Why Don’t Men Like Smart, Strong, Successful Women, Part II

a group of 3 women in different ages

Perhaps my most popular blog post, Why Don’t Men Like Smart, Strong, Successful Women?, got a comment today that was so well-written, I had to share it with you. I love it when my readers can express my thoughts – because if you ever tune me out when I remind you how to connect with men – perhaps it’ll have greater resonance if you hear it from another woman.

I love it when my readers can express my thoughts – because if you ever tune me out when I remind you how to connect with men – perhaps it’ll have greater resonance if you hear it from another woman.

Enjoy, and have a fantastic July 4th.


Boy, does this topic speak to me. A couple years ago I was a careerist hard-line feminist, and a bit of a racist, too: get this – a black woman who would not date black guys, owing to a sexual assault experience back in the Eighties that all black guys should not be blamed for. I have now learned this, after dating some of New York’s most truly wonderful fellows of all races. But I digress.

Anyway, I treated relationships like combat and saw men as my enemies. After all, why not, I reasoned? Sure, they might look at my chest and not my face, but then ignore my of course it’s so jaw-droppingly fantastic resume, fail to be impressed by my oh so glamorous so-called career, take a peek at super career me but then move on – or force me to move them on – to softer, rounder girls whom at the time I considered weaklings, Stepford throwbacks, doormats. And then they would marry these girls!

Why was this happening?

I even poured up a heaping mugful of liquid hate for a very good author who wrote a book attempting to counsel other career girls like myself so we could keep a man interested, and maybe see one fight to snag us. In that article I said some pretty dumb things.

But now flash forward to me a couple years later, happily dating and positively besieged by handsome, smart, funny, available and interested guys. How did this happen? Did I change overnight? Was it moving to New York City where I will admit men are a little more outspoken when interested than in other cities?

Nah; more to the point it was realizing men want different things from a date than women do, and remembering I was a girl, not a boy.

As a date conversation topic, my own career began to bore me. About a year ago, I stopped wearing black suits and pinstripes outside the studio. I started wearing frilly dresses with lace, and wearing more bright colors. I stopped hiding my chest and legs. I took my hair down out of its bun and let it fall on my back and shoulders. But more importantly I think, something within me had shifted. I began enjoying being a girl – a real change for a lifelong tomboy. This resulted in me laughing and smiling more, especially in public; talking a little softer, not using profanity as much, and just softening up inside. I

started noticing I LOVED MEN! Long a feminist, I instead began observing how society is often cruel to little boys and to men, and began feeling sympathy and admiration towards them. Men became my best friends.

I was then positively besieged by men!

On subways. In hallways. At restaurants. Leaving a meeting. Going to one. On W. 47th. On E. 12th. In the elevators. The freight loading docks. The bus. The doctor’s office. Like the song, it began “raining men”!

I’m now dating actively – not aggressively, notice, but actively; I don’t seek out men or dates, they just show up and come to me, and I’m asked out all the freaking time. Now my job is to glow gently, smile, accept, say yes, enjoy, then go home and evaluate. How did I like this date? How did he make me feel? Does he make me smile, make me happy? And men LOVE putting women in the position to ask these things. They perform, they provide, then we sit back and gently, lovingly evaluate. This is the best job ever!

They want to know not whether you are a successful woman, but instead if you are successful at being a woman, and can therefore make him happy as a man.

So this is a long and somewhat rambling note, Evan, to say I stopped by your website this morning to click a topic I would have clicked with a gnarly frown two years ago, looking for yet more “evidence that men do not like a successful woman”.

Today, with a nice date behind me last night and another date scheduled this evening, I can read all this with a smile because I know it isn’t accurate; more accurate is that men care if you are happy with yourself while at your career, not whether you are successful at it. They want to know not whether you are a successful woman, but instead if you are successful at being a woman, and can therefore make him happy as a man.

I have figured this out and offer a really dumb once woman’s apology to all the men I hurt with my actions, the women and men I hurt with my comments, the innocent black dudes who never got a chance with me because I was dumb (see aforementioned really dumb onceness), and to all the readers here wondering when this post will end!

Well, yes it will: right here!

Thanks for a fun website, Evan, men are not the enemy. I get it now.


Join our conversation (86 Comments).
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  1. 21

    That’s a great line Heather has in her second to last para, the one that EMK bolded. Very truthful, and it’s exactly how I feel. For the most part, I think the same thing is true for men, that is, being a successful man and happy/passionate with what you’re doing is super attractive.
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Lance Revealed! =-.

  2. 22

    I think you are all missing the point…I don’t think her anger towards men had anything to do with feminism or anything else…I think she said it right up front… owing to a sexual assault experience back in the 80’s … and I think that she never addressed it in counseling or anything. That’s why I want to know if she some how came to terms with and deal with what happened and she was able to view men differently…without the anger and viewing them as the enemy.

