Are Smart, Strong, Successful Women Too Busy For Love?

Dear Evan,

It’s been enlightening to read your blog. I’ve been paying more attention to social situations now, including my own. I have a general question based on my recent observations.

I went to many parties during the holiday season. I met smart, strong, successful single women at all of these events. It struck me recently that all of these women give off a vibe that is similar. I am also more in tune with my intuition at this point in my life. That intuition further tells me that these women are all on a similar path. It is as follows:

They are 36 to 44, give or take. They are single and childless. They have put a lot into their careers. They are in a comfortable space with their work, family, friends, and their leisure time. They seem to be vaguely open to a relationship: they get out there to socialize occasionally, but family, friends and hobbies take up most of their free time. I get the feeling that a guy has really got to fit into that space so that it is convenient to them, or that a guy has to excite them and fit all their checklist criteria before they are interested in dating.

I don’t want to group all women like this. It’s just what I am seeing. So is my perception off?

If my assessment is correct, then based on your blog, I should not make much effort here, because this type of woman does not deem a relationship to be a priority. Or maybe I should try to shake things up. If so, should I flirt and do some sophisticated version of what those seduction community coaches teach? I’ve tried that before, and the more tasteful approaches do lower a woman’s guard, but it has never led anywhere in the end anyway.

What do you think? –Dan

I think, Dan, that you hit the nail on the head.

And you’ve just arrived at the primary problem that my clients have when it comes to forging successful long-term relationships: they don’t want anything to change.

Nothing you wrote is insulting or demeaning or patronizing.

It’s just a normal guy’s observation about the women that he’s been meeting.

Not every woman is this way, of course, but almost ALL of my clients could meet your description:

36 to 44. Single and childless. Put a lot into their careers. Comfortable with their work, family, friends, and leisure time. Vaguely open to a relationship. Get out there to socialize occasionally, but family, friends and hobbies take up most of their free time.

But that’s just a demographic description of smart, strong, successful women.

This line is the real kicker:

I get the feeling that a guy has really got to fit into that space so that it is convenient to them, or that a guy has to excite them and fit all their checklist criteria before they are interested in dating.

Ding, ding, ding!

And you’ve just arrived at the primary problem that my clients have when it comes to forging successful long-term relationships; they don’t want anything to change.

They want the exact same life that they had previously, just with a man thrown in there for good measure. Perhaps she can squeeze him in between her triathlon training and her business trip to London, but wait, I’m sorry, my cell phone’s breaking up… I’ll call you back from the office tomorrow….

Understand, these are amazing women. I have tremendous respect for them and know that without them, I don’t even have a business.

You don’t meet Mr. Right and suddenly rearrange your life to accommodate him. You rearrange your life in order to date enough men to meet Mr. Right.

At the same time, the onus isn’t on you, Dan, to become a master seducer to jolt these women out of their orbit with some cocky/funny pickup artistry.

The onus is on these women to understand this fact:

You don’t make time FOR a man. You make time to FIND a man.

You don’t meet Mr. Right and suddenly rearrange your life to accommodate him. You rearrange your life in order to date enough men to meet Mr. Right.

I’m not saying that there’s nothing better you can do, Dan, to be a more effective flirt. Everyone can stand to improve in most aspects of his/her life. And a little charisma and edge never hurt a nice guy, that’s for sure.

And I’m not saying that there’s something fundamentally flawed about all the women who build up rich single lives because they can’t depend on the presence of a man.

I’m just saying that your observation is correct, and I can only hope that the women who feel indicted by this post take a deep breath before venting on me.

You’re not bad for being a strong, working woman. You’re impressive and admirable and powerful and all of those adjectives that successful women like to call each other.

Just understand that most guys aren’t going to climb your Ivory Tower to release you.

They’re simply going to find a house with an open door and walk right in.

2
2

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Nic

    Mr. Katz,

    Thank you for providing free advice and insights on women and dating. I read your blog and take away helpful advice. If I have differing opinion on an issue based on my personal experience, I take it with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, it is a win-win situation. It is a learning process either way. 

    @ Cynical Reader/s:

    Expressing disagreement in opinion is one thing. Questioning Mr. Katz motives and integrity is another.   

