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

Smart woman with arms crossed

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. 841

    I may well have misunderstood, in which case I apologize, Jo.

    Re the doctors….it may well be a “grass is greener on the other side” issue. But I will say that I don’t think the issue is about meanness vs niceness, but rather about who does what and who complains about what. How often have we heard women complain that they work full days and are expected by men to do most of the household duties and childcare? Their complaint is legit if they’re working similar days to their husbands. So how can fairness be achieved? Two ways: The men can step up and do more at home, or the women can do less at work.

    Who will be happy with women who want to work all day and have a man step up at home? Men who don’t work long, hard hours at work, and are predisposed to prefer work at home. Men who are more Type B. And who will be happier with women who aren’t at paid work all day and who step up to do the work at home? The men who earn enough and invest in such. SSS men.

    This is not to say that no SSS men want SSS women. But is to say that the doctors who work hard all day? Don’t want to come home to more work. And don’t need the extra money. And are tired of the complaining. And their wives are tired too, and are convinced that their pathway to happiness is to make their husbands do more and more and more. Which is the only way they’ll accept themselves doing less.

    The paradigm that leads to happiness is the one that is acceptable to both partners, not just one. Seems obvious, right? And yet.

  2. 842

    Jeremy, to someone like me on the outside of the situation you described, the solution seems so simple. If two SSS people are married to each other and don’t have much energy for housework or childcare at the end of the workday, then hire or buy outside help! Eat out more, order out more, order meals from a chef or one of the cooking companies that sends ready-prepped foods for easy cooking. Hire babysitters or a nanny, and a cleaner.

    This solution might make sense even if both partners are not SSS. From everything I have heard from my friends who are parents, staying home all day with kids is also exhausting. If at least one of the couple makes sufficient money, it might still be worth it to spend some on hiring or buying outside help. Think of it as investing in the partnership, because it’s a happier one if both partners are less stressed and more well rested.

    Now, if we have no kids, there’s a lot more time and a cleaner home so that after-work duties like cooking and cleaning are less tiring. But there’s also more disposable income to eat out and hire a cleaner… so maybe this is just sound advice all-around, except for couples who really don’t have that money to spend, or who always enjoy cooking and cleaning.

  3. 843

    Also Jeremy, I far prefer your interpretation in #841 than any interpretation that has been given in either the original article or any of the comments. It is a problem with the SITUATION. Not a problem with the woman. Most other comments written by men are suggesting – if not outright insulting – how smart, strong, successful women are bad or wrong or difficult or lacking in one way or the other. The truth is that at work, I see that a woman is labeled difficult if she merely doesn’t smile, while a man has to be screaming, yelling, and threatening before anyone labels him difficult. Massive double standard.

    To phrase it as you did – that the problem lies in the SITUATION of two hard-working people who both want relief at the end of the day, instead of wanting the woman to be the relief-provider no matter what her day was like, and insulting or belittling her otherwise – is a relief, and the truth. It’s not a problem with only the woman. It’s a problem with modern North American adult life. When we see this reality, we can more easily arrive at holistic solutions, instead of placing all the blame and responsibility on women to change and twist ourselves to be everything to everyone.

    1. 843.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Good comment. But the premise of Love U is that women don’t have to twist; they just have to choose easygoing men, the same way guys like me chose easygoing wives. No double standards here. Just commonsense based in what’s most effective. The issue is that SSS women have a VERY hard time accepting a man who is not as SSS, unlike men, who are fine with it. Basically, I teach women to date more like men.

  4. 844

    I’d say that the problem is…the way we each *react* to the situation (though, of course, the situation presents the context for the conflict). I think, Jo, that what you wrote – about not placing the onus on women to change and twist to be everything to everyone – is correct. But, again, whence the solution? Man doing more (that he doesn’t want to do, nor cares about), or woman doing less (that she does indeed care about)? It’s related to what we were discussing with Mrs Happy last week – the fact that when women try to rely on men to do the household stuff, it doesn’t get done to women’s satisfaction. So they end up doing everything anyway, because they can’t be satisfied. Half the problem is the man – needing to step up, not because he somehow cares about that which he cares little, but for care of his wife. And half the problem is the woman – learning to let go, a little, of the things that objectively don’t matter, even though she might really, really FEEL that they do. Like dust on a baseboard.

