The “Intimidating” Woman

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I want to introduce you to someone.

She’s in her early to mid 20s. She’s smart. She’s articulate. She’s pretty damn good looking. She’s well educated, with a rapier wit and a willingness to use it. She has a job she loves that pays good money, money that she likes to spend on her geeky hobbies and toys.

And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t someone looking for geeky attention or a propped up fantasy. She’s geeky to her Joss-Whedon-loving core, a Whovian, Vertigo-reading, 3rd edition D&D (none of that 4th ed crap thank you very much) gamer with the con stories to prove it.

She loves her some nerd boys. And she’s single.

In fact… she’s been single for a while now.

And not for a lack of trying, mind you. She’s done it all; dating sites, meeting guys at cons, the comic store, chatting up friends from class and at work. And yet, Friday still remains the most lonely night of the week when she sees all of the happy, laughing couples making plans, having romantic dinners and enjoying all the sex while she’s at home with Fringe on the DVR and a bottle of Malbec breathing in the kitchen.

Why?

Well, whenever she’s interested in a guy – a guy who’s worth her time, because what’s the point of having standards if she’s not going to stick to ‘em? – she hears the same thing over and over again:

“You’re too intimidating…”

Does this sound familiar to you?

It might. In fact, going by the number of emails I get from my readers, it’s the most common issue that geek (or geek-curious) women encounter when they’re interested in dating.

But “intimidating” is almost uselessly vague, especially if they keeps coming up; it covers a multitude of meanings to the point that it means everything and nothing at once. While it’s true that many men will use it as a polite dodge to avoid saying “I’m not attracted to you”, when it comes up over and over again, it’s a sign that maybe there’s more to it. If a woman keeps hearing from men that she’s “intimidating”, what is she supposed to do – besides start approaching men who have more self-confidence and fewer issues?

What Does Intimidating Mean?

Being told “You’re too intimidating” is incredibly aggravating to women.  After all, women are encouraged to be assertive, accomplished and independent; being told that they’re “intimidating” sounds like they’re being told to take all of that back and pretend to be something less than what they are.

But is that really the issue? Are geek guys finding a woman’s accomplishments to be somehow threatening? Or is there something else at play?

Because “intimidating” is so subject to personal interpretation, I thought it was best to go to the source: geek guys. I conducted an informal (and utterly unscientific) poll on the Dr. NerdLove Facebook Page, trying to get a handle on what guys mean.

The results were interesting.

So let’s take a look at what men say is intimidating… and what you can do about it.

“She’s so attractive that there have to be other guys. The hotter the girl, the higher the stakes.”

Men can find beauty intimidating; the more attractive the woman, the more advantages society gives her. The more beautiful or desirable a woman, the more she can have her pick of men. Olivia Munn may be a geek1 , but how is average Joe Nerd supposed to compete with the celebrities she meets on a daily basis?

This is not to say that incredibly beautiful women will only go for the model-handsome mind you – look at Christina Hendricks2 and her admittedly less symmetrically-gifted husband.

Seriously. There is no God.

But the fact of the matter remains: the prettier you are, the more likely that guys are going to have a hard time feeling comfortable approaching you. Even if you are the one making the first move, they may feel as though they will be in constant competition with other men: ones with better jobs, fatter wallets, movie-star smiles, and abs you could do laundry on.

What Can You Do About It?

Your instinctive response may be to play down your looks, and while this can work – there’s a reason why the “beautiful-after-all” trope exists; everyone likes the idea of the librarian who’s secretly model-gorgeous – it’s ultimately putting the responsibility on you.

Instead, make a point of being approachable and friendly. Wide smiles that reach your eyes (the “Duchenne Smile”) and open, welcoming body language can make a shy or introverted guy feel more welcome. Showing genuine interest or honest appreciation in his accomplishments or hobbies can also help him overcome feelings of “What could she possibly see in me?” And I do mean genuine; shy, geeky guys are perpetually concerned that people are secretly making fun of them.

If he doesn’t have the self-esteem or confidence to get past the power differential – and beauty is a power – then move on. The last thing you want is a guy who needs constant reassurance that yes, you are happy with him and not looking for someone better.

 “She comes on too strong. She’s too loud / too boisterous / a little too non-ladylike.”

Geek culture has a way of blurring the traditional lines of gender roles. Women who have nerdy interests are frequently less traditionally “feminine”. Some were tomboys growing up and take pride in being one of the guys. Others were late bloomers or women who have had few female role models in their lives. Some women are just naturally more outgoing and rowdy; the loud group of party girls are a regular feature of many parties, bars, and club scenes.

