‘My man is intimidated by my success – how do I make my relationship work?’

(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)
(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)

I have been seeing my man for over a year and I earn more than him. We live separately but my place is in an area which is much better than his. I drive a luxury car while he drives a lovely small car.

I sometimes get the feeling that he is threatened and intimidated by my success. When I want to do something lovely for us as a couple, he will pass nasty comments. He is almost everything I have ever wanted in a man but I can see he is jealous of my success. I don’t know what to do but walking away is the last thing I want. How do I deal with a  man who is intimidated by me? CONCERNED LOVER

Expert advice

Being with a man that’s jealous of your career progress is quite a test for a relationship. This is more so as the relationship tends to land on the unpredictable hot and cold zone. You may even be reluctant to share positive developments in your life, as you’re having to nurse his insecurities and low self-esteem, and perhaps end up having to choose to keep exciting news to yourself rather than share them with him. You almost feel you have to be apologetic of your blessings, especially in his company.

HELPLESS ACT

That is not sustainable in the long run. You cannot walk on egg shells where your romantic partner is concerned, especially on important milestones of your life. You deserve much better. On a superficial level, a great number of relationships are generally made up of needy, “helpless” women and strong, overly-protective men. For a brief time, this dynamic works great for the guy because his masculinity is founded in his ability to provide, solve problems and save the day. He thrives in an environment where he is her hero Until he’s not. This helpless act excites a man initially but it rarely lasts. And that’s a story for another day.

MALE EGO

You are not one of those ‘helpless’ women and that is a good thing. You milk all the advantages and opportunities that come your way for your own good. Although this can’t possibly be your problem, your success and stability adds to what’s making your man feel inadequate, small, and unworthy of you. However, it’s not the reason. It just magnifies it.

The roots of his intimidation, jealousy, low self-esteem and insecurities go far beyond your time together. He needs to deal with all that himself. Of course, your help would go a long way. However, there’s an element of good about the pride he seems to still have left in his male ego, especially the understanding that he should be the provider.

If things went his way, chances are that he’d be quite a responsible man and not mind to let the whole world know about it. The opposite extreme is a man who will ride on your success, and parasitically suck you dry. And there’s plenty of those kind around.

While you need to celebrate your success, try and not put too much importance on status symbols, and what you do. Men are especially vulnerable to status pressures because in a traditional sense, they are supposed to be the providers.

SENSE OF MASCULINITY

 Every day he sees himself as not ‘successful’, every day he is not needed, every day he is not the provider further chips away at his sense of masculinity and consequently his self-esteem. Rather emphasise on the quality of your relationship and who you are. Furthermore, elevate how loving, emotionally supportive and respectful he is towards you over the material stuff he’s unable to afford compared to you. This is why it’s important to appreciate your man for the things he does as positive contribution to the relationship.

SOMEONE SECURE

When you’re at a restaurant for instance, let him pay the bill. Encourage him to take initiatives where he will take the responsibility without exposing his inadequate income capacity. When you go out, let him come fetch you and together drive with his car instead of yours. This way he will experience his true value and the feeling of being needed on a regular basis.

Let him know how much he means to you. With trust and appreciation, women have the unique ability to help build a man back up. Having said that, you need someone secure in himself enough to handle your success. Someone who will be your cheerleader to spur you onto even higher heights.

It’s not going to be in your best interest to have a boyfriend you have to walk on egg shells around and can’t celebrate good things that come your way. At some point, should this persist unbearably, you may have to rethink your relationship altogether.