Single and Dating: Why Do Men Find Me Scary?

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I’ve been told that I’m scary. That’s what my new client, Liz, told me today. She says that several men have said that she’s intimidating and “too much for them.”

I heard many versions of that when I was single and dating. My response was: that’s who I am and if he can’t take it, I don’t want him! (I probably added a couple expletives, but I’ll spare you.)

After I finally got sick enough of being alone and having one dating failure after the other, I took a good look at myself. What I saw was that my approach to men was somewhat cold, defensive, and bordering on aggressive.

I came right at these poor guys with all I had: big personality, sarcastic wit, strong opinions and personal power. Boom! That was me, and I was freaking proud of it.

In truth, that was my test, and very few men passed. (Nor, did they want to). It was also my armor. That realization – once I was ready to “own” it – changed my life.

I’ve written an eBook and numerous articles about what was behind this. I now know that I was the giant wall standing in my own way. Over the many years I was dating men (or wishing I was), I sabotaged any chance of connecting with them. I see these same giant barriers in most women I coach.

I find this especially true of women who are dating over 40. We can present our power and rich life experience in a way that bombards men. We have fought so long and hard – for respect from men in the workplace, against the objectification of women by media, and in high rates of domestic and dating violence – that it’s hard for us to believe a man would value us past our looks and the sex we provide.

But they can, and they do value smart, strong women. I look around me now and I see loving, kind supportive men who admire women and see them as equal partners.

At the end of this post you will see a list of articles that dig deeper into my beliefs about why we have such trouble trusting men and softening for them. What I want to do here is what I did for Liz after she said “I don’t even know what it looks like to soften for men.”

What follows is the picture I painted for her of her first 10 minutes with a man; bringing out the beautiful, feminine woman that she is.

You have thrown on your summer dress and cute sandals, paid some attention to your hair and nails, and you:

  • Approach smiling, standing straight, and looking right at him. (That screams: you are joyful, confident, and interested.)
  • Start the conversation with a comment that is light and positive, and reveals something nice about you. (I had a great time taking my dog to the park today. Did you have a good day?)
  • Keep eye contact, keep the conversation interesting but light, and continue to reveal your qualities (that he would like) and showing your interest in him. (No life stories needed girlfriend. This is just about getting to a real date.)
  • Laugh if he’s funny, compliment him if you see something or he says something you like. Help him feel good about himself; whether you want to date him or not. (Good dating karma, baby. And you’ll like yourself better for being kind.)
  • Twirl your hair, put your chin down with eyes up, touch his arm. (If you’re interested, that is. And, yes, this actually does attract men; has for centuries.)
  • Let him pay, open your door, and walk you to your car. (Even if your car is 10 steps away.)
  • Thank him, look him in the eye, smile and tell him how much you enjoyed yourself and you look forward to seeing him again.

I know…these are basics. It’s easy stuff, right? But honestly…are you doing this? Are you dressing like the pretty woman you are, letting light conversation flow and just enjoying the moment and feeling each other’s energy? Or are you trying to control the conversation, interrogate him and impress him (or test him) with your independence and brilliance?

If you do what I suggest, you’ll have time to show how smart and talented you are; because there’s a good chance he’ll ask you out on a date.

It’s simple: masculine is attracted to feminine. That’s just how it is. So chill, knock off the scary overly controlling stuff and have some fun being a girl. As a result, I guarantee you’ll get more dates and have more fun dating.

Here are more articles about how smart, powerful women get in their own way when dating and looking for love. (I can say this. I was one of you.)

The Secret to Being a Happy Dater

How Smart Women Can Find Love with Smart Men (Article 1 of 3)

How We Spoil Perfectly Lovely Dates

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  1. N.E. Pseudonym says

    This is a great post! I’m stunned by how often I am either Googled before the date (sure to shrink their vital organ) or I find myself accidentally talking about my work, which gives me a lot of happiness, for even just a few minutes on the first date, and then finding out I’ve freaked out the poor guy. Today I got a parking ticket for parking on my new man’s street – without a permit. (I thought Sundays were exempted). He insisted three or four times that he would pay for it, and I just as adamantly refused. I don’t want to be seen as incapable of taking care of myself. But after reading this article, I wish I had given it to him and just been so grateful and delicate about it. Live and learn.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your comment “N.E.” I love…LOVE that you are open enough to see where you have room for change. You found a perfect example of something so simple to do, but so dang effective. One thing I would say though: if you are dating a man who is intimidated by your success and brains, he’s not a man you want. So if he Googles you and that freaks him out…good! We call that Self Selection and it saves you wasted time before you learn he’s not for you. Carry your success with pride sister! Just mix it with equal parts of the loveliness and sweetness I’m sure you also have. (And thanks so much for your kind thoughts about my dear Aunt Lil. I’m overwhelmed — yet not surprised — at the support and love that has been sent my way.)

  2. Drew says

    Your advice to women regarding being feminine is spot on. There is a pervasive social expectation that women must be strong, powerful, independent, and have masculine psychological qualities that result in career success. While such characteristics maybe fine for the rough and tumble world of the workplace, such characteristics have massive fail in the context of dating and relationships. A woman who has a big personality, strong opinions, and tough aggressiveness can too easily come across as bossy and domineering. While a weaker man might find those characteristics attractive, I can assure you that most men avoid bossy and domineering women like the plague. By the way, we couch our language with the word “intimidating” so as not offend with the phrase “you’re a bossy and domineering bitch”. That’s tough for many women to read but believe me, it’s what many guys are thinking when faced with a woman who comes across as masculine in her personality and outlook in regards to dating and relationships.

    While women have been socialized to be more masculine in their behavior, men have been socialized into believing that is what they are supposed to find attractive in a woman. This becomes a circle of influence and avoids some underlying truths in the deeply-rooted yin and yang of the masculine and feminine. While the socialization might work on the surface, it can be intensely problematic when nurturing long term relationships. Sooner or later, men and women fall back on more basic biological needs and desires. While equal partners is a laudable goal, the masculine and feminine are certainly different and should be complementary and not competitive.

    I lived in South Carolina and Georgia for many years after moving from the Boston area where I was raised. I saw and experienced how feminine strength and feminine softness could be managed. Those Southern women knew the score. The Boston women didn’t. Cussin’ like a sailor, being loud and opinionated, and bossing people around is repellent. The Southern women used charm, femininity, and graciousness as a gentle yet still strong strategy of dealing with life and relationships. You said it correctly and bears repeating – masculine is attracted to feminine and vice versa.

    It’s important to remember that men are bossed around every day in the workplace. We have managers and customers to make happy. That is what we do all day, five days a week, often more. We don’t want to go out with a woman (or come home to a woman) who reminds us of our bosses and customers. I certainly understand that it’s a challenge for a woman to shift from workplace behavior to dating and relationship behavior. Men have it far easier in that regard. We simply have to be men 24 hours a day.

    As a final point, would your female clients have any kind of respect for a man whom they can push around?

    • says

      Hi Drew. What can I say? It’s always great to hear a man’s POV. And I don’t hear that you expect women to be weak or dumb or vacant – just that they have some softness, be gracious and enjoy their femininity in addition to all that. Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

  3. Elizabeth says

    Thank you! This has confirmed everything I’ve beeen doing right! Now, to figure out everything I’ve been doing wrong…

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