Can a Smart, Strong, Successful Woman Get A Smart, Strong, Successful Man?

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Hey Evan, I’m having trouble —as I guess most of the people on this blog are— with finding a partner. I took the big step of asking a friend to be brutally dead honest with me about why they thought I couldn’t find someone great. No wishy-washy answers about giving it time, or not meeting the right kind of people, just absolute dead straight feedback. They thought about it for a good long time, and then replied that I intimidate men. They pointed out that I have a very good degree from a top university, but more than that, in my personal life I am very straightforward and honest. I play no games, hide behind no lies and I play by my own rules. Basically it came down to the fact that I’m not super-feminine. I’m short and slim, and pretty enough if no great beauty, and I dress in a hyper feminine way: dresses, heels, makeup, hair done. I smile a lot. But personality-wise, I am not feminine in the least. I’m the kind of person that values energy, directness, and honesty, and provides them. I have a great sense of humor (verified by friends and family) and I am flippant rather than intense and romantic. My friend said that men didn’t like that. They didn’t like a woman who was funnier than they are, who would earn more at equivalent stages of life and who didn’t want a man to protect and look after her. My BIG question is: are there men who will want me as I am? I am willing to change a lot, but I’m not willing to become some submissive little doll of a woman who only cares about her husband’s success rather than her own. Am I destined to live alone, rolling in a big pile of money, but without anyone to share it with? Yes I have my faults, huge amounts of them, but would I be better off pretending to be someone else? —Amber

Hate to tell you, Amber, but…

Your friend lied to you.

You don’t really intimidate men.

Being feminine isn’t defined by long hair or a curvy body —— being feminine is about being receptive, warm, upbeat, nurturing, supportive, sexy, and confident in your own femininity.

The truth is that the men you want don’t want you in return.

This is the topic of the most popular blog post I’ve ever written, although I’m not exactly sure what’s up for debate.

Before I get into explaining my thesis, I want to backtrack a little bit.

It’s possible that you intimidate men. But even if you do, you wouldn’t really want to marry a man who is intimidated by you, right?

So if we can discard those guys who think you’re too much for them, why would any other man not want to be with you?

I don’t know you personally, but you’ve identified it yourself: “I am not feminine in the least.”

Being feminine isn’t defined by long hair or a curvy body or — as you falsely state — becoming some “submissive little doll of a woman.”

Being feminine is about being receptive, warm, upbeat, nurturing, supportive, sexy, and confident in your own femininity.

The great news is that you can still be smart, strong, and successful and possess ALL of these qualities.

But there simply aren’t many men who think that the most important qualities in a wife are straightforward, direct, flippant, funny and rich.

Sorry about that. I’m just reporting what you’ve already seen.

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing WRONG with being direct, honest, flippant, funny and rich (really, there’s not!). But you know who else is that way?

The men you’re looking to date.

Problem is: those men have no desire to date themselves.

This is the dichotomy of the smart, strong, successful woman.

You want to date the male version of yourself.

He doesn’t.

He’s looking for someone to complement him, to give him what he doesn’t get from his guy friends, what he can’t find in the office.

There’s one other thing that struck me about your email, Amber.

It was this line:

“They didn’t like a woman who was funnier than they are, who would earn more at equivalent stages of life and who didn’t want a man to protect and look after her.”

If we aren’t financially supporting you, if we aren’t protecting you, listening to you, helping to fix the plumbing, setting up the computer, picking you up at the airport… what exactly are we there for?

There’s just too many fallacies being thrown around here:

You’re too funny? And that’s a negative? My sister is certainly funnier than her husband. My mom was arguably funnier than my dad. Some people think my wife is funnier than I am (and I’m a former comedy writer).

So I’m not down with that. What I will agree with is that two people can’t be the center of attention and if you’re the center of attention and he (as an alpha male) likes to be the center of attention, his needs aren’t being met with you. Doesn’t make you wrong for being this way, but it might mean you need to choose a guy who can take a backseat to your big personality.

Your next point was about you earning more money than men.

Sure, some guys have their masculinity threatened by that. For many years, we’ve been taught that we have to be the providers — witness the number of women who expect men to pay for the first date, to pay for the wedding ring, etc. It’s not something that we can easily get over. At the same time, you making money is not the deal breaker you think it is — at least not with an enlightened man.

