Men Are Put Off By My Intellect So How Can I Be More Approachable?

young intelligent lady wearing eyeglasses and holding a pen on her right hand
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I’m a nerd, and it’s always hindered me when it comes to dating. I’m happy with what I’ve done and I’ve spent most of my life in school; I have two master’s degrees and am finishing up my Ph.D. in the next 1-2 years, and I’m 28. And I’m planning to spend the rest of my life in academia. I know I sound like a snob, but I’m not. I’m not an elitist and don’t think I’m any better than anybody else; but men tend to either get intimidated by me, or think I must be unattainable, aloof, or snobby because of my intelligence.

I don’t talk about work all the time, and I don’t expect the men I’m with to have the same level of education, nor do I think it’s essential or a marker of someone’s worth; it was simply what was most enjoyable for me personally.

I have a baby face and I’m really short, so I look way younger than I am, and I work on my appearance a lot because I’ve always felt deeply insecure about being too much of a bookworm. So while I do get asked out a lot/men show interest, online and elsewhere, the problem is that the men who are interested in me are looking at me as a blonde 21-year-old, basically a kid–which means they are the type who want to have fun with, well, a blonde 21-year-old. That means I don’t get taken seriously at all at first, and then they get freaked out by my multiple degrees (basically, then I get taken way TOO seriously).

I don’t know how to find a balance; I’ve tried to date older men, to look older, to tone down my intelligence, to play it up… I’m exhausted and I just want to be myself and have someone appreciate my education and intelligence/intellectual passions without being intimidated by them. I’ve been broken up with and have broken up with people because they outright told me (or, on a couple of occasions, I could tell that they thought) that I was ‘too smart’ and ‘too intense’ and ‘they felt small compared to me’ or ‘couldn’t measure up’ (exact quote). I like dominant, masculine men and I have a naturally submissive, feminine personality; in other words, I definitely don’t come off too strong or forward (it may be the opposite). But those kinds of men (take-charge men, that is) don’t usually appreciate one side of me, and the more artistic, egalitarian guys tend to only appreciate my intelligence and accomplishments and not me as a woman in a traditional sense. I’m not sure how to integrate the different sides of myself and find someone else who gets it, too. How can I be more approachable? Or, if nothing else, what on earth is my actual problem?

Mel

Well-written email, Mel. Allow me to key in on a handful of sentences where I think your answer subtly reveals itself.

    1. I don’t know how to find a balance; I’ve tried to date older men, to look older, to tone down my intelligence, to play it up…,

You usually won’t hear me saying this here, but did it occur to you that you don’t have to do anything different? Did it occur to you that attempting to contort yourself to be more appealing may be part of the problem? Did it occur to you that you are just fine as you are and that it may take a few years for guys your age to catch up with you? All of these are just as viable as the theories you’re throwing around.

You’d be better off being a little more zen about it than trying to solve an equation that doesn’t actually have an answer.

Believe me: I’m a believer in the definition of insanity, and looking in the mirror, and trying new ways when the old ways aren’t getting results. But sometimes, you can do the very best you can, and still fall short. That’s life. I would think you’d be better off being a little more zen about it than trying to solve an equation that doesn’t actually have an answer.

    2. “Men tend to either get intimidated by me, or think I must be unattainable, aloof, or snobby because of my intelligence.”

I’ve written about this a bunch, but WHO CARES about those men?

Let’s say 75% of men are intimidated by you. That leaves 25% of men as your dating pool. Choose from among them.

To me, it’s no different than, hypothetically, an evangelical Christian woman who wouldn’t date me because I’m a Jewish atheist. Fine. I don’t want a partner who thinks I’m going to hell anyway. You don’t want a partner who is intimidated by you and makes false assumptions about you. So stop worrying about them.

    3. “The problem is that the men who are interested in me are looking at me as a blonde 21-year-old, basically a kid–which means they are the type who want to have fun with, well, a blonde 21-year-old.”

An interesting observation, but ultimately, a high-class problem. I suppose you can dress more “adult,” you can lie about your age online and make yourself older, you can start hanging out at AARP rallies, but really, you shouldn’t have to.

