Are Ambitious Men Necessarily Bad Boyfriends?

If he's so incredibly focused on his career, can he focus on you?

man in suit with woman behind him nuzzling his neck
(Image credit: Valentin Casarsa/iStock)

Earlier in the month, I mused about whether women are looking for "trophy husbands" — men who are so exceedingly successful and accomplished that they seem like real prizes. (Last week, on a similar note, I talked about whether or not men care what women do for a living.) Today, since I'm still preoccupied with the general topic, I'd like to discuss whether or not very ambitious men — and maybe very ambitious women, too — are actually inherently bad people to partner up with.

As I said in my trophy-dude post, I think part of the reason I'm so interested in landing an über-powerful man has to do with my subpar self-esteem: I'm not sure I'm so great, and my hope is that dating a very impressive guy might help the world think — and help me think — that, actually, maybe I'm somewhat special after all.

But that low self-esteem thing of mine also contributes to my commitment-phobia: I'm scared of getting too close to anyone, in part because I worry that when he finds out what I'm really like — when times get tough and I fall apart, for instance — he's going to run in the opposite direction, just when I was getting used to him. Who needs the emotional fallout?

And yet that makes me wonder if high-achieving men aren't, in a lot of ways, like me: They feel relentlessly driven to achieve because they, too, want proof of their worth — professional proof. They are also, as far as I can observe from personal experience, often fairly commitment-phobic (at least until they get to a certain point in their careers) — because they don't want to sacrifice too much time for any woman, not when they could be using those hours for work! Which is not to say they don't make some time to get laid ... because they do. But not too much time.

Why do I say all of this today? Because I went on a few dates with someone fairly recently — a Junior Mint, of course — who was GREAT in so many ways: super-cute, smart, affectionate, reassuring, responsible, fun to be around. And just so, so incredibly sweet. He made me feel like the prettiest girl in Brooklyn! And yet, I broke things off. Why? What was freaking me out? As I told my friends when they asked me to account for myself: "I guess I just didn't think he was ambitious enough. And I worried that if we got serious, maybe I would get kind of lazy and lose hold of my own discipline and ambitions."


Is this the worst rationale you've ever heard?

Also, for the reasons I've indicated above, I've started to wonder if it's not nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a young, ambitious guy who is also INCREDIBLY NICE and SELF-CONFIDENT. What do you guys think?

Like, I think I'm neurotic enough that it would be hard for me to have a relationship with someone who wasn't exceptionally nice — and yet I also think (judging from experience) that it's rare to find very ambitious guys who are also very sweet. Many overachievers are impatient and unforgiving with themselves, so it's no surprise that they're also impatient and unforgiving with others — particularly the people they're dating. Right?

But maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe it's just that ambitious dudes get impatient and unforgiving with me because I'm particularly sensitive. Or maybe I'm just most attracted to the assholes in any group of men, whether they're the ambitious ones of not, because I remain, deep down, a commitment-phobe! Who values my freedom more than a relationship. And an asshole won't ever keep me tied down for very long — because he'll move on soon enough.