Mike: This is Mike Hennessy. And on behalf of the team of LoveEvolveAndThrive.com, I’d like to welcome you to today’s interview with Dr. Duana Welch. Duana Welch earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Florida Gainesville. She is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do as well as the popular relationship blog called Love Science, which addresses advice on how the public can benefit from empirical scientific research about successful relationships. To learn more about Dr. Duana Welch, visit her website at www.LoveScienceMedia.com.
Duana Welch, welcome! We’ve got a great topic for you today and I’m looking forward to hearing your input.
Dr. Duana Welch: Well, thank you Mike. I’m really excited about it too.
Mike: One of the frequent questions that we hear from strong, successful and independent career women is that they are struggling in their love lives when they have everything going for them in their professional lives.
Many of these women tell us they feel that they’re physically attractive, have high confidence and they’re financially independent and they believe they’re a high value woman who men should find naturally attractive.
Is this because that some women believe men are intimidated by strong, smart and successful career women and do these women have unrealistic expectations or is there a scarcity of the type of men these women would desire?
Maybe you can share some practical shifts that these women can make to see better results in their love lives.
Dr. Duana Welch: Yeah. I really identify with this question.
Mike: I thought you might.
Dr. Duana Welch: Yeah. You’ve interviewed me often enough that at this point you and probably not a few of your listeners will recall that I was single in my 30s and I had a PhD and it’s funny. My own husband dated a woman just before me who apparently was a rocket scientist, literally a rocket scientist and then got bored with that. So she became a brain surgeon.
So – and he has a bachelor’s degree in part – he did part of the work toward a master’s degree and he found her intimidating. I guess that set him up to not find me intimidating since I only had a PhD in “psychology”.
But I remember feeling very much as many of these women who have been writing to you feel. I felt like – you know, hey, what’s wrong with me? Why are some men put off? You would think that having something on the ball financially and being reasonably good-looking and accomplished would be a plus.
So I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news,
I’m going to give you the bad news first. The bad news first is that yes, studies show that while men who have accomplished a lot the mating market opens up more and more widely for them, they have more and more options, women who have accomplished a lot find that the market actually narrows and that is true.
But at the same time, I want you to understand very clearly I am not saying this in order to make you feel bad about your accomplishments or any of you women who are on your way to accomplishment. I don’t want you to hobble yourselves or to be bitter and resentful because that’s not well-founded.
Here’s what we know for sure.
Men are much more likely to be willing to marry down when it comes to achievement than women are. So part of what’s going on is that a lot of the women are insisting on a man who has at least their level of accomplishment including financial and academic accomplishment whereas men are not insisting on that.
So one thing that’s happening is that a lot of you super achievers out there who are female are actually cutting a lot of really good candidates out of your mating pool because you’re insisting on someone who matches you so evenly.
As I’ve said in other podcasts, I would like you to construe that a little more broadly and think about men in terms of, “Do they capture interest? Can they support themselves? If you got ill or had a child, could they support you for a while?”
But don’t necessarily insist on a man who has more degrees or the exact same level of education or if you are quite well-off, you’re financially independent and your survival is assured, is it really necessary to have a man who meets you on that same level?
It’s really not necessary. It’s something you want but you want that because of your inherited mating psychology. You want that because in the ancient past, women were in such dire need of male provision or protection. If you can already provide for and protect yourself, that unconscious drive may actually cut you out of the mating pool.
So for those of you who are looking for more than just a wonderful mate, you’re looking for someone who has some demographics that you really don’t need, I would encourage you to loosen up on those a little bit.
So yes, a lot of men were married down. Very few women are willing to do the same. We also know that since women value provision or protection, there are also men who are intimidated by you super achieving women out there. There are men who think well, if she settles for me, she won’t stay with me. I’ve heard men who are with women who are becoming ever more successful express verbally.
Well, I’m worried that if her career really takes off, she will find somebody who’s better for her or she will have more options. They’re worried about being abandoned, kind of how women worry when we start to lose our looks. A lot of us worry about that same thing because men value fertility and fidelity and they can tell fertility through how we look.
So we’re valuing the two Ps, provision and protection.
Men know that. Again a lot of this is not conscious but we’re emotionally hooked into that. So yes, there are men who feel intimidated. So they married down both because they’re willing to do that. But part of the reason they’re willing to do that is that – that gives them more assurance that a woman will actually stay with them. So here’s the silver lining in that kind of dark cloud.
We know from studies that men with low self-confidence are intimidated by women who have a lot going on in the world of work, who have a lot of financial freedom.
However, studies also indicate that men who have high self-confidence, who have a lot of self-assurance actually prefer a woman who matches them.
So I’ve had clients who told me, you know, I’m in my 60s and I’m very financially successful. I don’t need anybody else’s money and I have this thriving career. I’m at the top of my game and I just want to enjoy the view with someone else now. But I think that all those someone-elses already have a wife. They already have a girlfriend. They’re not going to want me.
My response to that is, you know, for the men who lack a lot of self-confidence, you’re right. You’re right. But for the men who have a lot of self-confidence, it turns out they really are looking for someone like you. They’re hoping you’re not going to settle for a man who doesn’t match what you need. These clients I’m thinking of have actually achieved a good match. They’ve achieved a very solid match and they’re very happily matched with someone else.
