Book Excerpt: Are Some Men Not Interested in “Career Women”?

Book Excerpt: Single without Kids, But Not By Choice | Corporette Are men not interested in career women?  I’m thrilled to introduce Melanie Notkin, founder of the site Savvy Auntie, and author of the new book, Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of HappinessShe describes the book this way: “Otherhood is the story of so many women of my generation, the daughters of the modern feminist movement, who expected to have the social, economic and political equality our mothers didn’t have, and surely the husband and children they did. But many of us remain single and/or childless as our fertile years wane.” She shared an excerpt with Corporette: 

Jared, a divorced dad friend of mine, asked me to set him up. I acquiesced immediately; he’s a nice-looking man, early forties, works in commercial real estate. I was sure he’d be a good match for one of my friends, so I asked him what he was looking for. He prefers tall brunettes, he told me, and someone, he added, who is “down-to-earth.” This remark was curious to me. What did “down-to-earth” mean? Did he want someone who’s charitable? Someone who wasn’t materialistic? Someone who was sincere?

“I mean,” he explained when I pressed, “I don’t want someone with a fancy career like, you know, a doctor, a lawyer, or like a PR person. I want a teacher or social worker type.” Oh, I thought immediately. He wants someone who won’t threaten him. “Fancy careers” were only for men, it seemed. It begged the question: Are so-called career women really not interested in men, as is so often presumed, or are some men simply not interested in “career women”?

Joanna is thirty-eight, never married. She tells me she’s recently had a career change. “When I was thirty-two, I was on the partner path,” she explains, “but I was working day and night and rarely dated. It’s not that I didn’t want to date, but the men I met weren’t accommodating of my schedule. They’d get frustrated if I had to break a dinner date because I was still at work at 9:00 PM, implying I was trying to prove myself, or that I didn’t care about the relationship. Worse, some men weren’t interested in dating me, simply because I was a corporate attorney. How was I supposed to know when I went to law school that my biggest battle would be proving that I’m just a girl who wants to be a married mom? I knew that if I wanted to get married and be a mom, something had to give.”

At thirty-two, Joanna gave up her career path and took a job in legal marketing at the same firm. The partners were disappointed in her, telling the want-to-be bride that she was being groomed to become a partner one day and that she was giving up too much. They would have understood if she were a new mother, but the male partners could not understand why she, as a single woman, would take a step down.

“It was more like ten steps down!” Joanna exclaimed. “I gave up more than 50 percent of my annual income and settled into my new role. But the men I met were still not satisfied. I couldn’t find a man who challenged me the way my work used to. I missed being an attorney, and I was envious, watching my colleagues move up to bigger cases. But I held steadfast to my decision. I truly believed I was making the right choice. So here I am at thirty-eight, almost thirty-nine, still single, still not a mom.”

Joanna made the decision last month to get back onto the partner track at the firm. “If I’m going to be alone, which I still hope I won’t be, at least I’ll have a big apartment and a walk-in closet to show for it! You know, Melanie, they talk about ‘having it all,’ but when it came to my career, I had it all, and I gave it up to have all the other stuff, too. So now I’m back to having it all right now.”

Excerpted from Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness, by Melanie Notkin. With permission from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2014.

Readers: Does this excerpt ring true for you? Have you ever dated a guy who seemed intimidated by your career, or one who didn’t understand the demands of your job?  Does the concept of  the “Otherhood” demographic make sense to you?


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  1. Seriously? We get this message all over the place and now we get it here too? Career women aren’t “woman” enough for a man? How about be who you want to be and find someone who appreciates you for that – man or woman. I mean seriously, this is absurd. Personally, I would classify men who didn’t want a “doctor/lawyer” type woman the same way that I would classify one who said “no fat chicks” – an immature jerk.

    • First Year Anon :

      I don’t see why you are frustrated by this post- I don’t see the author as agreeing that this is how it “should” be, I think the point is to discuss if other women have felt the same way and what we do to get around the stereotype or not. Maybe I’m missing something?

      Jerks or not, I think this is way more prevalent than I ever thought it would be. I’ve dated many men who couldn’t handle my success- and I don’t even cancel dates for work often, if ever. My schedule is pretty decent, but I get the little comments here and there that make me feel “bad” about my career, and make me feel like they want to bring me down to their level of success, instead of being happy for mine.

    • Baconpancakes :

      It’s really tempting to classify men who don’t want a high-powered-career woman as jerks, but honestly, I don’t want a high-powered-career man as a husband, either. I want to be with someone who will be able to take vacations with me, be home for dinner most nights, and be an equal partner in raising our children. The problem is why he doesn’t want the doctors/lawyers. Is it because he wants to be the “important” one in the relationship? Yes, that’s a jerk. Is it because he knows he’s going to be dedicated to his career and needs someone willing to put their career second? Not a jerk, but maybe not someone I’m interested in. Is it because he wants to be able to be an equal partner with a woman who shares his interests and also has free time to go rock climbing on Saturday instead of going back to the office? Definitely not a jerk.

      But the guy who doesn’t want a woman with “fancy careers” sounds like he’s probably a jerk.

      • First Year Anon :


        What I was thinking, but did not put it as well as you did.

      • +1 to this line of thinking. Trying to juggle two demanding careers may not be the right choice for some relationships and that is ok. I think the anecdote is presented in a pretty slanted way. Maybe he wants to have freedom to take vacation or wants someone who can equally partner in day to day responsibilities like picking up the kids from school. That’s going to be harder with a partner who travels 5 days a week for work or works crazy hours(lawyer/consultant) or has a constantly rotating call schedule (doctors). Certainly not all doctors and lawyers have those lives, but some do.

        • +1 to Baconpancakes and mascot. I’ve had both experiences – formerly married to a corporate lawyer with equally demanding job that translated into hours apart and, now, long term relationship with producer who has a busy schedule but much more flexibility and, essentially, “fun time.” With the former, I tried to maintain my career *and* play Donna Reed. (I should have anticipated that he needed that – because his mom and sister were SAH moms, and this was modeled for him — whereas my mom was a working mom, and my dad, despite his career, never shirked packing a school lunch.) It didn’t work. I was exhausted and miserable, and he regularly chastised me for looking “tired.” (Having two jobs will do that to you.) (Note to engaged readers: seriously evaluate the environment in which he was reared and assess actions, not words, when it comes to those expectations.)

          The latter relationship is worlds better. I didn’t seek out someone with a less demanding schedule (though I did swear off attorneys), but when it happened and was really good, I acknowledged this contributed to its success. I enjoy his availability for me – for vacations, soft-openings, museum nights, etc. He enjoys hearing about my job without taking it on as competition. I actually enjoy cooking but do it far less often, because he is an excellent cook and has time to make the regular farmers’ market stop. I can’t bash a guy for expressing (if poorly phrased) that he wants the same flexibility and support from a partner that I enjoy.

      • This is the most insightful comment on this. It checks your gut reaction and makes you think twice. Thanks.

        • I agree completely. I was instantly turned off reading the post, but once I read Baconpancake’s comment, I realized it was entirely true.

      • But plenty of lawyers and doctors have perfectly reasonable hours. Not everyone is in Big Law. If he had said “I want someone who’s home for dinner” or “I want someone who’s not always running around and never home,” that’s a different thing; singling out “successful people” professions seems like a different thing. I mean, you don’t want a high-powered career man, but would you tell someone fixing you up that you didn’t want to be fixed up with a doctor or a lawyer and wanted a teacher or a social worker instead? Hard to imagine a woman saying that.

        • Thank you. This is a better version of what I was trying to say.

          A teacher, someone who has long hours and has to bring their work home with them, is okay but a woman with a “career” is somehow off limits. Yuck.

          • Borderline offended by the topic.

            Teachers and social workers have “careers” too!