If you’re petite and youthful looking, that will serve you well for the rest of your life. And I think that’s one of the only blind spots you have, my friend. You are only 28. You’ve been out of college for 7 years and spent most of it in the library. There is a LONG time ahead of you to figure out who you’re going to marry.

Instead of fishing for the right type of guy, how about you try on a whole bunch of different guys to see how they fit.

Think of yourself at 21. That’s the same as 35 year old you looking back on 28 year old you. You follow? There’s a lot more trial and error in your future. And based on your last paragraph, you’re going to need it:

    4. I’ve been broken up with and have broken up with people because they outright told me (or, on a couple of occasions, I could tell that they thought) that I was ‘too smart’ and ‘too intense’ and ‘they felt small compared to me’ or ‘couldn’t measure up’ (exact quote). I like dominant, masculine men and I have a naturally submissive, feminine personality; in other words, I definitely don’t come off too strong or forward (it may be the opposite). But those kinds of men (take-charge men, that is) don’t usually appreciate one side of me, and the more artistic, egalitarian guys tend to only appreciate my intelligence and accomplishments and not me as a woman in a traditional sense.

You’ve just outlined the conundrum of smart, strong, successful women who want men who are even more impressive than they are. But instead of fishing for the right type of guy, how about you try on a whole bunch of different guys to see how they fit. You may discover — as most of my clients do — that what you’re attracted to and what is the best fit for you are two different things. Or maybe not. Point is that you need a guy who gets you, appreciates you, is not intimidated by you, is masculine enough for you to be attracted, and feminine enough to be artistic and egalitarian… you can see why, with your limited experience and fine-tuned tastes, it may be hard to find Mr. Right. Keep reading here and email me in a few years and I think you’ll be singing a different tune.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    twocents

    The wrong men for intelligent women will be intimidated- likely from low self esteem. We all present ‘fronts’ when dating, at least at first. When insecure men sense the woman is ahead it threatens them. I have been chatting in OLD with a young woman on this same subject. She said she debated not listing her PhD on her profile as it might scare men away. At the same time she is proud of what she had to fight through to get that doc.   As she should be.

    I have no esteem issues – love learning new things and can be wrong. I think a problem arises when the woman doesn’t shut off the competitive side she utilized to get ahead. They gotta hang up the professional personality and be that inner woman they keep hidden, soft, feminine but strong at the same time. Personally I love an intellectually stimulating conversation, but don’t want a competition with my mate. Relationships shouldn’t be like work.

    1. 21.1
      erik V

      When you state “when insecure men sense the woman is ahead” do you realize you are using a standard, i.e. a basis for comparison, to compare the woman and the man’s achievement?

      And what would happen if you use another standard? The man might be ahead of the woman again.

  2. 22
    twocents

    When people meet invariably the question, “so what do you do” pops up. On a social basis it defines it all. Income, social status, education, standard of living. Most folks guage where they fit in socially; its omnipresent even if subconscious. True, using a different metric could put the man ahead. Women are usually so aware and influenced by social/peer pressures that using different a different metric is aberrant. I asked her if she could introduce a plumber bf to her friends/family, she realised it was an issue.

    She also said that some men were disqualifying themselves from the getgo, “couldn’t compete’ with her. Confidence is huge with women; starting off insecure is a portent of doom. Perhaps the same problem gorgeous women face; men are aware if who is “out of their league” and won’t even try.

  3. 23
    rawr

    women prefer men they look up to, which usually means higher status, taller, smarter, more of a leader, etc. prove to him with certainty that you won’t go looking to upgrade, because even if he thinks you’re in his league, he’s still going to be somewhat aware that you can and might look for better. there’s no reason to invest in a relationship where the woman is going to think herself out of a relationship with him because someone else came along.

  4. 24
    Rebecca

    To m in 9.1 above – I think the harsh answer is we’re going to choose between staying single, settling, competing, or I guess choosing plural marriages would be a possibility, too.   Women outlive men, so in every age group past age 2, we outnumber them.   Not a problem for lesbians, but for those of us who are seeking heterosexual relationships, it’s just the price we pay for greater longevity.