Many guys – especially introverts – can find this upsetting or discomforting. He may feel as though he’s going to have to put on a performance in order to keep up with her. He may be overwhelmed by the force of her personality and worry that he will be forced to be the inferior partner in the relationship. Or he may just be the sort of person who prefers a quieter, demure, more “feminine” personality.

What Can You Do About It?

To start with: don’t chase after introverts. While there are plenty who can appreciate an outgoing partner – one who would compliment them, be the yang to their yin – more are likely to feel steamrolled by someone so dominant. A shy guy, even one who wishes women would be more assertive and take the initiative, can have a low threshold when it comes to directness and energy.

Similarly, if a man is interested in a woman who’s more in line with the idea of more traditionally feminine or lady-like behavior, he isn’t going to make for a good boyfriend for an outgoing, dominant or non-traditional lady. There is no reason why you should try to force yourself to be someone you’re not in order to meet somebody else’s criteria.

Now, that having been said: you may want to consider toning down your behavior somewhat. This isn’t to say that there’s something wrong with being high-energy or being a tomboy, just that there can be a fine line between being energetic and outgoing and being obnoxious. This is an issue men have as much as women do.

  1. or at least plays one on TV []
  2. drool []

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Comments

  1. Is our "intimidating" woman waiting for the man to make the first move?

    In other words, is she asking "Why aren't you attracted to me?" or is she asking "Why haven't you asked me out?"

    These are very different questions, and I've met quite a few women who claim that that they are unattractive and that nobody likes them because "nobody asks me out" because they confuse the two.

    Is our "intimidating" woman making it *clear* to the people she's interested in that she is interested? Or is she waiting?

    In other words: is she being turned down? Or is she wanting to be pursued, and waiting for it? Is she being passive or active?

    What are her expectations in the interactions that she's having at the comic book store, in her classes/work, at conventions. What is she expecting?

    Even on the dating sites – is she waiting for messages? And on dates, what is she looking for?

    (I went on a date with a girl who thought that I didn't like her because I did not initiate a kiss on the first date. I'm too reserved to do that! Luckily, we managed to talk it out. But there are unwritten expectations everywhere.)

    • Lxdnr, you have a very good point- but I know more than enough "intimidating" ladies, including myself who will tell a fellow she's interested in that she's….erm… interested in him. But I tell you what, it can be pretty damned annoying having to swing a clue-by-four around wherever you go.

      The other thing is, as terrifying as we are, our confidence is often torn to bits because of all of those failed attempts (much like nerd guys). We get friendzoned just as much as the men (sometimes it seems even moreso since our boisterous manner makes us more friend material than someone of interest) and it can be a little bit of a mindf— to on one hand so many turning you down while others (usually men in relationships or out of your age group) are saying: "DEAR LORD, woman, why are you still single?" So after a while, some of us might lose our direct edge…

      But thank you so much Dr. N- I plan on taking your advice to mind the next time I'm out. I'll pay attention to when I smile more (after all, a 5'7 girl in all black and heels is scary enough) and remember that I'm not wasting my time on introverts (unless he goes out of his way to show he's worth my time).

      • It sucks that we tie so much of our self worth into dating, seeing as how dating is so frustrating to most people in the modern world.

        I try not to, but I have more off days than on…

      • That's exactly it, really. On one hand, we're being asked, "Why are you still single?" and at the same time, we're wondering, "Why the hell isn't it working?"

        I've discovered that the only way to ever date a guy I actually like is to be the one to ask him first. I'm not even sure how I feel about that. At some point, though, the shredded self-confidence overhauls the people saying, "You're a smart, attractive woman– who wouldn't want to date you?" and you end up feeling bad about yourself. .___.

      • Exactly sister you hit it on the head with your clue-by-four comment xD I think the whole problem with "intimidating women" is not how shy they are, for the most part the supposedly intimidating women of various levels of shyness all put their bit in to try to get guys. If it were as easy as trying to be outgoing and getting a guy we wouldn't be stressed, the problem is that going out and being outgoing is the turn-off apparently!

      • omg, yes, what is with guys who need a bat signal?? hah.

    • 2 O'Clock Queen says:

      I've mentioned this before, but whenever I've done the pursuing and initiating of romance with Nerd Boys, it's turned out very, very badly for me.

      Nerd Guys have such a mindset of desperation that they'll leap at the first offer of a relationship, even if they don't really like the girl. Eventually the "omg SOMEONE likes me" will wear off, and they'll realize they just enjoyed the flattery, not the actual reality, of the girl. But the trademark passiveness won't allow them to break it off… so they'll sabotage the relationship somehow, usually by being very passive-aggressive, or by being just downright aggressive.

