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

a young blonde woman looking at the camera with two men talking at the background

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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  1. 41

    @Joe #10

    I agree but I was NOT leaning on the guy all the time.   I try very hard not to do that to people.   I am far from helpless.   I just resent being told one thing, and then being damned for believing it.   I believe in saying what you mean, and meaning what you say.  

    I just don’t know what to believe about you guys anymore, LOL.

  2. 42

    Here’s a thought: If your life is awesome, your life is awesome. Marital status has nothing to do with it. That way, if your marital status changes, you still get to have an awesome life.

    And kudos to [email protected] on telling it like it is! What does any woman’s  choices regarding work, marriage, lifestyle, or even hairdo have to do with guys? All people–which includes women, last time I checked–make choices based on what will make them happy. Whether these choices turn men on or not is really not the women’s problem. Maybe guys should become less codependent and work on thir own happiness rather than trying to get women to change.

    1. 42.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Ah, Ann, you’ve just revealed your blind spot.

      “What does any woman’s choices regarding work, marriage, lifestyle have to do with guys?”

      Everything if you want to be in a relationship with a guy. If you don’t, then I’m not sure why you’d be on this blog.

      If you work 60 hours a week, your guy doesn’t get his needs met. If you’re training for a triathlon, he doesn’t get his needs met. If you’re high-maintenance and critical, he doesn’t get his needs met.

      And if it’s more important to you to be the CEO, run marathons, and “be right”, then you can be PERFECTLY happy.

      Really. No one’s trying to change you.

      You just won’t find many men who will find you their ideal partner.

  3. 43
    Saint Stephen

    If you aren’t looking for a BF/LTR you will find plenty of men who are comfortable with not being needed for anything except for the occasional sex call.
    If you don’t need a man for anything then what do you ant him for? Sex? you can get that without the hassle of commitment. Share conversations? you can do that with your pals. Protection? You can hire a bodyguard or purchase a weapon for self defense.
    With smart strong successful women- i think their want for a man emanates from wanting to prove to their peers that they can get everything others have. Inwardly they may really don’t want a man, but at the same time are scared and avoiding the stigma associated with being single.

  4. 44


    Most men ANd women work 60 hours a week nowadays. You have to pay the bills

    1. 44.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Once again, Sayanta, I didn’t say that MEN who work 60 hours a week are a prize. Anyone who has little time to give to the relationship is a liability. But since this site is for women, I’m talking about women who put work before love.

  5. 45

    @St Stephen 48
    How can you generalize like that?
    You make it sound as if all strong, smart successful women are very shallow.
    I’m sure some of them fall into the description you give, but
    maybe more likely, many of them probably became overly self-sufficient, but feel out of balance, and may have trouble getting into their heads and into their hearts, and are not quite in touch with their intuition and what it is they really want, in all areas of their lives.

  6. 46

    Ann #42

    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.

    Evan never said that marriage is a need. He said that men like and are attracted to, in addition to other things, the feeling of being needed in a relationship. Not unlike women. I know I appreciate the feeling that my man comes to me with certain needs that he feels he can’t get met anywhere else. NO, not just sex. Emotional, psychological, spiritual things that he trusts only ME with because our relationship is that deep. Because throughout the course of time, the love relationship deepens and transcends, as Evan pointed out, beyond what a platonic friendship or family member could.

    Some of the comments on this thread from women  show their utter abhorrence at the thought of ever needing a man  for ANYTHING as if it represents  a weakness that they’d  rather slit their wrist than admit. Sheesh!

    For women who don’t care if they are in a relationship or not, good news, Evan isn’t talking to you. He’s happy you’re happy getting  everything you want out of life  from your career/friends/family/dog/hobbies.

    But the OP isn’t happy! She wants a man and she’s the one who said, “I am not feminine in the least.”  

    Well, what do you expect Evan to say when she asks if she stands a chance  at love? The truth. Yes, there are men who will want her, but their probably gonna be more subserviant to her because she’s the strong one. There is usually a polarity in relationships. Rarely do two alphas live happily ever after. One is  at least MORE alpha.  So she can be with
    one of those men or nurture/find her more feminine side in order to cast a wider net.

    Sometimes women just don’t know how to turn  off “work-mode” when they come home and deal with men.  But if they learned to let it go a little they would find that it doesn’t compromise their strength or belittle them at all. In fact they could have it all. They could reach their goals and still have the passion at home.

    Patty Stanger (the millionaire matchmaker) just said that she’s hell-on-wheels at work, but with men she is docile. Hard to imagine, huh? AND WHY?? Because she wants to feed passion and romance to her own benefit. She wants the man to feel like the man, and she wants to feel like the woman. We all have different sides to us. She shows her man her most soft side.  

    I don’t think that means she dumbs down and pretends to be inept, I think she means she allows her man to feel like a strong, decisive, protecting, providing, NEED-meeting man he wants/needs to feel like.

