Are smart women their own worst enemies when dating and looking for love? If you consider yourself a smart woman, and have ever thought your intelligence gets in the way of finding a man to share your life with, you need to read on and be part of this discussion.
On December 7, Dr. Alex Benzer posted a controversial article in Huffington Post titled Why Do the Smartest Women Have the Toughest Time Dating? I strongly recommend you read it. This is important, because it is a very real concern among women. The vast majority of my single woman friends and coaching clients believe this is a major contributor to their struggle to find meaningful and mature love.
Speaking of the smart women he knows, Dr. Benzer says:
“…as fabulous as these ladies are, all of their failed relationships have one thing in common: themselves. And frankly, telling them that men are losers or even proving it conclusively doesn’t improve anyone’s plight. Useful advice is about something you can change.”
Here’s how he sums up his advice to these women:
“If you’re embodying joy, compassion and sensuality, telling him how great he is, making him feel like a billion bucks and the conqueror of worlds, you have no competition. Anywhere. Good men will come out of the woodwork to find a goddess like you.”
Read his synopsis one more time; and then stop. How are you feeling? Enticed? Informed? Pissed off? Well hold onto your hats, because here are just a few of the responses he received:
“What a load of bull-shit. Advice to (some) men: stop being ass hats and trying to belittle and discourage women from being too smart for your game.” ~ Catherinellie
“Honestly Dr. Benzer, why should I change myself to find the “right” man?…Can you give some comparable tips for men, such as: How to date a smart woman? I am happier alone than with someone who does not cherish my intelligence.” ~ Cate Nelson
Should we all just dumb down and not think about things so much, and therefore get any man and be happy? ~ KellySeal
Seriously? On behalf of smart women everywhere, screw you, Huffington Post. ~keddens (via Twitter)
At great personal and professional risk, I’m going to put myself out here and say that I agree with Dr. Benzer. I think his message is essential for women to hear, but it’s getting all jammed up in the frustration, disappointment, and pain so many single women are feeling. It’s regrettable, because I believe – no I know – that understanding this message is what mends women’s lives. It’s exactly what mended mine.
I was 47 when I was married for the first time. For 30 years I was that smart woman; always more interested in proving how intelligent, accomplished, and self-sufficient I was than in creating deep connection with another human being. Quite simply, I chose my fear and my ego over the joy of experiencing love.
During those years I would have fought to be first in line to scream Dr. Benzer down. After all, his advice wouldn’t have supported my “truth” that men were basically superficial jerks who just didn’t want a smart woman around.
Things changed when I was about 45. My wish for intimacy finally overcame my fear; and I got to work. I learned about myself and about men; and I came to understand that my biggest challenge wasn’t finding that rare good man who would accept me as I was. It was about me accepting who I was. All of who I was. I was that smart, independent woman…but I was also the lonely, soft, sometimes fragile woman wishing for the deep, real, comforting love and affection of a man. And that was all okay.
The same self confidence and personal strength that made me thrive in my professional life gave me the courage to risk opening up my heart to a man. I learned to trust myself enough to know that I would make good choices. I learned that a man’s respect is important, but his devotion only comes when he sees a complete woman in front of him; one who is willing to give and accept real and nourishing love. I learned that I didn’t need to fight and test men. I just needed to be my whole and real self. Strengths, needs, and all.
And then…my husband walked into my life. My tender, extraordinary, brilliant, man who wouldn’t have accepted anything less than a confident, able, woman who is fearless in her ability to love and capable of sustaining a grown-up relationship. My life was great before I met my husband; now it is complete. (Yes ladies…I say that not only without shame, but with pride.)
Dr. Pat Allen, in her books and seminars, teaches that when a man is respected by his partner, he feels cherished, and when a woman is cherished by her partner, she feels respected. This has been my experience. It’s also my experience that honoring and supporting my husband doesn’t take away one iota of my strength and self respect.
Going back to Dr. Benzer’s synopsis, here’s my question to you: what is so horrific and belittling about “embodying joy, compassion and sensuality, telling the man you love how great he is, and making him feel like a billion bucks and the conqueror of worlds?” This is something I look forward to doing every day for the man I love.
Dr. Benzer isn’t telling us to dumb down or to be happy with someone who doesn’t value our intelligence. He’s only telling us that we ought not lead and end with that. For most of us, it’s not all we are; and men want to see it all. They know you’re smart, but they also need to see and feel your softness, sensuality, and kindness.
Just for a moment, let your wall down and imagine your life with that man who wants it all from you; and is willing to honor it and give it all back. Can you honestly say you aren’t willing to make some shifts as Dr. Benzer and I suggest, to find a life with that man?
Next, my point by point response to Dr. Benzer’s salient, yet I believe, somewhat poorly stated points.