      I've sent far more messages online than I've received (by about a 5 to 1 ratio), and inevitably, if a guy writes back, it'll just be weeks and weeks of correspondence. I'll tell them my phone number, I'll say I'm free on Friday… they never take me up on the offer, but they continue messaging me.

      Long story short, at least for me, it is really, really not worth it to initiate. Heck, it isn't really worth it to show an exaggerated amount of attention, because it means I'll get used for an ego stroke.

      Now in relation to the article: how do you know if the "You're intimidating" is for the reasons Dr. NL mentioned, or if it really is just a brush-off? I've gotten that comment a lot, and I'm pretty sure it's due to my lack of physical attractiveness. I'd be interested to know how you tell the difference.

      • What 2 O'Clock Queen said. ALL OF IT.

      • "Long story short, at least for me, it is really, really not worth it to initiate. Heck, it isn't really worth it to show an exaggerated amount of attention, because it means I'll get used for an ego stroke."
        And can't this true for men as well? And yet, men are still expected to be the ones to always initiate… If, as you say, NG have a mindset of desperation, don't you think that mindset would be fixed by pursuing them more, not less? Otherwise, the mindset of desperation you complain about is a direct result of your reluctance to intitate.

    • I'm a supposedly 'intimading' woman who tries pretty hard to start relationships and conversations (not in an overbearing way) and for the most part, it's me being turned down! I also have social anxiety so that confounds the issue.

    • in my case, the woman has already been out with the guy. -_- and i think a couple of these translations could have fit that situation. i'm thinking yep, the answer is to stick with confident guys. ;p

  2. Dear Dr Nerdlove,

    Thank you for this. Sincerely and genuinely. <3

    -e

  3. There's a big disconnect between how men find women attractive vs. the vice versa. Guys who are inexperienced in dating (that is to say, me up till recently), make two false assumptions about how woman are attracted to men. 1. Women are static, meaning they either like you or don't. 2. Women are all attracted to the same type of guy (the 10's on the cover of GQ).

    Assumption one comes from applying male nature to women. I see a woman, I make a snap decision about whether I am attracted to her or not. A lot of women (most? I don't know) are attracted to a lot of different things that are not surface deep; you can literally go from a 3 to a 8 in her eyes by merely talking to her.

    The second assumption is really the same problem. Men in general agree on which women are the 10's, 9's, 8's, etc. But women are all over the map. Some do seek out nerds, others are interested in men who are unattractive in the eyes of the world. I didn't realize until recently that many women love chest hair on a man. And I'm Austin Powers for all intents and purposes! If she is hot then yes, there are other men you are competing with. And you might be the top of the list so long as you keep your chin up. Don't rule yourself out automatically.

    • I think I'd like to offer a but of diversity in your sweeping argument: "Men who generally agree also mostly agree about the attractiveness of women."

      Men, not just women, have different tastes and turn ons.

      • GentlemanJohnny says:

        True, but if you find 1,000 men and have them rate 100 pictures of women on a scale of 1 to 10. . .you're dealing with too many numbers. But you'll ALSO find that the ratings vary a lot less than if you perform the same experiment with women looking at pictures of men.

        • show me that experiment. i highly doubt your assumption to be true. and yes, women want guys they find physically attractive, but what's "attractive" can vary wildly. just like it does with men. we're not different species, and that sort of thinking only causes trouble.

      • exceptions are always assumed to exist

    • I have to say I disagree with both your points. Both women and men will make snap decisions on a person's attractiveness, and both women and men can be swayed up or down that scale based on getting to know the person's personality better.

      "Men in general agree on which women are the 10′s, 9′s, 8′s, etc."

      That's just bunkum. Men are marketed a particular style of beauty more forcibly than women are, but just take a look at all the couples you pass on the street. Every one of those guys thinks the women on his arm is a hottie (and the women think that of the men, and the men of the men, and the women of the women). Guys like small, large, and in between, tall, short, dark, light, big boobs, small boobs, etc, and (just like women) a guy who falls for someone will think that person is amazing looking, even if she's not necessarily his "type". The's a social pressure for men to use the "standardised" metric for 8's, 9's and 10's, but don't be fooled into thinking that that's actually based on their preferences and attractions.

      • "Every one of those guys thinks the women on his arm is a hottie…"

        Some men settle for less attractive women, either because of the conditions listed in the article or perceived scarcity.

        Then there are some who, yes, envision beauty completely different from the rest of the world. But that's the nature of generalities, and the plural of anecdote is not data.

        See: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/wf

        • Unfortunately I can't access the PDF of that study, but I found the full academic abstract here: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/96/6/1226/

          In particular, "Participants of both genders showed substantial consensus in judgments of whom they found attractive and unattractive, although men showed higher consensus than women."

