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Why High Powered Women Struggle with Love

Why High Powered Women Struggle with Love

In the Greek myths, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite enter a contest of beauty and select the young handsome mortal man Paris to judge which of them is the most beautiful. To sway him, each goddess offers him a gift.

Hera offers to make him a king of Europe and Asia, Athena offers wisdom and skill in war, and Aphrodite offers him the most beautiful women in the world. Paris choses Aphrodite, the goddess of love, to be the most beautiful of them all. He seeks love from his companion.

Many of my clients are highly-accomplished women in all other areas of their lives, but when it comes to love, they seem to come up against a wall. Living in New York City, I see many women state the odds are stacked against them in finding love, but the real reason behind her challenges in love lie in the very qualities that made her so successful at work. Here are a few reasons why highly accomplished women have a hard time finding and keeping love.

She is used to taking charge.

I am not espousing that women should feign helplessness to be more attractive to men, but quite the opposite. It is not the that you are not capable of taking care of yourself; rather, it's more about allowing someone to take care of you to make them feel good, worthy, and strong.

Allowing someone to show chivalry with simple acts like opening the door, walking on the side of path closer to traffic, and lending their coat not only makes you feel cared for, but lets your partner feel strong for providing protection and consideration.

In love and courtship, there is a constant exchange of bids — bids for affection, bids for worthiness, bids for sex, bids for understanding, bids for forgiveness. A chivalrous gesture is a bid to demonstrate worthiness. What you may mindlessly do as an act of independence may be in fact rejecting a bid to prove worth.

[Related: Dating While Feminist: Finding and Cultivating Allies]

She is independent and has yet to appreciate and acquire the virtue of interdependence.

The successful woman is financially independent and highly self-sufficient, and this enables her more freedom to walk away when things don’t go her way. She is used to taking on her share and more, which allows her to be in control of her life.

Giving up independence to move toward interdependence is uncomfortable for her, because this makes her feel like she is losing control. Layer this with past hurts and defense mechanisms, and this makes a perfect cocktail for continued “sovereignty” and control at the price of solitude and loneliness. She hides her fear of becoming vulnerable behind independence.

Letting go of control, taking a chance, and becoming vulnerable are exactly what is needed to nurture an intimate relationship.

She is goal-oriented.

Being goal-oriented, she is likely to be action- and solution-oriented. This often leads to living in a state of constant urgency. Her to-do list is always on her mind. She often can’t fall asleep, because her mind is going a million miles a minute.

Healthy relationships require presence, and presence requires a state of being, not doing. Goal oriented type-A personality types have a hard time even understanding the concept of being, as their lives are full of do, do, do!

[Related: 3 Women Tell Us Why They Did – Or Didn’t – Get a Prenup]

She is highly mental and analytical.

I meet many professional women who are so completely disconnected from their body that they are incapable of feeling sensual. Needless to say, this makes intimacy challenging.

The other downfall of high intelligence is that she mistakenly believes knowing something is sufficient. She can read and understand detailed instructions on how to swim, she can even imagine herself doing the motions, yet without the direct experience of her body immersed in water, she will never learn how to swim.

Knowing and mentally understanding something and being able to embody and live that knowledge are two completely different things. Knowing that compassion and vulnerability are important for an intimate relationship and then having the courage and resolve to practice are separate steps of the equation.

She is highly disciplined with rigid routines.

Discipline and routines have allowed her to pack as much as she does in a day. In fact, when she is not able to stick to her routine, she feels guilty and lazy. But this kind of rigidity does not allow for spontaneity, serendipity, and surprise. How much room can she allow for chance and flow?

Combined with her to-do list and perfectionist standards, there is no room for a relationship. I have noticed that many of my clients hold the subconscious belief that they can’t have success and love, and if this is what they believe, this will indeed be their reality.

Now this paints a pretty grim picture of romance for the type-A motivated professional woman, but there is a silver lining. Because she is so motivated to grow and evolve, she does not make excuses or hesitate when she perceives a problem, and she responds very quickly to guidance.

The only true obstacle for her is becoming aware that her old patterns are not serving her and that she needs to find an alternative path and have the humility and courage to reach out for help.

[Related: Sometimes the Best Option is One You Didn't Plan For]


Suki Sohn is the CEO and founder of InnerMBA. She runs workshops throughout in NYC on various leadership topics for women.

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