Why Don’t Men Like Smart, Strong, Successful Women?

Hi, Evan.

I’m 41, happy with my rounded self, smart, direct, and articulate.

I’ve been told that my lack of dates is due to:

1) Men don’t like smart, direct women, and

2) I’m centered, which sends the message that I don’t need anyone.

Are men really that insecure? I’m certainly not going to be less than I am just for someone else’s insecurities.

Tell me honestly, Evan – are there any good men out there who appreciate a woman who knows herself?


Hi, Evan:

I don’t know what is going on and why I’m lacking luck in finding Mr. Right. I am educated, refined, and a self made millionaire by age 34. I am good looking. Many men, women, elderly, and children of all ages have told me so. People also told me that I am one of nicest and sweetest people they have ever met. Even though I am 36, most of the people I meet would think that I am only 26. Unfortunately, I have been through all kinds of online dates in the last two and a half years. CEOs, doctors, lawyers, hedge fund mangers, business owners, professional athletes, actors, etc… When I am not interested in them, they work for the relationship day and night. When I am committed to them and act nice and devoted, they start to look elsewhere.  Anyway, in short, I need some serious help and hope to hear back from you soon.  Thank you.



Great letters. Important question. But first I want to start off with a hypothetical email from a man.

Dear Evan,

I’m what you’d call a “nice guy.” I make a good living, I’m pretty attractive, and I treat women well. In fact, all of my female friends comment on what a great catch I am. But then I see those same women dating jerks. Yet they would never consider going out with me! So what do you think? Am I cursed to be alone just because I know how to be kind to women? Isn’t being nice a good quality? What’s wrong with women these days? Please let me know.


It’s not BECAUSE a guy is “nice” that he’s not attracting women.

Men reading this might empathize with Jason. Women reading this may feel bad for him, yet also want to him to know that it’s not BECAUSE he’s nice that he’s not attracting women. It’s because he’s doesn’t have masculine energy. It’s because he constantly seeks the approval of others. It’s because he’s not sexually aggressive. It’s because he sacrifices his personal power to be conciliatory. These are common attributes of nice guys, yet nice guys think that women don’t like nice guys BECAUSE they’re nice.

Not true. Women want nice guys – nice guys with opinions who stand up for themselves and know how to take control.

Smart women are very much like nice guys.

“I’m intelligent, I’m direct, I’m successful, yet I can’t seem to find a quality guy who appreciates me.”

Men like smart women. I do. My male coaching clients do as well. So how is it that all these successful men are not connecting with all these successful women?…

Because there’s much more going on than merely a meeting of the minds.

What never occurs to some women is that:

They’re being evaluated on far more than their most “impressive” traits.

These traits sometimes come with a significant downside that is painful to acknowledge.

Take me, for example. I’m a reasonably bright guy. I make a fair living. I can write a decent joke. These are my good traits. But right behind my good traits are a series of bad traits. Anyone reading this blog can see that:

…Despite her impressive credentials – attractive, successful, intelligent – she might not be giving men what THEY WANT.

The flip side of being bright is being opinionated.

The flip side of being analytical is being difficult.

The flip side of being funny is being sarcastic.

The flip side of having moral clarity is being arrogant.

The flip side of being entrepreneurial is being a workaholic.

The flip side of being charismatic is being self-centered.

Again, not EVERY person who is bright is opinionated, and not EVERY person who is funny is sarcastic. But there’s enough anecdotal evidence to suggest a strong correlation. And I’m just talking about MYSELF here. And if my good qualities come with bad qualities, have you considered that yours might as well?

So when I hear a woman talk about how “direct” she is, the first thing I think is: “She’s tactless.” I wrote about this in an article for Match.com entitled “Are You Honest… Or Overboard?” Self-proclaimed “direct” people often tell their dates what they think about them even if the date didn’t ask. They often try to change partners who have no desire to be changed. When the partner pulls away because he doesn’t want to be with someone so critical, the “direct” person concludes that he couldn’t appreciate her “honesty.”