          • I’m not L, but I think that’s partly her point–frustration with the guys who want “teachers and nurses” because they have stereotyped those jobs as nurturing, cushy non-careers that allow a woman plenty of free time and flexibility to offramp to serve her man, and signal that she possesses the demeanor to want to do that. Whereas female lawyers and doctors (traditional male professions) are just cold, aggressive, and won’t be there to make him a good sandwich on call (the latter may be true, but it’s also true of teachers and nurses).

          • My mother was a teacher who worked incredibly long hours. However, her career was flexible in that she was able to take 10 years off to raise her children and then get back on track without penalty. This is more difficult for attorneys.

        • Anonymous :

          As a physician myself, I don’t know a single full-time physician with “perfectly reasonable hours.” In fact, we are trained to have perfectly UNreasonable hours.

          • Shoplifter :

            I was going to say the same about lawyers. I don’t know any low-powered lawyers. If that’s a career path, please tell me how to get on it.

            Let’s stop pretending everyone outside Biglaw doesn’t work hard/long hours.

          • I’m a lawyer and I work reasonable hours. I mean, I won’t say that I never have to work on a weekend or anything, but so did my teacher mother; overall, I probably work less hours than she did.

          • Another lawyer with reasonable hours. I’m generally in the office from 8-4. I often work in the evenings and occasionally on weekends, but it’s from the comfort of my own home.

          • Anonymous :

            Mo, if you have to take work home and work in the evenings and on weekends – that doesn’t sound like reasonable hours at all.

          • @Anonymous

            On average, I work for an hour at home a few times a week and 1-5 hours on the weekend (usually on the lower end) about once a month. That’s approximately the equivalent of an 8-5 job, which is reasonable to me, but ymmv. Most of the teachers I know work those hours or longer!

          • Seriously, if men think dating a teacher means she’ll never take work home, they are sadly mistaken.

          • I’m a lawyer with reasonable hours working in a practice area that I love, for an attorney I admire and respect. I work PT, 3 days per week, 9-4. If I have to work another day, its at my own discretion and I’m paid for it. I can change my schedule to accommodate my needs and the needs of my family. If I take time off, I don’t get paid for it, but I also don’t have billable hours that need to be met. How do I manage to have this dreamy job? I have a husband with a “high powered career” and my salary pretty much covers our childcare costs; I would not be able to support myself with this gig. And I’m not sure it’s sustainable long term, but for now (we have little ones at home) it works great.

        • I agree. Men SAY they want women to be smart, but they are SCARED of smart women! That’s how come I, an attorney at law, DULY admited to the State Bar of NY State, can NOT get a decent man to MARRY me! Yes, they want to be seen with me, and date me but it is JUST for the purpose of haveing SEX with me. After that, they do NOT want to comit, let alone get MARRIED and have CHILDREN, which is all that I want. I do NOT want an imiature JERK who just want’s to be huffeing and puffeing on top of me then rolling over and makeing a mess on my Egyptioan Cotton Sheet’s. That is ALL ALAN EVER DID. And I was a jerk for letting him! FOOEY!

          So now I am thinking that mabye Butch will be different, but I will NOT let him do anything in bed until I am SURE. I hope I am doeing the right thing. DOUBEL FOOEY!

        • It’s definitely one thing to say you prefer a dumb partner, than to say you prefer a family-oriented person. One of those is insulting, the other one is not. I think motivation is everything when considering why a man would not want a career-minded woman. Some woman have gone to such an extreme for their careers, excusing selfishness, ignoring the important people in their lives, and idolizing that corner office- IMO that would NOT make a good marriage partner.

          • But he didn’t say he wanted a family focused person, he said he wanted someone with a job like specific examples he gave. That leaves it pretty open to speculation about what he was trying to get when he said he wanted a teacher or a social worker, and what he thinks a person with those jobs would be to him.

    • I wish I could edit to say, this is more my reaction to the story. Granted yes, it was her choice to do these things, in hoping she’d “find a man”. I don’t know it just doesn’t sit well with me.

      It’s fine for people to approach their relationship and think about what they want out of life. But by categorically denying to date someone who is X profession, you’re not automatically ruling out partners who don’t have high stress jobs, will have work life balance. In my mind it still stinks of bias.

  2. I notice this in my medicine/academic world to a degree. I saw quite a few pairings of doctors while still in medical school/graduate schools, where partners were more apparent “equals” in terms of career path. Usually one of the pair (usually the woman), however, eventually went into a more flexible/part time career path… or at least, one not as competitive. Several of my scientist women friends even work in collaboration with their husbands. This is potentially very risky though.

    But there was also a large group of men in medical school that grew dramatically to the majority (while in residency and post training) that absolutely did not want a woman doctor as a partner. Woman nurse, social worker, technician… fine.. absolutely. So by the time you are an attending woman/professor in a medical/sciences department, the pickings are few and far between. So you need to be motivated and look outside of your work setting (my preference anyway!), but this is very challenging when you want a demanding medical/academic career and are living at work.

    Sometimes I think….. I can’t blame them…. most days, I wish I had a “wife” too! You know what I mean….

    • In academics, I too saw most of my male colleagues doing one or the other of two things that Carrie described above. 1) Get a partner in grad school who is on the same track, but she will then put her career after his once they’re committed and done with school, meaning they are never professional equals again; 2) Have a much less ambitious partner from the get-go who is happy to move anywhere based on his job options and will likely stay home with the kids.

      • My husband is a new professor that just finished his Doctorate and started a consulting business on the side. We laugh that he has the much more flexible schedule than me. He’s the one who can take our cat to vet appointments and run errands during the middle of the day. I’m six years his junior so I currently make less than him, but I’m mostly likely going to be out-earning him in just a few years. Professors don’t tend to be high-earning unless they go into B schools.

      • Amelia Bedelia :

        the thing is, there are women who make the same choice. My husband is a physician and he took a step back from his career a few years ago to support my career. I work far more hours than he does. He takes on the lion’s share of the home-life work. And he stepped back from a prominent director position at a hospital to do it. Now we are having kids and he is going part-time to be the primary caretaker. I don’t think it makes me a “jerk” because I want a husband who is willing to put his career on hold to support mine. I think it makes us two adults who discussed priorities and made a decision. He knew from day one that I would not go part-time or leave partner track. He knew from day one that I wanted a more “supportive” partner. And we work well in that manner. It doesn’t make me a jerk.

        • I'm an associate :

          I agree that it does not make you a jerk. From personal experience, the problem I’ve found is that there are fewer men who are willing to put their careers on hold for a woman–where women seem much more likely to do that for men. I, too, would like a husband who could be the more flexible one, and I don’t think that makes me a jerk. But I think you have maybe found one of the elusive men who agree to that.

        • Totally agree. I will have been married 20 years this summer (for perspective). During our marriage, sometimes dh’s career was the focus, sometimes mine, but since we had kids we realized it was so much easier on the family if one of us had a career that was more flexible – made it easier to take T to the orthodontist, G to the pediatrician, or B to his wrestling meet after school. Right now, my career is the focus, and honestly, it will probably stay that way as I’m in a great place career wise, and dh isn’t. He also doesn’t have the long term earning potential I have.

          As our ultimate goal is to have a successful family (team lastname), not just career success for him, or career success for me, right now, my career success is contributing more to the success of our family than his career could. And we’re both OK with that.

          Now, that being said, we did get married when we were stupid young, and we’ve figured all this out along the way, with some trial and error. I’m not sure how things would work for me if I was dating right now!

          • Anonypants :

            This! I have been married 27 years and sometimes in my career path I had more flexibility and sometimes he did in his. Both in high powered jobs but neither of us b*tches because the other one’s on the phone with work business after supper, or someone’s up working late at home. It’s an everyday reality — who has the meeting that can’t be moved? Who can get away with leaving a little early? There’s a lot of negotiating day to day but it can, and does work. Isn’t that how you support each other? Sounds like the man who doesn’t want a woman with a “fancy career” doesn’t want to be asked to pitch in.

