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There is a common misconception among women that men are intimidated by success and that they might scare off potential suitors if they become too two self-sufficient. But I can assure you, from a guys perspective, this is just not the case.

I'll admit, I might have been a little less interested in a woman's brains and grit when I was a pubescent teenager. But now, as a grown man, I’ve come to value things like ambition, responsibility, and even a professional savvy above many of the other more shallow attributes I dreamed of in an ideal match in my youth.  

I’ve also noticed that I’m not the only one who prefers a woman who can hold her own. Many of my friends have married women who are particularly successful in their own right—from doctors to lawyers to businesswomen—and many of my single friends are definitely looking for someone who is confident and can take care of herself.

Let me explain.

There are some misconceptions that can throw you off.

I can see why women might not realize that guys appreciate things like self-sufficiency. On the one hand, it feels kind of weird to even say I’m looking for a successful woman. Men do seem to be forthcoming about some things they’re looking for (body type, for one), but less so about others.  

Furthermore, successful professional women and especially self-sufficient woman can often be mischaracterized by the vices people assume they have (which is pretty sexist and unfair.) Overbearing, controlling, and narcissistic are not exactly buzzwords I’m looking for in a Bumble profile, yet we often pre-judge independent women as such. 

If you think about how many men admire their mother, it makes sense.

Think about it: how many times have you heard of or even seen first-hand a guy who’s basically looking for someone like his own mother. Have you ever thought about that? 

Think of what makes a good mother and how that would translate to a potential partner. She’s strong, reliable, and trustworthy. She doesn’t shrink under stress because she can’t afford to. she has other people—namely her kids—who are counting on her. She’s a go-getter, a problem solver, and she’s not afraid to tell you when you messed up. The truth is, a lot of the things you do know about what guys are looking for actually suggest more of the strong and independent type than frail and needy.

But what about all those guys who date insecure women?

That’s not to say all men are only attracted to strong, independent types, or even that every self-sufficient woman is inherently attractive. There are plenty of guys who end up gravitating towards insecure women one way or another, and some even because they are looking for that. But from what I can tell, insecure women are attractive despite the fact they're insecure and not because of it. I can't remember ever thinking, “Wow this girl I’m dating is so unsure of herself. Oh, joy.”

That’s also not to say that men are looking for perfect women either—or, more to the point, women who can’t imagine a man contributing anything to their lives. As a buddy of mine puts it: “I don’t want her to need me, but I do want her to rely on me, as I want to be able to rely on her.”

At the end of the day . . .

There’s something about a woman who is doing some cool things with her own life that makes me want to get my own act together. Not because anybody is playing savior to anybody else, but because of the opposite: I know that in a healthy relationship there’s a sense of equality—better yet, a sense of complementarity. And when I see someone with whom I want to be complementary—and I know I’m not quite there yet—that means I need to step up my game. We might not always be quick to volunteer that preference, or even always be able to articulate it, but men seek that kind of inspiration.