Listen, I’d love it if my wife made a million bucks. But in order to do that, she’d probably have to work 50-60 hours a week, go into the office on weekends, travel, and be less available for nights watching TV, weekend trips away, and regular sex. No, thanks. I’m fine with her making $50K.

Most other successful men have come to the same conclusion. If he does fine for himself, he doesn’t care what his wife makes. It’s only women who make a lot of money who care what their spouses make.

Finally, what you don’t seem to understand here, Amber, is that men want to be NEEDED. If we aren’t financially supporting you, if we aren’t protecting you, listening to you, helping to fix the plumbing, setting up the computer, picking you up at the airport… what exactly are we there for?

You wrote that you don’t “want a man to protect and look after” you.

That’s unfortunate. Because that’s what WE want to do.

As to your final question: “are there men who will want me as I am?”

Are there men who don’t want to be needed? Who value your directness over your supportiveness? Sure. Probably.

But they may not be the men that you want to date.

Despite your attraction, any strong-willed man will clash with you non-stop, so what you’re left with is a more pliant beta-male.

Those are your choices: soften up a bit and tap into your feminine side or find a softer man who embraces your directness because he doesn’t have it himself.

P.S. Most of my successful clients were the ones who chose different men instead of attempting to change their own personalities.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Jane

    I’ve been lurking for a while now (of both the threads and the responses), but this one compelled me to respond, because I was debating a similar question myself.   I understand that after reading all these letters, someone can pick up on little hints or phrases about the intent of the author.   But when I read the OP’s letter, I came away with a very different read.   I thought it basically boiled down to this: she knows she is masculine energy, and knowing that, can she find love?   Or does she have to change?

    As I read Evan’s response, and the others that followed, I really heard a mixed answer:   no, don’t change your personality – but you are too unfeminine, so change these following things […].   I agree it is hard to change your personality, but whether you’re yin or yang is a dimension of that – so you can be potentially asking them to change core traits.   I even get why this happens.   The majority of women, from what I’ve read and witnessed, do seem to work with both energies not out of a desire, but more a default need.   And many women, I’d even say the vast majority of them, do want help in expressing their feminine side, or moving in that energy in any given relationship.   But not all women do.   Some women don’t want to compartmentalize their yang to their job alone – they want it to be a part of their being.

    People appeared taken aback by the “submissive little doll” comment, but when I read the line from BeenThruTheWars – “If you can learn to sometimes stand aside and just purr and look pretty and smile and say thank you…” – I didn’t see any difference between the two.   Both lines speak towards looking visually pleasing, and feigning inability for the sake of it (as opposed to genuine inability, ie. “Hey hon, can you help me lift the tv to the other room?”), not to mention other things more subtly implied, like voice changes.   I have seen these allowances, and more, first hand.   And not just from the uber feminine women.   I have seen women, who were entirely consistent in their speech in all other areas, suddenly lift their pitch to an almost sing-song when in the presence of the men they were interested in.   Or a woman who, once completely deciding what to eat, completely became undecided once her partner returned from the bathroom, and ended up ordering what he suggested – something entirely different.   If that is what makes the individual couple happy, then that is great for them.    

    But not all women want to follow that script.   If she says she’s funny, I don’t think she means she wants to write jokes for the Oscars.   But I hear plenty of men in my lifetime make this assertion – men who were anything but funny, lol.   Usually meant they just liked the idea of being funny, and telling jokes, and having people laugh at them.   And they eventually found women who listen with rapt attention, and thought their jokes were hilarious!   Maybe she just wants a man like that.   Maybe she wants him to be the soft place for her to land .   Or to be the yes man – not in the derogatory way we can imagine.   But in Evan’s book, he talks about being open, and simply saying yes when guys suggest things on or for dates.   She may want something similar.

    But I guess the answer is no, no, and no.   And I say that not because it is explicitly said, but it is in so many words.   The answers I was most curious about only came at the end of the response, and briefly at that:

      “Those are your choices: soften up a bit and tap into your feminine side or find a softer man who embraces your directness because he doesn’t have it himself.   P.S. Most of my successful clients were the ones who chose different men instead of attempting to change their own personalities.”

    Where was the assertion that what she desired was ok?   Certainly Evan doesn’t have to, but he, in the past, has taken great pains to affirm women, even as he heavily critiqued some of their choices.   Also, just like women can be direct, but appreciate it more from their partner, can’t a guy feel the same way?