          • Yup. Takes some work, scheduling & compromise sometimes, but it can be done.

            I bet these are also the men who refer to caring for their children when their wife is away for some reason as ‘babysitting’ as well! lol

          • Anon scientist :

            Agree completely with these sentiments, re: each trading off compromises for the success of “team lastname”. I’ve been married 27 years, married stupid-early too (love that wording!) as an undergrad, and my spouse and I sort of tracked in parallel through grad school, postdocs, and into professorships in an academic med school. Fortunately we both have relatively flexible if demanding careers, and make at least enough for a regular periodic housekeeping and a fantastic after school nanny. It works well for us to share responsibilities pretty equally on the home front, but definitely there are weeks, months, even years where one of us carries the heavier load at home, and then circumstances change and the other spouse may take the lead. Sometimes it is me that gives up on attending an international conference or whatever, and sometimes it is him. I do feel that I have got pretty lucky to have found a compatible mate equally willing to share the raising of our family along with everything else in our lives.

    • To an extent, if someone’s in a prestigious, busy, high-stress role that has them working long hours, it makes sense for them to want someone with a more flexible, less demanding career. If you’re both working long hours, when does the housework get done? Who leaves work early when Junior barfs in the nurse’s office? Who takes time off to look after the kids when they’re on school vacation? What if you two can never get time off at the same time for family vacations? I’m not justifying the sexist attitudes men have towards women in these careers, merely offering an explanation as to why any person in an intense career path like law or medicine might want a partner who isn’t.

      As a teenager, I’d say I’d want to do something, or simply that I wanted to work full-time when I grow up, and I’d have friends ask “but what about your husband? what about what he wants? what if he needs you to stay home?” How often are men asked the same thing?

      In my experience, the men in my life don’t like to accommodate others, they prefer to be accommodated. They’re late on purpose because they’d rather have someone waiting for them than be kept waiting. They see “working around each other” in the kitchen or getting ready in the morning as the other person working around them. When they walk down the sidewalk, they don’t move over so someone can get by, it’s up to the other person to move around them. Do all men do this? Are all men entitled pigs? No, but like I said, this has been my experience with men with few exceptions.

      • Anne Shirley :

        Wow. The men you know suck. None of the men in my life are like this. Someone who keeps me waiting on purpose doesn’t stay in my life very long.

        • Anonattorney :


        • What I mean is, they figure that if they go out of their way to make the effort to be on time, they might get there before me, and then they’d have to wait, which they don’t want to do. But if they take their time and end up being a little late, I’ll be there waiting, and then no precious time or effort was wasted on their part.

          • I think we understood what you meant the first time. To echo AS: the men you know suck.

          • Anne Shirley :

            Yeah. I got that. That’s the part that sucks. Really. None of the men I know do this and all would be appalled. You’re surrounded by jerks.

          • Ditto Anon and Anne Shirley, you can’t choose your family but you can choose whom you spend your time with and these men surely are not worthy of your precious time.

          • The men in your life suck. People who do this are jerks.

            You need to meet some new men.

      • I do know men like this, but not all men are like this.

      • not jerks :

        I don’t think Allison is saying these men are all jerks. What I see is that ordinary men are taught from a very young age to expect others (mostly women) to accommodate them. Most men are not overt assholes about it – they are just acting as they were taught to their entire lives. I see this attitude in men all the time. These men are my friends and coworkers – good people who treat women with respect… mostly. But they still have an underlying attitude that women accommodate and men are accommodated. This is the background noise of modern sexism.

        • amberwitch :

          I think this is a very relevant and true observation. It is easy to categorise someone as a jerk – and it is jerkish to expect to be accomodated because you are a male, but it is probably also very ingrained and something that probably requires a lot of attention to correct I imagine.

          But then it sounds to me as if the gender issues in the US are a bit more challenging than the ones I experience in my day-to-day life. I know they exist, but the whole idea of MRAs still seems absurd to me. Which is kind of sad, since the US in many ways have been trailblazing in the gender equality initiatives early on.

          • Math Chick :

            This is interesting to me. These men were all reared by . . . women? And some of those women maybe had daughters also? When I was pregnant, I really thought hard about things like this, on the chance that I might have had boys.

            I am the daughter of a teacher (possibly not by choice, as she was from a generation where it was rare to attend college, which she did by working and scholarships) and engineer, both first generation. I have no brothers. I joke that I am the son my father never had, but both parents had high expectations for me, mainly professional / educational. I don’t think they expected me to be with a jerk just to be with someone. And I like to think that a hypothetical brother in this family would have been treated to respect women who work hard, whether it be at a grocery store or Goldman Sachs.

            Working: it’s a feature, not a bug :)

        • Wildkitten :

          The fact that men are taught to be jerks doesn’t make them less a jerk when they act like jerks.

      • Statistically speaking, men are no longer “marrying down” as they have in past generations:

        This means that less-educated women are, by and large, marrying less-educated men which, in previous generations, was not happening as much as it is now. Some women are currently “marrying down,” which in previous generations was unheard of.

        “The postwar phenomenon of “marrying up” is becoming as archaic as the curtsy the Duchess of Cambridge is still expected to do before her mother-in-law. These days, women tend to marry men from the same socioeconomic class, recent statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggest. (Indeed, a growing proportion is marrying down.)”

    • TO Lawyer :

      I noticed this dynamic in law school and notice it more that I’m dating. I get the point that if a guy isn’t going to appreciate the fact that I’m a lawyer who likes her career, he’s not the guy for me. BUT it is really frustrating to see this dynamic play out again and again.

      The way I see it, guys in professional careers really aren’t interested in dating women who are their equals mostly because then the man’s career won’t necessarily be the first family priority. I understand it on a rational level because it’s tough to have a demanding career and a family if you don’t have someone who can pick up the slack on the homefront but I also feel that too often, there’s a real bias against dating me the lawyer as opposed to someone in a different profession.

    • So true. We keep saying we wish that we had a stay at home sister wife! Things were so much more manageable before we both started moving up in our careers and having children. I didn’t realize how difficult the juggle would get once we both had work things that we could not miss, and then you have a child with a fever needing picked up from daycare while one of you are at a client meeting 2 hours away and the other has to suck it up because you physically cannot get there in the required hour plus you only see this client once a month and blah blah. It would definitely be easier if one of us had a more low key, flexible job, and there is definitely some strain on the marriage now with which career is “more important”.

  3. I want to punch these women in the face. If it wasn’t the job, do you think maybe it’s you? Maybe your attract hte wrong type of men, are too picky, too closed off, too needy, too pushy, too anything that is you and not the job or the men. . .

    Ugh, I would hate to meet the person who thought this was worthy of a book. Actually, I’d hate to meet hte people who spent money on this book more.

    • Anne Shirley :

      Unacceptable. Threatening violence, even hyperbolically, because you disagree with a woman’s personal experience is unacceptable in any forum.

    • You may not be aware that you’re coming off quite poorly by typing this way.

    • anonymama :

      If you’d hate to meet the people who are interested in this type of thing, then what on earth are you doing on a website for career women?

      But your comment is so garbled I can’t really tell if you think the book is blaming women themselves for being too whatever, and that is what’s making you angry, or that you are angry/annoyed at women for being too whatever and failing to accept that it’s their own fault they can’t find a partner.

    • I totally agree. She clearly has some personality issues that prevent her from having a successful relationship and she blames the men for it. She needs to look inward to solve this, not outward.

  4. Anne Shirley :

    There are so many options between work until 9 every night and cancel on people frequently and take a 50% pay cut for a 9-5 job. So many. I just can’t get past that.

