Can a Smart, Strong, Successful Woman Get A Smart, Strong, Successful Man?


Hey Evan, I’m having trouble –as I guess most of the people on this blog are– with finding a partner. I took the big step of asking a friend to be brutally dead honest with me about why they thought I couldn’t find someone great. No wishy-washy answers about giving it time, or not meeting the right kind of people, just absolute dead straight feedback. They thought about it for a good long time, and then replied that I intimidate men. They pointed out that I have a very good degree from a top university, but more than that, in my personal life I am very straightforward and honest. I play no games, hide behind no lies and I play by my own rules. Basically it came down to the fact that I’m not super-feminine. I’m short and slim, and pretty enough if no great beauty, and I dress in a hyper feminine way: dresses, heels, makeup, hair done. I smile a lot. But personality-wise, I am not feminine in the least. I’m the kind of person that values energy, directness, and honesty, and provides them. I have a great sense of humor (verified by friends and family) and I am flippant rather than intense and romantic. My friend said that men didn’t like that. They didn’t like a woman who was funnier than they are, who would earn more at equivalent stages of life and who didn’t want a man to protect and look after her. My BIG question is: are there men who will want me as I am? I am willing to change a lot, but I’m not willing to become some submissive little doll of a woman who only cares about her husband’s success rather than her own. Am I destined to live alone, rolling in a big pile of money, but without anyone to share it with? Yes I have my faults, huge amounts of them, but would I be better off pretending to be someone else? –Amber

Hate to tell you, Amber, but…

Your friend lied to you.

You don’t really intimidate men.

Being feminine isn’t defined by long hair or a curvy body –– being feminine is about being receptive, warm, upbeat, nurturing, supportive, sexy, and confident in your own femininity.

The truth is that the men you want don’t want you in return.

This is the topic of the most popular blog post I’ve ever written, although I’m not exactly sure what’s up for debate.

Before I get into explaining my thesis, I want to backtrack a little bit.

It’s possible that you intimidate men. But even if you do, you wouldn’t really want to marry a man who is intimidated by you, right?

So if we can discard those guys who think you’re too much for them, why would any other man not want to be with you?

I don’t know you personally, but you’ve identified it yourself: “I am not feminine in the least.”

Being feminine isn’t defined by long hair or a curvy body or – as you falsely state – becoming some “submissive little doll of a woman.”

Being feminine is about being receptive, warm, upbeat, nurturing, supportive, sexy, and confident in your own femininity.

The great news is that you can still be smart, strong, and successful and possess ALL of these qualities.

But there simply aren’t many men who think that the most important qualities in a wife are straightforward, direct, flippant, funny and rich.

Sorry about that. I’m just reporting what you’ve already seen.

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing WRONG with being direct, honest, flippant, funny and rich (really, there’s not!). But you know who else is that way?

The men you’re looking to date.

Problem is: those men have no desire to date themselves.

This is the dichotomy of the smart, strong, successful woman.

You want to date the male version of yourself.

He doesn’t.

He’s looking for someone to complement him, to give him what he doesn’t get from his guy friends, what he can’t find in the office.

There’s one other thing that struck me about your email, Amber.

It was this line:

“They didn’t like a woman who was funnier than they are, who would earn more at equivalent stages of life and who didn’t want a man to protect and look after her.”

If we aren’t financially supporting you, if we aren’t protecting you, listening to you, helping to fix the plumbing, setting up the computer, picking you up at the airport… what exactly are we there for?

There’s just too many fallacies being thrown around here:

You’re too funny? And that’s a negative? My sister is certainly funnier than her husband. My mom was arguably funnier than my dad. Some people think my wife is funnier than I am (and I’m a former comedy writer).

So I’m not down with that. What I will agree with is that two people can’t be the center of attention and if you’re the center of attention and he (as an alpha male) likes to be the center of attention, his needs aren’t being met with you. Doesn’t make you wrong for being this way, but it might mean you need to choose a guy who can take a backseat to your big personality.

Your next point was about you earning more money than men.

Sure, some guys have their masculinity threatened by that. For many years, we’ve been taught that we have to be the providers – witness the number of women who expect men to pay for the first date, to pay for the wedding ring, etc. It’s not something that we can easily get over. At the same time, you making money is not the deal breaker you think it is – at least not with an enlightened man.

