Are you jealous of your girlfriend?
Men tend to feel threatened by their partner's accomplishments, research suggests.
By Laura Tedesco
Do you get a little jealous when your girlfriend scores a big promotion? That twinge of envy may be your testosterone talking. New research from the University of Florida finds that men tend to feel threatened by their partner's success.
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In the study, the scientists asked guys to think about times when their significant other failed or succeeded. Men's self-esteem sunk when they recalled their girlfriend's triumph, but women weren't intimidated by their guy's achievement.
One explanation: Males are more likely to interpret "my partner is successful" as "my partner is more successful than me." According to Kate Ratliff, the study's author and an assistant professor of psychology, "Men are stereotypically associated with success and competence, particularly in academic and work environments." That means her victory may seem like a threat to yours -- or to the relationship. "There may be a lingering concern that your successful partner won't think you're good enough," she says.
(Men are from Mars, and women are . . . also from Mars, according to these 3 Myths about Women You Shouldn't Believe.)
Self-awareness is the critical fix, because the shift in your confidence may be subtle. "It may lead to fleeting feelings of negativity, or perhaps lashing out a bit and not knowing why," says Ratliff.
So before you respond to her good news -- even positively -- ask yourself: Is there an undertone of envy to my praise? "The typical response is to downplay the importance of the success," Ratliff says. Instead, think about all the positive qualities of your partner, then compliment her accomplishment with those things in mind (e.g. "Your boss must have realized how incredibly creative you are.") And go ahead, bask in your own private victory: You've managed to snag a driven, capable woman. We call that success.(Turn to our in-house relationship expert! Sign up for The Girl Next Door newsletter for must-have sex, dating, and marriage tips delivered straight to your inbox.)
Photo: John Lund/Heather Hryciw/Getty Images