    I do think there is a larger pool of women willing to put up with a partner married to the job than there is men. It’s a classic praised model of a supportive wife, something many peoples’ mothers did, and something society supports.

    • I 100% agree with all of this.

      • +1.
        Also jobs such as nurse, social worker and teacher suggest a nurturing personality, regardless of whether it holds true for a particular individual.

        • Anonymous :

          I don’t really have an issue with it. We all have criteria for our potential spouses. It’s misogynistic at the root, but there are women who are looking for that kind of relationship too. I had a roommate (a banker) who would only even consider dating women who were either an elementary school teacher or a nurse. He was quite upfront about it, and one of his reasons was that those types of professions had ‘nurturing’ women. I heard he eventually settled down with a kindergarten teacher – who, knowing him, I assume is now a stay at home wife – and I imagine they are both happy. He’s working as much as he wants and comes home to a smiling face and warm meal; she gets to stay home and have plenty of time and cash flow for shopping and the gym. He and I never would have made a good pair, but we knew that, and it’s okay.

          • Anonymous :

            I’m in finance, and the teacher/nurse thing was really true among my colleagues.

          • You are right that there are women looking for that type of relationship too, but in reverse. I know many, MANY women who placed a high priority on finding a breadwinner husband – someone who could finance her dream to be a stay at home mom, or to work part-time eventually. The women I know who had this priority only dated high earners.

            This makes me just as sick as the man who seeks the teacher/nurse-spouse.

          • Blonde Lawyer :

            Rosie, it is only worse if they marry someone who is not a high earner and then try to change him into a high earner while still not working. I know someone like that and she drives me batty.

          • Actually, I think dating only high-earner, sole-breadwinner husband-candidates is just as bad as a man saying “lawyers and doctors need not apply.” It is very mercenary. Indeed, it amounts to gold-digging.

          • Yuck. These men saying they want a wife who’s a teacher “because she’ll be nurturing.”
            Are they looking for a babysitter or a wife?

    • Anne Shirley you are on fire with these comments on this post! I just want to virtually high five you, I love it!

    • I guess when you are not happy, it makes sense to try something different, but what she tried was not necessarily directly linked to what she wanted to get, and so extreme, and such a hard choice to undo. But it sounds like in hindsight she sees it as not the most awesome course of action too.

  5. I don’t believe it’s been an issue. Maybe it’s partly because my jobs have been very technical, and they aren’t easily recognizable in the way a doctor or lawyer is? So, men were more willing to get to know me before they found out about the job? My husband surely doesn’t care, he knows we both benefit from my work.

    I tend to agree with L above, I would not be interested in anyone that did care.

    • Hey there. Not wanting to single you out, but something I’ve been noticing generally on this site: the question marks. No need for them. You are sharing your views. Own it! The question marks make it come across as insecure or young. No big deal at all here but just saying it for awareness to you and others in case you are doing it in the workplace as well.

  6. I would be pretty pissed if my husband didn’t want me to have a professional career. Maybe because we met when we were students, but I fell in love with the person, not the career path. I want him to do whatever job makes him happy, and he does the same for me.

    • Amelia Bedelia :

      Again, I’m not sure. This seems a bit narrow-focused. I mean, of course I fell in love with the person, but I also chose a person who goals and life plans that complemented my own. And when I say I want him to do what makes him happy, even that is within reason. if your husband wanted to inoculate orphans in the Sudan, would you say “go for it” because it makes him happy? Probably not until you considered the impact on your own career, your family, etc. If my husband suddenly decided he wanted to run a hospital, rather than stay at home with our children and be more “supportive” of my long hours, I don’t think I would do the happy dance. I’d be pretty pissed.

  7. I only think this is an issue with men I wouldn’t want to date anyway. I didn’t realize that when I was 30 and dating while an associate at a firm, but now that I’m with the right guy (who wouldn’t mind that at all), I can see that those guys would’ve been terrible for me. Still, it’s a turnoff for many guys–some law school guy friends even told me that they wanted to marry someone who wasn’t quite as smart as they were!!

    Still, I don’t think anyone likes dating people who are constantly cancelling or at the office all night. Some women may be more inclined to put up with it because of the whole “ooh what a breadwinner!” trope but I can’t see how anyone likes that.

    • I absolutely felt this when I was dating and in big law…in online profiles I would be cheeky about what I did rather than say “lawyer” so guys would give me a chance. Fortunately met my hubs at a friend’s party and he didn’t care that I was a lawyer.

      Still… I think dating/marriage is (in part) a numbers game, and the pool of men willing to date career women is much smaller than those eager to date kindergarten teachers or whatever. It stinks.

  8. I’m disgusted the moral is “it’s the job” it’s not me. If you were thre attorney and it didn’t work and now your not and it didn’t work, maybe it’s not the job, maybe it’s you.

    • Can you explain why you’re “disgusted”? That seems like such a strong, visceral reaction.

  9. Am I the only one who thinks that “career woman” is code for “individual who can think for herself & makes enough money that she can afford the white picket fence/fancy car/vacation to Eurpoe without putting up with [email protected] from some @$$h0le”? Its interesting that the “preferable” careers female partners is limited to the narrow parameters of public school teacher/social worker/lab tech/administerative staff. These days you can’t even get a job as an admin without a collecge degree teachers, social workers, and lab techs often times have masters. What these guys are really looking for but don’t have the [email protected] to say is a relationship with an unequal balance of economic power, so that there partnters won’t be all up in their face with demands (respect, fideility….you know all that Sh!t the we evil feminists are always on about!)

    • Pretty much.

    • I agree! And to the comments about teachers – my mom is a teacher in her mid 50’s and virtually all her friends that married “high-power” husbands are divorced and extremely broke because after 20-30 years of marriage, they realized they no longer wanted to be paid to put up with bad behavior!

  10. Since women with college and graduate degrees are much more likely to get married than women with less education, this always seems like a completely manufactured problem to me on a societal level.

    On an individual level, yeah, it’s tough not to meet the right guy. (I’m well acquainted with this.) But, the fact of the matter is, there’s more women in the realistic dating pool then men (slightly more women in the population, more men identify as gay then women do as lesbians, more men are in prison – that last more directly affects a different socioeconomic group than posts here, but has to reverberate up in much sense, probably more men who are just kind of not datable due to non-sociability reasons). Some women aren’t going to find partners, or at least, aren’t going to always be partnered, or find a partner early in life. That’s . . . not necessarily ideal, but not the end of the world either. We need to figure out other ways to be happy; not living your ideal life shouldn’t mean you don’t have a great life.

    • Em, insightful post. Thanks.

    • anonymama :

      It sounds like this is actually exactly the premise of the book, that marriage and children aren’t necessarily going to happen for everyone, but that women can find happiness in other paths.

    • Given that people of my ethnic group are canaries in the coal mine, societally speaking, an increase in the percentage of incarcerated men can still make an impact on a professional woman. In my culture, women are more likely to go to college and work in professional fields than men, in part because of incarceration rates. Therefore, the men who are college-educated professionals have a huge advantage and act on that knowledge. They know they are rare, so they get to set the terms of intracultural relationships. For many, it means holding out for their physical ideal. For others, it means having a harem and expecting to marry an individual with the best qualities of each woman he is with, which is unrealistic.

  11. Based on a small sampling of my former office of government agency attorneys (in other words, not high-income), several of my male coworkers were married to SAHM. I did not hear about any of the wives having graduate degrees. For women with graduate degrees who are not high earning, recipients of a full scholarship, or members of a wealthy and generous family, student loans can be a huge barrier to being a stay-at-home spouse. If a man prefers to have a SAHM, a woman with huge debt and moderate earnings is less appealing than a woman with no or little debt.

