High Achieving Women and Relationships
I’m just reading a book by Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D. called Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. This is her doctoral research on the unique challenges high-achieving women are currently facing.
Part of her research also touches on these 100 high-achieving women, she interviewed and their intimte relationships, specifically their ’selection criteria.’ for relationships, which I believe spells good news for both men and women.
From the interviews with women she identified to be high-achievers, she found three factors that played into their choices of partners:
1. As the women in her study became more financially successful on their own, their need for a man to provide this security became less important.
2. The younger the women were (in their late 20′s and early 30′s), the more value they put on the personality of men than on financial worth and social stature.
3. The older the women were (in their late 30′s through early 50′s), the more they described the importance of life experience in their selection. They choose men that provided emotional support, household help, and physical attraction. While financial contribution was important, it didn’t matter who made more money than the other.
She found that these women were using four factors to select their mates:
- Kindness and patience have moved up the list of desirable traits in men. Many of the women in her research said their partners had strength of character, strong values and spoke their mind with ease. They weren’t “wimps”, in other words, but they just didn’t have the need to be the boss and have the final say.
These women want the chance to go after their career goals. When they come home, they have a partner who is their cheerleader and “knight” – as opposed to their “king”. Their partner is someone who offers support and never asks her to change her workload for him. These men aren’t ‘domestic’, ‘weak’ or ‘dependent’, rather they show emotional depth, compassion and strength.
Though these women have been brought up to believe that they need a man who also had advanced or professional degrees, they find that their choices become fewer the more degrees they have. What many also have found is that these men tend not to be their match as much as their intellectual competition.
What they value more is a mate who has an open mind, who is curious, enjoys learning, likes to debate but doesn’t have to win, and has his life experiences that form the base of his knowledge.
- While physical attraction may vary from relationship to relationship, sexual satisfaction whether it is attached to a strong physical attraction or not was deemed important to the health of a relationship.
- For a long-term relationship, the key for these women was to regularly discuss and agree on expectations and to commit to sharing both the responsibilities of making money and managing the home. When picking a mate, while a stable income wass important, equality important was the ability to change and even give up on beliefs about traditional roles in relationship.
There are many healthy relationships, Marcia Reynolds reminds us, with female breadwinners while the man has his own ambitions and drive.
In summary, her research shows that as women become more financially established, they look more for emotional than for financial support from their partners.
Relationship success comes from the ‘inside-out’. For both men and women, it means letting go of old paradigms or models of relationships. It means letting go of outdated stereotypes of relationships. It’s means knowing and owning who YOU are and figuring out what it’s really all about for YOU. And while it’s not always easy to do, due to the unspoken but powerful messages all around us about relationships, – it is totally possible
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No longer do you have to choose success in life OR success in relationships – you can have it all!