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According to a recent article published by the American Psychological Association, a man’s subconscious self-esteem is, in fact, affected by a female partner’s successes and failures. But wait…what does this actually mean? Based upon experiments related to the study, “Deep down, men may not bask in the glory of their successful wives or girlfriends. While this is not true of women, men’s subconscious self-esteem may be bruised when their spouse or girlfriend excels.”

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Apparently, according to this study published by the APA, regardless of whether or not a man’s significant other is “an excellent hostess or intelligent,” men were more likely to feel subconsciously worse about themselves when their female partner succeeded than when she failed. I, for one, don’t understand how a woman’s hosting abilities/desires are mutually exclusive of her intellect, but let’s dive more into this article shall we?

Kate Ratliff,PhD, of the University of Florida, believes that the sentiment of this article makes sense as it continues to point out that “men interpret a partner’s successes as their own failure, even when they are not in direct competition. “

The study purportedly included 896 people in five experiments. In one experiment of 32 couples, it was reported that men who believed that their partner scored in the top 12 percent of a test issued in the experiment “demonstrated a significantly lower implicit self-esteem than men who believed their partner scored in the bottom 12 percent.”

In another experiment including 284 men, they were asked to think about a time when their partner had succeeded or failed, whether it was socially or related to intellectual matters. When comparing the results, the researchers noted that “it didn’t matter if the achievements or failures were social, intellectual or related to participants’ own successes or failures–men subconsciously still felt worse about themselves when their partner succeeded that when she failed. However, men’s implicit self-esteem took a bigger hit when they thought about a time when their partner succeeded at something while they had failed.”

As I tend to shy away from generalizations, I can’t 100 percent agree with this study. Of course it does not purport to insinuate all men feel worse when their partners succeed as opposed to failing, however, the sentiment of the article, in my opinion, may put fear into the hearts of those successful women who may feel they have to make a choice between a healthy/thriving career or a highly esteemed partner.

What do you think–are men intimidated by women’s success? Sound off in the comments below!

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates ( She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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Does A Woman’s Success Negatively Affect A Man’s Self-Esteem?  was originally published on