    But more so than that, I was looking for the more practical guide to how the OP could find what she desired.   Where do you find these men?   What do they look like exactly? How can you differentiate a genuinely beta guy from one who behaves that way, but is really passive-aggressive, and actually doesn’t appreciate a woman’s more aggressive energy?   And how do you attract them, because I’d have to assume that attracting a feminine predominate (or equal parts each) man is going to be at least somewhat, if not very, different from attracting a masculine energy man.
    Don’t get me wrong.   I am not saying the OP is perfect – even she says she has tons of flaws, and says she’s willing to change certain things.   But if this were counsel to a man, a very masculine energy man, say, who was having troubling finding someone to date and be with, certainly the answer wouldn’t be “Act more feminine.”

    Or…would it?   No one, not even the most extreme masculine man is 100% that.   We are all some balance.   So would he be told to soften some of his traits?

    I know this is probably a somewhat rarefied group (masculine women, who are not effecting that stance, that just genuinely would love and cherish a more feminine energy man), but it can’t be smaller than female CEO population.   Is there anything more to say to them (Evan alludes to it in his post script, but w/o any details)?

    Thank you!

    @ Ruby – “The goal is to find someone who likes a funny, high-earning, independent woman, and forget the ones who don’t. I’m sure they are out there.”

    I think that was the most positive affirmation I read on the thread, so far, that these guys do exist; thanks for that! 🙂

    @BeenThruTheWars – I did quote you, but I also wanted to say thanks.   I would probably be at least somewhat in the category of what Helen said of people who may not embrace some of your position.   To use the piece I quoted, at the end you asked if that was so hard to do.   For me, it would be, because it’s so foreign to who I am at my core.   But I liked much of what you said, and though you did bracket it in terms of masculine/feminine energy, some of the things you suggested are just plain great for humans period, like working hard to become a great listener, and being appreciative of the generosity of other people; so thanks for sharing your personal take on things.

    1. 21.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Jane – A thoughtful response deserves a thoughtful response:

      Re: My mixed answer. Yes, I gave a mixed answer, because there are essentially two choices a person can make: change yourself or change the kind of partner you’re seeking. The one thing you can’t do is change an individual man, which is generally what most women I advise are attempting to do.

      I did make an assumption in the OP’s email – one that’s based on a considerable amount of coaching experience. I assumed that she was looking for a man who was more man than she was. Taller. Smarter. Funnier. Richer. Just as opinionated and educated and strong.
      She didn’t say this, but I haven’t found many clients looking for the sweet, supportive, easygoing high school teacher, for example. If I’m wrong in my assumption, I apologize, but my advice was geared towards how you attract the Alpha Male. If the OP is looking for a yes man to laugh at her jokes, I’m sure she can find one…but in my estimation, she won’t respect him. At least that’s what I hear from women who complain about nice guys and need a man who’s more of a challenge.

      As for your question about the practical guide to finding the right men… Huh? “Where do you find them?” Everywhere. “What do they look like?” Everybody. “How do you attract them?” Be yourself. The beta guy is the only person who’ll put up with you in the long run because his life is improved when he doesn’t have to make decisions. The alpha male wants to make decisions and doesn’t like you telling him what to do.

      Naturally, I’m speaking in sweeping generalizations, because that’s necessary when giving advice. No one is pure alpha or beta, etc. But if the OP is anything like my smart, strong, successful clients, her two clear options are to soften up to make masculine men feel good around her, or keep being herself and appreciate it when an easygoing beta guy has her back for life… (which, by the way, is exactly what alpha males do with their wives).

      Just don’t forget, as BeenThruTheWars eloquently pointed out, most men don’t feel like they have a role if you’re so independent. It’s not intimidation. It’s just a feeling. We feel best when we’re NEEDED. And, for the most independent and direct women out there, the truth is, they DON’T need a man. This is where a lot of things fall apart.

      Women tend to fall for men who are emotionally unavailable and don’t need them. Men tend to fall for women who are available and vulnerable. Thus, the greatest gifts you can give a man is your time and support. This is my observation, not my judgment. Try it, you’ll see.

  2. 22
    Joe

    @ Maria #12: I guarantee the LW used “a” and “they” in an effort to gender-neutralize the friend who was asked for advice.   It’s awkward to say “he or she” every time a “they” will do.

  3. 23
    BeenThruTheWars

    @Helen 18, I’m not sure what it is about “try to become a better listener and work on being more gracious and receptive” that would be hard for women to swallow if they genuinely want to be in a loving relationship with a masculine man.   Unless it’s just such fundamental advice, you think they might dismiss it. (That, I could believe.)    I’m just explaining what worked for me, as a person who once walked in Amber’s high heels, and what (as a dating coach) I have seen work for many other women once they try behaving a bit differently.    
      
