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.

Join our conversation (133 Comments).
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  1. 101

    @ 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.

  2. 102

    @ 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 🙂

  3. 103

    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.

  4. 104

    @ 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.

  5. 105

    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.

  6. 106

    @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.

  7. 107

    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.

  8. 108

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

  9. 109
    Saint Stephen

    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.    

  10. 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.

  11. 111

    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!!!           

  12. 112

    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.

    1. 112.1

      That’s funny…in my large city, I don’t see that happening.   My ex husband who is reasonably attractive and employed certainly didn’t nab a 35 year old.   He would have if he could have, but he didn’t.   Nor have I seen my 50 something divorced and reasonably well off male friends with 35 year olds – they had a hard time finding partners…took them a while.   Or, oddly, any of the guys I dated.   They weren’t successful in that age group.

      Must be regional.


  13. 113

    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.  

  14. 114

    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.

  15. 115

    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.

  16. 116

    I’m glad this was reposted on Twitter, really enjoying the discussion! I would hope guys like Dan would not chuck all of us into the same category. I’m strong and successful and busy for sure, but as other posters have so accurately stated, a full life as a single person is a much more appealing alternative than crying into our pillows each night! My dating profile sometimes got responses like “I don’t know if I could keep up with you” (and I’m definitely not a Fortune 500 CEO or training for a triathlon, I just have a fairly full and dynamic life with work, keeping fit, hanging out with friends and going to music and cultural events in my city) but I just knew those guys weren’t for me anyway.

    The right kind of guy for a strong successful woman will like that she’s independent and interesting and won’t make a guy the total 100% focus of her life, and the right woman for that guy will make time for him, simple as that! My boyfriend LOVES that I have a lot going on and considering he’s got 50% custody of his two young kids, I certainly do too, because I always have plenty to do when he’s not available, and he needs his down time as well. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. We both have to communicate well and make plans in advance because of our work schedules (and his with the kids) but so far it’s brilliant.

    A woman who’s really interested in a guy will definitely make time for him. So I feel badly for Dan, but it could be that the women he met just didn’t click with him. But he shouldn’t give up!

    It took me ages to have my first date with my boyfriend because I *was* very busy with work but also dating other guys that I had met online before him- we laugh now that I had him on the “back burner” for about a month, and I finally relented after he asked me out three times! But once we met and hit it off, I always made time for our dates, and now that we’re exclusive I definitely prioritise time with him (and he does the same whenever he doesn’t have the kids).

    So that busy, childfree woman you meet could be exactly like I was, having a full life but also open to love,   and would TOTALLY make space in that life for the right guy!


  17. 117

    Funny isn’t that there isn’t a blog about successful, smart men being too busy for love.



    1. 117.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      There are plenty of successful, smart men who are too busy for love. Women put up with them anyway. That’s the difference.

  18. 118
    Joe pi

    This is such bullshit, woman need men for money, emotional support. This is just political jumbo

  19. 119

    Short answer:   YES

    Long answer:   YESSSSSS

    Some of these “smart, strong, successful” women are so stuck up in their work, they don’t even have time to cook or clean.     If all you’re doing is working, then you’re NEVER going to have time for a relationship.

    Family or Career?   Choose your path wisely.

  20. 120

    My everyday goes something like: wake up, work out, shower, eat breakfast, work for 8 hours plus an hour for commute. Bath, dinner (home cooked), and the rest of my evening is filled with reading, internet television set, studying etc.

    None of these things are bad, I do them for self development, for my health and to maintain myself, and also to be attractive to men. Problem is once I get through my regimines I don’t have much time for dating. Weekend would be fine, but I doubt most men would only want to see me once per week.

    So I have decided to put some things on the back burner for a year or so until I am seriously dating someone. Sometimes spontaneously is a pain for me, because I need to brush my teeth, eat the veggies before they go bad etc. But I do it so that I’m not a schlub in the next 10 years. Men don’t understand the amount of effort we put in to maintain our looks. Estrogen levels change with our cycle and is horrible for our skin and metabolism. Child bearing changes our shape and puts alot of pressjre on our bodys. So to me it comes down to   men just want to have fun now but then will complain once we’ve lost it? They need to allow some healthy balence and not require our attention all the time when they want it, like we allow for them.

    1. 120.1


      I’m not seeing what the issue is. Your day sounds like most busy working professionals, but you can just swap the dinner in and television / reading for dinner out with a date one or two nights a week. Problem solved.

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