not matter from a typical man's perspective. Women generally care more about their partners being successful at work than men do.

Men today are fine with women having careers, but it just isn't a make or break factor for us, unless the woman is say a movie star or Playboy Playmate.

Relevant factors for us men are:honesty, loyalty, compassion, intelligence, altruism, being reasonable and fair, having common values, having common interests--and of course, a woman's appearance and willingness and ability to satisfy in bed.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 01-08-2014 - 2:44pm

Maybe because I'm in the technology industry, the men I know (and mostly I know men) have successful, interesting wives with lives and careers of their own.  I know several whose wives are far better known than they are, and there are some very successful women in business whose husbands you've never heard of.  Can you name the husbands of the women who run Yahoo (Marissa Mayer), HP (Meg Whitman) or IBM (Ginni Rometti)?  I can't, but if you ask me who runs those companies, I sure can tell you.  Sheryl Sandberg's husband is successful in his own right, but he's not a household name.  Then again he wasn't chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Larry Summers at the age of 27, like Sandberg (oh, and her *mother* is a PhD - so much for women having careers being some new thing).

Granted, I'm not in the dating world, so I don't have your perspective, and you know we agree on most things.  But I'm as offended by the statement that the only reason a man I'd date would care that I have my own career would be that he's thinking, "Oh jolly good, she has her own company, that will keep her pretty little head occupied while I go about my Big, Important Business until I'm ready to have sex with her" as I am by the idea that every woman out there is looking for a man to provide financial stability for her because she can't do it herself. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 01-08-2014 - 11:42am

Unfortunately mahopac, a lot of men think that way.  I don't think Trenner is misogynistic (from reading his other posts) but men aren't very impressed by successful women--of course you see people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who go for successful women but how many (famous) successful men do you know who are the opposite?  We have a very successful businessman/sports team owner here whose wife died a couple of years ago.  She was a well known philanthropist and very respected in the community.  His current GF is a much much younger attractive blonde "aspiring actress"--in other words, has no career so she's free to travel with him.  she might be very nice and for all the public knows, smart as well, but it just seems so strange a pairing.  As a lawyer I have found that (at least on OLD) I either attract men in lower class circumstances where I suspect they assume that I have a lot more money than I do--for guys who have equal education and are professionals, they are very rarely interested--from what i've seen, in general the middle aged man goes way more for looks rather than intelligence or accomplishments--and yes I know it's a stereotype but I have a lot of single women friends who would back me up on this.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Tue, 01-07-2014 - 4:48pm
Trenner2, that's one of the most anachronistic posts I've read. "It's only a recent phenomenon for women to have careers" - ?! "He is just glad you aren't a golddigger" - ?! "Keep yourself constructively occupied when he is busy with his work" - ?! "As long as he is happy with you in bed" - ?! What century are you living in?
Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997

When I was in my very early 20s, I casually dated a man about 13 years older than me, an Ivy League-educated PhD.  He invited me to meet up for drinks with his younger brother and his brother's girlfriend, both of whom were Ivy League MBA students, at a hotel in NYC that was at the time the epitome of Old New York luxury.  I had gone to a public university and had a huge chip on my shoulder about it, and me, being "good enough."  I'm sure my insecurities made me a less-than-charming date for the occasion.  Later, when I mentioned to my date that I found his brother & the girlfriend intimidating because I had only gone to a public university, he shrugged and said, "They didn't think that was an issue.  The only person who has a problem with that is you."  To him, there was no disparity; he'd invited me because he thought I would enjoy the evening.  It was one of those young-adult "aha" moments I have never forgotten.

Less than four years later, a man I worked with who was in his 50s - a confident, gregarious, well-liked man with a big happy family - told me he found *me* intimidating, because I had gotten *my* MBA and had ambitious career hopes.  You never know when the person you meet may find you to be a bit surprising!

I think if you're secure enough, it's OK to admit when you're intimidated by someone.  Not, of course, in an accusatory manner of "You're not making me feel comfortable," nor in a snide manner of "I wouldn't know about that type of travel because I make so much less than you."  But I think it's OK to make a playful point - just once - about how he's the first person who ever made you feel like maybe you yourself could be even more successful, or that you are challenged by him, or whatever.  But just once.  It would be a drag for him to feel like this was hanging over your relationship.  This is really about you, not him, and going on about it would be fairly ungracious.

BTW my business partner is far more successful financially than I am, and has been since I've known him.  I happily let him pay for our Friday on-the-way-home beer. :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Mon, 01-06-2014 - 10:44am

What is the opposite of "successful"?  Failure!  Do you consider yourself a "failure"?  You're also successful in what YOU do, and who you are.  It sounds like the real difference between the two of you is your perceived deficiency in "wealth".  I'm sure if he's all you say he is, that he could care LESS about that.  The only people that worry about money are the ones who don't have any.

I was in a relationship with a man who was wealthy, and I was supporting 3 kids on minimum wage.  I didn't realize in the beginning how wealthy he was, and we got along beautifully.  Then one day he invited me to his Country Club! I'd read about the place, it was where the movers and shakers in my big city congregated. I made up an excuse why I couldn't go, and continued to make excuese every time he asked me. There was no way I could "compete" with rich people with designer clothes, or hand over my old Chevvy to a valet who was used to parking Mercedes & Rolls.  He figured out what my problem was, and insisted that I come for dinner one Sunday.  I was still ashamed of my old car.....but when I got inside, the people were so nice to me I couldn't believe it.  I guess they "assumed" that I was one of them because I was THERE.  Most wealthy people do NOT judge others on their income......they look more for personality, manners, and behavior, and if it fits their standards, you're IN! 

He enjoys your company.......he doesn't CARE about your income!  You have no reason to feel intimidated by him, his friends or his money.  As the old saying goes, they all put their pants on the same as you, one leg at a time.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 01-06-2014 - 10:25am

It has been my experience that men who are very successful rarely care that their girlfriend is equally successfull--I don't think it's as important to a man.  I think it's more important that you can get along, maybe are attractive, etc.--maybe he likes being admired.  Instead of telling him that you are intimidated, you can ask him questions and get him to talk aobut himself and how he became successful--I'm sure he'd like that you want to find out about him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2013
Mon, 01-06-2014 - 12:56am
Absolutely Alex, if he is dating you then do not think that he is doing a favor to you.He is with you because he finds you beautiful, amazing and some body with whom he is comfortable. So think about yourself in these lines.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2014
Mon, 01-06-2014 - 12:35am
Trenner2, I very much appreciate hearing a man's perspective! I feel much more at ease and will not create worries for myself. Thank you!
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2014
Mon, 01-06-2014 - 12:33am
Thank you... your response makes me feel so much better. I will also take your advice regarding not telling him that I am intimidated. I need to work on it so that I am simply NOT intimidated. Thanks again!

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