    Personally, I like to think that since it took me 5.5 years to wade back into the dating pool after my marriage fell apart, and it took my boyfriend all of a day to put his still-wounded self back out there, maybe that difference in fallow time is enough to make up for the demographics.   Maybe it’s not fair, but I can’t fix that, so I’m just working on my life and my relationships, ’cause that’s the only place where I have any control.

    1. 24.1
      m

      “got a problem for lesbians, but for those of us who are seeking heterosexual relationships, it’s just the price we pay for greater longevity.”

      I don’t know that that’s necessarily the case across the board?    In the marriages I’ve been fortunate to have for models in my extended family that have flourished, the husband is younger than the wife.    On letting that sink in, I’ve actually had more success recently dating younger — at least in the short term — myself.

       

      What I think we sometimes run into then, though, is the difference in the sense of time that men and women have, which is a different challenge … particularly as all those relationships I speak of have lasted so many decades that they literally had practically an entirely different set of societal supports and models around them

       

      I think a lot of EMK’s models seem somewhat effective, as far as they go.   I just think they don’t go far enough.

      Moreover, as evidenced by the other OP who wrote in and was happy with his advice as far as it went but didn’t think he was very empathetic WRT her specific problem, I think there are enough women who fall outside of the description of what those models perceive as the “ideal woman” that we feel neglected when attention isn’t paid to how to help those of us whom society makes different from that ideal strategize to work with our special concerns.

      “Improve yourself” is … a little simplistic — as is a little platitude like “men and women define ‘quality’ differently”, when you (universal “you”, I’m not calling any names) don’t put yourself out there to answer the question “Well, how do men define it, then?”

      If you’re a size you’ve been told men like, work out regularly not only because it keeps you that size but also because it gives you those endorphins to put you in a good mood (since so many are so fond of telling us “men like happy women”),   dress yourself in the colors you’ve been told men like, extend your best efforts to comport yourself in ways you’re told men like (insofar as it doesn’t wrench your own standards of ethics, especially when coaches (like here) are telling you on the one hand “Be yourself, don’t twist yourself into knots” but on the other hand also telling you “Be a ‘quality woman’ as men define ‘quality’ – without stopping to define what ‘quality’ means even as they exhort you to do that) … but you’re running into problems because “data” from the “dating industry” is telling you you fall into a demographic that men *don’t* like (because men jockey for status, which is just Psych 101, and “white + blonde” = “status”, and because of the spread of media that’s now a global status standard) — then I’m sorry, but a little platitude like “Quality men are everywhere” really isn’t going to address the issue, because the issue’s not even really about you; it’s about something systemic over which you don’t have any control as a woman (who’s trying to improve herself).

       

      So I guess what I’m saying is that to blame a systemic problem on individual women doesn’t help that woman solve that problem, whereas tweaking one’s program to offer more individualized strategies to help her better navigate that systemic problem might do a lot better to meet that goal   — and make the system offering the solution look a whole lot better in the process, as opposed to blaming the woman that doesn’t fit into the system’s box.

       

      That’s all.

       

      🙂

      1. 24.1.1
        Tom10

        @ m #24.1
        Firstly, I wish to apologize for the tone of my initial response; I jumped the gun a bit and it wasn’t nice; your subsequent comments deserve a more considered  response.
          
        “Improve yourself” is … a little simplistic”
          
        Um, I’ll take that as an oblique reference to my comment (*even though you’re not calling  any names*).
          
        Admittedly my language was generic and simplistic; I suppose I wrote a bit fast and from the hip. I will try harder.
          
        “If you’re a size you’ve been told men like, work out regularly…dress yourself in the colors you’ve been told men like, extend your best efforts to comport yourself in ways you’re told men like”
          
        OK, you’re in shape and wear clothes that appeal to men. That’s 80% of the battle. And assumedly, your career, finances etc. (as these constitute your definition of a high-quality woman) are sorted.
          
        But how about your personality, your attitude, your demeanor?
          
        Look at Rampiance’s  comment #9.1.1.5: “The kind of improvements I’m talking about are improvement mainly in outlook, sensitivity, perception, and self-confidence, followed by better skills in what I already do.  “
          
        “Every time I grow, my men grow with me.    It’s like magic!”
          