    I cannot speak to other situations, but it is more likely for a “career woman” to marry a “non-career man” in the African-American community compared to other cultures where men have higer percentages of educational attainment. Unfortunately, many of these relationships do not work out due to differences, as many men in these situations prefer traditional gender roles, and many women in these situations prefer more egalitarian gender roles.

    • Sciencegal :

      Alana, thanks for pointing this out. I think it’s not just in the African American community. It also happens among people from other cultures e.g. Indian, Asian and African. Again this is from my own experience among peers in grad school(and beyond). I think it’s cultural, i.e. it’s expected that the woman should be the one to make certain sacrifices to ensure the man progresses. Of course there are exceptions, I know of people who supported each other through school as opposed to one staying at home. And you are right, these relationships often work well when both stay in traditional gender roles.

  12. Anonymous :

    I definitely experienced this when I was dating. When men met me, they’d pretty quickly ask what I did – and when I told them, they’d often find an excuse to politely exit. A couple of men immediately and wordlessly turned and walked away. My favorite was the man who said “well, that’s a conversation killer, isn’t it?”

    I actually appreciated it. They weren’t men who I would have been interested in anyway, so their frankness was a great filter.

    Then there’s another group of men who want a smart successful woman on their arm like a rolex watch. I often wonder why they don’t get discussed as much. It’s not respect; it’s using a person as a status symbol.

    My husband was one of the very, very few men who, when I said what I did, asked me questions about it and showed genuine interest even though it’s very different from his own profession. He didn’t walk away and he didn’t try to one-up me. He’s always been proud and supportive of my career, and mine of his.

    • Now I’m dying to know what you do!

      • $5 says lawyer

      • Anonymous :

        I was earning an advanced degree in epidemiology/biostatistics. It’s nothing super crazy, but I think what they heard was “word I don’t even know that sound medical combined with something involving statistics.”

        Irony: My life phase is more PTA meetings than bar hopping, and NOW I simplify to “I do research” because anything else scares off so many other parents. It doesn’t all go away once you’re no longer dating!

        • I know the feeling. I started dating my husband when I was a generic undergraduate “student” so I never experienced the dating weirdness, but I definitely filter what I tell people about my profession in social interactions. I figured this out after a few times of me saying “I’m getting my PhD in molecular and cell biology” and having people slowly back away. Now that I’m a big-girl scientist, it’s nearly impossible to have a small-talk conversation about my job with non-scientists. The best outcome is someone saying “so what do you DO?”

          • I’m doing my PhD in politics and get ‘so do you want to be a politician?’ or ‘Ugh, I hate politics!’ Umm…thanks?

        • I’m in my mid twenties & I’m the Assistant VP for Finance at a small private university. But when people ask I just say I’m an accountant because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.

          • This helps no one and reinforces the idea that women aren’t in high powered careers. Please stop.

  13. My borther-in-law only wanted to marry a woman who did not have a professional degree AND who would not work after marriage. I get the no-work-after-marriage part that is expected by some men but why no professional degree? He never agreed to even meet anyone with professional degrees who didn’t want to work after marriage. Trying not to judge but speaks so much about him…

    • What do you mean that you “get the no-work-after-marriage part that is expected by some men…”

      Because I don’t get that AT ALL.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I actually don’t understand the no work after marriage thing if there are no kids involved. What’s the point? What do you do all day? Why wouldn’t a man want someone contributing to the family income until there were kids to be raised? There is a woman in my social circle (married to my husband’s good friend) that never has worked a full-time job in her life. She dabbled in real estate, babysitting, coaching, waitressing, went back to school for a bit, then stayed home to have kids. Even when she was just dating her now husband he was paying for everything. Now that they have a family she is always on him to pick up extra shifts, to spend less money etc. I just want to shake her and say “get a job if you want more money!” She went to a really good school and is really smart. She just doesn’t want to work.

      • Man, I would love to just stay home and bake bread and garden and can things from the garden and and not have to take care of any children. I can think of eight million things I would rather do than have a job. Alas, that is economically unfeasible.

        • It also makes you extremely vulnerable in the event your marriage ends for any reason, or if your husband-benefactor decides to cut off funding, or whatever. When I was much younger, I used to fantasize about such a life, but I think it would be a very, very bad idea.

          • Yep, that is the main reason it’s unfeasible. Even if I had a spouse who wanted me to do that, I do not think I would. Getting back into the workforce after a big gap is not for sissies.

          • This is my first ever comment, and this definitely struck a chord for me. My marriage broke down several years ago and I was able to leave and start over again because I earn quite reasonable money as an IT project manager and so can look after myself. This career gave me freedom to choose my own path rather than be tied to someone who didn’t care for me. My ex expected me to work fulltime and do all the housework, cooking, food shopping, vet visits and etc. After a period alone I met someone new who wanted a partnershop with an equal. I am very happy with this it must be said and we respect and support each other in a fulfilling way. I think my more traditional mother is worried that I am not married, have no children etc. I’m not quite sure why this is since my parents encouraged me to gain a degree in Computer science.

      • I don’t understand staying at home wo/kids, especially if you are not that involved in other activities. There are plenty of rewarding things you can do if you are not working for a paycheck, but a woman in our social circle meet her husband in college worked a bit after that but has not worked in years and he use to travel pretty extensively for work. They did not want kids, so someone home to take care of the kids was never an issue. Her husband and mine are good friends, but her and I just never clicked, he is more interesting to talk to.

  14. Sciencegal :

    This happens quite often in academia. I notice it among the professors and now I am noticing it among peers who have graduated and starting families. Most professors in the dept I was in are married to women who are teachers or who work in jobs that may be considered less cutthroat in terms of competition. Even when people are on the same path e.g. both getting a PhD, 2 or 3 years after grad school when people start families, it is the women who are taking part time teaching positions (which pay very poorly), while the male is either in an academic job/ industry or in a research postdoc. Most eventually become stay at home mums once they have more than one child, while the man continues on the same career track–the cost of childcare becomes too high. Granted, taking care of young kids is taxing, so it is no surprise that someone has to make the sacrifice. Just pointing out that often it’s the woman. The exceptions I have noticed are women who are married to men in high paying professions, e.g. doctors or lawyers. The determining factor here is paying for childcare, one can barely afford such expenses with multiple kids on lower incomes.

    I think the men in this article are being strategic. I.E. in the same way that I have noticed that if I married a man in the same career track as me, I would be the one to modify the path.The men have realized that if they want to have a family (especially more than one kid) AND continue on the demanding path to partner or whatever else, they basically need someone to run their homefront.

    I think if things are to work for people who are both in demanding professions, BOTH have to make sacrifices. Each has to be willing to give a little, even when it means a bit slower progress at work. You also have to be lucky to work in a place that is accomodative of family life. A couple I know are both postdocs working in the same university system. When their baby was born, the man was able to take paternity leave after mum’s maternity leave ended to ease her transition back to work.

    I somehow understand how Joanna in the article above feels, wondering whether taking a step back is what one should do. But then again, I think that for most people their career is not just about a position or title, it’s their livelihood. Giving up a career with a good income can have consequences later. Marriages don’t last forever, one’s husband can lose their job etc.

    I asked someone for career advice once and one of the tips they gave was: “Marry the right man”, quoted verbatim. Just a thought how many men do you think have gotten the same advice i.e.”Marry the right woman”?

    • Clementine :

      Re: your last point- I know there’s a ’10 Keys to Success’ inspirational poster/mini poster that was popular enough in the mid 90’s that multiple coworkers were given it by their parents. The first key to success: Marry the right person.

      I know my husband is in a very relationship-challenging field and having a supportive spouse/partner is essential to succeeding.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I think “marry the right person” goes for both men and women. As I look around at my peers from the ripe old age of 55, those who are still successfully married to their original spouses have a big advantage over those of us who are not, in a variety of ways. Financially, family, career — every aspect of your life benefits if you have a life partner who’s a good match!