If this makes you feel personally indicted, welcome to the club. I’m a “direct” person as well. I write things that are, to say the least, provocative…and yet I always get surprised when I receive angry emails from readers. Hey, I’m just being honest over here! What are you getting so upset about? 😉

See, there’s a price to pay for “being ourselves.” And if you’re going to express your opinion, you can’t be surprised if other people disagree with you. And if you’re trying to win each argument, you can’t be too shocked if he wants a woman who can be a little more acquiescent.

I don’t know Catherine and Michelle. But I do know that they are not alone. Maureen Dowd, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, wrote an entire book about this, called “Are Men Necessary?”. One of her main observations is that if an amazing woman like her could be single, there must be something wrong with men. What she doesn’t acknowledge is that despite her impressive credentials – attractive, successful, intelligent – she might not be giving men what THEY WANT.

Why don't men like smart strong successful womenWhen a man goes out with a woman, he’s not as concerned with whether she’s articulate and on track to make partner at the law firm. That’s what women want in men and they assume it’s of equal importance to them. It’s generally not. Men DO value intelligence, but they also want from their girlfriend what they CAN’T get from their business associates. Warmth, affection, nurturing, thoughtfulness. If he finds himself constantly hearing all the things he needs to change, he may just determine that he wants a bright woman who is less challenging. Not a Stepford Wife. Not a bimbo. Not a maid. Just someone who makes his life EASIER and more pleasant.

Listen, I’ve spent my life chasing after women I’ve intellectually admired. Invariably, all of them had major issues with me. They’re not wrong for seeing things I could change. But a huge reason I’m with my wife is because she spends her time loving and supporting me, not challenging me on everything from movie tickets, to travel plans, to wake up times. She’s easy, in the best sense of the word.

Men want from their girlfriend what they CAN’T get from their business associates: warmth, affection, nurturing…

This is a real dilemma. You’re undoubtedly a great catch. You can teach us a thing or two. You are a go-getter and worthy of everyone’s respect. But if that go-getter side ends up emasculating your man, or makes him feel insignificant, or second-guessed, he’s not really getting what he wants out of a partner. Men want to feel masculine. We want to feel needed. And with a generation of women who pose questions like “Are Men Necessary?” it’s pretty difficult for us to enjoy our role as men. This doesn’t mean you should play dumb, or be weak and needy, no more than the nice guy should start acting like a jackass. It might mean, however, turning off some of the things that make you “successful” at work. This is a bitter pill to swallow, perhaps even a double standard. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that “hard-driving, opinionated, and meticulous” are not on most men’s lists of ideal feminine traits.

As someone who considers himself smart and direct, take it from me – there’s nothing wrong with these qualities. But if it also coincides with being difficult, dating might be a long, tough road for you.

It certainly was for me.

P.S. Want better results in your love life? For a deeper understanding of what qualities you should be looking for in a man, I invite you to check out “Why He Disappeared – the Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever”.

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  1. 31
    Ryan H

    1) Men dont like smart, direct women, and
    there are men out there that like to be told what to do.

    2) Im centered, which sends the message that I dont need anyone.
    stability? your sitting on thousand feet of concrete?

    if you knew what you wanted you wouldn’t worry about the ‘lack of dates’

    i don’t believe the first letter too general and conclusive. There is no objective. I beleive there are more deep issues with the one who wrote that letter.

    To the 2nd letter: It’s a dating game you have to play it to win it. People want to work for something. It’s like segments of negotiations before getting to an actual commitment. It’s full of cat and mouse games and take aways with a trap like tom and jerry 😉 it’s an art form that is mastered through experience.

    3rd letter: Nice guy is the worst positive insult I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s the total opposite of what a real woman wants except for the personality traits that she would want from you. Women thinks about a brad bit exterior with a sensitive trustworthy nice guy(which he is) too bad he’s got one of the hottest chicks on the planet!

  2. 32

    Here is my hypothesis – the smart, strong, uber-successful woman wants a man who is smarter, stronger, and more successful than she. Remember, this woman is still raised (by family media, etc.) with the belief that a man should be there to take care of the woman’s needs (look at other posts elsewhere). These smart, highly motivated women will not be happy with a man who earns less than her, who is not assertive, and who is more traditionally feminine, for lack of a better term. These women will therefore look for men who are more ‘man’ than her.