        This. This language makes me warm to her. When I read her comments, and the comments of other women on this site like Sparkling Emerald, Henriette, Karmic Equation etc. I warm to their attitude and personalities. I can imagine them smiling and laughing. I can imagine cracking jokes with them and enjoying spending time with them. They draw me in  with their warmth.
          
        When I was young I so, so badly wanted to be with women that I would’ve done anything, I mean anything, to be with a woman. Whatever it took. Trust me, I come from a broken family so I’ve as much to be angry with society and the system as anyone. I know that feeling of helplessness, of aimless, nonsensical rage that young guys often feel.
          
        However, rather than reach for a gun I analyzed what personality characteristics draw people in, what endears one to another. One example is the dark broody type. Not for me. Another one is being jokey and smiley, easy-going and welcoming. So I went for that.
          
        I’m not a naturally smiley type, so I had to force myself to smile. I physically forced myself to smile at all women even though I might have crying inside. Even when I got a blank stare back I forced myself to smile at the next woman. And the next. And the next.
          
        I’m not a naturally jokey type, so I had to force myself to tell jokes. People laughed at my bad attempts, but they warmed to me for trying.
          
        After enough faking, being jokey and smiley became my persona. That’s what I meant by “improve myself.”
          
        Those, together with being as kind as possible, were the last 20% of the battle I needed to achieve success. And it worked.
          
        Being as objective as possible, how would you characterize your personality, m? Do you think your personality draws people in?
          
        “– as is a little platitude like “men and women define ‘quality’ differently”, when you (universal “you”, I’m not calling any names) don’t put yourself out there to answer the question “Well, how do men define it, then?”
          
        Well, I didn’t think I needed to do this as Evan defines what constitutes a  high-quality woman from a man’s point on a regular basis.
          
        Your definition of a high quality woman (from #9.1.1.1):
          
          “eligible, romantically & emotionally sophisticated, gainfully employed…emotionally & physically fit…as well as financially fit… and household-management-ability-level qualifications”
          
        Evan’s definition of a high quality woman (quoted from the  blog Evan, and from an old comment):
          
        “A woman who is feminine, optimistic, confident, understanding and self-aware”
          
        “a partner who saw me the way I saw myself, accepted me at my worst, and shared the same values and humor”
          
        “Do men value youth and beauty? Yes. Do men value intelligence? Yes. Do men value success? Not as much.”
          
        See the difference, m?
          
        “So I guess what I’m saying is that to blame a  systemic problem on  individual women  doesn’t help that woman solve that problem”
          
        m, you’re obviously a highly intelligent, articulate woman which is why Evan gets exasperated at your comments; you keep saying the system is rigged against you whereas, the reality is; all of us face the same dilemma. *Every* woman has to deal with the supply and demand imbalance in the marriage market. And *every* guy has to deal with the supply and demand imbalance with regarding access to sex. True, a lucky few are naturals and never have problems, but the rest of us have to work at it. What is specific to you that every other woman on this blog doesn’t have to deal with?
          
        “:)”
          
        That’s a start 🙂
          
         
        I won’t harass you anymore.

      2. 24.1.2
        Rebecca

        Aye, m, I think you’re right about the systemic problem.   I’ve just stopped trying to find a way to fix it ’cause I’m not convinced it’s fixable.

        1. JoeK

          Indeed, it ISN’T fixable…by definition.

           

          The “systemic problem” is that the dating world, gender, society, etc, don’t conform to the design that m which M says it should.

           

          As Tom said – we ALL work with the same dilemma. Other than the broken home stuff, Tom and I had the same experience. We both took it upon ourselves to learn to work the system (just like with employment), by adjusting our approach to it.

  5. 25
    Stephanie

    Evan, your comment about not having to change anything sounds good, but what if you stay true to yourself and just end up alone? I am turning 41 this month, and have been trying to date since my early 20s with very limited success. Online dating sites seldom turn into dates, and I just got left by a man who faked a future with me for about a year. I just don’t know where to go from here – all the dating sites now yield no interested men, since I’m over 40.

    People say that unmarried women over 40 are self-absorbed and picky, but I dated a disabled veteran (who just left me) and a guy with weak job prospects at best, before that. No one else has been interested in the past 5 years. So, by being a smart, good person, who has morals, I have ended up unmarried and childless. Just had to present the counter to your argument about men catching up, etc.