Listen, I’d love it if my wife made a million bucks. But in order to do that, she’d probably have to work 50-60 hours a week, go into the office on weekends, travel, and be less available for nights watching TV, weekend trips away, and regular sex. No, thanks. I’m fine with her making $50K.

Most other successful men have come to the same conclusion. If he does fine for himself, he doesn’t care what his wife makes. It’s only women who make a lot of money who care what their spouses make.

Finally, what you don’t seem to understand here, Amber, is that men want to be NEEDED. If we aren’t financially supporting you, if we aren’t protecting you, listening to you, helping to fix the plumbing, setting up the computer, picking you up at the airport… what exactly are we there for?

You wrote that you don’t “want a man to protect and look after” you.

That’s unfortunate. Because that’s what WE want to do.

As to your final question: “are there men who will want me as I am?”

Are there men who don’t want to be needed? Who value your directness over your supportiveness? Sure. Probably.

But they may not be the men that you want to date.

Despite your attraction, any strong-willed man will clash with you non-stop, so what you’re left with is a more pliant beta-male.

Those are your choices: soften up a bit and tap into your feminine side or find a softer man who embraces your directness because he doesn’t have it himself.

P.S. Most of my successful clients were the ones who chose different men instead of attempting to change their own personalities.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Helen

    While I agree with Evan’s response completely, the title of this post doesn’t necessarily match the writer’s letter.

    Amber didn’t say that she wanted an alpha male: a “smart, strong, successful man.” Her letter sounds as though she just wants a man, period.  Yet there is something about her letter that makes me wonder if even the so-called beta-males would want her.  It is that she seems very critical and and possibly bitter.  The statement about the “submissive little doll of a woman” backs that up.  Plenty of women are in relationships; obviously we’re not all submissive little dolls.   

    I think Evan’s advice about feminine behavior is spot-on as far as attracting alpha males, but to attract ANY male (any female, for that matter), she needs to work on having a more positive viewpoint and not being so quick to criticize or blame others – whether it’s men or other women.

  2. 2
    Amy

    You can be funny and smart without having to prove it all the time. Sounds like you’re trying too hard and protesting too much. I’m a smart, funny and caustic woman who learned that if I’m so independent, why do I have to proclaim it always. And why was I using my wit and intelligence to push people away? Chill out! If you really are all that you say you are, it will come out in time. Dating is not a competition. Change the way you present yourself cuz you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder.

  3. 3
    AndThatsWhyYoureSingle

    They thought about it for a good long time, and then replied that I intimidate men.


    And there it is. The greatest lie ever told to single women. Evan is dead on when he says men are not intimidated by women. Men use “intimidated” because it appeals to the woman’s ego. What they really mean is a variation of “unlikeable.”

    What a man looks for when meetingt a potential partner, right after a physical attraction, is whether or not she displays any level of vulnerability. That is what men consider uniquely feminine about women. That’s what men want in a partner. Someone who can be vulnerable and with whom they can be vulnerable. A woman can be direct and honest and assertive and still display a level of vulnerability. It’s not the assertive nature that turns off men. It’s the assertive nature that is devoid of vulnerability that gives men cause for concern.

  4. 4
    Gem

    My boyfriend just told me last night,
     
    “I love you so much. I want to take care of you, and protect you. If you need anything, you come to Joey, and he’ll take care of it for you.”
     
    Now, he wasn’t necessarily talking about finances here, but he does mean that as well. Generally speaking, he means if I need advice, or have a problem at home (with my car or house), or if I am upset about something, he expects to know about it, and help me.
     
    I’ve been single for 5 years since my divorce and have taken care of all things in my life: home, money, emotions — I CAN continue to do so but there is something wonderful about a man who wants to be your hero, and a woman who is willing to let him. :)

    1. 4.1
      Syl

      So totally agree! It’s a wonderful thing for a man to WANT to be your protector…i think when I see/feel that – then I step into my feminine energy. Otherwise I’m just in battle mode protecting myself from the Deceptions out there.