    @Steve 19, agreed — it’s almost impossible to change one’s basic personality.   And I agree with you and Evan that it’s essential to find a partner with whom you’re a good fit.   My husband is extremely laid back, which works for Type A me.   However, I still make sure to “let him be the guy” and make a conscious effort to see to it that he feels acknowledged and accepted and appreciated and listened to in our relationship.   It costs me nothing to behave in this way (i.e., less self-centered) and has brought me many tangible and intangible rewards.

  4. 24
    Gem

    I agree wholeheartedly with BeenThruTheWars!

  5. 25
    Carrie

    Wow…some great insight and advice.   I feel for Amber, really I do.   I often have felt the same way.   I have the same independent spirit very open and friendly to everyone.   I have no problem with needing help with anything. The word that grabbed me was “vulnerability”.   I know what being vulnerable means but what are the initial signals/traits that show the “right kind of vulnerability” when you are in a crowd and wanting to attract someone. What does this look like? What happens? Besides smiling and having an open energy.     In many many situations I have met men and had great conversation etc…but they are more than willing to walk away.   They ultimately seem confused.   If we meet again they are friendly. When people finally get to know me…they have great stuff to say about me…and everyone wonders why I can’t find a good man.   Hmmmm.
    Anyone have an answer to the what actually is the vulnerability I am to be displaying?   This also would probably help  Amber as well! Wishing you well Amber, don’t give up….keep being a wonderful lady…give some of these suggestions a try…all trial and error. Big Hug!    

  6. 26
    Ann

    Hang out with different people, that’s my unsolicited advice to the OP, if the crowd you’re with isn’t jibing with the way you are naturally and the men are all put off by a woman who knows her own mind. They don’t know what they’re missing!

    I don’t know what this feminine/masculine energy stuff is about (makes no sense to me and isn’t in keeping  with my personal experience), so I like Helen’s comment that all people need to have certain skills in relationship, e.g.,  being able to listen, being sensitive, empathic, etc. That way it’s not a one-way street where we’re always telling women that it’s “feminine” to allow yourself to be plowed over, which is how a lot of folks will understand that advice about being “receptive.” (I always wonder, “receptive to what?” Like  if I’m really a woman I’ll just let in all this crap and sort through  it looking for the good stuff. Maybe he should  do some work here and present only the good stuff. “Receptivity” would be very easy in that case!)        

    I also like the part about not hitting people over the head with your smarts or your accomplishments or whatever. One upsmanship or self-aggrandisement is  just rude, no matter what your gender. ‘Course, no indication that that’s what our OP is doing. She doesn’t seem like that in her post.

    She seems OK to me, actually. Not sure she has a problem, other than she hasn’t met someone she jibes with yet.   

  7. 27
    devymetal

    As I was reading Evan’s response, something struck me:

    Perhaps women who express too much masculine energy and find it difficult (for whatever reason) to explore their feminine energy may actually have better luck simply reframing the experience as getting in touch with their inner spirit of youth.  

    I think being intractable and proud of it (some people would interpret this positively, as being “strong-willed”, although I would not) is totally at odds with the traits fun, still-idealistic, youthful women possess– at any age. Being curious, adventurous, and fluid shows a potential husband he can count on the woman in his life to be both adaptive and graceful under pressure.

    I live in the financial district of NYC, and, it sometimes shocks me to see businesswomen no older than me (30) who look hardened, stern and 10-15 older. Some of these women may appear feminine, but they don’t look possess youthful energy, and that seems to be just as critical to the most eligible men around here.  

  8. 28
    Angie

    Hey Amber,
      
    I can agree that Evan’s statement “men want to be needed”.   The guy I am currently dating says he really likes when I ask small favors of him (he set up my TV and internet in my new apartment). He also just told me one of his good friends was talking about how silly his wife is b/c she keeps asking him how to flip back and forth between the cable and the dvd player and all his friends asked “Are you sure she isn’t just doing that to make you feel special?” (answer: the friend didn’t know if she was faking or not, but he found her inability to do so endearing).
      