    The sad thing is this hypothesis has a negative result for women. I say this because the vast majority of very successful men do not want women to challenge them in every little facet of their personal lives. Very successful people of both sexes often spend long days in high conflict, high pressure situations. The successful men I know and have as clients desire partners that help to temper that aspect of their lives. So, with an ever-shrinking pool of men who are willing to date these uber-motivated women, you find that women are frustrated.

    It would therefore seem that some of these women could benefit from a paradigm shift.

    As an attorney, I will not date other attorneys, doctors, or other ‘hard-charging’ occupations. Why? having dated the whole gamut, I have found that almost universally, conversations are only about work, getting ahead, and competitive. I seek warmer traits in women I date. That is my preference.

    Every time this subject comes up I am reminded of an argument I got into with an ex-girlfriend of several years, another lawyer. We were in Costco (where I didn’t like going) when she said to me, “I hate the way you push the cart.” WTF?

    One man’s opinion….

  3. 33

    to Verbosity…

    more man than her… very interesting!

  4. 34

    Oddly enough I feel like I am the opposite of what is described here. At work I am aggressive, I stand up for myself, I don’t sugarcoat my opinions and I’m very focused. However when it comes to men I am very nurturing, I give them EVERY bit of myself, my time, my heart, my affection you name it. Of course i’m not a total doormat but more often than not looking back I see opportunities in the relationship that I should have been more like my work self and stood up for my opinion or position in a situation. Then eventually the guy gets sick of me giving giving giving and its over. Who is to say whether standing up for myself along the way would have changed the outcome but my point with regard to this article is that its about balance. Don’t leave your witty, articulate, powerful and determined self at work just to please a man because ultimately he probably won’t please you and most importantly you won’t please yourself. I pride myself on being outspoken and aggressive in life (I am 4’9″, 105lbs I have to be aggressive) so when I look back on instances when I let things go that normally would have got me going it makes me dissapointed and always wondering “what if”. What if I were a better balance of standing up for myself and my opinion and a little less appeasing to his manly ways? What if I were a bit less nurturing all the time, would he have wanted/appreciated me more? etc.

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  7. 35
    J NYC

    wouldn’t life be wonderful if men and women could get to know each other as friends? wouldn’t it be great if relationships could be about intellectual companionship as opposed to a battle of egos, agendas, and superiority? wouldn’t life be interesting if women were real people with complex personalities, instead of being predictable collections of stereotypes? what if men sought women with the qualities they seek in their male buddies and had relationships with women of comparable closeness? what if “making life easier” meant finding fulfillment in the honest exchange of ideas as opposed to unconditional approbation? wouldn’t this then be the best of all possible worlds?

  8. 36

    I totally agree with what Evan has to say. And i’ve been trying to “minimize” talking of my successes when I go on a date with someone new. But how much do I have to hide?

    I’ve had too many men focus on asking me about work, or something of the sort and it’s becoming tiresome to keep changing the subject. If they don’t want to hear it, then they need to stop asking me about it.

    So what do men ask women that are not a “catch” about? I’m curious.

  9. 37

    I believe where ever possible when dating we should (both men & women) try and leave work behind. It seems (well for me anyway) to generate a better connection where possible.

    My last date shook my hand and said I will let you know.
    Well that’s what the interviewer said to me at my last job interview.
    I would prefer a date where the man behind the desk stays there and real man steps forward. Its a date not a job interview.