          Without actually reading the study, this sentence implies to me that both men and women tend to agree on attractiveness (bearing in mind that attractiveness here is based on a single instance photo of an individual, so appearance, clothing, posture and facial expression, and not a) trends by observing these things over several encounters [like a person on a good day vs a bad day] and b) any attraction based on either physical, movement based cues, or personality and interaction) but the men show a higher consensus. This could mean women have, say, 80% consensus, and men have 85%. While it does imply that men agree more, it's hardly supporting your point that men have a consensus and women don't.

          This small (that is, small compared to the substantial consensus shared by both genders, as implied in the abstract) difference can probably be understood by what I said above, "men are marketed a particular style of beauty more forcibly than women are".

          • it's also more likely that a man will fudge what he does or doesn't find attractive to "fit in."

        • Actually, the abstract directly contradicts the link you provided, which claims that "Study finds consensus among men, not women". The study shows that women do have consensus. Less than men (by how much, I can't say without access to the numbers), but it's still described as "substantial" for both genders.

          Unfortunately, popular science reporting and press releases often leave a lot of details out, or worse, as in this case, give a misleading impression of the actual research.

          Is this what people mean by intimidating? :P

        • Stephen says:

          I've read the paper upon which that article is based actually. The article isn't great to be honest but we all know to expect that sometimes. The actual paper is somewhat interesting but sadly flawed in several ways.

          Thing is, the authors of the paper are aware of the ways in which the study is flawed. When reading it I was struck by several obvious flaws, such as the attributing of characteristics to the still photos. The researchers themselves decided whether a still face looked confident, happy, etc etc. They then looked to see what raters agreed with them by giving high attractiveness scores. Of course, all this meant was that the rater's rating of 'attractive' was being taken as agreement with the researcher's idea of what confident looked like. They did mention in their conclusion however that this was a problem that needed to be addressed. There was also an issue with the choice of which gender liked which characteristics… again a flaw, biased by the researcher's own ideas on what men and women like.

          Another issue deals with the way in which they attempted to study how men and women judge each other by using still photographs. The authors note that using photographs emphasizes some physical characteristics over others which has effected the results. They also note that a stated preference based on a photo does not mean that in a real situation, a person will actually go for that person. There are many many variables that the photo just doesn't reveal:

          "that two men state identical preferences but prefer

          somewhat different women in real situations. Conversely, the men

          may indicate very different preferences but then demonstrate being

          attracted to precisely the same women in real situations. The

          drawback of stated preferences is that one is unable to compare

          which particular people different individuals are actually attracted

          to or to document the extent to which a stated preference manifests

          itself in actual interactions"

          I can rate her as a 9 but I'm not really attracted to her. I'm simply rating her as a 9 because I've been taught where she would be on the scale.

          They also note it in their conclusion. They think that if you were in a speed dating setting where more cues were available the results would be different. You said that you could go from a '3 to an 8 by talking' to a women. The same is true of men.

          They did find a higher level of consensus in men, however they noted that consensus was high/significant in both genders. They also noted several issues with their results:

          "However, comparisons of the level of

          consensus in heterosexual male and female participants are complicated

          by the fact that gender differences in the level of consensus

          may be due either to the gender of the participants or to

          idiosyncratic random qualities of the target photographs sampled

          (e.g., perhaps photographs of men varied less in their attractiveness

          than the photographs of women)."

          "Given the fact that the attraction scores of female participants

          were clustered closer to the scale minimum, it is possible that men

          showed higher consensus than women due to a restriction of range

          artifact."

          The men gave almost everything an 8,9,10. This is like the way in which films and games are often rated. We see lots of places where an average game gets a 6 or 7. It's as if the review sites are operating on scale from 5 to 10 instead of 1 to 10. There is a suggestion there that men are more socially conditioned to rate women 7,8,9,10. Whereas women are more likely to judge men on other characteristics that the photos just didn't do. The authors are aware of this flaw and suggest trying something else in future research.

          I've got to agree with Suzi on this one. The study doesn't actually say what the article based on it says (badly written article is not data). They did find a larger consensus, yes, but they suggest about 5 reasons why the result could be flawed. Of course, this is aside from the fact that they state quite clearly that the rating of a photograph has almost nothing to do with people's actual preferences.

  4. Patrick says:

    I'm easily intimidated by women, but why on earth would I be intimidated by an attractive woman who is a. approaching me and b. being friendly? It makes no sense – if anything, that would be an ego boost.