  5. 5
    Heather

    Interesting article, but I’m genuinely confused.  I dated a guy who told me I could lean on him, and I did…..and then he dumped me because “I was too needy.”  So I took that to heart and made it clear to other dates that I don’t “need” a man, I’m doing just great on my own, thank you very much.  And guys don’t like that either.

    So which is it, Evan?  I mean I can’t seem to win here.  Be vulnerable, and I’ve tried that, letting guys know I am sad about my Mom’s battle with cancer, and they run.  I tell guys hey, I’m strong, I’m good, I learned alot from my divorce and I’m very independent, and they run too.

    I am one very, very confused lady.  Just can’t seem to win for losing, and boy am I trying hard here!!!

  6. 6
    Ann

    To the OP: Sounds like your complement would be a truly masculine guy, “masculine” being a guy who is receptive, warm, upbeat, nurturing, supportive, sexy, and confident in his own masculinity. They do exist!!!

  7. 7
    Ruby

    The problem with asking a friend’s advice on something like this is that you get the friend’s personal opinion. If it’s a male friend, a woman like Amber might be intimidating to them. If it’s a female friend, she might think that women shouldn’t be funnier or earn more because that’s what she was always taught to believe. The goal is to find someone who likes a funny, high-earning, independent woman, and forget the ones who don’t. I’m sure they are out there.

  8. 8
    Ann

    Ruby@7: This is so true!! I’d forgotten how you have to consider the source when taking in feedback.

    For awhile there I was working a serious day job in one industry and freelancing in a different industry on my off days. I wore the same clothes for both, and when shopping for work clothes tried to strike a balance between the two environments. In the first, my boss thought I dressed too provocatively (I wore dresses instead of suits). In the second, they thought I was too dowdy. Same outfit! Too funny!!!

  9. 9
    Steve

    AndThatsWhyYouAre Single #3 wrote
    And there it is. The greatest lie ever told to single women. Evan is dead on when he says men are not intimidated by women. Men use “intimidated” because it appeals to the woman’s ego. What they really mean is a variation of “unlikeable.”
     
    I disagree.
     
    I think it is the other way around.
     
    Men don’t say they are “intimidated by women” it would be tantamount to admitting they feel castrated.    I do think you have it right, just backwards.  Women use that phrase because it is an ego saver.   Instead of having to admit that they are unlikeable they can seem men are intimidated by them which is code for “they don’t like me because I am so special”
     
     

  10. 10
    Joe

    There’s a difference between being needing help and being helpless.  When a guy says you can lean on him, it doesn’t mean he wants you to need his help all the time; it means he’ll be there when you really need help.

  11. 11
    That East Asian Man

     
    Dear Amber.  Each individual has illusions about himself or herself.  I know that I do, and your statement shows that you do as well.  For example, you say that you “play no games” in a relationship, but then you say that you are “very straightforward and honest,” and value and provide “directness, and honesty.”  These are all aspects of the game that you play.  
     
    Playing a particular game is neither good nor bad in itself. The real issue is what kind of man wants to be in a relationship with you because of your game.  Most likely, that man is a follower and not a leader; he believes that he deserves any criticism that you may bestow on him, because he has doubts about himself, and needs a strong partner to help him; he is willing to do whatever you want him to do, to obtain your approval.  The reason that you are not in a relationship right now is because you are not attracted to the men that your game is attracting to you.
     
    Your game is not who you really are.  I know that the real you is a loving and wonderful woman, who deserves to be in a relationship with a loving and wonderful man.  Change your game, and change your life. 
     

  12. 12
    Maria

    I’m interested in the third person plural pronoun that Amber used to describe the friend that called her “intimidating”. 
    “I took the big step of asking a friend to be brutally dead honest with me”

    “about why they thought I couldn’t find someone great.”

    They thought about it”

    pointed out”
    All kind of weird, to me.  I think Evan is dead on about the femininity angle.  Being receptive doesn’t mean being needy or losing an edge.  It just means being real and open and genuine, and vulnerable.  My guess is that Amber, with her distancing third person pronouns, has a little trouble with the vulnerability and openness angle.

  13. 13
    Michelle

    Heather, continue your learning process so you fully understand what it is that men are looking for in general.  Then you need to internalize that and grow to be that woman.  Not putting on an act or going through the motions.  Sounds like you’re understanding this stuff tactically, and men can figure out that you’re not being authentic.

