THE BLOG

Powerful Women in Love: Do Powerful Women Need a Power-Based Partnership?

06/07/2010 12:04 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

This post is part of the "Modern Male Brains & the Young, Powerful Women Who Love Them" series compiled by Dr. Louann Brizendine, neuroscientist and author of the recent book, The Male Brain. The series explores how the next generation of women relates to love while balancing complex, stressful lives.

Bill and Hillary. Carville and Matalin. Sarkozy and Bruni. Brangelina. In thinking about powerful, prominent women in love these days, it is easy to conjure the image of the traditional "power couple."

It makes sense that many on-the-go, rockstar women are drawn to other on-the-go rockstars. Relationships take time and effort, a meshing of values and at least a few similar interests. For a woman who finds herself going from boardroom to boardroom, airport to airport, finding a mate that understands and shares that lifestyle may seem the best -- or only -- option.

But today, powerful women have more freedom than ever to have both vibrant careers and loving relationships, and to have the two be as related or unrelated as they choose.

Take for instance my favorite female politician from the other side of the aisle, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Talk about an inspiring story of a powerful woman: a mother of three and a rising star in the House, she underwent multiple surgeries in 2008 to combat breast cancer. No one but a few family members and staffers knew at the time.

In a fantastic article about Wasserman-Schultz published last year, her marriage is described as one that "paired two opposites," with her husband Steve working at a bank, taking care of their children, picking them up from soccer practice and making chicken nuggets on the nights each week that Wasserman-Schultz is in Washington.

Powerful women with husbands who aren't also CEOs aren't rare at all, but we don't hear about them as often. I disagree with the notion that these stories aren't as noteworthy or interesting.

I find this story, and those like it, incredibly empowering. There is more than one way for a powerful woman to be in love. These days, thankfully, a woman doesn't need a rich man or a powerful man in order to be seen as powerful herself. And she doesn't need to hide her ambitions either. She can simply fall in love and find someone who makes her happy. All doors are open.

Things have not always been this way. And, to be sure, things are not perfect these days either. Women with busy schedules and big goals can easily assume that we need to either hold ourselves back or find someone else who operates at our speed.

It's because of experience that many successful women worry about being able to be themselves -- fully, unapologetically -- in a relationship. Yet I have hope that these fears will become a thing of the past.

No matter how talented, driven, and independent any individual -- man or woman -- may be, it is tough to deny that for all of us, life is a team sport. We are all supported by a structure of family members and loved ones that ground us, guide us and support us. While some on our "team" are determined by blood, some are invited by choice. The decisions to love and whom to love are the most important in our life. I feel incredibly grateful that today's powerful woman is more able than ever before to make those decisions without restriction -- to be both completely herself, completely successful and completely in love.

Also in today's series: Desiree Peterkin Bell and Marissa Louie.