Vick and I are another example. We don’t have the same exact educational match. But we have a match in the sense that we feel we are well-married. We feel that we’re very compatible and that we’re very happy we’re together. We just came back from a weekend of hiking and we held hands all the way back home and we’re talking about how lucky we feel to be together and be able to do these kinds of things together.
So when I’m talking with you about possibly marrying someone who doesn’t have an exact match on education or income or something like that, that’s if you don’t need it and that’s not asking you to settle for someone. It’s asking you to find someone where you feel great about them and stop focusing so much on a demographic that may not make sense. I hope that makes sense to you all.
So back to the question of, “Are these men really scarce?”
Well, yes and no. I mean if you’re willing to construe success more broadly, then they’re not so scarce. However, they are more scarce in the sense that you’re looking for someone really self-confident.
But again women who have really achieved a lot, you’re usually really self-confident. So that’s a fair match. So if you’ve worked really hard to put yourself in the upper third on any dimension, then you’re looking for people in that upper third. Your search is probably going to be more diligent. It might take a little longer than other people’s. Then again it might not. I’ve had clients who found it right off.
But either way, what I’m saying to you is I want you to be yourself.
I remember years and years ago when I was dating my daughter’s father and I guess it was the very first date. We got married about a year after that.
He asked me if I found that I ever played dumb to try to attract someone. Now he was getting a PhD in chemistry. So he was assuming that I was showcasing my real self for his benefit because he was really accomplished.
But in point of fact folks, I’ve always done myself. There is no sense in trying to be someone else. There’s just no sense in it. Who are you going to wind up with then? Someone who wants somebody who’s not you. It’s going to be fake. It’s not going to work out. So you’ve got to be yourself even if the people who match you are few and far between because those are the people who are your real mating pool and they want you.
So what can you do in terms of making some practical shifts?
Well, first of all, I want you to shift your mindset away from scarcity. I can’t tell you how many people tell me at my blog, through email and in client meetings that, “Well, there just aren’t any people like me.” Yes, there are. If there’s one of you, I promise you none of us are that unique. We all have not just one soul mate out there. We have multiple, multiple options. Your job is to nurture an abundance mentality and to go out there and make it where you stand a chance to meet these folks online, in person, through arrangements like telling your friends and family what you’re looking for and let them set you up.
But you need to shift your mindset toward greater abundance, understanding that if you have these qualities, others have these qualities too and that what it will take is your continued application, your continued effort toward finding one of these matches. It just takes one and the good news is there’s a lot more than one out there. You just have to meet one of them. The men you want really do want someone like you. I have these guys as clients. I can tell you that they want you.
Second of all, women a lot of times, what got you to be a super achiever is that when you see a situation, you’re not passive about it. You go for it. That works great in the world of work. The world of work demands it. It does not work great for heterosexual women in dating. There is something called hard to get. I get frequent hate mail because a lot of people don’t like that I write about this. But remember my writing is all from a scientific basis. Don’t shoot the messenger. I didn’t create human nature. I just write about it.
Folks, men and women do not have the same mating psychology.
We have vastly different mating psychologies. This has been found in every culture in the world that has ever been studied and there is really something to women who show their status not just by their amount of achievement but by being high status enough to hang back while the man pursues her, to wait a day or so to return a call or to wait several hours to return a text message, to let him initiate stuff rather than her initiating stuff.
It’s really interesting. I had a client meeting very recently. A client told me I could share this where she has made such a shift in such a short time from pursuing men, offering to pay for the dates, inviting them to meet her family and friends before he has said anything about meeting his, et cetera, et cetera.
She has made such a shift towards being less available, being super friendly. She’s not going to date somebody if she doesn’t like him. So she’s going to show that she’s friendly. She’s going to say, “Wow, I had a great time.” She’s going to say, “I’m enjoying getting to know you.” She’s not going to be coy or cold. But at the same time, she’s not leading the mating dance.
Instead what she’s doing is staying open to dating others right up until she has met someone who convinces her that she should stop looking.
That simple shift in mindset has taken the super achieving woman from a series of men who expected her to cater to them and who never treated her right, to an abundance of options now where she is carefully considering among several men who are sincerely interested in her and are as successful as she is in every way. They’re kind, respectful, wonderful people and her big crisis is how does she pick one and let the others down gently. That’s the situation that I want you to be in. I want you to have an abundance mentality where you step back and realize your worth and you wait for someone who can see that worth to approach you.
Yes, you have to put yourself out there to be approached. But once you’re approached, you let him come closer instead of you chasing him down. Go ahead and chase things down in the world of work. The human mating dance, your part of the dance is to follow more slowly than he would like while keeping your options open elsewhere until you’re really settled on someone who is already settled on you and it will happen. Hang in there.
Mike: Duana Welch, thank you so much. As always, good words of advice and a good optimistic outlook for people who listen to our programs.
Dr. Duana Welch: Yeah, thank you very much. It’s always a pleasure.
Mike Hennessy: Well, thank you so much, Duana Welch. I think there’s a lot of good advice in a very short period of time. This is Mike Hennessy and on behalf of the team at LoveEvolveandThrive.com, I would like to welcome you to today’s interview with Dr. Duana Welch.
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