    1. 22.1
      Isabelle Archer

      Casey, I agree that the assault may be the real root of her anger towards men, but read the letter again. There’s no question that she equates her previous view that “men = enemy” with feminism. But then she also seems to define anti-feminism as “being a woman” . . . whatever that means. She’s clearly got no solid view on what feminism actually is, yet she (on paper) attributes her problems to feminism.

      This sloppy use of the idea of feminism really bothers me. Feminism at its heart is about equal rights. It is a big enough tent to include men & women who believe that, as far as relationships go, gender roles are real and important.

      I hate the thought that Heather now thinks she is not a feminist because she has decided to become sympathetic to men qua men and because she has embraced a view of “being a woman” in relationships. Because I can guarantee you that Heather would be rightfully PISSED if she discovered, say, that she could not get birth control covered by her insurance, but men can get viagra. Or that she’s being systematically underpaid compared to men in her office. Or that she was fired because she wouldn’t sleep with her boss. Those are all, in my opinion, feminist issues.

      1. 22.1.1

        I am sorry I can’t agree with you here. The Dogma of feminism is anti Man.
        Lets start with the feminist definition of the Patriarchy. A shadow organization of men who create rules to oppress women.

        Never is it mentioned in feminism that the person most responsible for these rules is a women named Queen Victoria. Look it up.
        Also women in most western democracies are the majority of citizens. This equates to majority rule by women. Shouldn’t we more correctly be calling it a Matriarchy?

        It is instead called the Patriarchy so the movement can be characterized as a battle by women against men who oppress them, instead of the truth. A battle by women against the older women to oppress them.

        Also look at the rampant anti man feminist campaigns:
        ‘We need women in STEM’: nowhere is it mentioned that women dominate all other college programs and college enrollment is 60/40 in favor of women.

        ‘Teach your sons not to Rape’: no mention is made of women who rape or the fact that men and women are victims of rape at near equal rates.

        Domestic Violence: The focus is always on male perpetrators and female victims, when men and women are equally as likely to be the perpetrators.

        Family Court and Divorce: Women still get custody 80 percent of the time with child support orders enforce with prison time. If they want equal rights shouldn’t the presumption be 50/50 custody with zero child support?
        Alimony: Why are feminists fighting for this relic of the Patriarchy? (NOW fought to keep lifetime alimony in Florida)

        I believe you can see that while feminists pay lip service to equality, they act to enhance women’s rights at the expensive of men.

  3. 23

    Casey, I agree with you..

  4. 24
    Curly Girl

    Isabelle: Thanks for putting that so clearly!!! I agree with you!!!!

  5. 25

    You know, here’s the interesting thing about this: there is no guarantee in this life that we’re going to meet THE one, settle down, and live happily ever after. So ladies, we’d better be able to do the things we need to in order to provide for ourselves, especially if we’re single parents. I take that one step further, however; I don’t want to fall short of my potential or miss what my calling is because I have to worry about being too hard or masculine. Now, am I going to try to outman a man? No. Do I enjoy being feminine and being reminded I’m a woman? Yes. But, for instance, when it came time to decide to buy a house, I bought a house. I didn’t think, “oh gee, maybe I should just rent in case the right comes along”. I also feel successful, not because I’m doing anything that allows me to compete with a man, but because I believe I’m where I’m supposed to be right now while moving forward. I’m satisfied and fulfilled. It’s not an “I don’t need a man” sort of mindset, but I’m content now while on the way to more, if that makes sense?

  6. 26

    I think that it is hilarious that so many women want to lecture men on what we “should” want.
    If I want a sweet, non-hostile women who is not carefully keeping a gender-equity scorecard on who is stronger at what thing, who are you to tell me what I should want.
    Seriously, these credential-worshiping, status-measuring women are keeping score on EVERYTHING.
    I think that even the strongest of career women exhibit a brittle strength that is too self-conscious.
    Even the most powerful ball-busting men are no match for a women who is keeping score.
    Gals, get a clue – real men NEVER keep score on most things. We are not intimidated by your strength or success. We are weary and worn by your constant and self-conscious need to parade it around.
    Realize that we ALSO reject the friendship of men who constantly have something to prove. In our personal lives, we seek to mitigate irritation. And a women who is constantly trying to remind us how powerful, strong, and independent she is may as well be a yapping terrier who is simultaneously scraping all four sets of nails on a chalkboard. See-ya.

  7. 27

    I think what is being confused in this issue is strength vs. arrogance.   A woman who carries herself with dignity and confidence is enticing and captivating.   A woman who says, “I don’t need a man because I of x, w, and z” is not.   So it may   not be feminism that is the real issue.  