    Then go about choosing men/a man who can give you what you need.  Typically one has to go through a lot of potential mates if they are choosy, just the way it is.

  14. 14
    Michelle

    I agree with the word ‘intimated’ and that women who are unlikeable blame the men (and everyone else) so they don’t have to own up to their own shortcomings.

    I’m a strong, independent, confident, outgoing, outspoken (but kind), successful woman , that really enjoys sports and who probably makes more money than the men I have dated and the man I’m currently dating.   I’ve learned to bring out, embrace and totally enjoy my femininity, which is what Evan is saying is what is important.  And I do both roles authentically. If I can learn to do that, anyone can learn to do the same.

  15. 15
    Sayanta

    I love East Asian man’s response

  16. 16
    AnnieC

    The whole guy needing to be needed thing is interesting.

    My partner admitted not too long ago, when I opened up about something I was vulnerable over and would need some patience and help with, that he was almost glad to hear it. He was a bit worried I didn’t need him. The conversation went on for a while(it was about some childhood wounds), and I ended up having a bit of a weep.

    We’ve known each other at this point(as friends) for about 7 years, involved for about 6 months. I was a bit embarrassed the next day, because I imaged he was sitting there thinking “Oh gosh will she just be quiet???”. But I realize now I’d never given the right guy a chance, to show that he wants to hear about my concerns and vulnerablilities. The next day, when I said sorry if the conversation got a bit too much HE said “Are you kidding? I feel like that is one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with you…”. Why? Because I authentically shared myself with him. 

    I think men are really looking for authenticity in a woman. 

  17. 17
    BeenThruTheWars

    I was exactly like Amber when I was dating.  Exactly.  Big personality?  Check.  Big I.Q.? Check.  Big career?  Check.  Big paycheck?  Check.  But my way of doing things wasn’t working.  The qualities and traits that led to my being successful in the work world were decidedly NOT leading to my being successful in the romantic realm. 
     
    So yes – I changed certain aspects of my behavior to attract (or at least not repel) men.  Notice that I do not say I changed my personality.  I’m not convinced anyone can successfully do that for long.  But I learned how to relate to the men I was dating in a different way than I relate to men I do business with.  I was able to compartmentalize – allegedly a masculine “talent” – so that in the work world, I get to be ambitious and confident and competitive and capable and independent and a respected go-getter – and when the 5 o’clock (okay, 8 o’clock) whistle sounds and it’s time to shift gears into my personal life, I put on my “feminine energy” hat and learned to give men what they crave:  acknowledgement of what they bring to the table, acceptance for who they are, love/nurturing/caring.  I learned to be my now-husband’s “soft place to fall” (even put it in our wedding vows).  I learned how to be receptive and warm and gracious and say thank you and mean it, and sometimes ask the man to kill the (figurative) spider or lift the heavy box for me, even if I was fully capable of doing it myself, simply because I knew it gave him pleasure to do so!  I learned to occasionally give him a problem to solve for me, and truly mull over what he had to say and consider taking a different approach instead of just kneejerk reacting and doing it my way like always.  I learned how to give my man the gift of being the masculine provider and protector by RELAXING for a change and deciding I didn’t have to always be “on.”  If you can learn to sometimes stand aside and just purr and look pretty and smile and say thank you – is that really that big of a sacrifice to make in exchange for a loving relationship with a man who is HAPPY and FULFILLED being your man?  Actually, it feels pretty darn good on the receiving end after so many years of being Miss Independent.  Doing everything for yourself all the time is kind of exhausting to tell you the truth; but until you STOP trying to do that, you don’t even realize how tired of it you are.
     
    So how do you learn, as a strong career woman, to give men the qualities they’re looking for in a woman without having to undertake the futile task of “changing your personality”?  It isn’t by playing games, playing a role, “becoming a submissive little doll,” or any of the other derogatory statements I hear from both women and men on this topic.  It’s by learning some fundamental things in human relationships that will serve you well in ALL your interactions with other people, not just the romantic ones.
     
