Growing up, I watched The Devil Wears Prada religiously; it’s my mom’s favorite movie so I’ve seen it a million times. One thing that always stuck out to me though was the scene where Andy’s boyfriend complains about the amount of time she spends at work, and is jealous of her success. We’ve seen this pattern before though; think of Joe Alwyn not coming to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour shows before their split, or when Ariana Grande wasn’t wearing her wedding or engagement rings at the Wimbledon. Her Campus reached out to Alwyn and Gomez’s teams for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
So, what is it with men who are unable to handle their girlfriend or partner’s success or fame? I spoke with two relationship experts — Sameera Sullivan and Laurel Roberts-Meese — about how to balance success and relationships, and here’s what I learned.
Where does success-related insecurity stem from?
When thinking back to The Devil Wears Prada, which is definitely going to be our case study in this article it seems like Nate’s resentment for Andy and her thriving career was a gradual process instead of being an overnight switch.
“What this really comes down to is lifestyle,” says Laurel Roberts-Meese, an LMFT and clinical director of Laurel Therapy Collective. “When two people have drastically different lifestyles, it creates a big strain on the relationship.”
It makes sense that having two different lifestyles can create a divide, I mean, men like Gomez or Alwyn certainly aren’t touring around the world 24/7 like Grande or Swift do.
Insecurity with a partner’s success can also stem from “various factors such as personal insecurities, fear of inadequacy, or a shift in power dynamics within the relationship,” says Sameera Sullivan, the founder of Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers.
So, if you’re an incredibly hard worker paying your dues like our Andy, then someone who lacks ambition may not be the best fit for you.
How should you approach a potentially awkward conversation about your success?
All conversations with your partner should be open and honest ones, especially delicate ones like this. Remember, you’re having this conversation because of their insecurities so it’s important to listen to those insecurities.
“Validate their feelings and create a safe space for them to share their concerns,” Sullivan says. “Assure them that your success doesn’t diminish their worth or your love for them. Encourage a dialogue to understand their insecurities and work together to find ways to support each other.”
Competition in relationships can be fun in small amounts, but no one wants their relationship with their SO to turn into a competitive relationship, which is when two people in a close dynamic constantly compete with each other, Master Class reported.
“The important thing is to be your partner’s biggest cheerleader and lift them up and celebrate their little and big wins,” Roberts-Meese says. “If they feel a lack of competition, it will help ease their mind.”
And if they want you to step away from your job…
Listening to your partner’s concerns about your work-life balance is important and normal because you don’t want to completely ignore or neglect people who are close to you. However, someone who actually loves you would never ask you to quit something you feel passionate about.
If you’re asked to step away from your job, your first step might be to determine what it is your partner is looking for, Roberts-Meese says.
“Is it more quality time?” Roberts-Meese asks. “More privacy? Or is it truly about your success? If it’s about being uncomfortable with your success and not a desire for more quality time or privacy, this may not be a sustainable partnership.”
If they can’t accept your willingness to adjust a work schedule rather than completely leaving your job, then that might be a preview to some more concerning red flags like being controlling or manipulative.
You’re your own Swift or Grande, and your ambition and success deserve to be celebrated! Women’s achievements are barely acknowledged, hence International Women’s Day, and you deserve more than a partner who turns your accomplishments into a competition.