  8. 28

    You are  a woman, you educate yourself, get a job, plan for the future.   Independent.   You don’t need a man.   That doesn’t mean you don’t like men, it just means you have smartly planned to  be able to take care of yourself.   Then you have the  woman that is supported by her parents, doesn’t plan for the future & says oh, no, I’m an adult, what will I do?   Oh, good idea, find another person to support me.   Men love these doting types who can’t fend for themselves.    That’s a simple business decision  by  both parties – nothing but need.   Yes, the needy woman will play dress up all day since she has no job & often be considered more attractive because men more often care about what you look like.   Men  often say  women won’t give them the time of day because they are just average.   Funny thing is they will tell you how they saw this really attractive  woman who  blew him off because of his looks.    They don’t go over to average  women.   Men need to be on top & are threatened by a  woman who can pay her own way, plan her own life, be responsible, etc.   No one should need anyone – male or female.    You should want to be  wanted, not needed.     

  9. 29

    Evan great article!
    Mikko- great reply and I really liked that link you posted. It is such a comprehensive answer:-D

  10. 30

    I think women can use their masculine energy at work, but MUST melt into their feminine energy in all other relationships, ESPECIALLY romantic relationships.   Romantic relationships are not competitions where people keep score or someone is trying to ‘win’, they are PARNTERSHIPS of two humans coming together to be a witness to each other’s lives.

  11. 31
    Rosanna Tufts

    How amazing it is that after 40 years of feminism, we are now seeing men and women reclaiming their core essence, and truly becoming grounded in their own masculinity or femininity, no apologies needed. Women’s Lib got us respect in our careers — it didn’t help us do our relationships better. Ironically, when I speak about these concepts in my own teaching, I am accused of perpetuating sexist stereotypes — and the accusers are gay.

  12. 32

    Wow, looked like a man wrote that.   Truly an alpha female there!

  13. 33

    I believe it’s a simple matter of differing values.   Of course I’m generalizing, but since that allows me to cover approx 87% of a normal bell curve for both sexes, I’ll proceed.

    I listen intently to women as they express their experiences and desires and have noticed something that I believe explains a lot of the mischaracterization of “what men want/don’t want.”   Women are more likely impressed with intelligence and accomplishment, especially with other women.   I have a good friend who other women try to set up with their girlfriends, but they aren’t considering that they are judging what they believe he wants based on what THEY would want in a partner.

    They keep trying to set him up with aggressive, razor-thin blondes with multiple graduate degrees and who are high in the corporate or government hierarchy.   He is also a high-mid-level manager…and he calls me frequently with these frustrations.

    He tells me point blank:   I don’t want a thin blonde attorney or political scientist with a Ph.D. who thinks doing domestic things is beneath her, or an imposition.   I like kind, warm-hearted raven-haired women, a little plump, who put as much passion into their work as they do their lovemaking and cooking.   He tells me they don’t even need to work…he makes around $120K a year, so he doesn’t need to deal with that power struggle.

    I believe many men have learned the lesson:   Listen and focus on her needs, and refrain from judging her by your own set of standards; women need to do the same for men…and it’s not an imposition to ask for this, it’s a matter of willingness and motivation to succeed in our relationships, all of them.

  14. 34

    I don’t think it’s necessarily that men don’t like Why Don’t Men Like Smart, Strong, Successful Women but it’s more the attitude that a lot of the Why Don’t Men Like Smart, Strong, Successful Women carry that a lot of men hate. Men hate those hey look at me, look at my A’s, the miss no it all, the women that never got over high school and think they are the greatest thing on earth, that’s what men HATE. Usually these women that have these super graduate degrees have that look at my A’s, the miss no it all, shove it up your nose attitude, the catty, ultra picky, me me me attitude. But still also men don’t want their girlfriends, wives so successful that all she does is lives and breaths her work. The women that completely lives and breathes work can forget relationships (that live and breath) work is a real repellent and will make most men run.

  15. 35

    I really enjoyed Heather’s letter, and felt so glad for the happiness she is experiencing as a result of her shift in perspective.

    I have 2 brothers and, a host of guy friends, that I adore. Everything changed for me when I started seeing the guys I was looking to date with the same eyes. Their strengths and positive attributes, and what they have to give just started shining through.

    Men not only are not the enemy, they are a wonderful counterbalance to women’s nature. When you start seeing this, that they are different yet complimentary, and you stop expecting them to be like women, it is an immensely liberating experience.

  16. 36

    Hi Evan,
    After years of struggling with this question – it finally dawned on me the answer – it’s not that men don’t like successful women, it’s that they don’t really give a crap about a womans’ career as long as it keeps her happy and fulfilled. Women who have conquered the world, think they should get some credit for it and a partner that appreciates it, but honestly most men don’t care about that – they just want a sweet, loving, beautiful girl that will be nice to them and to have fun with them. Career women can be the opposite at times, I admit. It’s not that he doesn’t like your career, it’s just that you’re not fufilling his basic woman requirements first. Well, there to have it – the answer to life.