    First and foremost: Learn to become a better listener.  Reflect back what your partner is saying so that he feels acknowledged and HEARD.  Not just that the vibrations from his voice tickled your eardrums, but that you took in what he was trying to tell you, silently processed it inside your own brain, and were then able to empathize with his point of view (whether or not you happened to agree with it).  There are many great books and courses in developing better listening skills out there.  One of the biggest tricks I learned is to STOP the bad habit I had of always letting my facile mind race ahead and work on my next clever rejoinder to what was being said so I could bask in the pride I had of being so witty.  It’s not about me!  It’s about being one participant in a two-person conversation.  It’s about really taking in what the other person is saying and thoughtfully trying to understand where they’re coming from.  This will be a valuable skill if you are the CEO of the company or the lowliest person in the mail room.  You know those charismatic people who hold you in their thrall because whenever you speak to them, they make you feel like you’re the only person in the room – make you feel important – make you feel like you’re the smartest, most vibrant and interesting person they’ve spoken to all day?  Know what their secret is?  They are skilled listeners and know how to let the other person shine in the conversation.  So the first skill to learn is the self-control and self-editing function to know when to shut your own mouth and stop trying to impress and dazzle the other human being in front of them, and let THEM take center stage in your eyes.  This is not the same as “fawning over” someone.  It requires you to keep your mouth shut, not be all gushing and insincere.  When a man feels listened to on a date, I guarantee he’ll be back for more.
     
    I could give Amber a long list of other skills to develop her feminine side; but if she can spend some time on this first, most central new behavior, I guarantee she’ll start seeing positive results in her romantic (and other) encounters with men AND women. 

  18. 18
    Helen

    BeenThruTheWars, I predict that Amber among other women will find what you have to say hard to swallow, even if it is true. So let me add to your comments by saying that MEN who practice these skills (listening, making the other person feel intelligent) succeed with others as well.
     
    My boss (a man) is one example of this. He puts on a show of being a clueless goofball, and constantly makes us feel like the smart ones, so of course we’re more willing to work hard for his sake. But the truth is that he is one of the smartest people I have ever met – probably smarter than any of us.
     
    Amber: What it boils down to, for both men and women, is that you succeed in relationships if you make the other person feel important. Don’t play a game of one-upmanship and try to impress the other party with how witty and brilliant you are. Do you know – most people don’t care if another person is witty or brilliant! For brief moments, it’s nice, but if you have to live with someone who keeps putting on that show, it’s exhausting.  Instead, relax, and appreciate what the other person has to offer. Works in business, works in love.

  19. 19
    Steve

    Most of my successful clients were the ones who chose different men instead of attempting to change their own personalities.
     
    IMO, the take home quote of Evan’s response.

  20. 20
    Diana

    Great post, #11, That East Asian Man!

  21. 21
    Jane

    I’ve been lurking for a while now (of both the threads and the responses), but this one compelled me to respond, because I was debating a similar question myself.  I understand that after reading all these letters, someone can pick up on little hints or phrases about the intent of the author.  But when I read the OP’s letter, I came away with a very different read.  I thought it basically boiled down to this: she knows she is masculine energy, and knowing that, can she find love?  Or does she have to change?

    As I read Evan’s response, and the others that followed, I really heard a mixed answer:  no, don’t change your personality – but you are too unfeminine, so change these following things [...].  I agree it is hard to change your personality, but whether you’re yin or yang is a dimension of that – so you can be potentially asking them to change core traits.  I even get why this happens.  The majority of women, from what I’ve read and witnessed, do seem to work with both energies not out of a desire, but more a default need.  And many women, I’d even say the vast majority of them, do want help in expressing their feminine side, or moving in that energy in any given relationship.  But not all women do.  Some women don’t want to compartmentalize their yang to their job alone – they want it to be a part of their being.

    People appeared taken aback by the “submissive little doll” comment, but when I read the line from BeenThruTheWars – “If you can learn to sometimes stand aside and just purr and look pretty and smile and say thank you…” – I didn’t see any difference between the two.  Both lines speak towards looking visually pleasing, and feigning inability for the sake of it (as opposed to genuine inability, ie. “Hey hon, can you help me lift the tv to the other room?”), not to mention other things more subtly implied, like voice changes.  I have seen these allowances, and more, first hand.  And not just from the uber feminine women.  I have seen women, who were entirely consistent in their speech in all other areas, suddenly lift their pitch to an almost sing-song when in the presence of the men they were interested in.  Or a woman who, once completely deciding what to eat, completely became undecided once her partner returned from the bathroom, and ended up ordering what he suggested – something entirely different.  If that is what makes the individual couple happy, then that is great for them.  

