Wednesday, September 02, 2009

She Thinks She Has a Problem With Men

Hi, Terry-

Thanks for your emails. I’d really appreciate some advice from you.

I think I have a problem with guys – they always seem to be intimidated by me, no matter how hard I try to show them I’m an ordinary person. One problem I have, if you can call it a problem, is that I’m very intelligent. I was educated in the best universities and I’ve been a lecturer at a good university for the last three years.

When guys first meet me, they seem interested and ask me out. After we go out a few times, either they get scared off and slowly disappear or they stick around but become very careful with me and give me mixed signals. Too scared to kiss me, waiting for me to make the first move – which I never do because I think that’s the man’s job. I’m very traditional. This is sometimes prolonged. They flirt with me, take me out, call me a lot but when it’s time to show romantic interest, they play the ‘we are just friends’ card. This happened to me many times. Or I’m told ‘you are too nice, I don’t want to hurt you’ or that ‘if I go out with you, you’d be demanding and want serious commitment’. Or I’m told ‘I was never sure you were interested’, even though I may tell them and/or spend time going out with them a lot…

I know some of the guys I dated (if you can describe this behaviour as dating), felt very inferior and tried to put me down to show who is the man. They went on to find girlfriends they were more comfortable with (usually, less educated than them).

Another problem I have is that men never think I’m single. I’ve been told ‘you don’t act as if you are looking for someone’ or that ‘you are too good looking to be single/go out with me/date normal men’. Again, all this is rubbish.

Yes, I’m a clever, serious and hardworking person but I’m also very sociable and make friends very easily. I've always had many good male friends. So I don’t understand why this is happening to me all the time and men can't see me as a girlfriend. If anything, I think I’m actually too nice to men I like and I tolerate a lot, apart from jumping into bed with them. I want to wait to be in a serious relationship before I do that.

I’m not sure if that’s the problem at the end of the day – them feeling I’m not about to sleep with them without them putting in some effort. But I think I deserve the extra effort (extra being what every girl would want – not talking about spending money on me).

Sorry to go on like this. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say. I don’t know if this is of relevance, but I was brought up in a country different from the one I live and work. So that makes me a foreigner I guess.

-Too Smart For My Own Good?

Dear Smart-

Right off the bat, I'll tell you I am not as smart as you, haven't been to the best universities (although I did go to a decent one) and haven't taught at any, either.

Yet, on more than one occasion I came across a guy who'd tell me, "You're too smart." On one particular occasion, a dude told me, "You're very bright and attractive, but I'm looking for someone I can mold."

Seriously. He said that.

It goes without saying that I'd prefer not to date (or marry) any person who needs to mold me or who finds my intelligence intimidating. Life is too short to hang out with morons.

That said, I'd been told by some people that I could be perceived as "hard to get to know," "snobbish," and having a "superior attitude." The fact of the matter is that I was none of these things. I was shy, and it took me a while to learn not to stiffen up around people. I've always found it easier to be the person asking questions of other people, rather than have them ask them about me. And while it's true nobody wants to hang around some bore who goes on and on about herself, we do have to reveal some details about ourselves if people are ever going to feel close to us.

You say you come from a different culture than the one you're currently living in, and it's possible something is indeed getting lost in translation. But you make friends easily, and a lot of those friends are men. Would you feel comfortable saying to one of them, "You know, I'd really like to meet someone special, but I seem to have trouble getting things off the ground. Is there some advice you could give me?"

You may be embarrassed to ask for help, but people are usually glad to give it to you (and flattered that you asked).

When a man tells you you're too good looking to date, or that you don't appear to be looking for someone, put the ball back in his court. Look him in the eye, smile, and say, "Why do you say that?"

Let him tell you. His answer should tell you everything you need to know (whether he's got serious insecurity issues, for example, or if you seem unapproachable).

You say that you're too nice to guys sometimes and put up with too much. What are you putting up with, exactly? When you let a person treat you less than well, they come away with the impression that you're not much of a catch, no matter how smart or good-looking you are.

This may be why some men tell you "you're too nice," or that they expect you'll demand a commitment if they keep seeing you.


I'm wondering if you're not smiling enough, being playful enough when you first meet a guy. And then, when you start dating him and things start to progress, you put up with too much nonsense, which lowers your value (think about it: when a guy accepts bad treatment, do you value him?).

I haven't seen you in action, so I'm just throwing things out here. You're attractive, smart, and make friends easily, so you definitely have what it takes to attract a great guy and enjoy a lasting relationship.

One more thing: Guys who need to let you know who "the man" is should be dismissed immediately. Right: You're a woman, and he's a man. That's a given. None of us should be marching around having to prove our gender all damn day.