    How is this a bad thing?

  7. 47

    Gem, what you write does not contradict what you quote Ann as saying. She said want, not need.   Your second to last paragraph is full of what a woman “wants” – you mention it 3 times.   And again, you say that the OP “wants” a relationship.  None of this contradicts what Ann or  others have said before.  As for your statement about women not caring if they’re in a relationship:  Ann never said she didn’t want a relationship.   She is IN one.   We wouldn’t be in them if we didn’t want them.

    “How is this a bad thing?”

    It’s not a bad thing if you consciously make it part of your game and are aware of the potential consequences.   It IS a bad thing if you end up giving away too much credit or power to men who don’t deserve it, or to bad men.   I’m definitely not saying all men are bad.   But a small proportion are.   It is also a bad thing if, even if you’re “needing” a good man, the good man goes away – dies, divorces – and you’re left not  knowing how to do something like finances or repairing the home because you always relied on him to do it.

    Women should be able to do things in life. Simplistic statement, but true.  

  8. 48

    Helen #53
    Gem, what you write does not condradict what you quote Ann as saying. She said want, not need.

    I know; the point about “need”   is that men appreciate the feeling of being needed by their girlfriend/wife/family. Whether or not someone chooses to opt out of relationships/marriage to avoid divorce/pain doesn’t negate the fact that there are many gifts of experience that come from a love relationship they are missing out on, and as Evan believes and I agree, can’t really be substituted by other relationships.

    Especially if in one’s friendship, they never want to NEED anything from that friend or be vunerable because, OMG, they might be hurt. Put up barriers to how vulnerable one’s willing to be and the relationship is pretty superficial. If a super-woman refuses to NEED a man for anything so she doesn’t ever depend on someone else for ANYTHING and therfore possibly suffer the potential consequences you mention, why would she allow her friendships to ever get past bird-bath depth either???

    If the vibe from said super-woman is I don’t need men,  they’re kind of irrelevant in my life because I can do everything for myself, I am woman hear me roar, but hey, I still want a man, why is it a suprise if  the average man is not turned on by that.

    Most men (and women) who seek love are looking for something deeper. And that includes feeling needed, being vulnerable, depending on each other, etc….. All that scary stuff, that yes, comes with risk — like most worthwhile things in life.

  9. 49

    Gem, I think we’re talking past each other, because the latest points you make do not seem relevant to my earlier post. That’s okay; it doesn’t matter.

    Here is an example of  where I think it is the men who should change their attitudes in the long run. Evan has  written before that he advises  women to change because: 1) they’re the ones asking him for advice, and 2) you can’t change others; you can only change yourself. So very true, and commonsensical.   But in this case we’re discussing, I think it is incumbent on Western men in the future to change their need to be needed if they want to be in an LTRs.   If they don’t want LTRs, then  fine –  no need to change.

    Why do I say this? Because women will only become more independent as time goes on. Already women substantially outrank men in college graduation rates, and increasing proportions of women are earning advanced degrees. Meanwhile, the average age of marriage continues to increase. That means that even if some women don’t want to, they MUST learn all the skills  to live  independently. But fewer women will fall into this category (not wanting to live  independently), because everything women hear in schools is about exciting career pursuits.  I.e., many forces in society are pushing us to find rewards in education and careers.

    Not a bad thing in general. But ay, there’s the rub: we women can only twist and turn ourselves so far in pretending NOT to be independent. Sure, women can put on a show of  needing, but the truth will out; it cannot be contained. Sensible men will  know that women don’t need certain things any more than they do. It doesn’t mean that women and men won’t continue to desire each other’s company; that is hardwired into our biology. But the illusion of certain types of need must diminish with time.

    In some ways, this is inevitable. America forces the notion of independence down our throats, which overall is  good, but has its drawbacks too. As women grow ever more engaged in every aspect of society, of course we will be encouraged or forced to pursue that same path.

    For our part, I think we women need to become much more accepting of the “beta males” that Evan refers to in this post – the ones who don’t earn as much as us, who may be shorter than us, who would be happy to stay at home. That, along with men becoming more accepting of strong women, will restore balance in future generations of relationships.

  10. 50


    Most people do not work 60 hours a week.   Maybe the most people in your particular field.   I’m an engineer and I’ve never worked 60 hours in a single week in my entire career.   If I had to I would quitm because other things are more important.


