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.

When 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. 41

    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.

  2. 42

    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.

  3. 43

    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.

  4. 44

    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.

  5. 45

    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

  6. 47

    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?”

  7. 48

    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.

  8. 49


    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 3/4’s of the problem here.

  9. 50


    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.

  10. 51

    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!

  11. 52

    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.

  12. 53

    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.

  13. 54

    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.

  14. 55

    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….

  15. 56

    …hhhhmmmhh…there is a silence….

  16. 57

    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.

  17. 58

    A lull in the action…

  18. 59

    Why are men turned off by smart, successful women? I think the answer comes from back in high school days boys it seems like would get turned off when the girls would start to brag about how good they were and say things like I got a better grades than you and have this catty attitude that they are better than anyone else. It seems like girls back in the high school days would rub it in and I think it turned the boys off that it stayed with them even after high school and can’t stand that cattiness attitude.Even if women don’t mean to use the I’m better than you/cattiness attitude in the adult lives when getting an MBA/graduate degree I think it still comes across to men that the women that get MBA /graduate degree or are naturally “smart” just rubs men the wrong way. To some men when they hear a lady say I just finished with my MBA/Graduate degree there is just simply something in our brans that naturally turn us off and some men when they hear that they got these graduate degrees or naturally “smart” some men’s brains just turn and think ohh she was one of “those women” and those men would rather walk away cause they can’t stand that cattiness or the “I’m better than you” type attitude. I don’t think it’s necessarily that you are smart or have a grad degree or MBA or whatever but I think a lot of it is the tone of voice when women say they have their graduate degree MBA. I think the tone of voice just comes off wrong and turns a lot of men off.

    I think it’s a natural fear men have built up and have seen it starting in high school days and also in the work force like when women are even catty to other girls and not necessarily to the men it just comes off wrong to men.

  19. 60

    to Mo,

    Successful women I have met(and I haven’t met many) like to put me down, in public, and I don’t enjoy that….

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