    But not all women want to follow that script.  If she says she’s funny, I don’t think she means she wants to write jokes for the Oscars.  But I hear plenty of men in my lifetime make this assertion – men who were anything but funny, lol.  Usually meant they just liked the idea of being funny, and telling jokes, and having people laugh at them.  And they eventually found women who listen with rapt attention, and thought their jokes were hilarious!  Maybe she just wants a man like that.  Maybe she wants him to be the soft place for her to land .  Or to be the yes man – not in the derogatory way we can imagine.  But in Evan’s book, he talks about being open, and simply saying yes when guys suggest things on or for dates.  She may want something similar.

    But I guess the answer is no, no, and no.  And I say that not because it is explicitly said, but it is in so many words.  The answers I was most curious about only came at the end of the response, and briefly at that:

     “Those are your choices: soften up a bit and tap into your feminine side or find a softer man who embraces your directness because he doesn’t have it himself.  P.S. Most of my successful clients were the ones who chose different men instead of attempting to change their own personalities.”

    Where was the assertion that what she desired was ok?  Certainly Evan doesn’t have to, but he, in the past, has taken great pains to affirm women, even as he heavily critiqued some of their choices.  Also, just like women can be direct, but appreciate it more from their partner, can’t a guy feel the same way?

    But more so than that, I was looking for the more practical guide to how the OP could find what she desired.  Where do you find these men?  What do they look like exactly? How can you differentiate a genuinely beta guy from one who behaves that way, but is really passive-aggressive, and actually doesn’t appreciate a woman’s more aggressive energy?  And how do you attract them, because I’d have to assume that attracting a feminine predominate (or equal parts each) man is going to be at least somewhat, if not very, different from attracting a masculine energy man.
    Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying the OP is perfect – even she says she has tons of flaws, and says she’s willing to change certain things.  But if this were counsel to a man, a very masculine energy man, say, who was having troubling finding someone to date and be with, certainly the answer wouldn’t be “Act more feminine.”

    Or…would it?  No one, not even the most extreme masculine man is 100% that.  We are all some balance.  So would he be told to soften some of his traits?

    I know this is probably a somewhat rarefied group (masculine women, who are not effecting that stance, that just genuinely would love and cherish a more feminine energy man), but it can’t be smaller than female CEO population.  Is there anything more to say to them (Evan alludes to it in his post script, but w/o any details)?

    Thank you!

    @ Ruby – “The goal is to find someone who likes a funny, high-earning, independent woman, and forget the ones who don’t. I’m sure they are out there.”

    I think that was the most positive affirmation I read on the thread, so far, that these guys do exist; thanks for that! :)

    @BeenThruTheWars – I did quote you, but I also wanted to say thanks.  I would probably be at least somewhat in the category of what Helen said of people who may not embrace some of your position.  To use the piece I quoted, at the end you asked if that was so hard to do.  For me, it would be, because it’s so foreign to who I am at my core.  But I liked much of what you said, and though you did bracket it in terms of masculine/feminine energy, some of the things you suggested are just plain great for humans period, like working hard to become a great listener, and being appreciative of the generosity of other people; so thanks for sharing your personal take on things.

    1. 21.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Jane – A thoughtful response deserves a thoughtful response:

      Re: My mixed answer. Yes, I gave a mixed answer, because there are essentially two choices a person can make: change yourself or change the kind of partner you’re seeking. The one thing you can’t do is change an individual man, which is generally what most women I advise are attempting to do.

      I did make an assumption in the OP’s email – one that’s based on a considerable amount of coaching experience. I assumed that she was looking for a man who was more man than she was. Taller. Smarter. Funnier. Richer. Just as opinionated and educated and strong.
      She didn’t say this, but I haven’t found many clients looking for the sweet, supportive, easygoing high school teacher, for example. If I’m wrong in my assumption, I apologize, but my advice was geared towards how you attract the Alpha Male. If the OP is looking for a yes man to laugh at her jokes, I’m sure she can find one…but in my estimation, she won’t respect him. At least that’s what I hear from women who complain about nice guys and need a man who’s more of a challenge.