  2. 92
    Sacha

    Soul #93
     
    I know one such overweight woman who has been signing up for the gym every year and doesn’t actually go and then sighns again the next year. Do you know why she does it? Because her private health insurance pays for it and she has to sign up. However, they cannot make her use it ;)
     
    The reasons people quit/don’t use gyms don’t matter. The important point is that these people QUIT. Evan was talking about clients who are active. That is precisely why Evan’s “analogy” does not work and why my argument holds :D

    1. 92.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sacha, you’re really straining yourself to try and contradict me. It’s not working, precisely because I know my clients better than you know my clients. When a woman pays $5000 for dating coaching and then refuses to get online because she’s too busy, doesn’t prioritize making time for dates, and would rather climb Mt. Kilimanjaro than date men (an actual quote from one client), they’re not being active in love. They’re active in every other aspect of their lives and very often would sooner be alone than to change their dating behaviors. They’re not bad people, no more than people like me who taper off at the gym or guitar lessons are “bad”. It just means that neither of us will improve in an area that we originally stated we wanted to improve.

      Which is the original point of this post. Love doesn’t find you. You find it. Make time to meet men and you increase your likelihood of finding love. Expect men to drop into your lap in your office or on your yoga retreat and you may be waiting a long time. As most busy women can probably see for themselves. This isn’t a criticism, per se. It’s an observation.

  3. 93
    Diana

    To Evan #88, ah, but a “truly” smart person has the ability and the humility to admit when they’re wrong. :)

  4. 94
    Sacha

    Hi Evan, 
     
    Not straining myself, I am in fact having a lazy week due to illness, but am getting over it, so soon won’t have time to post and contradict you ;). Wouldn’t dream of trying to suggest I know your clients better than you. But thank you for finally answering what you mean by “almost ALL” of your clients are “vaguely open to a relationship”.
     
    Interesting that you interpret the things that you have listed, i.e. refusing to go online, not prioritizing time for dates and preferring to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as “vaguely open”. There could be other very obivous explanations. And even more interesting that “almost ALL” of your clients refuse to go online (but overall not surprising, and the lame excuse of being too busy should have been a hint in itself) and don’t prioirtize time for dates (with men they are not interested in, surely!). If that is indeed the case, there is nothing to argue about. But it is very telling if almost all of your clients do that, don’t you think? Not a ciritcism, just an observation, based on the information you have kindly provided.
     

  5. 95
    Ruby

    Ironic that people who are able to shell out 5 grand for date coaching aren’t actually open to dating…is “being in a relationship” just another box they have checked off on their “to do” list?

  6. 96
    helene

    I think its called “displacement activity” – you sign up for dating coaching rather than actually going on dates, but you can tell yourself you’re “doing something about your love life”. Many people do the same sort of thing for other areas of their life that they are sort of unhappy about but not motivated enough to actually change   – they watch cookery programmes on TV rather than actually cooking, or read “change your life” books rather than changing their life, or yes, buy a gym pass rather than actually taking exercise. In fact, people even repeatedly visit the doctor rather than actually trying to get well – it allows you to give the impression to friends and family that you’re taking suitable steps to solve your problems without actually making any changes! So no, it does not surprise me that people would pay a lot of money for dating coaching then be sluggish about putting any of it into practice…. Moving out of your comfort zone is always effortful, and so doing something somehow related to the change you should be making, without actually taking the bit between your teeth and doing it , is a soothing alternative.

  7. 97
    Still-Looking

    Helene@100
    Great explanation and I believe that is the “vibe” that Dan is picking up on. I’ve felt that vibe before and i must confess that since I don’t have a compelling urge to enter into a relationship, I too probably give off the same vibe.

  8. 98
    sarahrahrah!

    @ Lance2012 #78
     
    Thank you for your explanation.  Interestingly, I have a younger and an older child and I would still love to have another baby even though I am forty years old.
     
    I understand your concerns about being with another person’s children, but if you feel comfortable with kids, know that you are not “creepy” and trust your girlfriend, being accused of being “weird” with them should never, ever be an issue.
     
    Good luck on your quest for love!
     
    @EMK 
     
    Sorry for slightly veering from the topic and CONGRATULATIONS on your big win!  You deserve it! 

  9. 99
    Ruby

    helene #100

    Right, I get it, but almost all EMK’s clients, and all the women that Dan has been meeting in the 36-44 age range are not actually interested in a relationship? That’s a bit hard to believe. Plus, 5k is a lot more money to shell out than one pays for a few self-help books.

    When I go to my gym, alot of people are actually working out there. 

