The Real Reason Men "Can’t Handle" Powerful Women

The real reason women believe that men can’t handle our greatness? It gives us an excuse not to handle theirs.


When I first saw the headline, I balked a bit. Okay, a lot. Especially after clicking through and reading these ’10 reasons most men can’t handle a deep woman’. Because ‘deep women’ are honest! And know what they want! And are looking for a deep, intimate, real relationship!


In other words, the reasons are: because men are shallow, dishonest, distant, closed off, and incapable of real love. That’s what this viral article is really saying. And it’s not unique. It’s proliferated around the web, being republished over and over, in the few days since I first saw it, and there are thousands of others like it, with similar ideas about just how useless, unreliable, inherently disappointing, and frankly inferior men really are. The idea that most men can’t handle women, that men are letting us down, is everywhere these days.


Here’s the thing. These articles and ideas? They’re wrong. And they damage all of us in profoundly deep ways. In particular, these beliefs cause women to have terrible, unsatisfying and heartbreaking relationships with men.


This isn’t about men. It’s about women. It’s about unhealed pain. And these beliefs don’t just prevent healing that pain – they create even more of it.


Imagine an article titled ‘Most people can’t handle deep people.’ What would that really mean? It would mean that most people have difficulty meeting deep people where they are. Fully showing up, in the way that ‘deep’ people do, and want others to do, in the way that’s needed for true, satisfying intimacy.


In our culture, we have this story that men never show up for us. From the absent father and mid-life-crisis abandoner to the ‘best friend’ who secretly just wanted to get laid, the ghosting tinder date and the guy we lost our virginity to who didn’t know what a clitoris was, our very identity as women is shaped by stories of men letting us down.


Over, and over, and over.


Almost all of us have experienced that sense of abandonment, rejection and deep shame at some point in our lives. And in the context of a culture that tells the story that ‘good men are as rare as unicorns’, and that men are so unreliable, so unable to meet our needs that we must pretend we don’t need them, or need them ‘as much as a fish needs a bicycle’, that pain feels even more powerless, because it is tinged with fear.


The fear that no man will ever show up for us. That no man will ever provide us with what we need.


Now imagine an article titled ‘Most women can’t handle deep men.’ I don’t know about you, but I can already hear the outcry – that it’s misogyny, the hatred of women; that it’s just men who are angry they’ve lost a bit of power and privilege; that it’s sexist.


Those things are all correct. And it’s vital to understanding what happens when we as women believe that men will always let us down; to understanding why articles like the one mentioned go viral:


Because when we feel powerless, we have a choice. We can either look within, take our power back by taking responsibility for ourselves and our own actions, and heal… or we can blame someone else, and get angry.


The author of the original article wasn’t trying to be sexist against men. No, this belief doesn’t have hatred as it’s motivation – quite the opposite. It comes from powerlessness, which is based on fear that men will always let us down… And pain, from times that they have. It’s written from a place of woundedness, fear, and scarcity.


Not from a place of writing about reality.


Spoiler alert: men can handle deep, or strong, or smart, or otherwise powerful women just as well as women can handle powerful men.


But articles like that one, they act to confirm the belief, presented all around us, that men will never fully love us, for who we are, never give us what we need, never truly meet us.


And because we learn to believe that they can’t, our actions towards men change. We close our hearts, find what we expect, and end up in relationships where our deepness isn’t met, accepted and celebrated. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy, and a heartbreaking one: we learn to sabotage our relationships with men.


The truth is that, to the extent that individual men are able, based on maturity and experience, nine out of ten men are dying to share our real, deep emotional selves, to witness us, to be truly intimate. To be the one we choose, the one we give the chance to step up and be a great man, for the world, and for us.


Nine out of ten are so, so eager to do that. To love us. Truly and deeply. They won’t do it perfectly – no one can. But they will do it, they will give it their all, they will love us honestly.


If we let them.



Hi! I’m Kathryn Hogan. If you liked this article, you’ll love my new book, which provides practical tools for overcoming the most common types of self sabotage. Your Big Life: Ground Rules to Get Unstuck and Stop Sabotaging Yourself, is coming now available! I’m a wellness and relationship coach, and author. I share powerful tools and mindful practices to help you live that Big, Rich, Satisfying life your heart knows you’re meant to be living.

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1 Comment

  • Tim Perry says:

    A healthy perspective from a place of empathy. Lots of people writing on gender these days, from both the feminist and MRM camps, get trapped in a mindset of victimhood or contempt. Even those who are well meaning and intelligent can spiral into this line of thinking if they’re emotionally wounded and isolated from a balanced perspective.

    With so many frustrated people being sucked into ideological echo chambers, the rift between the sexes just increases.

    Even supposedly inclusive campaigns, like HeForShe (and I’ll ignore the chivalric gender roles imbued in that branding), can lack empathy. In this case, they reached out to men to tell them — instead of asking them — what their problems are. The source of these prescribed problems is always the same: toxic masculinity, patriarchal constructs and lack of [socially acceptable and conveniently timed] emotional expression.

    But, a consideration of the most visceral problems many men actually experience, like being forcefully separated from their children, being forcefully separated from their foreskin, being homeless, failing school, being raised without healthy male role models, dying young in industrial accidents and wars, should give a more specific roadmap on how society can prevent more men from becoming the deadbeats and demons that are so worth complaining about.

    Most men are not victims in need of help, or aggressors in need of scourne. But, most do want to feel useful, and be accepted for who they are, rather than told they need to change. A recent example: MTV’s prescribed “2017 New Years Resolutions for White Guys”: //

    Writing like yours that seeks to bridge the gap is important these days.

    Keep up the great work, Kathryn.