real life

Why this expert reckons successful women struggle to make relationships work.

“Successful.” It’s an easy word to use. It puts women into a box of being focused, independent, ambitious and all the stereotypes that come with it – some positive, some negative. Briefcases, long-hours, constantly-straightened hair, and an absent or invisible personal life.

Most of these images are false. Mashed together by assumptions and Hollywood cliches (please, no one’s hair is constantly straightened).

But, when it comes to relationships, one expert, EJ Love, reckons that these stereotypes can often also be the reality: Successful women can often find themselves in unsuccessful relationships.

“I was married quite young and I played a provider role. I supported my partner financially and it ended up being a very toxic relationship,” EJ told Mamamia.

“After that relationship, I didn’t want a strong connection with anyone. Then, five or six years ago, I made the decision to start looking at patterns. To analyse how I was showing up. I’ve always been very focused on my career and I wanted to know; how was that affecting my relationships?”

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After spending several years working on herself, EJ turned her focus to other women. Female entrepreneurs, in particular. In her experience, she says she found “women who are successful often attract relationships that aren’t successful.”

“These are strong, independent women living on purpose,” she said. “They can provide for themselves, they’re in control of their own lives. They definitely don’t ‘need a man’ the same way women once did.”

OK, this is a pretty big generalisation to make, so let’s unpack what EJ is saying. For her, it comes back to that word; control. 

“It’s often a generational thing. If a woman sees her mother, even her grandmother, are career women, or ‘wearing the pants’, it’s normal she will learn these lessons growing up,” EJ said.


“Maybe her father left when she was young, or perhaps the man of the household was abusive. These women have been left with the legacy  – they need to make sure they’re successful in order to survive. It’s all about safety and security, and this comes with a need for control.”

OK, so how does this I-am-only-comfortable-when-I-am-in-control attitude play out when there are two people involved?

“In a power play,” EJ confirms.

“A game where showing vulnerability, or real, insecure emotion is considered weakness. Instead, there is anger and exerting control and no real communication.”

Think about how that feels from the other end.

“No one wants to be controlled, every partner wants to feel worthy, amazing and seen. It’s important both people have a sense of purpose in the relationship,” EJ said.

Obviously being a successful woman isn’t synonymous with being controlling. But if you do find yourself needing control above all else in your relationships there’s a solution.

It’s all about effective communication. EJ says making basic changes with your language can make a huge difference to the relationship as a whole. For example, both partners choosing to use words like “help”, “need” and “provide” can go a long way in balancing a desire for control.

Finally, there comes patience and appreciation.

“Be patient and don’t automatically revert to control mode. Most importantly, never forget to say thank you. Appreciate and acknowledge the little things and your relationship will grow from there.”

It’s a two-way street – make sure you’re getting the same amount of thanks and appreciation.= from your partner.

Do you agree with EJ Love and think successful women struggle to have good relationships?