  10. 100
    amy

    Hey Ladies,
    I’m a bit late to this discussion, but as I recently moved to New York from LA two years ago, I can tell you that Evan is soooo right.
    Everyone here is sooooo busy all the time. They have no time to even make plans with me, except three weeks in advance. I don’t know how they have time to meet a man even for a date.

    About me: After my high powered job in LA ended, I moved to New York for three months to try it out. As  my time was ending in NY, I met a man and decided to stay. I soon got a job here and we moved in together. Now, I don’t know if the reason that it worked out because I was in a new city, with less of a social network, less of an important job, more room for someone. I hadn’t met someone in LA for 8 years! I was very very busy in LA.
      
    Look, I totally understand why a woman keeps busy. Who wants to sit around waiting for Mr. Right? Who wants to be crushed when a guy you like doesn’t call you back? We all know the reasons for creating this life, but once in a while you cross the line and make your network and life sooo busy there is no room for a man.
    So what does that mean in practice? Not necessarily quitting your job like Soul could afford to do. Or moving cities. It might mean taking one less class, or saying, I’m just going to make my life less full. I’m going to leave my weekends open for parties and dates and yes, I might feel a bit lonely and vulnerable sometimes, but don’t you understand? That’s the space that a man will come into. You can’t make space for him once you meet him. It’s very hard.

    In Law of Attraction, they tell you if you sleep in a single bed or double bed, to upgrade to a bigger bed and NOT sleep in the middle. It’s LITERALLY making space for someone else to come to you. You don’t wait till they come to make the space. You make the space for them to come.

    If this doesn’t apply to you, no need to take it personally.

     

  11. 101
    Soul

    @ AMY:

    I am loving your post. It perfectly describes what I wanted to express, i.e. what I was feeling in my former life, the vulnerability that came from having no “busy-ness” to take care of afterwards, and the space that this vulnerability has created for the right man to want to make me happy and want to enter my life.

  12. 102
    Goldie

    @ Amy:
     
    “It might mean taking one less class, or saying, I’m just going to make my life less full. I’m going to leave my weekends open for parties and dates and yes, I might feel a bit lonely and vulnerable sometimes, but don’t you understand? That’s the space that a man will come into.”
     
    Okay, I understand leaving your schedule less full in order to have more energy, or more flexibility with more time, but to make space for an abstract man? How about making your schedule more flexible instead, so it isn’t full of drop-dead mandatory commitments you cannot cancel? Instead fill it with activities that you can move, cancel and shuffle around if needed. People in my meetup groups totally understand when I tell them I won’t be around for a while, as I had to make room on my schedule and meetups seemed like the most rational thing to remove from it. Or here’s a novel idea! how about looking for a man that likes to do, if not all, then at least some of the things you like doing? Then the two of you could do those things together and you don’t have to stop doing them to make room for each other.
     
    “You can’t make space for him once you meet him. It’s very hard.”
     
    No it isn’t. I could write more, but I’ve got to go meet up with my man now :)

  13. 103
    amy

    Good for you, Goldie, as I mentioned in my comment, if this didn’t apply to you, that’s great! I don’t know where you live, but here in New York, as I see it, my friends don’t even have flexibility in their schedule to hang out with me, their good friend, even more so, little flexibility to make room for a man they barely know.
    I suppose the key word is flexibility, but as we get older and more set in our ways, that quality is harder to come by. All too often I see women so in love with their full lives as it were, that they don’t have time to meet or date a man.
    Sure, it seems counterintuitive to buy a queen-size bed when you’re only one person in hopes that a guy will come to fill it, the same way it seems counterintuitive to make room in your life by making it less busy for a man who isn’t there yet….
    And yet, nature abhors a vacuum. I can promise that if you make the room in your life for a man, he will come. And I’m not a dating coach nor do i have any vested interest in saying it.

  14. 104
    Goldie

    @ Amy, I guess what didn’t sit right with me after reading your first comment is that, I’m highly skeptical of anything that is supposed to work by magic. Buy a bigger bed, then one day you’ll wake up and there’ll be a guy in it. Cancel your class and stay home, then one day, I don’t know how, a man will come into your life. Men are not unicorns! There’s always a rational explanation to what makes them come into our life and stay in it, or not.
     
