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. 101

    Wow! I can’t believe it!
    You all think you should change your self or, change the”person” you should be looking for????
    If you are a smart,   strong and independent woman , why struggle so much with finding a partner?
    Enjoy your independence , spend time with   people that   make you laugh, make you feel, challange your   your intellectual ideas, Make you   live yourvlife wholeheartedly!
    There is more to life than a partner , if one comes along that adds to yor life experiences,   it’s rare, most people just exist in relationships   . That’s reality, …. embrace it  

    1. 101.1

      [email protected]     – It sounds to me like you are suggesting that people just give up on finding love.   Most people are hardwired to want to partner up.   (Survival of the human race depends on it, so it only makes sense that we would crave this) So why advise people to just forget about it ?   I don’t understand why it has become so difficult now a days for people to do what we were designed by nature to do.   Our increasingly selfish society perhaps ?

  2. 102

    I have a guy who came back into my life after a complicated situation, and said he wanted to be exclusive. (yipee! clap clap) I thought I had lost him, and I was really broken up about it, to my surprise. On paper, this guy was not good relationship material and I struggled a lot with succumbing to my intense feelings and using common sense. Two of my friends told me, I could “do better.” He had hit some hard times when we met. Lost his job. Doesn’t have a car. I have been thinking a lot about this phrase: “do better.” What my friends don’t understand is that even though I had to pay for our outings, and I’d let him use my car for things, is that he is a wonderful companion. He voices how much he cares about me. Incredible sex. We laugh and have fun. He appreciates my physical appearance. He treats me like a lady when we go out, (I LOVE that). He checks in with me, often. Even when we were broken up he couldn’t go more than 3 days without talking to me. When I am with him I feel loved and appreciated. He did lots of very nice things for me, with what resources he had. Even now, he’s left town for work for a couple of weeks, I can count on him to be there in some way. He is my friend. That’s what I missed, even though he’s dirt poor, and I’m probably smarter, I freakin’ missed my friend and companion! One of my friends harped on me about letting him use my car. Well, I didn’t have a car for 6 months and I got help from my friends! I would be ‘marrying down,’ if this gets to be long term. But the package doesn’t matter to me, the quality time matters to me. He likes strong, successful women. He is such a caring person and treats me how I like to be treated in relationships. Oh well he’s never going to have a white collar job, but is that really that bad to be with someone who can’t pay for my drinks? The economy is still in the pits. There was a time you didn’t have to make a ton of money in this country to make it, and those days are gone. Maybe my big ego is satisfied with being the breadwinner too….This thing happened last night, and I believe as a result of reading these blogs I can now see how I react to our relationship, usually with selfishness. He asked me for my password to Hulu. My initial reaction was: “Go pay for it yourself, dummy!” But having lost him for a while I realized that is how he does things. He shares, he’s a what’s mine is yours type. How many times has he been there for me when I needed/wanted something? THANK GOD for this website.

  3. 103


    I love your blog. I find this particular conversation fascinating.   I do agree that on a certain level men “want” to be needed.   However, I’m not sure how that always translates IRL.

    I lived with someone for 7 years. We got together right after college   and bought a house. He made 5 times what I did and he wanted to split everything 50/50. I got another job on the weekends to help at my portion of the bills and I had school loans as well.   When, my car broke down, he certainly did not appear to “want” to take me to get if fixed and I generally ended up calling a friend to do so.

    I was was married for 12 years.   My x struggled with staying employed so u was the breadwinner. When I had a car accident with our 3 kids, he did not come get us-he was playing video games. I had to call a friend to get us and he was hurt that I asked same friend to take me to get a rental the next day. He didn’t seem to be bothered that I paid the bills but when he left he said I “doubted he would take care of us”. He was having an affair with a college student.

    I am very independent and I realize that is seen as a negative by many. I have a tendency to be attracted to my opposite which is very sensitive men. I am very nurturing, however, I have always paid for everything since I was 16. That being said, I do think some men want to be “needed” more than others.   I have never been referred to as needy or clingy, and I want to be more open and vulnerable in my next relationship.

    That being said, regardless of gender, I believe we all need to be responsible for ourselves and have the capabilities of taking care of ourselves. I’ve seen too many women fall into the “he wants to take care of me” role only to be left wondering “what do I do now?”


  4. 104

    I’ve always done a lot of “masculine” things: flying, ATC, fan of Sci-Fi, executive positions in business, but I have a really strong feminine side (I think). I love men who just take the lead -I’ll give in to them every time. I love men period, full-stop.

    My last three months of online dating has been, at best, disappointing.

    And my guy friends aren’t responding well to me being online.

    “Honey, we love you, you’re fabulous, but you must know, you scare the shit out of most guys.”

    Why? I ask. And they give me all kinds of vague feedback.

    “You’re intimidating.”

    “You’re fabulous, but you’re kind of a lot for most people to handle.”

    “You kind of fill up the room; most guys don’t want their GF to be the centre of attention.”

    “You have a big personality, that’s hard for any guy to deal with.”

    I’m waiting for delivery of Finding the One Online, but I’m not sure it will be of any help. It’s all I can do to hold back the tears right now. It all feels so hopeless. I’m not convinced it has anything to do with my technique and everything to do with who I am.

    Before I ventured into online dating I was so sure of myself. I was so secure in who I was, my values, how I saw my future.   And I’m still there, but I’ve found the assault on those things almost more than I can handle. I get it’s all about balance, but I just haven’t been able to figure it out!

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