  17. 37

    I am glad to read another person recognizing that the gender role conditioning is equal in both girls and boys. Playing the “game” of dating is really just playing into these roles, boys and men who are conditioned to be “tough” and “stronger than women” are also conditioned to expect women to be different from them. And women who are conditioned to expect “tough” and “stronger than women” from men are judgmental toward men who are just being themselves, and not trying to fill that role. Both are conditioned to expect certain things from the opposite sex, instead of taking each person as an individual, and making friends. If we take each person as a new individual, with a unique personality, without expectations of how they should be or act because of their gender, then we can actually find true friends, who may end up as romantic partners if there is that kind of chemistry on top of the friendship. When we are judging others as to how they measure up to our expectations for a romantic partner, we miss their entire actual personality, and skip right over the best part; friendship.
    It’s something we don’t have to seek; if we meet someone we connect with, then we make a friend. If we don’t connect with them, then we don’t. The quest for a partner has been taken to new heights in the past decades by the mass media, taking the friendship part right out of it.
    Also, people seem to have forgotten that until the recent past, women actually DID “need” men to survive in this society, by design; they could not get a decent job to support themselves comfortably, they couldn’t even go to a lot of colleges, and they certainly had a very hard time being taken seriously about anything. So the generations that are young and middle aged adults now were raised and influenced by people who grew up in a different version of this society; which means that boys are still being influenced by people who view men as being “in charge”, and entitled to be dominant. This is very important in understanding what the hell is going on in the dating and marriage scene. And, girls are also still being influenced in the same way, while at the same time being held up to very high expectations of career and financial success, competing with men who have been raised to be automatically dominant over women, as if women do not have the same set of feelings as men do. (What is the female equivalent word for “emasculate”? Why isn’t there one?) . If a man has a hard time making a successful career with a somewhat submissive personality, how would a woman?
    The skills and understanding that create a civil, pleasant atmosphere and safe, supportive relationship are the same whether a person is a man or woman, heterosexual or homosexual. Integrity and politeness do not have a gender label. “Brutal honesty” is code for “acting like a jerk”, regardless of a person’s sex.
    If you have to change who you are to get or keep a date, then you are surrounded by control freaks who have preconceived expectations, and even if they act like they like you in the beginning, they will eventually either demand that you change who you are, or reject you. If your behavior is polite and civil, and you are self-aware and do regular self-examination, if you don’t have different expectations for others than for yourself, then you don’t need to change for others; if you haven’t found a person to be with, then you just haven’t met them yet. We can always change our awareness level, and our behavior, and our treatment of others. But changing our very selves to conform to another person’s standard and expectation of how we should be because of our gender is a whole other ballgame. There will never be a day that I will give up my love of music in order to sit at the “wives” table to watch my boyfriend/husband play onstage, and pretend that I am not a musician. Would a friend expect that? Would I expect that of him? Never! We are BOTH musicians, I want to do it with him, not at him, as if he is not “one of the musician crowd” because he is a boy.
    If my significant other is not my buddy first and foremost, then where is the fun going to come from, or the support? It’s not going to come from anywhere, just like if he was a female “friend” who had expectations of me that she didn’t have for herself.

    1. 37.1

      Wonderfully said. I can’t think of a thing to add. 🙂

  18. 38

    Lola couldn’t agree more, great post.   Although there are always the exceptions to the rule.

  19. 39

    No disrespect, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this person was actually a man trying to make a point. No smart, successful woman could REALLY confuse their anger from trauma with feminism. It’s like all the Tea Party folks crying about (faux) socialist leanings and calling the President a Dictator not realizing Dictators seize power, not win elections. Regardless, it’s all about compatibility and chemistry when it comes to men and women. People want different things, and when the compatible come together it works. Either way, life is to be lived and loved so get to it! 🙂

  20. 40

    @The Baroness #74
    This story is completely believable – people confuse events and trauma all the time – we wouldn’t have thousands (millions?) of people in therapy otherwise. People process trauma in all sorts of seemingly strange ways all the time.
    I won’t be so arrogant as to insult this woman, (and her experience) by disbelieving her story and effort in resolving the pain she’s been through – instead I celebrate her success in (finally) understanding it, and changing her life for the better.
    Sadly, your whole comment sounds like an insult to this woman, and an insult to those who “…want different things” (those who comprise groups such as the Tea Party who don’t share *your* views).
    Perhaps starting with a modicum of respect, and working toward understanding would help you see that your view isn’t the only view, and that the perspective of others may come from sound reasoning have some merit.

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