  10. 38

    I love this blog. Each comment written here makes sense to me. I have one question for the group though! How does a successful, bright, articulate attractive woman have the ability to show the men that are intimidated by these strengths that she is indeed warm, nurturing, loving, kind, jeans and the no-makeup type over weekends type of gal?
    I have that exact problem and I am not prepared to underplay my achievements. However, I have a very soft edge, very loving, caring nurturing side and will even share that in words on a first date. I am STILL a “turn off” to most men due to my energy and positive attitude when they meet me…HELPPPPPP

  11. 39

    Evan- right on man! I am glad that SOMEONE finally intelligently articulated this concept. This is the same reason why many business deals take place on the golf course, or in the strip club, or at the upscale bar….because strong, successfull, intelligent men do not want to do business with people who can never turn the sales “schtick” off. These places allow guys to connect as people, away from the business environment where everyone is trying to impress, stroke their egos, compete, and blow smoke at everyone else. We want to know the real person we are going to be doing business with, which may result in a long-term business relationship. Same thing goes for women. Who wants to date a woman who doesn’t know when to turn it off? Leave the schmoozing, manipulating, ego stroking, best-foot-foward tactics at the office and try to connect as a real person. This is a skill that many successful, strong, intelligent women have not mastered. For this reason I have dated many economically disadvataged and sometimes uneducated women, many of them immigrants. Why?.. becuase what’s important to me are the values and principles concerning relationships they bring to the table. Most people who do not know me well, when they observe this they think that it is because I prefer subservient women whom I can control and manipulate easily. Not so! I just realized they if what is most important to me in a relationship is warmth, caring, sensitivity, well defined roles, etc., that I need to look at the real person, not their financial achievments and professional skills. Here’s a thought: Could it be that many highly educated, intelligent, successful people be emotionally ignorant?

  12. 40
    Hadley Paige

    to Phillygirl

    You wrote “How does a successful, bright, articulate attractive woman have the ability to show the men that are intimidated by these strengths that she is indeed warm, nurturing, loving, kind, jeans and the no-makeup type over weekends type of gal”

    Sucessful women keep saying men are intimidated by sucessful women. I guess thats a way of consoling yourselves with you accomplishments. Its not that that sucessful women are intimidating, its that the traits linked to sucess are not, broadly speaking, the traits that most men want.

    As for me when you say you can be a “weekend” type of girl. I think if I was in a relationship with a person such as yourself I would be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  13. 41

    Wow, this was an insightful article and I am impressed with the authors tact.

    I was also impressed with the first comment. I too had the thought that it is best to be yourself, even if that turns people off, since that will happen eventually anyway. Better to see it on a first date rather than after you become attached to someone.

    However, I don’t think acting differently isn’t being yourself.

    I think it comes down to treating your romantic interest as nicely as you would treat a good friend or an acquaintance.

    The article gave the example of how men might not like “direct and honest” women if that translates to blunt uninivted criticism. Yet how many people would be blunt, harsh in telling a good friend or a business associate something they need to hear? They would be themselves, they would just adjust the way they talk to fit the situation.

    It comes down to your romantic interests being deserving of the same kind of gear shifting.

    1. 41.1

      nice summary steve

  14. 42

    Hadley Paige,
    Thanks for your response. It was hardly helpful. I don’t think any man has the answer to my question of how to change the male mindset that ALL successful women have the “let’s wait and see if the shoe drops” attitude. I was asking how to break that mindset but it is becoming obvious to me that it’s not possible. It is just not fair to a person like myself who detests taking success and business “to bed at night”. Why should I be stigmatized when in fact, my success is based on my passion in the health care industry to “make a difference” to those less fortunate than myself. My success is not driven by my desire to “one up” a man or to inflate my ego, nor to prove anything to anyone.
    I guess I can’t change and won’t change. There has to be one guy out there that will fall for me despite my success. It takes an emotionally “up and operating” man to recognize the traits of a woman without being threatened by her ability to make a living.
    Thanks for your input.

  15. 43

    Very interesting post. I guess you are a good example of a guy who refuses to believe that “successful women can be emotional”. You questioned it in your last sentence. You talk about choosing women beneath you, I find that very interesting. I wonder if you have a low self esteem? Anyway, this is not meant as a hit at you at all. YOur post is just very biased and actually quite ignorant in certain respects. Yup you’re probably saying “see she’s too direct and that’s why men are scared away”. That may be, but ignorance is tough to deal with.

  16. 44

    Well after having read this, my conclusion is : that : s

    People who are obsessed by their own achievements are a) very often boring b) wrong (confusion between SUCCESS and HAPPINESS c) because of a) and b) they are not at all attractive. This observation is valid for MEN and WOMEN.