    • I think many of the men discussed in these comments are trying to marry the right person and it just comes off wrong. It really isn’t too different than what I’m doing. When I decided I wanted to go into academia, I had a long hard discussion with my then boyfriend, now husband. I basically said “look, I’m good at this, I love it, and if I do it I’m going to do it all the way. I also want kids and I really don’t personally like the idea of daycare. What do you think?” I knew full well that he loves kids and isn’t crazy about his job. I’ll be making more than him once I graduate. We knew going in to marriage and going into my PhD program that our long term plan is for him to stay home with kids if/when we have them and maybe to work part time or lecture if he feels like it. He couldn’t be happier with our plan and even though we don’t have kids right now he’s taken a more laid back job and does most of the day to day household stuff so that I can focus on my research. I understand that it really turned out best case scenario for me. I probably would have been willing to compromise on the career/household balance more than I have (with very clear expectations that I’m not going to sacrifice my career to raise kids) but if that initial conversation hadn’t gone well I probably would have had to try again with someone else. It would have been horribly sad, but I knew that I wanted a good career, kids who wouldn’t be in daycare, and a partner who was supportive and I made strategic choices a long time ago to try to optimize my chances of having the things that were most important to me.

      • What’s weird is how you can’t predict the future. I had a similar situation/outlook in many ways. It all flipped on its head once a baby came- his view/wants, mine. He suddenly wasn’t okay with my career, I suddenly wanted a break to be a mum, he left, so now I have the high powered career and the toddler, and am alone, without option to take a break perhaps ever. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.. or at least nurture other options along the way.. you don’t know, really, how you’ll feel until you get there. Stay open to variety. I would not have chosen him differently 10+ yrs ago because I thought what I thought then… now I have a really different view… of course someone who’d want an equal, but honestly the idea of someone who could take on some of the financial burden would be nice too. Life can get tiring and challenging without a break.

      • Senior Attorney :

        And also, I know I sound like a broken record on this topic, but if you support him while he stays home and takes care of the kids during the marriage, expect the court to order you to continue to do so upon divorce. Which you will probably do from your small apartment while he and the kids stay in the house.

  15. Very interesting topic. I have a few observations:

    * Women certainly do a variation on this as well – I’ve seen a lot of women here say that they wouldn’t date a man w/out a college degree, and express reservations about dating someone not in a “professional” career. I’m not saying it’s always wrong; there should definitely be some dealbreakers in relationships (i.e., no IV drug users is a good one), just saying that it swings both ways.

    * Agree with everyone that says that there’s a lifestyle issue at play, too, regarding hours, and that that is totally reasonable. I also have frequently said that I think that two super-powered career people is less than ideal for a family (I know some make it work, but it’s not what I would want).

    * I think that some people just know nothing about “fancy jobs” – I come from a background where lawyers and docs are rare, and I find that most people have absolutely no idea what my job is, other than what they’ve seen on Law & Order (I’ve had to explain that most lawyers don’t practice criminal law more than once.) So, while it’s not exactly a defense, I think that the ideas expressed by the guy in the story here might be more ignorance and stereotypes than pure sexism. (Think for a second about how lawyers, male and female, are portrayed on TV.)

    * This is something that I’ve read about, but, in actuality, this completely doesn’t ring true for me. I don’t know if I’m lucky or what; I’ve actually found in general that I rarely encounter the sort of disrespectful men that the internet seems to think are ubiquitous, but every guy I’ve dated has been completely supportive and encouraging of my ambitions. I married young, so I never had the experience of being a single lawyer or anything like that, and maybe I’m just lucky, but that’s my experience. I do wonder if it varies by locality. (Maybe it’s harder in NYC and similar, where men have the distinct advantage of outnumbering women and can thus afford to be more choosy?)

    • Anonymous :

      All great thoughts, Lyssa.

      Your first reminds me of a brother and sister I know who from a culture where arranged/semi-arranged marriages are common. They both went through the process but failed to find a match because his career was not high-status enough (public elementary teacher) and hers was too high status (neuroscience).

      You last: I think it’s *where* you meet people. It happened to me quite a bit, and every single time it was in a bar or other ‘public’ space. It never happened within my social network, although there was definitely some pre-screening because men more easily knew my field and ambition. And you’re right that age definitely plays into it. I never (consciously?) encountered it in college, but I most certainly encountered it in my mid/late 20’s.

      • I definitely agree that age has something to do with it. I didn’t notice this trend in college or law school (indeed, some guys who opted not to date me seemed to go for women who were more accomplished than I am), but since then, I have met several male lawyers who seem to want to date women who have less demanding careers. I was originally going to write “women who are less challenging,” but then I thought about it, and it occurred to me that I don’t much want a “challenging” partner myself.

    • TimRiggins :

      Regarding your first point, I’ll confess – I’m a single, female attorney, and I’ve probably said something this effect. In fact, when a male friend who was a non-professional without a college degree was interested in me, I wasn’t interested in the friend. The lack of degree a good indicator of all the things we didn’t have in common.

    • I agree.
      Professional men sometimes complain that some “men” won’t date them.
      What they really mean is that some “professional men” won’t date them.
      Perhaps if we professional/college-educated women are open to dating blue collar/non-college degree/less high-achieving men, they will have a very different response to our “careers”.
      Perhaps they will respect them, admire us for them, feel happy about dating a career woman?
      Just a thought.

      • Correction: Professional women that is.

      • Anonattorney :

        I think you’re 100% correct, Shosh. The reality is that it’s very hard for two people to be compatible over the long term when they both have extremely time-intensive careers. Unless your timing is perfect, there will usually be one partner who has to make some sacrifice for the other partner. Whether it’s time with the kids or doing housework, or moving for another person’s job, those conflicts and trade-offs are going to come up. I think it can work where both partners are very career-driven, but it’s just really tricky.

        Men handle this in a variety of ways. They “date down” by dating women who have less education and are not as professionally driven. They also will date women younger than them, expanding their dating pool even further. Their dating pool is pretty large.

        In my experience–and I am guilty of this too–professional women tend to only want to date other professional men. We also suffer from more ageism than men, so we are also generally limited to men our age or older.

        This sucks. I’m sure there are many men who are in lower-paying, lower-stress jobs who’d be very happy to date attractive sugar-mamas, but that’s usually just not what women in my demographic are looking for.

        At least for me, I don’t want a partner who is dependent on me financially. I want someone who is entirely independent. The reality, though, is that my partner has a lower-paying and lower-stress job than me. He’s ambitious within his sphere, but if there is ever any question of one of us taking a step back for the other — and we’ve had the conversations — he is going to be the one to take that step back. He is somewhat dependent on me and my salary. He has to be. I know I can put my all into my career because I’ve chosen a partner who also needs to benefit from my career and therefore we, as a team, can put a bit more energy into my job than his.

        • I will say, though, that my experience is that men who “date down” don’t always have awesome marriages in the long run. The number of male partners in my practice group with stay-at-home wives (many of whom were once attorneys, but who just weren’t that interested in continuing to work) that they remain married to, but don’t seem interested in/in love with/particularly respectful of is striking. One of the people with whom I work most closely is fairly explicit about the fact that he believes that he settled in marrying his now-stay-at-home wife (she was once a lawyer – in biglaw, even – but was never perceived as having much of a future and went off partner track shortly after they had kids, now works a handful of hours a week and only when it’s convenient for him), and pretty clearly works all of the time because his home life doesn’t do much for him. It’s like he married his nanny and then realized that he wanted more.

    • Its interesting to me when people have such certain “requirements” about a potential partner’s job/education/economic status. I understand that some people are trying to ensure a good or well balanced match with that type of thinking though.