    I’ve actually always wanted to buy a big bed, but for a practical reason – if you’re single and occasionally dating, there’s pretty much a guarantee that one day you’ll bring a guy home, and trying to fit a big man into a small bed can be very awkward! There’s also a rational reason for not overfilling your schedule, as you say in your last comment – “All too often I see women so in love with their full lives as it were, that they don’t have time to meet or date a man.” This is exactly what my girlfriends told me, except the way they put it was “if you don’t start dating soon, the single life will suck you in”. But, at the same time, sitting at home waiting for a man? I’ve seen my college roommates do it. In the five years I knew these girls, none of them got a single date by staying in their room and wishing for a guy to come into their life. And that’s in college, when all you have to do to get dates is pretty much have a pulse.
     
    Bottom line, from my experience, if something sounds counter-intuitive, look for a rational explanation. If you can find no rational explanation for something, then it’s probably not a good idea to do it.
     
    “I suppose the key word is flexibility, but as we get older and more set in our ways, that quality is harder to come by”
     
    I guess this depends on a woman and her experience. Personally, after years of raising kids, I’m pretty much used to being prepared for my entire schedule to change at a moment’s notice. At this point, I’ve had so much training, it comes naturally to me.

  15. 105
    happygirl

    I read this post and would admit that pretty much describes me. But you know what I was in a marriage for 13 years. I put a lot of effort into the marriage to make it work. I took responsabilty for the fact that I had not made the right choice concerning a life partner. I got divorced and I am thankful and happy about that decision every single day!! I enjoy the peacefulnes in my home. Now as for finding a man…not so easy. I guess I have my life carved out now and like the life that I live. So I would honestly say that I am no longer looking for a man in my life. Maybe that will happen later…and if not…well that is fine too.

  16. 106
    amy

    @Goldie, if you have kids then you are probably a flexible person. I also think that Evan was talking about a certain urban single woman who has never been married or had kids.
     
    Also, who ever said anything about “staying home and waiting for a man?” Clearing your schedule might mean going to more singles parties or readings where a man might be. Obviously, one should not center their lives around the possibility of meeting a man or only doing things where a man might be involved (I have a lot of those friends too), it’s just allowing for the time, space and place to actually allow a man to enter.
    But you sound like you have balance and flexibility.
     

  17. 107
    Betsey

    SS@68: I agree with Lara. Like the original poster, you’re assuming that these women don’t have a love life, when neither of you knows anything about these women. You don’t know if they’re compartmentalizing or not or if they’re good at it or not. You know nothing about them.

  18. 108
    Andrew

    If a woman isn’t available… then she’s not attractive.
    Is this hard to understand?

  19. 109
    Saint Stephen

    @Betsey
    If you did read I and Lara string of comments exchange – you’ll notice that wasn’t our original point of argument. Since our argument wasn’t whether men are better compartmentalizers than women, but on my use of semantics, i don’t think I need to refute anything, it will only serve to prolong the thread.  

  20. 110
    Katie Martin

    I’m not sure how I feel about this post. I mean, yes, many successful women are often extremely busy which makes them have a harder time finding free time for dating/relationships. But I also really agree with Helen (from the very beginning of the comments!) when she was talking about how having dating be difficult doesn’t mean that stereotypes need to be made. Couldn’t it just be that although Dan is attracted to these women that they aren’t actually the right person type for him? Also, it might just be that although he could very possibly be a nice and charming guy, maybe he isn’t the women’s type. That’s nothing against him, just bad luck. It seems a little forward to just start assuming that someone is not datable just because they are busy or picky. A lot of people are that way, whether they are a successful business woman or not.

  21. 111
    Mack

    Ok men do like women that have decent good jobs and college education but what I think men mean by women being too successful and busy for love is single men take that as they won’t MAKE any time for men and dating. A lot of single women use their work, successfulness as an excuse to say I’m toooooo busy, don’t have time. Of COURSE YOU HAVE TIME!!!!! Anyone can MAKE TIME to fit in dating. So I think single men that see women as too successful and busy think that a lot of these single women will use that as an excuse and keep (figuratively) blowing off men. I think a lot of men are tired of a lot of single women that use the I’m too busy excuse and a lot of single men are like meh why even bother with them cause she will use the I’m too busy excuse. Also I think  a lot of men don’t like a lot of single women that are too successful because to a lot of single men too successful women translates into the Miss know it all, the I always got A’s and rub it into peoples noses, the ultra competitiveness, the cattiness. Men don’t like that in women, it’s a huge turnoff for men. At the same time men do like successful women as long as they leave that ultra competitiveness, I always got A’s and cattiness and the successful ladies are like yeah I have this great job but like egh it’s cool but they don’t make a huge deal about it… Something like that!!!       
     
