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**This article is written with an assumption of heteronormativity, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t keen on hearing about other sexualities also!**

‘He’s just intimidated by you.’ It’s probably one of the most overused phrases in the context of mainstream, heterosexual dating, and in my opinion, it reinforces a pretty insidious gender myth.

It’s a standard response by well-meaning friends to many a bizarre break-up story, or a tale of being ignored, dumped, or treated badly by a man who you were certain really liked you, but who for some reason… didn’t.

And it’s an easy response to swallow – I know that I would much rather have someone dump me because they were intimidated by my brilliance rather than being underwhelmed by my normalcy.

The idea that men are intimidated by successful women has been around since Bridget Jones first cracked open a diary, and is largely a response to third-wave feminism and the anti-feminist fear that women will ‘take’ men’s jobs, their role in society and their very manhood if given the chance.

It’s based on the notion that men find it emasculating to be confronted by a woman who earns as much or more than they do; who has a high profile or important job; who is not tied down by notions of gender roles; and who is as independent and self-directed as they are.

In the first flushes of feminism way back when Mary Wollstonecraft first suggested that all women be allowed to have an education, I’m sure many a man balked at the idea. If women suddenly started learning and working, who would cook their meals, tend to their children, do their housework?

If women earned their own money, how would families continue to work as a social unit? How would the genders be differentiated? It must have seemed like total madness!

As time has moved on though, and we’ve progressed to the point we’re at today (where women may still get paid less, but we did also have a female Prime Minister, so some things have definitely come a long way), I would argue that the idea of men being intimidated by successful women is no longer quite as potent as it may have been.

If anything, what is ‘intimidating’ about successful women is the fact that the qualities needed to be successful are traditionally associated with masculine behaviour. For example, women who are ambitious or have strong leadership qualities are often called ‘ballsy’, or even ‘ballbusters’. Traits like ambition, confidence, strength, agility, and leadership are all associated with ‘male’ more than ‘female’ on our collective cultural perceptions of normal gendered behaviour.

However, these gendered assumptions are changing rapidly, and a quick poll of male friends has me believing that men aren’t quite as intimidated by successful women as we might like to believe.  Most seemed perturbed that this is even being discussed as an issue.

In fact, I think that these days, intimidation is a dating myth that was initially based on fact, but now just exists to excuse really poor behaviour.

In the rhetoric that we use to talk about dating and comfort our friends through what is often a cut throat world of romance and relationships, saying that a guy is ‘intimidated by you’ is just a shield from stating the obvious – that he may not have been invested enough to care about you, or to want to be with you.

Ultimately, if a guy wants to date you, he will respect your abilities and intelligence, and will admire and love your success. If he’s intimidated by you, and dumps you as a result, he’s probably a bit of a jerk anyway.

In the end, maybe it’s better to just put all your cards on the table, and find someone who suits your actual lifestyle – career, success and all. Maybe we should turn to tailored professional online dating sites, to make the job easier for us all!

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