A woman at the office the other day told me that the reason she can't find a date is that men find her 'intimidating.'
I hear that now and then.
I've dated a number of these women. I like them a lot. I find their strength and focus attractive. I love the way they change the world around them with their drive. If the universe wills it/I get my shit together/meet the right person, I would like nothing more than to spend my life with a strong, self-reliant woman who is part of my life, but has a life outside what we do together.
Here's the thing.
I've noticed sometimes that Strong, Independent Women tend to be super-focused, organized, and dedicated to fixing things. They're like Vanilla Ice: If you got a problem, yo, I'll solve it. They like to be completely in control at all times, and while they might say they'd like to leave things in someone else's hands, there aren't many someone elses out there that they are willing to surrender things to.
But relationships can't be controlled. Relationships can't be organized. Relationships are not always about fixing.
Relationships are messy.
Many of these women, it seems, try to control them anyway. They're about fixing problems. Finding an appropriate work-life balance. Managing agreements.
I guess that's fine for some people. Certainly I know relationships where a little more balance between the relationship and other parts of the couple's life or coming to better agreements would be a step in the right direction.
Taken too far though, it feels crappy.
It feels like you're another problem to be managed or a block on her calendar to squeeze in between tennis lessons and business meetings. You're not sharing her life, You're just another piece in the puzzle.
It feels like for her, it's more about the role I play in her life than who I am as a person.That if I break down or stop working the way she wants me to, she'll either throw me out and replace me or worse, stick me in a corner somewhere and ignore you.
Maybe you'll become an item on her list: I really need to do something about that Partner. Maybe when things slow down. After tax season perhaps. Once work is a little less stressful.
One of these days.
I feel like she doesn't need me. And it's hard to open up about my needs without feeling like I'm inconveniencing her.
The worst is when the woman is a strong woman who also wants to follow a 'traditional dating script. It becomes the man's job to call first and plan dates and initiate sex, but there's no real feedback coming back about whether what you're doing is working because "I-shouldn't-have-to-tell-you-these-things."
Maybe you'll talk about it. Maybe she'll tell you to speak up more, that you need to deal with your own insecurities, or be more assertive.
She'd be right, of course. These women are always right.
And yet you'll leave the conversation feeling worse. Like you've just been shown one more thing about yourself that I have to fix, one more area where you've once again fallen short or disappointed her, that somehow, once again, this is your fault.
I need to be more of a man. I need to be less weak. What's wrong with me? She's right. I just need to Try Harder.
And eventually there comes a day where you get tired of trying, sick of feeling like you're the only one trying. Sick of feeling insecure and needy and clingy.
It's not that we stop liking you. You're exactly the person we fell for, after all-- smart, driven, strong, dedicated. We like you just fine.
We've stopped liking ourselves.
We imagine talking to you about it. And in our heads we hear your voice: "I thought we dealt with this already" or "You have to tell me these things better" or "So how can we help you deal with this?"
The best of us break up with you at this point.
But not all of us are at our best. Sometimes we check out of the relationship. Sometimes we just vanish one day. Some of us cheat.
I'm not making excuses for us. You deserve to have a partner who talks to you. You deserve a partner who is present and there in the relationship. Nobody deserves to be lied to or cheated on. When we make those choices, we often end up causing as much hurt for ourselves as we do for you. We aren't just letting you down; we're letting ourselves down.
This isn't about excuses. This is about explanations.
Because that's what I hear most from these types of women. They are genuinely hurt when these things happen to them. They can't figure out why they keep dating guys who vanish from their lives without a trace, who stop calling, who break off engagements, who cheat, and how it seems to keep happening over and over again.
This doesn't happen to their friends. This doesn't happen to other people. Somehow for all her success, all the things she'd doing so well, her confidence, and her drive and all the things the world tells her she's supposed to have...well she's DOING those things.
So why is this thing, this one thing, this stupid little love thing that so many other people seem to have no problem with not working for her?
And the world gives her an answer. It's a platitude, and it's not true, and because it's not true, it ends up causing more confusion than ever. Men feel threatened by strong women. We're intimidated by you.
Look, we may have done you wrong. We may not have been as assertive as we wanted to be or as honest as we could have been when we were with you. Maybe we weren't strong enough and we ran away.
But today, at least, I'm going to tell you the truth. It may not be what you want to hear, but you deserve to hear it. Certainly, it will be good for me to speak it.
When it comes to you, Strong, Independent Women...we don't feel threatened by you. We just feel like to you, we don't matter.
We aren't intimidated.