The harsh reality of gender inequality is that women are held to a double standard. We are expected to be polite at all times and to smile even when we don’t feel happy to maintain a pleasing countenance.
We’re held to the standard of a 1950s housewife while maintaining full careers. We’re told to be interesting and impressive to attract a partner, and then we’re left with potential partners who find our impressiveness intimidating.
It seems that the system is constructed for women to be in the wrong no matter what we do. Too sexually free? Slut shaming results. Too sexually reserved? She’s a prude or a tease.
The expectations are set, but modern-day women are no longer interested in them. Instead, we’re defining our lives and discarding the narratives we’ve been taught to obey.
6 Signs He Is Intimidated by You, According to a Former Therapist
Maybe there was once a point in our journey when we were concerned about intimidating men. Maybe that’s where you are right now. If so, here are 6 ways to know that he’s intimidated by you.
Why listen to me? I was a master’s level licensed therapist. I worked with couples and families and specialized in trauma recovery and empowerment. I now write content about relationships, dating and psychology. My work has been featured on Elite Daily, Your Tango, Positively Positive, Mamamia, and The Good Men Project.
1. He Jokes You’re Out of His League
Pay attention to his sense of humor. It reveals more than he even knows. If he jokes that you’re out of his league, it can reveal one of two things.
He’s either noting that you’re the stronger partner and trying to communicate appreciation for what you bring to the relationship, or he’s noticed that the two of you aren’t on the same level and is broadcasting his insecurity about it. If it’s the former, this may not be a bad thing. If it’s the latter, watch out!
The problem with dating out of your league is that sometimes the partner who feels somehow outranked will seek to bring down your self-esteem to even the playing field.
I’ve seen it time and time again. He hopes if he can break down your sense of self, you won’t leave him or realize that you deserve better.
2. He Keeps Bringing Up Income/Wealth Disparities
One of the main signs he’s intimidated by you is when he keeps bringing up wealth or income disparities in your favor. If you make more money than him or are more financially established, he might point it out.
If he continues to point it out, it’s likely something that makes him uncomfortable.
It’s possible that he’s seeing the contrast, and it’s motivating him to do better. It’s equally possible that he’s seeing the disparity and has an issue with it.
The only way you’ll know is to confront these mentions with a direct conversation about why he keeps bringing it up and how he feels about it.
3. He Keeps Mentioning Educational Differences
It’s also possible he’ll mention educational differences. In the United States, women often have more education than men. If you have a higher education than he does, it’s possible that he could find this intimidating.
Some people will joke that they’re not as smart while others will try to prove that they are.
Either way, this is a sign of insecurity that you should be wary of in a relationship.
Differences don’t have to break down a relationship. Insecurity, however, certainly can erode your bond. If he’s intimidated by your education, don’t feel like you have to play dumb.
Be proud of your accomplishments, and confront him if he tries to make you feel bad for being more educated.
4. He Tries Too Hard
Another clear sign that he’s intimidated by you is when he tries too hard to impress. His constant need to show his value as a partner could be a way to even the score and make him feel like an equally desirable partner.
While it’s great to have a partner who puts in the effort, it can become a burden when the effort is over-the-top.
The partner who tries too hard can be hard to take. The relationship shouldn’t take so much work to maintain.
If his insecurity continues to show up in the relationship, it might be time to have a talk about it. It’s not your problem to solve — nor can you solve it.
It is, however, a problem for the relationship if he won’t address his insecurity in healthier ways.
5. He Minimizes Your Accomplishments
Beware the partner who minimizes your accomplishments because it may be a sign he feels intimidated by you. A healthy partner will hype you up and be your biggest fan. They should be the one celebrating your success the most.
Minimizing your achievements is meant to check your ego — and boost his.
If he’s not your biggest fan, why are you with him? You probably have reasons. But are they actually healthy? He might genuinely be intimidated by how amazing you are, but I fail to see how that should be your problem.
I had a partner who consistently did this. I was his loudest cheering section, but he constantly put my every achievement down. It was always somehow lacking — according to him.
Luckily, I could see what was really going on and that relationship didn’t last long.
But I know a younger, less secure version of me might have stayed in that relationship and tried to make him feel better by downplaying my own accomplishments.
Happily, I’ve leveled up many times and no longer feel the need to do that.
6. He Treats Your Relationship Like a Competition
A competitive partner isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, they challenge you and help you level up. But if your relationship is in a constant state of competition, there’s a problem.
You shouldn’t have to feel like every achievement will be compared. It’s an exhausting way to live, and it doesn’t allow you to celebrate your wins when you’re constantly being reminded of theirs.
If he’s keeping score, he’s likely feeling intimidated by you. He might never admit it, but this is a clear sign he finds you a little too impressive, which — again — is not your problem.
What You Can Do About It
The problem is that society expects us to tone ourselves down to fit into place. To soften our edges; to play down our strengths; to be the supporting character in our own lives.
But women are stepping up to reinvent society. From the #metoo movement to the many women’s marches that have been held in the last few years, women are far more comfortable being strong and seen. Yet, there are men who still think that their feelings of intimidation should be our problem.
If you find yourself in a relationship where he’s clearly intimidated, here are some things you can do:
- Talk to him about the disparities he keeps bringing up. Let him know it makes you uncomfortable and give him a chance to be accountable for and aware of his behavior.
- Suggest couples counseling. This isn’t just for married couples either. Couples counseling can help you address ongoing issues in the relationship — including any insecurities.
- Understand what’s his problem and what’s yours. You are not responsible for his feelings. Make sure you don’t take them on even if he wants you to do just that.
- Adjust your expectations. You deserve a partner who is your biggest fan and can hype you up the way you do for them. If he can’t be that person for you, it’s possible he’s just not your person at all.
Let’s be honest: as a strong, independent single woman, it can be discouraging when more partners than not seem intimidated by my personality and my life.
Sometimes, it’s lonely.
But I’ve been in the uneven relationship, the one where every single time I lifted myself up, my partner felt the need to knock me back down. I’m never going back.
I’m not interested in a partner who finds me intimidating when there are so many other things they could feel. Fascinated, interested, and appreciative come to mind.
But I’m not here to convince anyone else they deserve me — nor am I interested in that role.
The right partner might be intimidated at first, but they won’t stay that way. They’ll see the value you bring to their lives. They’ll never make you feel like you should make yourself smaller so that they feel like a bigger man.
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