      As for your question about the practical guide to finding the right men… Huh? “Where do you find them?” Everywhere. “What do they look like?” Everybody. “How do you attract them?” Be yourself. The beta guy is the only person who’ll put up with you in the long run because his life is improved when he doesn’t have to make decisions. The alpha male wants to make decisions and doesn’t like you telling him what to do.

      Naturally, I’m speaking in sweeping generalizations, because that’s necessary when giving advice. No one is pure alpha or beta, etc. But if the OP is anything like my smart, strong, successful clients, her two clear options are to soften up to make masculine men feel good around her, or keep being herself and appreciate it when an easygoing beta guy has her back for life… (which, by the way, is exactly what alpha males do with their wives).

      Just don’t forget, as BeenThruTheWars eloquently pointed out, most men don’t feel like they have a role if you’re so independent. It’s not intimidation. It’s just a feeling. We feel best when we’re NEEDED. And, for the most independent and direct women out there, the truth is, they DON’T need a man. This is where a lot of things fall apart.

      Women tend to fall for men who are emotionally unavailable and don’t need them. Men tend to fall for women who are available and vulnerable. Thus, the greatest gifts you can give a man is your time and support. This is my observation, not my judgment. Try it, you’ll see.

  22. 22
    Joe

    @ Maria #12: I guarantee the LW used “a” and “they” in an effort to gender-neutralize the friend who was asked for advice.  It’s awkward to say “he or she” every time a “they” will do.

  23. 23
    BeenThruTheWars

    @Helen 18, I’m not sure what it is about “try to become a better listener and work on being more gracious and receptive” that would be hard for women to swallow if they genuinely want to be in a loving relationship with a masculine man.  Unless it’s just such fundamental advice, you think they might dismiss it. (That, I could believe.)   I’m just explaining what worked for me, as a person who once walked in Amber’s high heels, and what (as a dating coach) I have seen work for many other women once they try behaving a bit differently.  
     
    @Steve 19, agreed – it’s almost impossible to change one’s basic personality.  And I agree with you and Evan that it’s essential to find a partner with whom you’re a good fit.  My husband is extremely laid back, which works for Type A me.  However, I still make sure to “let him be the guy” and make a conscious effort to see to it that he feels acknowledged and accepted and appreciated and listened to in our relationship.  It costs me nothing to behave in this way (i.e., less self-centered) and has brought me many tangible and intangible rewards.

  24. 24
    Gem

    I agree wholeheartedly with BeenThruTheWars!

  25. 25
    Carrie

    Wow…some great insight and advice.  I feel for Amber, really I do.  I often have felt the same way.  I have the same independent spirit very open and friendly to everyone.  I have no problem with needing help with anything. The word that grabbed me was “vulnerability”.  I know what being vulnerable means but what are the initial signals/traits that show the “right kind of vulnerability” when you are in a crowd and wanting to attract someone. What does this look like? What happens? Besides smiling and having an open energy.   In many many situations I have met men and had great conversation etc…but they are more than willing to walk away.  They ultimately seem confused.  If we meet again they are friendly. When people finally get to know me…they have great stuff to say about me…and everyone wonders why I can’t find a good man.  Hmmmm.
    Anyone have an answer to the what actually is the vulnerability I am to be displaying?  This also would probably help Amber as well! Wishing you well Amber, don’t give up….keep being a wonderful lady…give some of these suggestions a try…all trial and error. Big Hug!  

  26. 26
    Ann

    Hang out with different people, that’s my unsolicited advice to the OP, if the crowd you’re with isn’t jibing with the way you are naturally and the men are all put off by a woman who knows her own mind. They don’t know what they’re missing!

    I don’t know what this feminine/masculine energy stuff is about (makes no sense to me and isn’t in keeping with my personal experience), so I like Helen’s comment that all people need to have certain skills in relationship, e.g., being able to listen, being sensitive, empathic, etc. That way it’s not a one-way street where we’re always telling women that it’s “feminine” to allow yourself to be plowed over, which is how a lot of folks will understand that advice about being “receptive.” (I always wonder, “receptive to what?” Like if I’m really a woman I’ll just let in all this crap and sort through it looking for the good stuff. Maybe he should do some work here and present only the good stuff. “Receptivity” would be very easy in that case!)    

