I have heard the idea that successful women may be less attractive to men during a couple of webinars by completely different dating and relationship experts this week. To be honest, even questioning whether that is true makes me cringe, but unfortunately there seems to be a grain of truth in it.
After women struggled for so many years to get the vote, the right to work and then equal pay, we still have a long way to go it seems. In many industries, we are still battling to break through the glass ceiling and when we get there, what happens? We turn men off, they say!
What is going on?
Well, in essence, to reach the top of our game or even to get on well, we usually have to demonstrate characteristics that are largely seen as masculine – courage, determination, single-mindedness, strength – you might call it “balls” – and we sometimes have to demonstrate these qualities to a greater degree than any guy doing the same job.
The more typically feminine characteristics, that are particularly attractive to men, like softness, caring, community and compromise are seen as less valuable – even weak. These sides to our personality tend to get hidden away to some degree and probably don’t make an appearance at all at the top of some professions.
And so when we go to work, we tend to put on our work persona along with our power clothes. (Just don’t even think of wearing a floral dress because you couldn’t possibly look like you had a brain and could do your job in that could you?) And we switch on our masculine characteristics, if we want to get ahead.
To be fair, and just to be clear, it’s not really the fault of big companies valuing more traditionally masculine characteristics over feminine ones. Even running our own businesses, we need a gutsy personality to get on, albeit we can leave room for a few more caring attributes than we might show in a major company.
In any case, most of us looking to do well in our careers, don’t go to work to attract men over the photocopier. It’s what happens after-hours that counts.
And there’s the problem. The go-getting personality that succeeds at work, often translates into someone who gets on well in her home life too. Go-getters manage their finances. They buy their own homes. They kit them out to look great or, at least, comfortable. They organize their lives. They are efficient. They are effective and nothing can stop them.
But what happened there? They may have a lot of friends, but, it looks like they don’t need anyone to share their lives or their home. They have got it all together. They are proud to be self-sufficient. They protect their vulnerability from the world and develop a bit of a hard shell. They are successful, but, if they don’t already have a partner, who sees another side to them, an efficient, effective home can be a lonely place.
So what’s to be done?
You can, of course, choose to do nothing. There’s no reason to change if you are happy in your life as you are and it works for you. I’m not saying that you need a man to be happy. It’s not true at all. Just don’t kid yourself that you’re happy alone, if you are not.
If you want to attract a partner, then something has to change and I don’t mean you need to leave your home in a mess or stop balancing your bank account. There’s no need for anyone to pretend to be someone she is not to attract a man. That kind of thinking takes us back half a century.
You see, I don’t for one minute think that guys are actually turned off by success. If he’s lacking in self-confidence, he might care whether you earn more than he does, but it won’t usually have him running for cover.
On the other hand, if you have built up a hard wall of success around yourself, a guy might be a little intimidated by someone who has it all so much together that there’s no room for him. The hard edge you developed to protect yourself is effective at shutting him out.
You just need to be open to showing the more vulnerable, softer side of you that you have suppressed in order to keep things together and running so smoothly. You can do this by
How You Dress
Wear softer more feminine clothes away from work. You don’t have to go for a dramatic change into pink or ruffles or floral fabrics (though they are OK too) but look for less structure in your leisure clothes, softer fabrics, and show a little more flesh than you might at the office. (Be subtle – a couple of undone buttons rather than aggressively flashing a whole lot of cleavage.) Wear more skirts and dresses too. If you like this more feminine look you may find you can make some subtle changes to your work attire too and look more approachable (though no less efficient) during office hours.
Caring For Yourself
Get in touch with your body by caring for yourself with things like massage, manicures and facial treatments. You deserve to be pampered. Beauty treatments are not just a way of making sure you look groomed for work, which is how you might have seen them before. Take the time to enjoy the whole pampering experience. See them as part of the joy of being female not as an appointment to be scheduled.
Bringing Out Your Inner Flirt
If you hold down a very serious responsible job, you can do this as soon as you leave the office by being open and charming to everyone you come across – not just men. Don’t have professional cares constantly running through your brain with a scowl on your face as you charge about getting stuff done. Instead, be aware of people you meet and what might make them feel better. Have a smile and a cheery greeting for the doorman, the receptionist, the bartender. The more open you are to others, the happier you will be and the more likely you are to attract someone into your life, when you are not even looking.
Talking To Men
Take the inner flirt a bit further and start talking to any man you see out and about at places like the coffee shop or the store – as long as he is not busy doing something with his mind elsewhere (like with his nose in the newspaper). It doesn’t matter if he engages with you or not after you single him out – all you need to do is make eye contact and smile and ask him a simple question. You’ll probably make his day anyway and that can’t be a bad thing. This is great practice at being vulnerable and cracking open your shell with no harm done. Just don’t take it personally if he doesn’t respond – he may be gay, married, have things on his mind. It’s no reflection on you – you’re just practicing opening up!
The more you practice getting in touch with your feminine side in your personal life, the more attractive you will be to men. You don’t need to be any less successful than you are, you just need to find the feminine you that you keep locked away inside.