A guy who's threatened by you in any way for any reason is a bad bet. We are what we are. We want to be loved for who we are.

How's this for an affirmation?

"I, _________________, am happily married to a loyal, loving, fun man who loves me just as I am and is thrilled by my intelligence."

Tweak it, if you like. Then, using all your senses, bring that man and that relationship to life in your imagination. It'll be sketchy at first, but with perseverance, details will fill themselves in. Keep bringing that relationship to life in your imagination several times a day.

I've asked my colleague, Dating Coach Ronnie Ann Ryan, to weigh in on this question, so please watch the comments for her take.

Readers, if you have any suggestions for our friend, I'd love to hear them.


Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach said...

Hi Terry,
Wow you gave some really great advice today to Ms. TooSmart. I couldn't agree more about ditching a man who states out loud that he needs to wear the pants. Hey buddy, if you need to talk about it, you don't really wear the pants do ya?

One thing I was curious about after reading this letter is why the men she dates seem to change their interest status - from initially interested to just friends. Hmmm.

I'm left wondering - is Ms. Too Smart vocal about being very independent? Sometimes smart, self-sufficient women tend to flaunt this fact, boldly waving the flag of "I don't need a man." Perhaps this is why the guys end up thinking she's not that interested, single or looking.

Being smart and indpendent are not draw backs for women. But how you communicate this information can create a problem. Surprisingly, men still like to feel needed and if your reader has a habit of clearly communicating her lack of need for a man or her feeling of surperiority, she might be unwittingly putting them off.

I don't suggest that she "dumb herself down". But bringing up her feminine energy, which means being friendly, easy to talk to, smiling, flirting and making the guy feel good - this will likely increase her appeal.

Of course, I have no idea if what I am saying is true about our friend. Pure conjecture, so if I'm off base, please forgive me.

One thing I know is that men select women who make them feel good. If you are pleasant to be with, have a sense of humor, enjoy men's company, laugh at their jokes, and don't wax on about your amazingly accomplishments excessively, then you should be on the right path to finding love. I certainly wish you all the best!

Terry said...

Thanks for your input, Ronnie. I appreciate it!

Jennifer said...

I just wanted to let you know i had the biggest 'ah ha' moment while reading your response to this letter.

My situations is not terribly similar to the letter writer(though i'm really smart too :-)) but something that you told her hit me like a ton of bricks:

"You say that you're too nice to guys sometimes and put up with too much. What are you putting up with, exactly? When you let a person treat you less than well, they come away with the impression that you're not much of a catch, no matter how smart or good-looking you are."

It's the type of thing that you intellectually know, but sometimes until you hold a mirror up to yourself and really look at your behavior, you don't realize how you maybe be coming off to people.

I have also given people the benefit of the doubt too often and put up with too much nonsense with the belief that after a short period of strife, things would end up great. I got the idea in my head that that's how realtionships were *supposed* to work. Needless to say that's not true.

Thank you Terry; your statement of this fact has helped me out tremndously today. Much more than I can adequately express here. Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

What a great question! Followed by great anwers. I have had many successful female friends complain of the same/similar scenario. I believe that intelligent successful women have learnt how to be equals with men in the boardroom, and carry this behaviour over into their romantic life as well. They have trouble being vulnerable and letting their guard down with a man. Whilst men may want an equal that they repect, they also want a woman that is opposite to their masculine energy. The polarity of the sexes needs to have these opposing energies to attract. The same thing happens in same sex couples too, so this is not about gender stereotyping. Males want a receptive, female energy. Women want masculinity in a partner to compliment their female essence. No matter how good looking a guy is, or how intelligent, wealthy etc..if he is straight but comes across as having more femine energy, women will most likely not be attracted to him. For instance think of the late Michael Jackson, as opposed to the gay character in Will & doent really matter how someone thinks of is how they are perceived. As a heteroexual female, my attraction is to the guy in W&G..I like his energy :)

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Terry said...

Jennifer-Thanks for writing and letting me know about your ah-ha moment. You made my day!

Anonymous-Appreciate your perspective, as well. Lots of food for thought there.

Anonymous said...

…May all women everywhere find and assert their inborn Dignity and Power; may all women everywhere find and assert their inborn Confidence and Grace. Amen

Jokah Macpherson said...

I found this interesting because I am a man and tend to have the opposite problem: none of the girls I'm attracted to are smart enough for me. I think that intelligence is strongly tied to compatability. In other words, your relationship stands a better chance of succeeding if your partner's intelligence is somewhere in the ballpark of yours, because you'll share more general interests and will be able to communicate more effectively. Unfortunately, women's intelligence is generally uncorrelated with their attractiveness, so while you may be a prize for men on the right end of the IQ distribution, you might have to change your habits as others have suggested to take advantage of this.