    I think there are a few areas where men naturally “excel”.. electronics, sports knowledge, car maintenance (again, I just asked how to put air in my tires.   It’s dumb, but men genuinely like when you go to them for advice).   It won’t make you look stupid or incapable just b/c you ask a question.   If you are going to buy something or install something or fix something, simply asking their opinion might increase the way they feel about you without changing you one bit.
      
    I think this goes across the board.   I was totally happy being single, but there were people in general who I would ask questions from, even if it was just about tax law or baseball rules or whatever.   It doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself.   It just means that I value that other people sometimes know more about certain things than I know myself.

  9. 29
    Ruby

    Jane #21

    <<@ Ruby — “The goal is to find someone who likes a funny, high-earning, independent woman, and forget the ones who don’t. I’m sure they are out there.”
    I think that was the most positive affirmation I read on the thread, so far, that these guys do exist; thanks for that! >>

    Amber wrote, “Hey Evan, I’m having trouble —as I guess most of the people on this blog are— with finding a partner. I took the big step of asking a friend to be brutally dead honest with me about why they thought I couldn’t find someone great. No wishy-washy answers about giving it time, or not meeting the right kind of people, just absolute dead straight feedback.”

    This is another aspect of Amber’s question that I take issue with. Actually, I do believe that timing can play a major role in finding a partner. This isn’t to say that we don’t all have areas that we could improve, and that if someone tends to make the same mistakes over and over again with the opposite sex, then they may need to reevaluate what they are doing. But I think that, in most cases, there’s nothing particularly more “wrong” with anyone who is single, any more than there is with someone who is coupled, other than that they haven’t yet met the right person.  

    Sometimes, when you are a smart, high-achieving sort of person, as it sounds like Amber is, it’s difficult to accept the fact that, while you can be very proactive about many things in your life, including looking for a partner, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the right partner will emerge exactly when you would like him to. In other words, even with all the best intentions, you may have to wait a while. If you’re the sort of person who is used to working hard and getting results, that fact may be hard to take.

    Perhaps it’s almost easier to pick at your own flaws, thinking that if only there is something about yourself you can change, then you can find the magical “right” person. Well maybe, but maybe not. And if any of us asked a friend to be brutally honest with us, couldn’t any friend manage to find something “wrong” with us?  

  10. 30
    Laine

    I love That East Asian man’s response too.

  11. 31
    Trenia

    Amber and Evan brings up something very interesting, a woman’s femininity and the way men need to feel needed. The problem is, as women and times change, what women see as needs are changing, but men aren’t changing what they are offering us based on how we’re evolving. We’re still talking about how men need to fix things around the house to feel needed, when women know they can just pay the neighbor’s brother to do what needs to be done for $25. But because women tend to feel more compelled to be coupled up than men do (generally speaking), we are the ones who feel like we have to change to get the man at all costs. But herein lies the problem between women and men in the 21st century, and unfortunately there will be casualties until things re-calibrate. Casualties meaning, unfortunately, a lot of women probably will not make it down the aisle, I suspect a good portion of my generation (I’m 32) will remain single, but the generation of women after me will fair much better in love and relationships.
    What’s happening with men these days is similar to what’s happened to the auto industry in Detroit, they wanted to keep doing things in the same way they’ve always done it, while everywhere else on the planet is upgrading technology and changing the way they do business. As I said, there will probably be many casualties, but I suspect the next generation is already changing things.

  12. 32
    Ann

    [email protected]: LOVE your response, and I agree! Maybe something better than being married right now is in the offing for her, or maybe she’ll have a better marriage if she waits. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong because she isn’t married right now. She might do well to examine why she thinks she should be or why she wants to be.

    [email protected]: Brilliant. I could never respect a man who NEEDS me to play dumb so that he can feel NEEDED. How ridiculous. I’m good at a lot of things, some that are considered traditionally masculine things. And I suck at  some things that are considered traditionally feminine. My BF is the same way, but vice versa. Together we’re a hodgepodge of talents and abilities. But it’s not like we’re two dumbheads who can’t figure out between us how to get things done. It astounds me when I meet these women who don’t know how to manage their finances or men who can’t cook or wash a dish because they don’t think it’s part of the genetic coding for their gender.

    But we’re together because we want to be, not because we need to be. It’s trickier to do relationship this way, though, because when you encounter conflict you actually don’t want to be with the other person, and there isn’t any need binding you. So we’re always reassessing the relationship and breaking up is always a viable option. We’ll never get divorced, though, so that’s a good thing!!

  13. 33
    Helen

    All these comments about men needing to be needed are  very interesting.