    What’s with all this stuff about women not knowing how to do anything? If anything the modern woman has less skills than the women of previous generations.     Many women today can’t even cook.   My stay at home mother had a masters degree but could cook, clean, sew, was in charge of paying the bills, cut hair, could do yard work and paint.   The only thing she couldn’t do was move refrigerators and couches and operate chainsaws and  power-tools.   That’s where  my father came in.   They are a  real  team and always work together and give each other credit.   
    Women of past generations worked hard in the fields and managed family businesses.   They might not have been climbing the corporate ladder, but they were very capable, as women have always been since the beginning of time.     None of these things that my mom or other women did are rocket science or require a degree.   Everyone should be able to do them.   My mom laughs at women who have doctorate degrees but can’t cook a decent meal or mop a floor. So yes, women SHOULD know how to take care of themselves, but they should also allow the men in their lives to feel needed and a part of the team.

  11. 51

    [email protected]: Fantastic comments. One other thought: Today so many tasks are automated and outsourced, and knowledge about how to do almost anything is so easy to access that the idea of men’s and women’s tasks based on some biological predilection is falling away. Guys don’t need to know how to lube an engine anymore, and they can watch cooking demos on TV if they want to learn how to cook. Women can learn the principles of aerodynamics by taking an online course and hire a cleaning service for their houses. Or vice versa.
    [email protected]: As Helen mentioned, I’m in a relationship with a guy, and because I want it, not because I need it. Three years now, and we knew each other for more than a decade before we decided to become involved. Both of us have been in long-term relationships before; neither of us has married and we don’t plan to. No kids, though we both are very involved with other people’s children through work, family, or volunteerism. I ran a marathon this year. The training didn’t bother him at all. We both have highly responsible jobs that require specialized skills; we both make six figures; we both sometimes work 60 hours per week. We each take care of our own needs (which are, admittedly, quite simple), so that when we are together (anywhere from every day to one day per week) we focus on what we co-create. Our co-creations include all kinds of travel, healthy cooking, exercise (jogging, biking, mountain hiking, XC skiing, swimming), artistic pursuits (a major thing for us), and education. Each of us has a wide circle of family/friends, acquaintances, and coworkers, many of whom we’ve known for decades. We are both loved, and we love in return. We both know that if we were to break up (which we have discussed), we would both meet other people and move on. I don’t see what’s missing here.
    [email protected]: I was just saying that I didn’t think you can make a comparison between getting fired from a job and getting divorced. That’s because everybody needs to work, so losing one’s job is a risk that everyone takes in order to survive. People don’t have to be married, so people who don’t want to risk a divorce often choose to stay unmarried.

  12. 52

    @ Ann57:  I don’t see what’s missing here.  

    Honestly, what’s missing is marriage, children, and the commitment to never break up.    

      You may not want or value these things, but most women do.  

  13. 53

    Evan #47:

    If you work 60 hours a week, your guy doesn’t get his needs met. If you’re training for a triathlon, he doesn’t get his needs met. If you’re high-maintenance and critical, he doesn’t get his needs met

    Evan, could you elaborate on this.  Which needs  are not being met by me training for a marathon?  It was amusing to read this comment since I do run marathons.  Me and my boyfriend  work out together half the times (he doesn’t do  long runs but short are ok) and  the actual events (marathons and half marathons)  are very festive, family members come to cheer and  support,  we go for a meal after… ? Also, nothing keeps you in shape better than running, really nothing, so a   guy should actually benefit from his g/f being active.

    Also, I  do work in a demanding industry and 60 hours a week  is kinda on the low side of what people work, but so does my boyfried. We still get to cook dinners together  cuddle in front of the TV or go out.

    It sounds to me like you’re talking about  a type of guy who expects his woman’s life to revolve around him.  In that case, he better  be a really, really amazing catch, like Derek Jeter great. Everyone else better get over themselves. Just my opinion.

    1. 53.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Stacey – I make generalizations in order to give advice. If you and your boyfriend share in the marathoning experience, I’m thrilled for you.

      But if I’m your husband, and I’m coming home at 7pm to eat dinner, and that’s the very time that you’re going out to run for two hours – or if you take every weekend to train – or if you wake up really early to run and go to bed really early… when exactly do I get to spend time with you? Obviously if you share your athletic passions, it works. But what about the 99% of men who DON’T run marathons? They wouldn’t get much out of being with someone as busy as you. That’s all I’m saying.

  14. 54

    Ann and Helen,   all excellent comments.
    @ Greg:   What if a woman has no desire to cook elaborate meals?   It’s not necessarily hardwired into all of us.   I agree, we should all have certain basic skills.   I can prepare basic meals, and clean the house beautifully if I have to.   I just don’t want to.   I work hard, so I keep the house picked up and have a cleaning lady every two weeks. I think it’s wonderful for both men and women( who have the desire), to cook like Michael Symon.

    Your mom sounds wonderful….much like mine.   I’ll admit, I fall far short of both of them in terms of domestic skills.   As a little girl, I was never overaly interested in being a homemaker. But my mother admires me for what I give to my patients and their families.   I often joke that I throw myself so much into my career so that   I don’t dwell on what crummy homemaker I am!   LOL  

    I think we all bring something to the table, and those assets don’t necessarily fall along tradtitional and historic lines.