    I also like the part about not hitting people over the head with your smarts or your accomplishments or whatever. One upsmanship or self-aggrandisement is just rude, no matter what your gender. ‘Course, no indication that that’s what our OP is doing. She doesn’t seem like that in her post.

    She seems OK to me, actually. Not sure she has a problem, other than she hasn’t met someone she jibes with yet.  

  27. 27
    devymetal

    As I was reading Evan’s response, something struck me:

    Perhaps women who express too much masculine energy and find it difficult (for whatever reason) to explore their feminine energy may actually have better luck simply reframing the experience as getting in touch with their inner spirit of youth. 

    I think being intractable and proud of it (some people would interpret this positively, as being “strong-willed”, although I would not) is totally at odds with the traits fun, still-idealistic, youthful women possess– at any age. Being curious, adventurous, and fluid shows a potential husband he can count on the woman in his life to be both adaptive and graceful under pressure.

    I live in the financial district of NYC, and, it sometimes shocks me to see businesswomen no older than me (30) who look hardened, stern and 10-15 older. Some of these women may appear feminine, but they don’t look possess youthful energy, and that seems to be just as critical to the most eligible men around here. 

  28. 28
    Angie

    Hey Amber,
     
    I can agree that Evan’s statement “men want to be needed”.  The guy I am currently dating says he really likes when I ask small favors of him (he set up my TV and internet in my new apartment). He also just told me one of his good friends was talking about how silly his wife is b/c she keeps asking him how to flip back and forth between the cable and the dvd player and all his friends asked “Are you sure she isn’t just doing that to make you feel special?” (answer: the friend didn’t know if she was faking or not, but he found her inability to do so endearing).
     
    I think there are a few areas where men naturally “excel”.. electronics, sports knowledge, car maintenance (again, I just asked how to put air in my tires.  It’s dumb, but men genuinely like when you go to them for advice).  It won’t make you look stupid or incapable just b/c you ask a question.  If you are going to buy something or install something or fix something, simply asking their opinion might increase the way they feel about you without changing you one bit.
     
    I think this goes across the board.  I was totally happy being single, but there were people in general who I would ask questions from, even if it was just about tax law or baseball rules or whatever.  It doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself.  It just means that I value that other people sometimes know more about certain things than I know myself.

  29. 29
    Ruby

    Jane #21

    <<@ Ruby – “The goal is to find someone who likes a funny, high-earning, independent woman, and forget the ones who don’t. I’m sure they are out there.”
    I think that was the most positive affirmation I read on the thread, so far, that these guys do exist; thanks for that! >>

    Amber wrote, “Hey Evan, I’m having trouble –as I guess most of the people on this blog are– with finding a partner. I took the big step of asking a friend to be brutally dead honest with me about why they thought I couldn’t find someone great. No wishy-washy answers about giving it time, or not meeting the right kind of people, just absolute dead straight feedback.”

    This is another aspect of Amber’s question that I take issue with. Actually, I do believe that timing can play a major role in finding a partner. This isn’t to say that we don’t all have areas that we could improve, and that if someone tends to make the same mistakes over and over again with the opposite sex, then they may need to reevaluate what they are doing. But I think that, in most cases, there’s nothing particularly more “wrong” with anyone who is single, any more than there is with someone who is coupled, other than that they haven’t yet met the right person. 

    Sometimes, when you are a smart, high-achieving sort of person, as it sounds like Amber is, it’s difficult to accept the fact that, while you can be very proactive about many things in your life, including looking for a partner, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the right partner will emerge exactly when you would like him to. In other words, even with all the best intentions, you may have to wait a while. If you’re the sort of person who is used to working hard and getting results, that fact may be hard to take.

    Perhaps it’s almost easier to pick at your own flaws, thinking that if only there is something about yourself you can change, then you can find the magical “right” person. Well maybe, but maybe not. And if any of us asked a friend to be brutally honest with us, couldn’t any friend manage to find something “wrong” with us? 

  30. 30
    Laine

    I love That East Asian man’s response too.

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