      My husband and I picked each other out young, so we didn’t really “know” what we were getting job/education/status wise. I like to think that we picked for similar value systems based on talking about values, and personality compatibility. We talked about what we wanted to do in life of course, but not all of those plans worked out or remained things that we wanted.

      Now that I’m older I realize that no one really can know exactly what they are getting when they pick a match, so I think you have to be careful about what signifiers you use to try to ensure that you get what you want.

  16. Diana Barry :

    We have several couple friends who are dual-income and each spouse supports the other equally. Several lawyer-business or lawyer-tech or lawyer-academic couples, a few doctor-doctor couples and then a finance-finance couple. I think our marriage is much the same, even though my job is less remunerative than my husband’s.

    HOWEVER, I do notice that when I go to networking events, the women are all in dual-income relationships/marriages or single and the men (particularly the more successful men) all have SAH wives. I wonder if that model becomes more efficient when the time+money total on one spouse’s job gets to be super high.

    • The high numbers of very successful men in business and politics with SAH wives is a factor in the family-unfriendly policies in the U.S. workplace. It is possible for powerful people to care about issues that do not affect them, but pro-working women lobbyists do not have as much influence as their counterparts. For example, some men have received raises or promotions because they have a family depending on them. How often is this line of thinking applied to working single mothers who do not receive child support?

    • Anonymous :

      Diana, the model of one professional partner and one SAH partner is definitely efficient. My husband SAH and I have closer to the flexibility of a working husband with a SAH wife. (Not quite, because IME mothers crave time with their kids more than fathers, even very dedicated fathers). It’s harder for a man, though. They face the same occupational sacrifices as women who elect to SAH – with the addition of social ramifications. In sum, they are labeled as a deadbeat because they aren’t working to financially support the family.

      Even my own mother, who is supportive of our arrangement, recently was telling me about the adult daughter of her friend who has five children and a very successful career. She added “it’s a shame, though, because her husband doesn’t even work.” Even after I pointed out that he was clearly taking care of the kids so that she could focus on her career, and she was still resistant to giving up the idea that he wasn’t a complete bum. Sigh.

      I feel like the tides are changing, though. Perhaps in another generation men will be as free to stay as home as women – which will be a huge step in making women as free to work as men.

    • Wildkitten :

      I bet it’s because networking events occur after work and so require childcare. You can go if you don’t have kids yet or if you have someone else taking care of them.

    • This describes my office: the women are in dual-career relationships and the men have stay-at-home wives.

  17. As far as all these nurses, social workers, nursery school teacheres being more nurturing, – this is more marketing than anything else. The biggest drinkers/recreational drug users/parties that I know are nureses and social workers. One elemenatary school teacher told me that she “can’t stand the brats”, but she chose this job because it would not scare off men, and she gets off from work early enough to go to the gym/get hair&nails done before she goes out trolling the bars in DC for that up and coming partner!

    • anonymama :

      I was wondering about that too… most of the nurses I know are pretty no-nonsense, kind of hard-ass types. (and I mean that in the best way possible :))

  18. Famouscait :

    I would never base all of my assumptions about a person’s traits, values and other important characteristics solely on their occupation or education level, and I wouldn’t want to enter a relationship with someone who did that.

    Breadwinner status in my household has flipped several times. When my husband was consulting and traveling 4+ days a week, he out-earned me by double. Now he’s back in school for a PhD and I’m the breadwinner, working long hours and providing for our family. All this is to say that a person’s employment can change rather easily but their values do not. Hubby is moving into academia because of the better work-life balance it will afford our family. Had we met in our 20’s when he was consulting, or now when I’m “career oriented” we would have had to rule each other out using the method offered here.

  19. I could write a book too–only my book would be filled up with anectdata of men and women who said aloud on several occasions that they didn’t want someone with “x” occupation (myself included) and ended up marrying someone with “x” occupation. I could talk about even more examples of high-powered career driven individuals who completely off-ramped when it was time for kids–even if when they were married both partners were all in on the “power couple” idea. I think talking about this “men don’t want professional wives” concept in a manner that suggests it’s some overarching, common principle is meant to incite and, quite possibly, sell books. Instead of trying to explain a non-ideal relationship situation based on misinformed stereotypes look around and look within.

    • Agree! In law school, I always said I would NEVER marry another attorney. And whoops, engaged to an attorney. At least he does transactional work and I’m a litigator.

  20. oil in houston :

    I have definitely met those men. I will always remember a particular party back in university when a guy suddenly stopped talking to me because I had said i was in the MBA program and his comment was ‘that’s a tough one to get into, and he left…. I’ve also had the one date with a guy who didn’t understand that I couldn’t make the next date at his preferred time because I was traveeling for work and took it very personnally… so those things are real. I am blessed I met my husband who feels proud of my achievements rather than threatened, but it took me 10 years of looking ….

  21. Seventh Sister :

    When I was in law school, I very much wanted to do something legal, something interesting and have a life outside of work. I wasn’t much of a go to biglaw, climb to the top kind of person. Frankly, it looked pretty boring and dreadful to me. Having left a very small town, I kind of felt like any sort of professional “success” beyond leaving said small town was just gravy (translation: I had kind of low expectations for myself). So I found a good government gig, and I’m very happy, but I’m not winning any alumnae achievement awards anytime soon.

    I wonder if some of this is temperament. As much as I wanted to be in a relationship, I had a number of Really Bad Relationships that made me devoted to the idea that being alone was better than being with a jerk. I’m kind of a bachelor(ette?) by nature, sort of introverted. And as a feminist-y person, I was appalled at the guys in law school who openly talked about wanting to marry some kind of “wife material” like a grade school teacher that would quit her job asap.* I dated but I wasn’t going to pin my heart or my future on being coupled but unhappy versus being pretty happy and alone.

    You know what? I met a really nice guy who is kind and funny and cooks and is cute. And while I’m not saying everything is sunshine and roses, and he’s definitely had a bit of a learning curve in terms of my expectations re: equality and childcare and whatnot, I found this guy and we have two kids and a (half-painted, sort of rotting, worth fixing) white picket fence.

    *I also think some of these guys don’t know teachers very well. My daughter’s k teacher is a Leader with a capital L and I kind of doubt she’s a pushover over anything. Wrangling 25 kindergarteners is not for the faint of heart.

  22. Hmmm… I am sure there are men out there who feel this way but I have never found any of them attractive so I’ve never stopped to consider it a negative that they might not want to be with my because of my education/career choices. If someone were fixing me up, “really smart” would be an absolutely essential criteria and I always sort of assumed that any guy I like would want the same from me.

    I do agree with the general lifestyle point somewhat. That is, I don’t think it’s all about “successful men want women who are less successful because they feel intimidated by anyone who may be their equal.” I certainly have women friends in high stress high hour positions that have SOs that are in less demanding fields (one’s even married to a school teacher! He’s awesome and, indeed, very nurturing).

    This whole discussion actually makes me think of a good male friend who is from a culture where it is important for him to marry someone of the same relatively narrow religious/cultural background. Initially he wanted to find a woman his own age (very early 30s) to settle down with, but he also really wanted to have 3-5 kids as is the norm for people in his community. Hence, the problem — any woman who met with his family’s approval and was over (gasp) 25 meant that by the time they got married, they would have to starting trying to have babies immediately to be able to have the large family he wanted. Lo and behold he is now engaged to a 21 year old and when they marry later this year, they will actually be able to have a couple of years of a honeymoon period before they start thinking of children. So on the one hand, my initial thought when I think of my friend dating a 20 year old (as she was when they met) is “eesh, find someone your own age, she can’t even drink!” … But in the context of his life, it makes total sense. Which is I guess my long winded way of saying sometimes all this makes sense in context….