  17. 45

    I can’t agree more with Christine et al who are often asked about work while on dates. In NY, where everything is about work, this is what a lot of people talk about. I’m asked on dates what I do – I try to keep it general an change the subject, but if the guy is in a similar field to mine (banking) – which is common in NY – he suddenly starts shifting the conversation to shop talk an the romantic buzz goes away. So I try my best to change the subject, smile and say, ‘oh, let’s not talk about WORK – so your profile had a photo of you on a kayak – where’d you go’? or something like that. This is why I find it easier to meet guys when doing stuff I enjoy – hiking, travel, etc.

    There are lots of guys who like women with opinions, they don’t want someone who will agree with them 100% or they’ll get bored. My last 2 boyfriends were like this. And there are guys who are the opposite. A successful woman wouldn’t be happy with the latter but regardless I think it’s the way a woman comes across – competitive instead of engaging in a challenging conversation.

    And I read Maureen Dowd’s excerpt in the NYT Magazine and can’t disagree more. I know many successful women who are happily married and many successfuy guys who are married to successful women. So go figure.

  18. 46

    Thanks for all the comments and again to Evan, I was not taking a direct hit at you although it came across that way. I think your articles and blogs are phenomenal and it’s just the “nature of the beast”. It’s a matter of women are “damned it we are and damned if we aren’t”. I have to admit though that reading ALL these posts has made me realize that perhaps my passion for the work I do (has nothing to do with how successful I am which is a result of my passion) must bleed out (sorry I’m a nurse had to use that word) during conversations on a date and from now on, I will totally underplay what I do. I guess men are also “damned if they do and damned if they don’t”. I appreciate our Venus/Mars differences and don’t believe that either sex has it easy with respect to the single and dating world. I am probably too passionate about my field/work and need to remember all of your posts above when I go on my next date. I have a “disadvantage” in that I’m an attractive petite woman too and forget that men are visual and “hungry” and when they meet women that are appealling to the eyes (guys please don’t yell at me and accuse me of being egotistical, I’m telling it just like it is without any arrogance or self righteousness), they don’t want to hear about entrepreneurship and success. SO in this longwinded message, I’ll end it off by saying that I thank you all for “helping me” to realize that I’m a victim of my own passion and behavior. Hope this all makes sense.
    Lost in Philly

  19. 48

    I grew up in a liberal household. All of the women in my family, extended family and the women among my parent’s friends were 70’s era feminists.

    To this day the idea that men and women aren’t the same ( even though they are equal ) seems, palpably, sacrilegious to me.

    If you want to live successfully in this world at some point you have to see it how it really is and deal with it accordingly instead of insisting that reality should conform to your view of it.

    In my life time of experience I have seen that men and women, while being equal, are not the same and do not want exactly the same things. If that observation makes me a sexist or a bad person, then so be it.

    As Grouch Marx said

    “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes”

    If you want something better out of your life sometimes you have to accept a truth you don’t like so you can deal with it and make progress. I think that is where Evan’s opinions fit in.

    To use another quote, this time from Dr. Phil

    “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

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  21. 49

    I have come to the conclusion that all you men that post on this blog are intimidated and afraid of women who are successful. It’s called “self inflicted emasculation”. Attitude and mindset is 3/4’s of the problem here.It takes a strong, emotionally centered male to be able to be with, enjoy, romanticize and have intimacy with a successful strong woman. You mean to tell me that you’ve never seen a couple together who are both on equal footing in every way? Perhaps you’ve all been burned by choosing the wrong women time and time again, versus it being every successful woman’s problem?
    Interestingly, I am in healthcare and find that many health care professionals are arrogant, self centered, tough and difficult. Does that mean that if a caring, loving, giving, kind healthcare professional who is not a loser comes along, will I stereotype him and turn him away.
    I’m sorry that you’ve all been “affected” by women who may bring in a higher paycheck than you do.

  22. 50


    Why are you pissed off and reactive/judgmental about people you don’t even know? By my experience, anytime you start to paint groups of people (i.e. men; men who post on this blog) with as broad a brush as you did, you close yourself off a little more to the possibility of finding someone great.

