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

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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?

Michelle

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.

Sincerely,

Catherine

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.

Jason

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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Comments:

  1. 821
    Blaze653

    In addition, I find the “separate your work and home persona” to be very bad advice, just in general.  If anything, most people’s romantic relationships would be far more functional if (with the exception of sex) they behaved as they do at work.

    At work, do you roll your eyes, snort derisively, or make a snarky comment when someone says something dumb?  No.  Depending on who it is, you either tactfully point out what they are overlooking, or you say nothing.

    When a particular task is your responsibility, do you simply get it done, or do you put it off, screw around, and otherwise be passive aggressive about it?

    Most modern workplaces are team oriented, and everyone is expected to pull their weight for the team.  You do that for your “work team”, why is it such a revolutionary idea for some peoplee, to do that for the “home team”, too?

    Do you throw tantrums, scream, cuss, and so on at work?  If you wouldn’t treat your coworkers with such disrespect, why would you treat your partner with such disrespect?

    At work, you don’t bore everyone to tears by endlessly rehashing some minor, trifling personal issue.  So, why do you think it’s ok to bore your partner to tears, by doing this at home?

    At work, you probably don’t go around offering your coworkers unsolicited personal advice on their eating habits, fashion sense, church attendance/lack thereof, hairstyle, and so on.  So, why do so many do it to their partner, and think that’s ok?

    Unless your job duties include quality control, the auditing of financial reports, or proofreading, you don’t point out the minor errors or mistakes of others at work.  It’s unproductive and only creates drama. Most people know this, so why do so many instantly forget this truth when dealing with their partner?

    When you’re at work and having a bad day, you probably make a concerted effort to keep your negativity to yourself, rather than vomiting it all over clients and coworkers.  Why not do that at home, too?

    Live-in “coworker” + sex = ideal relationship, imo.  Perfect.

    1. 821.1
      Its7am

      @Blaze653 I agree and disagree. I think a lot of your examples, paragraph 2, 3, and 5 sound like middle school couples; any adult exhibiting those behaviors regularly are too immature for a relationship and should work on themselves first.

      Paragraph 4 I strongly agree with, that is how handle my relationships, like a team. If we’re at the point we’re considering “forever” then this required. It’s “us”. Everything, I don’t mind domestics, I can still work and handle a home. I’ll need his help but we even it out. Yes, he doesn’t wash dishes but he mows the lawn. I do all the laundry but he gets on all the ladders and changes our light bulbs. It evens out eventually just a happy hard working pair. With all it’s bumps and bickering in between because disagreements are inevitable.

      6, 7, 8 I also don’t agree with, I actually treat my partner as a special person; besides sex there is only things I share with him. He’s my vault where I can be entirely vulnerable. we grow and build together so if i tell him of my woes I’d like his advise, i look up to him too; he is my support like i am his.

      If something he did hurt me, I will tell him. If I get upset I try to step away to rationalize and calm down and come back later; rarely is ANYONE effective at communicating when upset. I want him to “bore” me with minor issues, what are they because if they are bothering you and are small we will get those fuckers out of our lives.

      It makes me feel special for him to share his inner turmoils with me; he won’t do it with anyone else and expose himself so vulnerably. I like communicating, I like knowing why he had a bad day, I might be able to help.

      If he regularly is late and forgets his coffee and that’s what makes him have a bad day then if he tells me maybe when I wake up I can make his coffee and then he just takes it. Problem solved!

      I’d like us to build each other, if we mesh well then man can we do some serious awesome things working effectively together

  2. 822
    Evensong

    Question to Evan – is this thread really ten years old? Any idea whatever happened to the original poster who started this Epic Poem? 1300 and counting – do you actually read them all? Oddly enough it reminds me of one of those yeast starters for bread that go on forever….

    1. 822.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yep. I don’t keep dates on posts because most of the subjects are not dated like pop culture references but pretty timeless. And no, I don’t read all the comments.