    1. 25.1
      JennLee

      My heart aches for you as I read this.   Me and my boyfriend know many good guys who are single.   So I know they are out there.   It seems that you aren’t being too picky, so I feel confident that you will eventually find somebody, though you may have to compromise on some things, such as having a child.   Not all men want children that far into their life.   You could go younger, but then that isn’t actually going to produce more men that want to have a child with you.   Most will use you to pass time while they search for the younger woman they want to have a child with.

       

      Keep your chin up.   I would only suggest that you date guys, and let them know up front that you want to keep things casual.   Don’t say you won’t have sex, just keep things such that it never has to come up.   Don’t go for dinner late in the evening at his place.   Don’t go out of town with him, which would require camping, or staying in a hotel.   Don’t go on a cruise with him.   Just do things during the day that are fun.

       

      If he tries to have a talk with you about having sex, simply let him know that you really like him, and can see yourself in a serious relationship with him, which would involve a lot fo sex, but that you only have sex once you know you want a long term relationship with that person.   If he acts perturbed, ask him if he really wants a woman who will hop in the sack with a guy after just a short time.   Ask if he can trust a woman who is so loose with sex.   If he says that without sex, he is going to move along, tell him that you wish him well in his search for whatever it is he is looking for.

    2. 25.2
      josie

      I am a couple years younger than you in a similar boat.

      I’m pushing 40 and have not had much success with dating since my LTR breakup nearly three years ago.    I relocated from a highly affluent, superficial area hoping for more normal men.    I have dated a few people but the guys have all had serious attachment issues or personality disorders that became evident quite quickly.    Other guys are completely unsettled in their career, financially unwise, Peter Pan types, or manifest alcohol problems.   It’s hard because I male coworkers of mine married in their early 40s ( a younger woman, of course) with ample time to have children.   I know life isn’t fair but it’s really a challenge to suck it up every day, and to feel left out in society even if you have an otherwise fulfilling life.

  6. 26
    Sue

    I’ve had somewhat the same experience as “Me”.

    I tried online dating about 8 years ago. The results were pretty dismal. I got very little interest from any men. I was able to get several first dates by contacting men, and several of them would say things like “I feel stupid around you because of your profession”. And I had guys contact me to verify my height, saying that if it was correct we couldn’t date because he is several inches shorter. I’ve really only had a handful of guys express interest in me over the years and most of them turned out to be already married.

    Now that I’m over 50, still tall, still highly educated, and still only average at best in the looks department, I would be totally willing to date someone who is shorter, not as educated. Evan’s reply said (basically) to focus on the small percentage of guys who aren’t looking for a short young bimbo. I have no idea where to find these guys! At this point, I think I’m destined to be alone and lonely, spending time on a holiday poking around on the internet desperately trying to fix something that isn’t fixable. Maybe it’s time for a cat… or 10…

  7. 27
    Erik V

    @stephanie: When I read your post I couldn’t help but thinking that you made the men in your life loose respect for you. And once you loose your respect for your partner the relationship has not much of a future anymore.

    A good and stable relationship requires the partners to be equal, and I get the feeling you are lowering yourself to become equal while you should stimulate your partner to improve himself to your level.

    There are many ways to improve someones life, it might be on a professional level  but also cooking, an exiting lifestyle, …

  8. 28
    GL

    I used to be worried about this, but at the time I was a competitive know it all and really arrogant about knowledge. I don’t have that chip on my shoulder anymore, makes a difference.

  9. 29
    CC

    Well no actually Evan I’m not in the business of pointing fingers, I’m just trying to contribute a suggestion as to why Mel may be receiving rejection for her high intelligence and academic accomplishments from men. Isn’t that the point of this blog? I”m just saying that it would be more in the standard blueprint of a relationship that the man at least appears to be the smarter one, but there are some pretty smart women on this blog that have men so I’m willing to acquiesce that I may be out to lunch on this and every other theory I hold about men as I don’ t seem to have cracked the code at all.

    1. 29.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Put it this way, CC:

      Every time a woman complains that “Men do X!” there is an EQUALLY valid complaint from men that “Women do Y!” Does that make sense?

