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The Balance Of Cower
Just posted my column -- about high-powered women with low-wattage love lives:

“Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac,” said Henry Kissinger. Sure it is -- unless you’re a woman, in which case, it’s about as man-magnetizing as mentioning “Well, yes, each of my late husbands did die under mysterious circumstances, but, heh, heh, the D.A. was never able to pin anything on me.” Research by Stephanie L. Brown and Brian P. Lewis, published in Evolution and Human Behavior (Nov. ‘04), seems to confirm what many lonely women at the top already know: When guys go for the woman in the boardroom, it isn’t the woman running the meeting but the secretary who wheeled in the coffee and croissants before it started.

The rest is at the link above.

Posted by aalkon at October 31, 2005 5:57 AM

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There is a problem with "high-powered" women's insistence on men with equal or better jobs than them. That problem has less, in my opinion, to do with men's fear of power and more to do with the fact that there are less men who fit that criterion and most of them will be old and/or gross and/or married. The problem isn't that she's unjustified in what she's seeking, it's just a matter of demographics.

To elaborate: most women when choosing a potential mate (for dating/marriage, not a one-nighter) want a man who is as successful as or more successful than them. For a hair stylist, this could be anyone from a construction worker to a stockbroker (the former is the more noble field in my opinion, though less "successful"). For a woman who is number two in a company, she's limited to number twos and ones in a company of equal size or high-priced lawyers and the like.

Honestly, most of the men of her status are going to be old as it usually takes a lifetime for someone to work his way up to her level of success. Complicating matters is that they will have acquired a life (marriage, kids, grandkids) during their climb.

The only thirty-five year old VPs of companies who are good-looking and unmarried will be silver-spoon idiots like Bush whose parents will own the company, or so thoroughly dedicated to their career that they won't have time for a social/sex life. Or they will be taking advantage of their 'status' to try and bang every shotgirl in the state.

This woman seems exceptional (a combination of attractive, successful, rich, young and unmarried is definitely not the norm for any one of those qualities). So exceptional that I'd guess that there're only fifty of her in the country, and maybe two hundred potential suiters (if you exclude the three categories in the previous paragraph). To say nothing of personality compatibility or sexual compatibility issues. Hell, I'm sure half those two hundred fit the unmarried criterion because they're gay. She's in a real needle-in-the-haystack scenario here.

Through no fault of her own, I'm guessing she's going to have to drop a requirement here and either take up with a Separated fifty year-old businessman with a Benz or a young stud failing-actor driving a Dodge Omni; I don't see how she's going to see a lot of positive overlap without a hell of a lot of luck.


I think you gave excellent advice when you told her not to talk shop to someone she finds attractive. Success isn't nearly as big a turnoff that a lot of these studies seem to suggest. But pulling rank or boasting is.
It isn't a problem (for me, at least) flirting with a cute associate VP of marketing for, say, Viacom, but it is a problem flirting with a secretary who's talking about how much more she makes than other secretaries or how important she is to her company.

Good advice, but unfortunately for her she's going to need all the luck in the world.

Posted by: little Ted at October 31, 2005 12:03 AM

Where are all these lonely, powerful women I keep hearing about? God knows I've been waiting long enough for them.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at October 31, 2005 6:00 AM

I've never found that career success has made me unattractive to men, but I've also operated on the seemingly obscure notion that being able to support myself financially would free me from the necessity of seeking a mate whose primary attribute is earning power.

Posted by: deja pseu at October 31, 2005 6:29 AM

I've always felt that way, Deja. I would never rely on a man to support me, because then you're bound to him for the wrong reasons. That said, I couldn't be with a man who hadn't achieved something in his life; whom I didn't respect and admire, and who didn't approach what he did with a good deal of ambition. And with achievement, generally comes money and/or position.

And Paul, any woman who has anything going for her, careerwise, and as a person, is going to either hear or experience "you're too much for me" from men.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 31, 2005 6:35 AM

"That said, I couldn't be with a man who hadn't achieved something in his life; whom I didn't respect and admire, and who didn't approach what he did with a good deal of ambition. And with achievement, generally comes money and/or position."

I'd agree up to a point. I think that women who insist that they will only pair up with a man who makes more than they do and/or have a higher status are limiting their options. My husband and I are both fairly successful in our careers, though over the years I've advanced a bit more due to the vagaries of the business world, and now make more than he does. He is very dedicated and works very hard, but the company he works for isn't growing as much as the one I work for. He isn't one of those extreme Alpha types, but that wasn't what I wanted in a partner. I respect and admire him not for what he's achieved in his job, but for the person that he is: responsible, committed, caring and highly ethical.

Posted by: deja pseu at October 31, 2005 7:12 AM

Yes, I suspect they do. But I still think it's easier to round up your posse when the bullshit decides to filter itself out.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at October 31, 2005 9:44 AM

>And Paul, any woman who has anything going for her, careerwise, and as a person, is going to either hear or experience "you're too much for me" from men.

I'd never admit that, even if I knew it.

Posted by: little Ted at October 31, 2005 4:24 PM

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