Ebony Baker has often been called intimidating.
The 23-year-old Toronto woman believes she is too mature for her age, and this has become a barrier when she dates.
“I don’t think I am intimidating when you get to know me, but I understand how that can come off from a surface level perspective,” she told Global News.
Baker has only “seriously’ dated a few men around her age and often, she prefers men who are in their 30s.
“I’ve found that when dating guys around my age, they’re not at the same place career and goal-wise and it’s harder to relate to them,” she continued. “Personally, I’d describe myself as an ambitious person, having worked in media since I was in university and have known for years what I want to do in life.”
While being independent or successful or ambitious shouldn’t be considered turnoffs, some, like Baker, find it holds them back when they try to date.
Are people scared of success?
Dr. Mariyam Ahmed, a psychologist based in Toronto, told Global News one thing to consider when it comes to dating “successful people” — whatever your definition of success is — is how much this person is dedicated to their success.
“A concern people often have when they are with someone successful is that the successful person might be too focused on themselves or set in their ways,” she told Global News.
She added that others fear their needs may not be met or whether they are even considered a priority in a successful person’s life. “But it doesn’t have to be this way… success doesn’t need to be linked to a downfall of a relationship.”
While anyone could face these issues, Ahmed said in her experience, it is mostly single women who find themselves being told they are too independent or too successful when they date.
Jenna Birch, author of The Love Gap, previously wrote in Cosmopolitan magazine, some women even downplay their career goals to find a partner, because they are often told they are too ambitious.
“Multiple studies show that, when asked, men say they prefer dating ambitious go-getters. But the reality proves otherwise. As a result, many women are playing down their drive — at work or on dates — to make themselves seem like ‘relationship material,'” she wrote.
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In the same article, author and economist Marina Adshade told Birch while there is nothing wrong with giving up your career to accommodate love, letting go of your dreams for a partner can lead to resentment.
“And you may be handing over the majority of your ability to make decisions in the relationship because you’re signaling that your partner’s desires override yours,” she wrote. “Taming your ambition may land you a boyfriend. However, if you have a big vision of what you hope to accomplish in your career, there’s a strong chance you won’t be satisfied for long.”
Ahmed said this could also come down to gender biases and how women are more likely than men to accept influence in a relationship. This means willing to hear someone’s opinion, take their feelings into account or being able to find common ground during an issue.
“The question then becomes, as opposed to keeping the focus on [the person who feels too successful], perhaps this match is not the right [match] for me.”
Insecurities — we all have them
For most people who date, dating can really bring out insecurities when we start comparing ourselves to others. And while some surveys show men don’t mind if women make more money than them, for others, it can become an issue.
Baker said she doesn’t find herself insecure about being more successful than the person she is dating, but she does have a fear of not being successful at all.
“I like to surround myself with people who have that same mindset. I don’t care if a guy isn’t where he’s at yet career-wise, but I do care if they aren’t ambitious at all… and my odds for that are just better with older men.”
Ahmed said it comes down to self-reflection and if you feel insecure in your relationship due to success, you need to be able to communicate this with your partner. “We’re quick to criticize or blame the other person, but we don’t take a moment to reflect what the moment is like for us.”
And if at the end of the day, your partner isn’t willing to listen or help you overcome some of these insecurities, it may be time to move on.
“This was not the right match for either partner and it is important not to internalize that, especially early on in the relationship.”