    Trenia 32 is onto something. The  more society evolves, the less women truly “need” men for anything. I say this not as anything against men, whom I love; but as an observation of society. John Gray  (Mars & Venus) and others agree, but  claim that  women still need men for affection, affirmation, etc.  But is it really true?  It seems like stretching the truth just to  conform to an old-fashioned notion. After all, can’t single women get affection and affirmation from friends, family members, casual relationships, and pets?

    This is not to say that I don’t think women should get into LTRs. They are incredibly rewarding. But can’t we dispense with this whole notion of “needing” men? I can’t believe it has a real biological basis. Males of other species don’t depend  upon females to “need” them for anything.   Female lions do all the hunting AND the cub-rearing; male lions do virtually nothing except breed, yawn, and lick their chops. Female monkeys are capable of getting enough food for themselves and rearing youngsters on their own.  

    So what is the basis for all this “need to be needed” among humans? Maybe it is all part of the game that many have alluded to here, which understandably is a distasteful game for many self-sufficient women.

    1. 33.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Helen: maybe in your mind, you can get the same things from friends, family members, casual relationships and pets. But I sure can’t. None of them will make love with me. None of them will wake up by my side. None of them will be in the trenches with me raising kids. None of them will be living in my house, building memories every single day. You do a disservice to married couples – and the beautifully codependent lives they build – by suggesting that any other relationship is a reasonable substitute.

      And that, by the way, is why people keep coming back for more. The reason that people strive for love. The reason that people tie the knot. Despite love’s potential to hurt and disappoint, we want MORE than the lick of a dog or the laugh of a friend.

      Comparing humans to lions denies what makes us human. Lions don’t have a fraction of the capacity of humans to love. Perhaps that’s why male lions aren’t needed.

      You don’t need to make any other biological comparisons. You just have to look at all the people who fall in love and try to make it work in the world to determine whether we need to be needed.

      Seems to me the answer’s yes, no matter how much you’d like to think the answer’s no.

  14. 34
    Ann

    [email protected]: I think you mean “interdependent,” not “codependent,” which isn’t considered a healthy way of relating.

    Long as we’re on the topic of codependency, though, if you’re going to say that there are positive things that you can only get in a marriage, you must also admit that there is a whole lot of crappy, destructive  stuff that you can only get in a marriage, too. Like divorce, which has got to be the crappiest relationship experience on the planet.

    I’m with Helen–I don’t think that the things you list are the exclusive benefits of marriage. I get them in other ways and I’m perfectly happy getting them this way. I’m not the only one. You’re put together the way you’re put together; others are put together the way they’re put together. Enough room for everyone!!! Equal respect all around!

    1. 34.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Actually, co-dependent is an apt description, but we can play with semantics if you like.

      Saying that you only get “divorce” out of marriage is like saying you can only get “fired” if you get a job. So the answer is simply not to work so you can never get fired? Huh?

      You get married because the depth of your relationship with one person transcends all the other relationships. The fact that you’re happy being single doesn’t take away from that.

      And the fact that you and Helen can create some false equivalence between your relationship between you and your dog or your sister doesn’t mean that living with, building a life with, and sleeping with one person for 40 years isn’t a significantly different (and objectively deeper) experience. I respect your right to be single, but honestly, a friendship and a marriage are apples and oranges.

  15. 35
    Helen

    Evan, I don’t see how my remark does disservice to married couples – that is too extreme a statement. Married folks (including myself)  wouldn’t be  affected at all  by such a comment. We’re in marriages because we want to be in them. We’re not going to start questioning our marriages just because I suggest that affection and affirmation can be had by other relationships.

    That doesn’t mean that I  know that my life is much better than the life of an unmarried  person, or that a single person cannot be fulfilled through other relationships.

    In any case, this is a tangent. The point I’d been trying to make  was about the notion of needing to be needed, and whether we could dispense with this notion altogether and just admit it’s a WANT in today’s society, not a NEED.    

    1. 35.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Helen: Affection and affirmation CAN be had by other relationships. Just not with the same depth, consistency and intensity as a marriage, at the very least because you’re not living and sleeping with your girl friend.

      I didn’t say my life is “better” than an unmarried person, especially if that person DOESN’T want to be married. I did say that the depth of my relationship with with my wife and the value of what we’ve built together – a home, a family – might be more meaningful. There are plenty of unhappily married couples, but a strong marriage, I believe, transcends mere friendship…and that’s why most people pursue it.