      Which is why I can somewhat reliably predict how people are going to receive my blog posts and comment on them. People who think that there is an inherent problem with the opposite sex will get triggered by ANY post that remotely suggests they bear any personal responsibility for their failure in love. Why? Because the opposite sex is at fault, of course. Look around at the angry men who post here – or, far worse, on MGTOW/MRA forums – and you’ll see tons of evidence of men with a huge blind spot. It’s not that they don’t have a point; it’s that they make the fatal flaw of assuming that ALL women are hypergamous, crazy, selfish golddiggers – and you can tell from their words how deeply they feel this.

      Now flip that over. Any time I hear a woman consistently complain about men, it tells me that she sees the world in black and white, she doesn’t have the ability or desire to see things from a man’s point of view, and she’s made consistently bad relationship choices, which have made her come to the false conclusion that men are the problem.

      Finally, let’s talk about my job: I am a dating coach who helps women understand men and find love. I do so by pointing out how men really think and asking women to act accordingly. That’s why so many of my posts say, “Don’t try to change him. Just dump him.” And that’s why the rest of the post tell you what YOU can do different to get different results. If you choose to see that as some sort of sexist attack or defense of the patriarchy, you’re willingly misreading me. I’m literally just reporting back reality: you can’t change MEN as a gender, you can only react to them. I try to give you best practices that will be most effective.

      So, in this example: you’re fixated on men’s insecurities about being with a smarter woman. That’s partially true. However, what can you do to change men? Nothing. And what did you ignore? The fact that for all the men who can’t handle smart women (in your opinion), there are just as many women who feel they have to date a man who is smarter. Do you see that cognitive dissonance? You’re blaming MEN for buying into the EXACT same belief that most WOMEN buy into. 🙂

      Finally, consider this:

      If women are fair in wanting to date “up” – taller, richer, smarter than they are… does that mean men are dating “down” when choosing them? And, if not, then why is it “dating down” for a woman to date a man who makes less money or isn’t as smart?

  10. 30
    CC

    Yes, your response makes perfect sense. Thanks for taking the time to write that. Clearly I think you have some wisdom in the dating department based on the fact that I bought your books and read your blog like a maniac, and it’s the only dating blog that makes any sense to me and is not manipulative or pandering in my opinion. We all have personal biases, that’s just a fact. As much as I love men, I have made myself vulnerable to the wrong ones, and in many cases chose to ignore that inner voice that told me he was not ready to be in a relationship or had substance issues or just plain wasn’t that into me and I paid a high price. I have had amazing experiences of closeness and caring with men, but also terrible hurts and deceptions from them. But I can believe that men do just the same with the wrong women and because it is not MY personal experience, it just doesn’t hit home the same way. I need to work on perspective taking and try not to take things personally when a guy has his own emotional weirdness and puts it into a relationship. Your point about dating down is very good, there is a double standard when it comes to men and women to finding their “match” or complimentary partner. Perhaps I am carrying negativity from all the past hurts and not allowing a case by case evaluation of each situation, which is the definition of bias and probably sets me up for suspicion and failure. All your fans appreciate your help in this quagmire of emotions (called dating) and your solution focused psycho-dating analysis. Thanks much. CC

    1. 30.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That is the most measured answer from someone who I thought hated me that I’ve received in eons. Thanks for being a reasonable discussion partner. Your comment above is the reason I continue to do this job. Thank you.

    2. 30.2
      JennLee

      That took a lot of courage to write, CC.   I showed it to my man, and his best friend, and they said that this is the kind of “strong” men want in a woman, but rarely find these days.   I’ve no doubt there is a great guy out there for you.   Be open and receptive to him when he appears.   He may be very different than what you thought you wanted.

      1. 30.2.1
        AllHeart81

        Lots of women are “strong” in the way CC displayed JennLee. they are not “rare” finds even fir your boyfriend and his friend want to put women down like that.

  11. 31
    Jenai

    I 100% agree with Evan on this one. I   believe if more women stopped focusing on the “Wrong” men and started focusing on the “Right” ones then life would be much easier and much more pleasant for them.

    I do understand for many people the caveat to this is unfortunately, people tend to be more attracted to the “wrong” types of men, as opposed to the “right” ones, just like men are sometimes more attracted to the “wrong” types of women. We all like what is aesthetically pleasing to our eyes. However, those “beautiful ones” may not always be what we need.