  3. 823
    Its7am

    ** Edited and updated**

    Hello,

    Today is my first day reading this site, it was originally 3am but now it’s actually 5am. I’m a 27 year old woman, I make $55k annually and I live in Miami. I have my own new shiny sports car, a climbing IT career within a worldwide franchise and a couple thousand in my “emergency nest” savings account that I am trying to build up. I’m not overtly successful like some of the older women here are; yet. But I know for my age, gender and class I am ahead of most. I have many “masculine” hobbies like RC cars/planes, video games, computers, and cars. I love cars, I race, drift and mechanically work on my own car. I’m also extremely handy in the house, I’ve fixed toilets, hinges, changed thermostats, built IKEA furniture; etc!

    I didn’t have a bad childhood, or any overly traumatizing events; we were poor (but I never even knew) and my amazing parents worked so hard for me to have the best opportunity I could; and thats actually why I worked so hard and diligently to be a successful career woman. In 2013 I was barely making $18k a year, now in 2019 I am at $55k and that makes me extremely proud. Not because of material numbers to brag about, but I can meaningfully provide for my future family! I remember hearing my parents argue when they didn’t have enough money to pay the bills and we would regularly loose power and water.

    I worked hard for my two parents who struggled to move to the USA, they legally left their families and war riddled country to a new one that they didn’t even speak the language of so their future children could have all the opportunities America has. Now both of my parents speak fluent English, both have always had long term jobs, both worked hard and obtained their US citizenships! My mother went to school and graduated college at 43. My father holds multiple certifications for the aviation mechanics he does. He also supported my mother weekdays and all weekends nonstop for years for her to go to school and complete her degree so he could still support his three daughters.

    I worked hard so they could see those sacrifices fruit. What took my parents 40+ years to acquire I was able to acquire in half the time because of their hard work. I want them to see that, I want to pay them back as much as I can. I will take care of them when they are old, I need them to know this. And although I don’t need so much money to do that, it really fucking helps.

    I am independent, I have all the qualities and damaging qualities mentioned in the article. I am not oblivious to them. Many times when in difficult times, I stood up to the plate and was the “responsible” one. The only one able to keep her composure and pretend to be strong for the family; even if I was sobbing inside. I still sob inside a lot when I have to. I had to do it because my family deserved my strength at those times. I knew I was the only capable one besides my father. I was always Daddy’s little tomboy anyway. I used my intelligence, strength and independence to be nurturing in a different kind of way, by taking over for them when they were weak; to compensate for my team so to speak; I didn’t want to do it but I chose to. They never asked; but they always said thank you when I did.

    When my younger sister almost committed suicide; my father could not pretend to be strong all the time; but he had to be for my mother and i knew this. So I stood up and handled the whole ordeal; start to finish; from riding alone in the ambulance with her to the hospital and giving them all our information to transporting her to the rehabilitation facility and handling them there so he could be strong for my mother and sister who were falling apart. She needed him and could not see him be weak; he is her anchor. My strength and independence allowed me to take some burden from my father so he would not loose his composure and my mother would always see her strong husband; despite them both almost loosing a child.

    Sometimes you have to be the strong one even if you don’t want to. And sometimes you have to go belly up even if you don’t want to. I don’t have life figured out; people look to me like I do; because I sound convincing I guess. I have a plan of how I would like it to go and that’s where I’m headed, but it isn’t guaranteed. We all know this, right?

    My life isn’t sad; I didn’t want the position but knew I could fill it and now relish it. Because I went through what I did; I feel more free. My hobbies and interests vary so much I can enjoy a massive amount of things CONFIDENTLY! Cars, jewelry, electronics, arts and crafts, musicals, shooting guns! Anything and everything. I can be happy when I am alone going 130 in my car or I can be happy sitting silently with my partner playing with his hair and my legs on his lap. I am grateful for my career woman attributes!