    I’ll also say, re: comment 842, that sometimes solutions look obvious from the exterior because they are, in fact, obvious. Like when a woman writes to Evan and says, “I’ve been with my non-committal boyfriend for 10 years waiting for a proposal, and he won’t even tell me that he loves me.” Yeah, dump him, sister. Clear as day. But other times, the solution seems obvious from the exterior because the person peering in lacks the information and perspective. For example, it’s not that we in my household haven’t thought to hire help. We employ a full-time nanny, cleaner, and hire help to do just about everything that help can do. But still, the tasks involved in managing 4 young children represent an overwhelming mental (and sometimes physical) load – tracking schedules, homework, playdates, summercamps, extracurriculars, arguments, one isn’t feeling well, one broke his glasses, etc etc etc. If my wife and I were both working full-time, it would be totally unmanageable, help notwithstanding.

    We are friends with a couple who are both medical specialists, working very much full-time. They have 4 kids, and employ 2 nannies, 1 cleaner, and a chauffeur/shopper. Money is a non-issue for them. They just put an elevator into their home, in case their parents one day become elderly and infirm, that they should be able to go to their upstairs to visit. You know, just in case. So money…not a problem. Their kids are anxious wrecks. They have all the nannies in the world, but no parents ever home. It is painful to watch. And the parents both know it. But neither is willing to give up any time at work, at their “mission”. Both too SSS.

    The solution is indeed simple, as I see it. Follow Evan’s advice. Complementarity. One SSS, one home-focused. Assuming kids/family is the goal. If that’s not the goal, the solution is other.

  5. 845

    Evan, you wrote, ‘Basically, I teach women to date more like men.’ Sounds perfect: kind of what I’ve been doing all along; 😉 right down to asking out and paying, as Jeremy, Scott, and I were discussing on the other page.

    More seriously, Evan, easygoing-ness is nice in all types of relationships. But I think what most women (even younger ones) have realised that we care about more is finding men who respect us enough to actively work toward being equals as much as possible in the relationship, especially if we live together. That isn’t always the same thing as easygoing. We have learned this through hard experiences of dating and living and working with men of all sorts of expectations for themselves and for us – usually regarding menial chores that really add up over days and years. From recent news, mothers during the pandemic are learning this hard lesson yet again with inequities in childcare at home, forcing many of them out of work and jeopardising their careers. Why? Because their husbands won’t share equally in the task of caring for these kids that they produced together.

    So while easygoing is nice, I think most modern women care more about other things in men, because of our historical lower ‘place’ vis-a-viz men in relationships. We need respect, caring, and a willingness on men’s part to approach equality in the home and at work. Jeremy’s ‘Type B’ man may do that, although I don’t see why a SSS man could not too, especially with my suggestion of hiring services for housework and childcare.

    1. 845.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Except that’s NOT what I meant by dating like a man, Jo. I DON’T advocate asking men out or paying. All these years and you STILL haven’t applied to Love U?

  6. 846

    Jo, you wrote, “We need respect, caring, and a willingness on men’s part to approach equality in the home and at work. Jeremy’s ‘Type B’ man may do that, although I don’t see why a SSS man could not too.”

    Why do you continue to refuse to look at the abstract, Ms. INTJ? The abstract should be your nature, as it is mine. What is “equality”? Why continue to insist that “equality” equals men and women both doing the same thing in equal amounts, regardless of who wants to do what and what matters to whom? Such is not equality. It’s one person doing half of what she wants, and the other doing half of what he doesn’t care about. Equality? You don’t see why a SSS man couldn’t do half the work at home? Why SHOULD he?? He does more of his share of earning. Doesn’t need more earning from a wife. Doesn’t need to be with someone whose role is earning. Too much of what they already have, too little of what they don’t. Equality is partners agreeing in the abstract, and THEN dividing the concrete. Not dividing the concrete and assuming the abstract of the woman as correct.

    We can’t talk about equality without considering what partners want to give, and receive.

  7. 847

    Evan, I was joking. Could you not tell by the winking smile and the ‘More seriously’ immediately afterwards? Regardless, it doesn’t change my point of women wanting respect and greater equality in relationships, and seeing these traits as more important than easygoing-ness, although of course they can and do co-exist in many men.

    Jeremy, what you describe may be part of the reason that average fertility rates are declining in all the OECD countries of the world, and even some non-OECD countries. Women are gaining equality in education and the working world, men are not approaching half the housework in most cases to match this changing scenario, and expectations all around are too high (although not all people expect as much as you describe: many of us have no clue about our baseboards). What we commonly call ‘first world problems’ have practical consequences, and one is fewer children in each succeeding generation. I would posit that we haven’t arrived at anything like equilibrium in the space of how relationships and families adjust optimally to new orders of the world.