    At any rate, my advice to the OP is,   instead of worrying about the guys who don’t like her for whatever reasons, pay attention to the guys who do.   Get to know them. Pray about being more attracted to the “right” types of guys. Cause if you continue to only be attracted to the types of guys who are not good for you then you will have issues, like all the other women who try to make the wrong guy the right guy. Can’t be done, so no point in wasting time trying.

    I believe there is somebody for Everybody. Regardless of what type of person u are, there is somebody out there who will love you to death, just the way you are. That’s who you need to seek out. As Even said, stop caring about the men who are not right for you.

  12. 32
    Karl R

    Mel said: (original letter)

    “men tend to either get intimidated by me, or think I must be unattainable, aloof, or snobby because of my intelligence.”

    Mel said: (#6.1.1)

    “I’ve been directly told that my degrees themselves were intimidating and people felt they ‘couldn’t compete with that’ (not that I asked them to) or that they ‘weren’t good enough for me’ and I ‘needed someone smarter.'”

    You’ve had some men say they were intimidated by your intellect and/or education.   Okay.   That doesn’t mean that all men agree.

    You’re a short blond with a baby face who routinely gets mistaken for being 21.   I don’t feel the need to inform women who look like you that they’re not intimidating.   I tend to assume they know.   (I tend to find large men who have jailhouse tats intimidating.   You don’t match that description.)

    So you get a biased form of feedback.   The men who don’t find you intimidating aren’t going to mention it (unless you actually solicit their opinion).   It’s the ones who do find you intimidating that keep opening their mouths.

    That’s skewing your perception  of men.

     

    A change of environment might help.

    My favorite hobby is social dancing.   I find the social dancing community interesting to observe, because it takes people out of their typical environment and plops then into a space where one criterion gains exaggerated importance  … how well can you dance?

    One evening I was in dance class, and someone pointed out that one of the new guys in the beginners class was a well-known athlete (he’d won multiple Olympic gold medals).   In the dance studio, he was being treated with the same “be nice to him; he’s new; he doesn’t know what he’s doing” that all the other brand new students were.

    If you can find that kind of environment, you’ll find that people won’t find your academic accomplishments to be intimidating … or even that big of deal.   It doesn’t have to be dancing (though social dancing does have the benefit of encouraging a bit more of that “take charge” mentality in the men), but it probably will have to be outside of your comfort zone.

    A lot of hobbies cut across a broad swath of the population.   And by starting in an environment where people share a common interest (which typically provides the focal point of conversation), they can get to know you long before your education becomes a topic of conversation.

     

    Think STEM.

    See if you can find an interest that typically appeals to the STEM crowd.   Their workplaces are male-dominated, and the women tend not to be super-feminine.   They typically have bachelor’s, but they’re generally not going to be intimidated by a Ph.D. (especially in humanities).   You know more than them in one area.   They know more than you in another.

  13. 33
    Sum Guy

    Mel,

    I agree with Mark.   Be yourself, as you are the unicorn (in a good way) the true catch.   I do wonder about this: “the more artistic, egalitarian guys tend to only appreciate my intelligence and accomplishments and not me as a woman in a traditional sense.”

    Guess it depends on definitions, can only speak for myself and those I’ve known.   There are egalitarian, artistic and intellectual guys out there who are into women, who are sexual beings (they know when to make the first move)  that are in shape and want to be your fantasy and maybe you could be theirs.   Smart guys are not the Big Bang Theory stereotype.   I will admit though, if your are in big city east coast academia you may have less luck than west coast, western academia.   For example, Boulder is filled with the physically and intellectually fit. 🙂   You just need to find someone on the Berkeley-Boulder-MIT academic axis. 🙂

    I’m not saying it will be easy.   I’ve been looking for someone like you for years,  and have yet to find someone.   Alas, I got out of academia and went into IP law (good choice for me) so no longer meet on a personal basis people I can have a truly inspiring (or even more than surface) intellectual conversation.     Meet them as clients all the time but that is not the same.

    Hang in there.   Would be interested in knowing where women with your background do go to look for dates as I’ll have to start looking there. 🙂

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