Are men really intimidated by successful women?
Published 02/04/2015 | 02:30
It's a truth universally acknowledged that when presented with a woman who's smart, talented, beautiful and sexy, a single man would want to ask her for a date. Right? Well, maybe not, according to actress Gillian Anderson.
Anderson claims men aren't brave enough to ask her out. Is she on to something?
The 46-year-old single mother of three, and star of The X Files, The Fall and Great Expectations among others, appears to believe that the men she encounters aren't courageous enough to propose going out together.
"I've got a fantastic life," she told the Daily Telegraph last week. "I have a wonderful relationship with my kids, and there's nothing lacking, but I'm leaning towards the idea that it's time for somebody to be brave enough to ask me out."
This isn't a gender issue for the star; she admits she's been the one to ask men out on dates in the past.
But she admits that she'd like her next relationship to be with 'The One' - and hints that in order to be that special someone, they'd have to be doing the asking.
Anderson also implies with her choices of words that men are intimidated by her, and it begs the age old question when it comes to dating: are men really put off by success, fame or strong women?
"For men who are secure in themselves, the short answer is no," says Bernatte Ryan, a counsellor with Relationships Ireland.
"Both men and women enjoy the meeting of like-minded intellectual souls. Insecure men may be a different matter. We live in a patriarchal society where the masculine is revered, and many men grow up with a sense of entitlement and may react negatively when they don't get it."
Anderson is an actress in her mid-forties, and one might assume that the men she meets could be scarred by experience, and therefore a tad less confident and more reluctant to approach such a fabulous woman. That's perhaps understandable, albeit limiting.
But unfortunately for women in powerful positions, due to success or fame, insecure men seem to be an issue at any age, with even twenty-something stars worrying about intimidating the men they're interested in.
Taylor Swift has spoken out about how few men approach her. She told Rolling Stone magazine last year "Seventy percent of the time, when a guy asks me out, it'll just be a random e-mail."
She's also said in the past that while she doesn't automatically expect men to be intimidated by her celebrity, she's not surprised when they are either.
"It's not like I would look at a guy and say, 'Hey, are you intimidated by me?' I think that would be highly uncool on my part! I tend not to be the one to start conversations with guys, anyway... I assume that if someone is interested in me they will come up and talk to me - and if they want to call me up afterwards, then they will."
All About That Bass pop star Meghan Trainor declared she gets less attention because men are "intiimidated and terrified" by her recent success.
Actress Emma Watson has also found that men are unlikely pursue her, despite her obvious desirability. In 2011 she said "I say to my friends, 'Why hasn't X called me? Why doesn't anyone ever pursue me?' They're like, 'Probably because they're intimidated'. It must be the fame wall... the circus that goes around me. Me, as a person, I find it hard to believe I would be intimidating."
And while she didn't put it down to being intimidating, even gorgeous Irish star Saoirse Ronan admitted this week that she found it as hard as anyone else to get a date with a nice guy.
Perhaps this why the rich and famous tend to stick together, rather than dating us mere mortals? "I suppose we are all at fault of being somewhat in awe of fame," agrees Bernadette. "It does seem that the famous hang out with the famous perhaps because they are more comfortable with all the trappings involved."
However, this isn't a problem limited to Hollywood celebrities. In my own experience, I've had many female friends complain that men don't ask them out because they're put off by their job, hobbies or assets.
One close friend travels a lot for work, and has had men tell her they couldn't deal with that. Another drives a very nice car and owns her own home, and one guy told her he couldn't ask her out until he was at least on her level. Why the preoccupation with matching up, lads? Haven't women been dating more powerful and wealthy men for centuries without being intimidated?
Model Holly Carpenter has been single for several months since splitting with rugby international Cian Healy. Yet she finds that things have been quiet on the dating scene.
"Whenever I say to my mum 'I didn't get chatted up once last night', she'll always tell me it's because men are probably intimidated. As it's coming from my mum I've always just thought that she's only saying it! I'm friends with a lot of models though and it seems to be the same for them.
"I don't want to tar all men with the same brush, but I think they can be really intimidated by successful or well known women. I think they sometimes feel like they don't stand a chance with the likes of models or celebrities so they don't even try to approach them out of fear of rejection."
For Holly, she doesn't find it too much of a problem because she's no problem chatting to men herself. "What does bother me is when [men] say 'wow you're actually pretty sound and you seem smart?' as if they're shocked that I'm not a bimbo with my head up my bum! But I guess we're all guilty of judging a book by it's cover."
Irish model and rising pop star Nadia Forde recently made headlines for saying she thought men were scared of her since her turn on I'm A Celebrity.
"I don't really get asked out. It's not something I focus on. I think because I get asked in interviews all the time about a love life it's probably the only reason it's come to my attention. I don't really agree that men are intimidated by women because a lot of my guy friends really admire a girl who has ambition and a work ethic."
So all hope is not lost for strong, successful women, it seems - particularly those who are woman enough to approach a man themselves. But what about a sudden power imbalance in an already established relationship?
"There can always be unconscious power struggles in relationships," explains Bernadette. "Just as this is played out in the male power dominated couple, so too can it be played out the other way. Both men and women need to remember that they are not their career....it is a part of them and not all of them. Career and success is usually reflective of our persona and not our true self.
"We need to take the persona off at home and be ourselves."
That seems like good advice across the board, for single ladies as well as those in a couple. When on the dating scene, either in real life or online, it's best to give an overview of your entire life and personality, rather than focusing on one aspect of it. The women who are instantly recognisable as being well-known are few and far between - for the vast majority, it's about presenting a well balanced impression of yourself.
Bernadette insists we mustn't bring our professional persona in to our private lives.
"If I am always aware that I have a big high-powered job perhaps I project my feelings of superiority on to others?"
However, she's firm in her beliefs that an insecure person is the one with the problem, not the successful one. "If a man is truly intimidated by a woman's success, he perhaps not the right partner for her.
"I think it all boils down to security. People who are secure in themselves accept others as they are. Those who are insecure often try to change others to suit themselves.
"Success or no success, woman or man, if someone does not accept you for who you are it may be time for a rethink!"