  8. 848

    JerJer, you wrote, ‘Why do you continue to refuse to look at the abstract, Ms. INTJ? The abstract should be your nature, as it is mine.’ That is the pot calling the kettle black. 😉 You give anecdotes and expect a NT Rational to be convinced by them. Anecdotes mean nothing because they lack statistical significance. Moreover, if a person is disposed to one mindset, he will latch on to the anecdotes that fit that mindset, and reject the equally (sometimes more frequently occurring) anecdotes that refute it.

    You cite one double SSS couple that has anxious kids. I know a LOT of double SSS couples where the kids are well-adjusted and successful and happy. You cite a few couples you know who struggle even with hiring outside help. I suggest that they may struggle for reasons that have nothing to do with outside help not working – in fact, the outside help may be making their problems less severe. Which one of us is correct? Anecdotes prove nothing.

    As modern societies progress, and women become more educated and integrated in the workforce, there will be ever fewer women who want to fit the bill of what you claim a SSS man wants in a partner. Sylvana has written about this before. And all over the modern world, marriage rates are declining, largely driven by women who seriously question if this is their ideal. Old-fashioned ways and expectations need to change. They may not affect you personally, but they will, and already do, affect society at large.

  9. 849

    If the point I’d been trying to make was that children of double SSS couples are, in general, mal-adjusted, I’d indeed have needed to support with data. However, that was not the point I was trying to make, nor do I believe it true. The point I was trying to make was that MEN in SSS couples are generally dissatisfied. And the data? Well, I’d not trust surveys, as people don’t always answer truthfully. More accurate than surveys is watching what people do. Do men date with a woman’s SSS-capability in mind? Is her SSS-ness an attractant? Ask most men. They’ll tell you no. Then they’ll tell you what is an attractant. Ask women the same question, get a different answer. It is not that I was trying to prove something to you with an anecdote, but rather to use an anecdote to explain a larger phenomenon – the well-known phenomenon of men not doing as much at home as women, the well-known phenomenon of men not dating with a woman’s income in mind.

    Your final paragraph may well be true. But in addition to women asking the question of whether marriage is even their ideal anymore, I’d encourage them to introspect about an additional question – “If you had a man who did what you believe you wanted…would you want him the way he wants to be wanted?” And if you think the answer to that question is simple, if you think it can be answered flippantly without more than a minute’s thought….then I don’t trust the answer. Because the reason men don’t give up their work to spend more time on home chores has everything to do with the reactions of women, though women believe otherwise. They remember what they remember, and forget what they forget.

  10. 850

    ” Regardless, it doesn’t change my point of women wanting respect and greater equality in relationships, and seeing these traits as more important than easygoing-ness.”

    Being easygoing does not preclude respect on either part. On the contrary, if someone is easygoing; they are more likely to accept their partners with the qualities they bring, warts and all. If someone underestimates easygoingness, it’s often because they lack this quality themselves. I have been depicted as that many times, which doesn’t mean it is to be taken as weakness. Those who proclaim it to be so usually come off so self-absorbed that it comes as an immediate turnoff.

    As for respect and greater equality, we should look at how we define those terms. Because just because you say you want the same things doesn’t mean you put the same premium on the terms within it. Not to mention children born out of wedlock aren’t a rarity at all. Would a new household chore distribution alter general concerns about childcare?

    ” Do men date with a woman’s SSS-capability in mind? Is her SSS-ness an attractant? Ask most men. They’ll tell you no. Then they’ll tell you what is an attractant. Ask women the same question, get a different answer.”

    So no woman should be SSS if they want to have a relationship at all?

    ““If you had a man who did what you believe you wanted…would you want him the way he wants to be wanted?” And if you think the answer to that question is simple, if you think it can be answered flippantly without more than a minute’s thought…”

    The way he wants to be wanted is the complicated part. The love languages theory has been extensively discussed and there are many discrepancies about how men and women give and receive love and how they perceive it. Otherwise the question looks so simple that it would be almost redundant.

  11. 851

    I didn’t say that, Cathalei. Lots of SSS women find love. I just said that the fact that they are SSS isn’t the thing that is the attractant to most men. Just as many qualities that I possess and am proud of aren’t attractants to women. At least, not prime attractants.

    And yes, the “the way he wants to be wanted” is both the complicated part, and the essential part. Without this, how many women would extrapolate that a man should be happy because the wives are? And so, would believe that subsequent resentment on the man’s part was due to his immaturity? How many women believe all would be well if only men prioritized as women do? Not simple at all.

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