  15. 55

    Evan, so you’re really talking about simple compatibility here. Running marathons doesn’t keep you single. Working 60 hours doesnt keep you single. Doing that AND going after guys who expect you to be home at 7pm with the dinner ready and doesn’t share  your major interests –   does. That is a whole different issue altogether. And, as a person with an active, busy and fulfilling life, why would I  want to be with someone like that, what do I get out of it? Shouldn’t a relationship be mutually beneficial, so to speak    

    1. 55.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      My life is perfectly fulfilling without running marathons, Stacey. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because someone doesn’t share your hobbies, they’re less of a person or that you couldn’t be perfectly happy with them.

      The problem here is only the one you’ve created for yourself. If you insist that you need a man who runs marathons for “compatibility” then you’ve eliminated 99% of the population. Where as I can date 99% of the population because I don’t need a woman who runs marathons. Furthermore, 99% of men might just find that you’re too unavailable. Sounds to me like you’ve created a quandary for yourself. It’s not impossible for the marathon runner or mountain climber or extreme SCUBA diver to find love with a man who does the same activities…there’s just a LOT fewer options in the universe for you.

  16. 56

    Well, I don’t relate to the marathon thing but it seems that if you have a passion in life you have to choose bt that or a husband

  17. 57

    Evan, you had me until your post #47.

    If you are working 60 hours a week or training for a triathlon, you may be doing this to meet your own needs.   Your primary need is to support yourself, and some people need to work 60 hours a week to do so.   (About 5-6 years ago, I was let go from a position I’d been in for a year due to lack of work, but picked up a 2-week contract gig that required I travel out of town… My then-bf threw a fit that if I “needed money that bad he could pay me to sit on his couch” b/c he didn’t want me leaving town for two weeks).   Too bad if he wasn’t getting his “needs” met.   It’s condescending, jerky behavior to not allow your girlfriend to support herself.   That is NOT the same as letting a man be a gentlemen and help out with “manly” tasks such as car maintenance or electronics setup.

    Also, I agree that you shouldn’t drop a hobby for a man.

    1. 57.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I’m not really concerned if I lost you, Angie. It just means you’re trying to find every means to misinterpret what I said. I never said that your man should forbid you from having a hobby. I never said that you should refuse to support yourself. I never said you should date a guy who would pay you to sit on his couch out of his own insecurity. Those are all your words, not mine.

      I said that the greatest gift you can give a man is your time. And if you can’t or won’t give more time to him because you’re busy working or running, you will find fewer men who are content with your relationship. That’s not my opinion. That’s my observation. If you choose to run marathons or being a CEO over a man, that’s your business. It doesn’t affect me one bit and I do hope you’re happy with your choices.

  18. 58

    It’s funny though- a LOT of Indian couples I know have had commuter courtships or worked overseas apart from their partner- its just accepted. They’ve also stayed married. I think western men tend to need more care and feeding. It’s part of the narcissism culture- bound to happen.

  19. 59

    Is there a class or something to teach people how to look at the big picture and get out of the weeds?!   Geez Louise…this are pretty simple concepts and truisms, and they being argued with semantics.

    1. 59.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yes, Michelle, there is a class. It’s called my Commitment Course. Except all the people who chose to argue with me in this forum would never take it because it might mean letting go of certain limiting beliefs or changing certain behaviors and expectations.

      And most of us would much prefer for everyone else to change, instead of changing ourselves.

      The few who are open to change are the ones who pay for my products, hire me and get results. Everyone else just complains that I’m wrong.

      If you want to be the CEO who works 60 hour weeks, if you want to run marathons, if you want to date a 45 year old with washboard abs, if you want your man to be an animal activist, if you want to meet men without dating online, if you want a man who makes more than you even though you make a ton of money, if you want a man who is the greatest in bed and has a libido that completely matches yours, if you want a man who has the same exact spiritual beliefs, etc, etc, I am extremely happy for you. Go out and get him. Just stop complaining to me that you can’t find him, okay?

  20. 60

    Sayanta 64: No. NO. You don’t have to make that choice. If anything, your passion or hobby or community activity is where you have a better likelihood of meeting the one for you!
    Don’t give up the things you love just for the purposes of finding a husband. When you find the one who is right for you, figure out ways to compromise or work out schedules if either of you feels you’re not seeing enough of the other.
    In a tender and mature relationship, this kind of discussion can take place without any anger, resentment, or guilting on either side.

    1. 60.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yes, Helen, it’s very easy to meet men on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro or SCUBA diving off the Great Barrier Reef. No one’s saying for you to give up your hobbies. I’m just saying that if you spend all your time with your hobbies and you never meet any men, it’s pretty predictable why you can’t find love.

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