In his article “Why Do the Smartest Women Have the Toughest Time Dating?” published in the Huffington Post, Dr. Alex Benzer confesses to love smart women, then asserts that smart women looking for a mate who “remain single, alone and lonely,” have but one thing in common: themselves. Thus, he says, should change.
I agree with Dr. Benzer. I believe that smart women who are disappointed by their dating and love lives have a lot more control over its outcome than they sometimes admit. As I said in my previous post, I was one of those smart and lonely women until I heard and accepted advice like this. When I did, it led me to a completely fulfilled, loving, mutually respectful marriage (at age 47).
Dr. Benzer is not saying that women are solely responsible for being single; just that smart women tend toward some beliefs and behaviors that work against them and keep meaningful connection with good men out of their reach. That doesn’t discount or minimize contributing factors like the very real jerky guys who are challenged by any woman with an opinion, or by what’s going on in the universe. It just means that with the Smart Good Guys, this in-your-face “I’m smart and you damn well better appreciate it” stuff works as well as wearing a turtleneck and business suit to a first date. (Oh…please don’t tell me you do that.)
But this is all good news, ladies. It means we have control over improving our already great lives. It means by making some shifts in our manner and communication, and maybe even taking a look at some of our beliefs that were formed years ago…we can affect huge positive results. And we never have to lose any fundamental part of ourselves in doing this…except maybe our anger and loneliness for a man.
But, ah hem…note to Dr. Benzer: even the smartest, most accomplished, confident women need to be given a message like this gracefully and with compassion. There was nothing delicate in your delivery; and this is a very delicate subject.
So here’s my effort at restating Dr. Benzer’s points. Reflecting on this is so significant; it’s the basis of so much of my coaching work with women, and was a huge part of improving my own life. It’s my sincere wish that I can help other women open up and consider making some of these positive shifts in their lives.
1. Some smart women put themselves in a no-win bind when it comes to finding an intellectual match.
Dr. Benzer: “A smart woman wants to date a smart man…however, once a relationship with Mr. Smartypants is under foot, often she unconsciously starts to compare and compete with him.”
My take: First – and this applies to all these points – let’s look at why it’s so damn important for women to insist on being recognized and respected for their intelligence. Considering we spend much of our lives battling for entrance into all kinds of boys clubs, it’s no wonder. These are the clubs in control. We want (and deserve) our piece of it and often have to fight to the finish to claim our place.
It’s difficult not to take that fight to our intimate relationships. They are men, after all. The truth is that many men do respect and admire women, and intelligence is part of the reason they pick us as their mates. Once they pick us and “win,” though, the game is over for them. They want to relax. They are more likely to show affection for us by picking a lovely restaurant or telling us how nice we look. Stroking our smart-button or engaging in intellectual sparring is often not on their list of ways to woo us.
Yet many women feel the need to keep looking for signs of respect. It’s our habit in the rest of our lives. And when a man turns his attention to our beautiful breasts or joyful personality, or he just wants to sit and “be” with us, we read that as lack of reverence for our mind.
And then…let the games begin. We start feeling unappreciated; which can quickly turn to feeling insecure. He doesn’t respect me! We respond by being defensive. We look for times he doesn’t listen to us or heed our opinion. It proves our point. We secretly wonder if we were ever his intellectual equal. We jockey for position.
And on it goes.
Understandably, many of us are more secure in our intelligence than in our feminine qualities. I urge you to recognize that your man may still admire you for your mind, yet adore you for your kindheartedness and female magnificence. If you’re not feeling appreciated in the way you want; talk about it. He may just be choosing to enjoy the relationship differently than you. As they say in business: stop, and negotiate to the win-win.
2. Smart women bring their inner CEO to the date.
Dr. B: “…when you’re on a date…you’re no longer at work…doing those things that make you so effective at the office…does not set a man’s heart aflame.”
MT: Appearing highly capable and in control is key at the office; as a woman you’ll never get anywhere if you can’t prove these abilities over and over again. (Oh, and we’re expected to be nice about it too. Doesn’t that just piss you off?)
I agree when Dr. Benzer says that men adore a woman who can take charge and kick ass, but just don’t feel the need to have it proven around them. The thought of you going to the office, being decisive, and taking control can really turn your man on. He just doesn’t want it to be his ass that’s getting kicked or that you’re trying to control.
Honestly…who wants to be around bossy people? And no one wants to be bossed around themselves. In business, some of us are forced to endure it to climb to the next rung or simply to feed our families. In our personal life, however, no self-respecting person – man or woman – should stick around for it.
I personally think that this is less a masculine/feminine thing as it is a boss at work/person in a relationship thing. This is something to be conscious of. Watch for when you have trouble turning it off. Because if you want to maintain loving relationships…and probably even have better friendships…you need to find know where to find that “off” switch.
3. Smart women don’t make love a top priority.
Dr. B.: “As far as anyone can tell, deep, meaningful relationships are the most important part of life… If you like a guy, make him feel it. Give him at least as much time and energy as your spreadsheet…or Facebook page. A smart guy knows exactly where he is on your priority list, and if it’s too low, he will move on.”
MT: I coach women every day that say “I don’t need a man…”I have a great life without one.” Yet, at the same time they are out there dating and saying they want to find love.
Women are yearning to find meaningful love in their lives. Everyone is. I think that by refusing to admit this as our sincerest wish – by saying it’s not necessary in our lives – we are trying to do two things:
- Manage rejection; because to wish for love and not get it means profound disappointment, and
- evade “losing ourselves” in a man; because we don’t quite trust ourselves to stay grounded and self-directed.
By holding on to that “I can live as happily without it” belief, we think we are protecting ourselves.
Tell me this: why can we say we want that Vice President position or that new client, and go after it with everything we have…but not do the same about wanting a loving man in our lives? Maybe because the pain of rejection or a failed relationship is so deep and personal, it seems better to just steer clear of it.
Like you, men want to feel they are special and central to their partner’s life. If you’ve got these walls up, it will surely prevent you from making connection with a man looking for a sincere relationship. Until you can say out loud that this is important to you, and that you want it, you probably won’t get it. When you can say it, you’ll also be able to proudly say that your man rocks your world. You’ll realize that admitting this doesn’t take away one iota of your strength and independence. And you will bask in seeing your man light up in the light of your love.
On my next post, I’ll tackle my take on points 4 – 7 of Dr. Benzer’s article. Please join in the discussion. I welcome – no I request – your comments.