    I want my STRONG partner to see ALL of my strengths, intelligence and independence. I want my partner to know that if he EVER needs help or is EVER weakened. I will help him. I will make sure no one sees our weaknesses. Because he is strong and I will protect his image and him in those times because he is NOT alone. He has me. That is the strength I hope my partner perceives. He is a strong man and so should his partner be. His other half; when he is off and recharging. I am active and at full battery; ready to take on the world. Because me and him are a team; it’s corny but we both put on “suits” of armor to go outside our doorstep and deal with the world. He can be alpha man out there and I can be alpha woman. But when we take off those “suits”, I am just me and he’s just him.

    No one really has to stop being themselves; no one has to overhaul themselves either. Just remember it’s you two against the world, not you against each other. Yin and yang compliment each other. Sun and moon. Day and night.

    I love being independent. I am glad that I grew to be the woman I am. I like knowing I have a real noticeable presence in my workplace. I should; I worked really hard for it. I should be noticed for my intelligence; I earned it by learning and researching on my own time for plenty of topics out of pure enjoyment! I enjoy the recognition and praise. And all of this only adds to my ability to make my AND my partners lives better! We just have more things to offer ourselves.

    Yes, I’m a bit of a know it all, I do maybe correct people and offer advise or opinions I shouldn’t. I tend to do disagree and rather get my way but I’m aware and adjusting to it. I’m working on it, it’s hard to let your guards down when theyve been on your whole life. But I balance it too. I like teasing my partner. I like asking my partner to open a jar for me or get something off the top shelf sometimes. Just to see him puff up and be the VIP of the moment. Just like he does for me, who cares if he calls me for help in the kitchen or his tie. I called him in just for a jar or his height. Different situations same precedence.

    Naturally for me I’m submissive when intimate, I like pleasing him and feeling how strong and in control men can be. That’s why I like men! They’re bigger, stronger, hairier, lil more assertive; those qualities attract me. They arouse me and challenge me! I see protection for my family and a good night! How exciting and reassuring to have an equal! I want to pinch his ears and slap his butt until he wrestles to the couch and fall off it with him on me laughing and annoyed at me. Power play is exciting, I enjoy the differences between our genders. We get along better when we compliment those differences; I think so at least.

    I enjoy being competitive in life, challenging others and helping them. I like paying for meals for him sometimes; I’m his backup. It’s sweet to see your partner puff up happy when you do something unexpected like paying for the lunch. Even the strongest and proudest of men like to be hugged and told they will be taken care of. Even if it’s coming from a very smart and successful woman. They just want you to be there; his partner.

    I would have assumed most men would be reassured by the fact that their partner can also hold up their own. The burden of weight isn’t all on them 100% of the time, if disaster strikes and anything happens to his or our health, wealth, or anything. I want him to be calmed by the fact that our family (whether it’s just me and him or we have children) have NOTHING to be worried about, because we have it covered; both of us.
    I don’t understand

    I don’t have relationship “troubles”, I left both my long term relationships on good terms. One wanted to move to the other side of the world and the other i no longer loved the same way. Still in touch with both men today. I am single right now but by choice as I handle major lifestyle changes. I guess I just wanted to write out a point of view some might not have seen or considered; I didn’t want to be strong but I had to be successful and enjoyed what I became.

    This turned out I made this long so I hope everyone and anyone who reads this considers taking off their “suit” that the world sees, and just be vulnerable unguarded you with your partner.

  4. 824
    Fsg

    My God, I think people overthink this… some men like strong woman (the whole package with both the good and bad traits) and other don’t. I honestly think it’s not that deep.

    My dad married a strong woman and he is very successful himself. They ve been married almost 40 years now.
    His mother my grandma was the strong woman type too so guess that’s the energy he is used too and comfortable with.

    My brother married … (you guessed it) a strong woman. Not exactly a surprise. And they love it.
    There is a match to most people. Just keep looking until you find yours.

  5. 825
    Juan

    Strong independent women really think they’re all that, but aren’t at all which they really wouldn’t make a good wife to begin with anyway.

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