    Besides, no one likes a know-it-all. No guy wants to be approached by a woman who smugly believes she knows him better than he knows himself.

    Seriously, please look at your posts and ask if you’re coming off as a person anyone would want to date.

    I don’t want to sound harsh, but am responding with the same level of force that you’ve been using in your last posts.

    You said it yourself: Attitude and mindset is 3/4s of the problem here.

  23. 51


    My responses are purely a reaction to the ongoing “bashings” that the males on this blog throw out at us women. It goes right back to the fact that “successful women have no emotions”. Ironically, these ongoing nasty postings have evoked strong emotions of sadness in me…NOT egotistical reactions. It really hurts Shellacked! Please read the postings of your friends, they are not “warm and fuzzy”. I’ve had at least 3 relationships whereby men have said to me “you appear to be so tough on the outsidek but I’m happy you “let me in as you’re actually a very sweet and loving woman”. I hope you understand where I’m coming from.
    There is a stigma attached to “my type” and it hurts.

  24. 52

    I have to add that even my screen name is not indicative of a “ballbuster”….I don’t call myself Philly woman do I? LOL…..Gloria Steinman would hit me “upside my face” as we say in Philly…after all, am I a girl? Yes the last time I looked, I still was!

  25. 53

    I cannot believe that I never thought of this before, but if I had treated my girl friends the way I treat my men – I WOULD BE FRIENDLESS. Okay Evan, I was almost prepared to hate you. Thank you for putting yourself out there to help protect us from ourselves.

    I could not figure out why I never stayed in a relationship. I would like to say that I think I am beautiful, but I don’t think so. I think it is the energy and fun loving spirit that I give off. It is this that attract men and I really am amazed that I still attract so many men at the age of 50. I also have a lot of other qualities that should make me a great catch. But woe to the poor man that pursues me. When I finish being the power house that I am at work, they are usually left in a heap.

    I am not saying that men are not without their problems but I will stop looking for every fault and then pointing these out to them. I don’t recall me doing the same thing to my girl friends. Anyway, I have recently started dating someone whom is usually on the verge of depression after every date with me. I will be more understanding and supportive, who knows he may look forward to seeing me.

  26. 54

    You are not fair.
    You generalize the entire male population.
    I admit most white american men do not like intelligent women, especially one that is a supporter of racial equal rights and a environmentalist. these two things tend to get at their nerves some how.

    But date more diversly and you will find large groups of men who only seek intelligent women.

  27. 55

    Observer –

    Awwww. You’re so right. How awful it is to generalize about all men.

    But how sweet it is of you to take a stand against over-generalization by generalizing about WHITE men. You’ve really made your case on this one.

  28. 56

    to phillygirl,

    I would like to meet more women with a bigger paycheck than mine…hhhmmmhh…yes…the one or two I meet every 10 years or so, doesn’t help….

  29. 57

    …hhhhmmmhh…there is a silence….

  30. 58

    Hmmmmm. This thread is similar to the one about women who earn more than men and the men who supposedly resent them.

    Many of the sentiments are the same. In general, I do not see men bashing (meaning ad hominem attacks) that much, if at all.

    i would like to kindly state Phillygirl, that you posit a no-win scenario for yourself and men in general. First is your assumption that men are intimidated by strong, successful women. Then, upon receiving refuting commentary to the contrary, you simply dismiss it out-of-hand and stick with your assumption that men are intimidated by women. Aside from indirectly calling men cowards, your position shows a lack of respect for the points many men posted here. You are correct in that attitude and mindset is part of the issue…

    Am I the only who sees the basic insanity of this thread’s theme? That being, men are intimidated by strong, successful women. So men, just listen to us strong, successful women and stop being intimidated. As if kowtowing to this demand will instill respect.

    IMHO, respect is lacking from the female perspective on this, in that many (not all) female posters simply refuse to acknowledge the points many men posted, thereby showing disrespect by not listening and acknowledging what they are saying.

    My buddy says most women are like radio towers….great at transmitting, not so good at receiving.

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