     

  22. 112
    Paul

    I’m a single guy who’s entering his late 20s in a top American city.  At first, upon moving here, I was so happy to meet smart, passionate, hard-working women who differed so much from the less urbane women from my small town.
    My first reaction was “wow, look at all the single women here!”  I was impressed that a guy in his 50s could easily scoop up an attractive and intelligent 35 year old.
    Then it hit me… “there are a lot of single women here! And they don’t all seem happy!”  The reason the older guy could scoop up a younger bride is that supply and demand worked very well in his favor.  This city is much more female and a large percentage of the male population is not interested in women.
    I began to hear from more and more female friends about the impossibility of finding a man.  Knowing that the odds were against them while hunting on the wild, I tried to set up several of them with male friends of mine, to no avail.
    One of them said: “Your friend is cute, and I’ve often thought about him, in many ways.  But I just can’t right now  I have a big project that won’t wrap up until the end of the year, and then I’m going to reward myself with a big trip.”  Then she started crying.
    One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.

  23. 113
    marymary

    Paul
    Aw.
    It’s fear. We’re too busy, too young, too old, too burned, too picky, too independent, too pretty, too homely etc.
    It’s excuses. Deep down, we’re scared of getting hurt.
    Im not judging – that was me and will be again if my current relationship hits the wall. 

  24. 114
    blueberrie

    Here’s a twist on this conversation…
    Most women in that age bracket worked hard to get where they are, to build that life and not many of us want to just risk it all by getting involved with whatever douche bag comes along, we are smarter than that.  And trust me there are 98% more douche bags out there then nice good gentlemen who actually want relationships and who aren’t cry babies or control freaks or who aren’t looking for a sugar mama.  So if you are a gentleman and you wish to get into a relationship with one of these women, you might have to work that much harder to earn her trust, prove to her that you aren’t like the 98% of other guys out there who just want to get into her pants and nothing more. 
    Trust me most of these women have tried to make time for men in their lives just to find out that they were duped, cheated on, etc etc you name it, and we just decided to focus on the things that are almost guaranteed to bring us happiness in our lives, and not on those fairy tale dreams of a relationship that lasts forever.  We can’t and won’t risk our personal happiness and our financial independence on the chance that some guy will actually pan out…  sad but true.
     

  25. 115
    Mike

    I found this article from a google search; not sure how old it is but it’s a subject that interests me greatly. The same problem persists for single men in their 50s, of which I am one: women too busy to date but still want a relationship. I am a youthful in spirit and looks (so I’ve been told) 56 year-old divorced man. I have a great job, some financial success, grown children, upbeat relationship with my ex-wife, hobbies, friends, and interests. I find that the single women in my age group, 50-58 approximately, suffer from the same problem as the younger women described in this article. They fill all of their time with busy-ness – work, gym, women friends, walking the dog, travelling with women friends or alone, and many other various activities. The only difference between women in my age group and younger women is that in my age group, they often have adult or nearly adult children. Everything else is the same.
    These women uniformly describe their busy lives in their online dating profiles and one is left to wonder: if they’re that busy, a) why are they looking for men on an online dating site, and b) how can they possibly find time for a relationship? Also, somebody posted that these women are often reluctant to fully embrace a relationship with a man because they are afraid of getting burned by the next bad guy. I have in fact experienced that myself, and I’m no bad guy.  I think, and no offense meant to these successful alpha women – I prefer such women as they are more interesting and often have more to offer in the intelligence department – that they very fact of their “busy-ness” pushes men away, and since a lot of men are frankly cowards, they find a new mate before leaving the first one who doesn’t have time for them.  Hence the cheating, lying, etc. Silly me, I’m one of those guys who actually stuck it out for the long haul (4.5 years) in one these relationships until I got tired of being a low priority, then I ended it before I did anything cowardly. 
    Ladies, if you really want to be in a great, enriching relationship, you have to compromise by giving up some of your busy-ness to attend to the relationship, and you have to take a risk. Nothing worth having ever came without some risk. We nice guys are really sorry that you’ve been burned in the past, but we’re tired of paying for the crimes of your past boyfriends/husbands. And honestly, we don’t mind that you’re busy. We LIKE that you have a lot of varied interests and friends and work and long lists of things to do all the time. We just want to be at the top of the list, that’s all. After all, we put you at the top of OUR list.
    Thanks for reading.

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