      Finally, we can quibble about the semantics once again, but it doesn’t change the message. Do you NEED a man the way you NEED air? No. But you’re bright enough to understand the point. When women revel in their independence and their lack of need for a man, it’s not a turn on for a man – even if he appreciates a woman who is exceptionally bright and interesting. Not sure if we disagree on anything.

  16. 36
    Ann

    [email protected]: Agree 100%!!!

    [email protected]: I really do not think you want to suggest that people get into codependent relationships, given what that word means in common parlance.

    [email protected]: How long have you been married? And Helen, how long have you been married?

    Again, EMK. I would suggest that you are speaking about your own experience. Maybe you need a marriage to experience depth, consistency, and intensity in a relationship with a woman. I would not say that this is a universal experience. And just because you didn’t have that kind of experience when you were single doesn’t mean that other people don’t.

  17. 37
    Angie

    To some of the above posters:   I don’t really think Evan said at any point play dumb or play down your best traits to get a man.   I read through this thread a few times.
      
    Just don’t overemphasize that you don’t need anybody or anyone and devalue your partner if you expect to keep a partner.   If you genuinely appreciate someone, you will both let them demonstrate their love for you and you will respond with gratitude.   This should be with all relationships, but of course your primary romantic relationship should be first and foremost.
      
    You shouldn’t date someone who thinks you are totally incapable of doing anything yourself because you are some poor little woman or is too insecure to deal with the fact that you make good money (I have several friends who make more money than their boyfriends / husbands, but these friends – especially the married ones – treat their combined salaries as “our” money, not mine vs. his). I do know that some men with inferiority complexes will insult and degrade hard-working women, but those aren’t worth the OP’s time.
      
    You wouldn’t have ANY good relationships, friendships of otherwise, if you didn’t have some ability to show your appreciation.   Do you always ask one friend for fashion advice b/c she has great taste?   Is there a friend you love to go out with b/c she’s loads of fun?   Maybe you should break down and analyze the good relationships you’ve forged, figure out WHY they are so good, and then go from there.

  18. 38
    Ann

    [email protected]: One other thought on this:

    Saying that you only get “divorce” out of marriage is like saying you can only get “fired” if you get a job. So the answer is simply not to work so you can never get fired? Huh?

    This goes back to the discussion of want v need. Everyone needs to work; work is basic to survival. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you are working for your keep. If you are a lawyer, you are working for your keep. If you are foraging in the forest, you are working for your keep. Only a rare few in this world are in a position where they do not have to work. So everyone has a “job” so to speak. “Getting fired”–or losing what you rely on to survive–is a risk that everyone faces.

    Getting married is a want. It is not a need. In developed countries, at least, no one has to get married. We all have a choice whether to take on the risk of divorce or not. A lot of people have decided that whatever benefit they might get from marriage, it  is not worth the risk of the crappiness of a divorce.

    So I don’t think the analogy works.

  19. 39
    Helen

    Evan 39: “When women revel in their independence and their lack of need for a man, it’s not a turn on for a man.”

    Evan, we do indeed agree on the awesome aspects of marriage and  political outlook (as evidenced by some of your comments). But where we appear to  disagree – and please correct me if I’m wrong –  is our perceptions of women’s attitudes.   I quoted you above to assure you: by and large, women don’t revel in our independence or lack of need for a man! The  vast majority of women aren’t even thinking that way. If we are independent, it’s not because we revel in it, or because we’re trying to defy men.   It’s because we learned that  we need to take responsibility for ourselves as adults to eat, sleep, and have the basic creature comforts.   And if we aren’t lucky enough to be married right away to a man who can provide all this, of course we need to learn how to do it ourselves.

    I fail to see this in any way as being “anti-men.” Or having anything to do with men, period. It’s just common sense in order to survive in the world.  Guys, if we woman are independent, it’s NOT about you.  It doesn’t mean we hate you (most of us love you and want you). It doesn’t even mean we revel in it. I really wish, for the sake of my brilliant  single girlfriends who want a LTR, that men would stop taking their independence personally. Just because a woman can survive on her own doesn’t mean she doesn’t love a special guy’s company.

    Ann 40: Thanks!   To answer your question, I’ve been married 13 years.  

  20. 40
    Joe

    @ Trenia #32:

    Would you rather maintain your  facade of independence and pay your neighbor’s brother $25 to do something, or just ask your boyfriend to do something he’d be happy to do for you for free?

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