  23. I work in technology and I don’t really identify myself as a super high-achiever. I’ve definitely had dates with guys who were uncomfortable with my career, including guys with higher-status jobs themselves. One guy (who had a PhD in a technical field!) came right out and said “I think you’re too smart for me”. At least he knew himself and his needs, I guess. Most of my male peers and work friends have stay-at-home wives and girlfriends, even when there are no children. The stay-at-home girlfriend phenomenon is particularly weird to me since it seems like such a precarious situation.

    Anyway, I’m now engaged to a guy who is comfortable with me out-performing him, although he is also a talented engineer. He loves to garden and do volunteer work and would really like to be a stay-at-home husband eventually, so I may find myself pushed into a traditionally male path of being more aggressive with my career to replace his income. We’ll see how it all plays out.

  24. I’m the child of two teacher, both of whom worked full-time as my sister and I grew up. I’m a single attorney in a rural Midwest small town. I am very hesitant to put my occupation on my online dating profile because of the book’s sentiment. I have been honest about it once I’m asked and I think it’s contributed to the lack of second dates. I do target my online dating to men who have bachelor degrees or more not because I want to be what I’m experiencing, but it’s my experience that people who have this background can better carry on a conversation with me. It’s not a deal breaker but a definite plus.

  25. This topic is so interesting to me. Some of the men I’ve met seem to like that I’m engaged in my career as a lawyer. and of course those are the men that I’ve dated. No one has ever told me that my career is a turn-off, but I’m sure there are plenty of guys like that out there. I’ve never even considered scaling back on my career just to attract a man. Geeze. On a related note, I’ve been intrigued (and sometimes offended) by the reaction some people have when they find out my significant other is a musician/carpenter. When we first started dating, many people–including long-time friends of both of ours–expressed surprise that I’m dating a man who doesn’t have the “high powered” (or “high-earning”) career. Bottom line is that my man is excellent at what he does, treats me like a queen, and makes me feel like a million bucks. I’ve never known people to react the same way when a man with a “big” career is involved with a woman with a less demanding (or less lucrative) job. Everyone makes their own choices in terms of what they are looking for in a mate. Double-standards suck, no matter

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      And we all get judged for something. I live in a predominately blue collar community and there are a lot of eye rolls when my husband and I have to call a plumber/electrician/carpenter for things most of the blue collar folks know how to fix in two seconds. They probably save a fortune doing their own work too. There are pros and cons of all skill sets.

      • Absolutely. We were building a bench for the garden this weekend and the neighbors came over to offer commentary / poke fun. We’re a bit of a mystery to them with our funny accents (neither of us are from here), grocery delivery, and inability to do diy.

  26. My experience is that yes, many men who are our professional peers will “marry down” or will marry women who’re willing to quit high-paid careers to keep house while their husbands pursue highly demanding careers. But the marriages they end up having? Aren’t the marriages I want. As I’ve commented elsewhere, many of my male peers seem to have gotten about 5-7 years into marriage and realized that they basically married their nannies: their wives may be great moms, but they don’t view them as intellectual equals, they don’t respect them, and they’re both desperately lonely. They may hang on for years (often for the sake of their kids) but they’ve emotionally left the marriage long before the divorce comes.

    • Not sure if this is particularly consoling for their wives (soon-to-be ex-wives traded in for ‘someone who really understands me’ ?) or their female peers who’ve soldiered on to make the same career progress without the benefit of a supportive stay-at-home spouse.

      • It depends, I think, on whether the career is all that you care about. It may be career-maximizing for those men to have made the marital choices that they have, but to what end, if you find yourself in your mid-forties, in an unhappy marriage, with your career the only thing at which you’ve succeeded? We conflate the existence or survival of a marriage with the success of a marriage; they’re not the same. As someone who’s been unhappily married, I’d rather be single for as long as it takes to find the right partner, even if that means that my life path is different than I once thought it would be.

        As for their wives, I doubt it’s consoling. It’s a deal I’ve seen a lot of women make, and it sometimes works out well. But not always. And women aren’t encouraged to think about what the long-term impact of taking a supporting role to a husband’s career may be. Sometimes it’s the right choice for your family; sometimes you end up as a merger of an income-providing unit and a domestic-labor-providing unit, rather than a marriage.

        • ‘If you find yourself in your mid-forties, in an unhappy marriage, with your career the only thing at which you’ve succeeded ?’

          For most people in these circumstances, the answer is ‘divorce, and try again’. I’ve seen many male friends and peers through this cycle, and can confirm that they lose nothing in the dating stakes if they were marriage-able to start with and have a bit of professional success under the belt. Many have gone on to very happy second marriages, thanks to a greater degree of self-knowledge and willingness to work at personal relationships (I’m not even going to talk about the mid-life acquisition of trophy wives, although that’s clearly an option too).

          All in all, it’s not a bad gamble, odds and all, much better in any case than those faced by never-married/ divorced/ career/ stay-at-home women of the same age. I wouldn’t be expending too much time wringing my hands over the prospects of these guys.

          • Interesting – for the ones I know, it’s more like “contemplate suicide, drink heavily, and work even more” or “marry again, still unhappily.” Lots of the men that I work with have long-term marriages, but few of them have happy ones. I think it’s harder for women (look, I’m divorced and don’t date much, and sometimes I have dark nights of the soul when I’m all, THIS WOULD ALL BE EASIER IF I WORKED IN THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT INSTEAD OF BILLING 2400), but the women of my acquaintance have done better the second time around than the men do. Often because the men seem to jump RIGHT AWAY into something new (ad often ill-judged).

          • The ones I see are more like “divorce at 40 when the first trophy wife is no longer “hot,” marry a younger, hotter model, rinse repeat until death. They don’t see their wife as an equal or source of intellectual companionship at all. As for the women, they end up marrying a 60-70 year old to whom they are the younger hotter version of the previous wife.

          • The ones I see are more like divorce at 40 when the first trophy wife is no longer “hot,” marry a younger, hotter model, and rinse repeat until death. The men don’t see their wife as an equal or source of intellectual companionship, but just a hot nanny and housekeeper they get to garden with. As for the women, they end up marrying a 60-70 year old to whom they are the younger hotter version of the previous wife.

  27. While in college and dateless for many years, an expert on dating advice told me that the problem wasn’t that men were “intimidated” by me because I was smart and successful (which is what my friends and family told me), but that they felt like I didn’t have time for them and that they probably wouldn’t meet my unrealistic standards (which wasn’t true at all, but apparently the vibe I put off). I think for the majority of men, save for the minority of jerks, this is more the issue with successful women.
    Similar to what some others have said, I think a man wants to feel like an important part of your life, not an after thought, or something you MIGHT be able to fit in after you finish your to-do list.

  28. I married my college boyfriend, so I have never been a single professional. However, before we started dating, I would meet guys in bars that would literally laugh in my face when I told them I was an engineering major, or say that I was clearly too smart for them, or then assume there was no way I’d be interested in them. If I got this reaction when I was still in school, I can only imagine what women that are established in their more impressive careers face when dating!

  29. I commented way up thread (and am super late now) but the other thing I haven’t seen anyone else mention is that some career women wouldn’t MIND being SAHMs, given the opportunity. I always would have said that was my goal, in fact. But SAHM is not a career path – until the kid and husband come you have to do something, so it may as well be something challenging and/or lucrative. But then the Catch-22 is that you can’t get a date because guys think you will always want to be doing that job.

  30. RealityCheck :

    Speaking of Career women which Most of them now are so very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, picky, and so very money hungry which really speaks for itself why many of us Good men are still single today since the women of today are Nothing at all like the real Good old fashioned women were since they were definitely so much Nicer and a hell of a lot Easier to meet back then. It is a real shame that many of us men Weren’t born at a much Earlier time which we really could’ve Avoided this mess today since many of us would’ve been all Settled down by now with our own Good wife and family that many of us still Don’t have today.