  5. But the mechanics in 3rd are so terrible and easy to abuse…

  6. why is it when a not so good looking guy gets the hot chick they're envied but if a guy gets a not so good looking girl they're made fun of?

    • Dr. NerdLove says:

      Because men are frequently shallow and a man's stereotypical "worth" is defined by the level of beauty he can attract.

      See also: men who're into large women but won't be seen in public with them for fear of what his friends will say.

      • so what does a not so good looking girl really do to survive and get relationships then?

        • Dr. NerdLove says:

          Honestly? The same things not-so-good looking guys do: develop charm and personality and tough things out while you look for someone who isn't so shallow. I'm not saying it's easy or that it won't be incredibly frustrating – or even heartbreaking – under the best of circumstances, but your (general you) choices are between time + effort or giving up entirely.

          • yeah….that doesn't really work… guys just want attractive girls at the end of the day since women can see past physical flaws more. This isn't really relevant to me (I hope not?) but I always wonder really.

            personality really helps but like you've said the physical attraction needs to be there too. Men are usually more visual than women.

          • Dr. NerdLove says:

            Again: there are guys who see past physical flaws, just as there are with women. And to be perfectly frank (not to downplay your frustration, which I understand), the idea that women aren't as visual or as interested in physical looks is being fairly well debunked; you can see the trends in male fashion, body type, even porn changing as people start to realize that women look at guys the way that guys look at women.

          • It's a wonder how all the millions of ugly women on this planet get married at all if that were true. LOL

          • Carly:

            I can assure you, plenty of non-conventionally-"attractive" women are in relationships, and even get married. Seriously, look around, and you'll see them. I've got plenty of friends who aren't conventionally attractive (some who aren't attractive at all, sorry to say, and I'm really not trying to be mean when I say that), but who have wonderful, healthy, loving relationships.

            In fact, I think many of them have better relationships than "attractive" people, because their partners have looked at who they are as a person, not who they are as a face, and love them because of who they are deep down inside.

    • There's a beautiful saying here in Austria. I heard it from my first girlfriend's grandmother: "Everything about a guy that is more handsome than an ape is a luxury." (in her own wonderful words: "Ois wos anm Moa schena is ois wia anm Offn is Luxus.")

      That gives rise to the assumption that these kind of behaviours are instilled with education/up bringing.

      Girls are called beautiful, but boys are so strong, etc..

      • What language is that in? I know they speak german in Austria, but that doesn't look like the classic german I learned in school

  7. Dr.N, I feel the need to point out a problematic phrase that's come up in both this and in the previous Madonna/Whore article: 'the inferior partner'.

    "she may be more sexually experienced than him, making him feel as though he is the inferior partner in the relationship"

    and

    "He may be overwhelmed by the force of her personality and worry that he will be forced to be the inferior partner in the relationship."

    While I don't think your intention was to suggest that there's obligatorily an inferior partner in all relationships, the language used strongly implies just that – 'the' inferior partner, not 'an' inferior partner – and that it's normally the female, which makes it uncomfortable for the male when the tables are turned and it's him instead. It's a small semantic distinction, but one with important implications. Inferior is not, after all, a synonym for introverted, less dominant, passive, or any other trait that is likely to be stronger in one partner than the other in any relationship. A man who's upset because he feels that he's THE inferior partner in a relationship needs an attitude adjustment not only in how he feels about himself, but in what he's assuming to be the proper power dynamic of all relationships.

    • GentlemanJohnny says:

      To be fair, an inferior partner who is in a particular relationship between two people is also the inferior partner in that relationship because there is no continuum of superiority. Its strictly binary unless both partners are equal. Both of the quotes point out that this is clearly the way someone might feel as opposed to any sort of objective reality, so I'd agree that its a problem of attitude and I don't see anything else being implied.

    • I agree with GentlemanJohnny. The use of the definite article is grammatically correct in this context. "An inferior partner" implies that there are more than two people in the relationship. As noted, it's a binary relationship.

      I also agree that Dr. NerdLove is not implying that relationships are, by nature, a superior/inferior creation. He's pointing out how people sometimes *feel* in relationships.

      • The thing about language, though, is that however correct it may be, if you're communicating something other than what you intend, it's on you to clarify. While I didn't necessarily read those sentences in the same way as Rathia, I think that interpretation is one that's worth considering as a potential consequence of that gramatical choice.

  8. progSHELL says:

    Some guys (like me), really like "intimidating" (read: manic and awesome) girls. In my experience, people who are shy and retreating are pretty boring*, no matter their gender. It absolutely astounds me when I hear people say "I like shy girls." That seems like a recipe for an awkward silence filled relationship. Confidence is sexy, no matter what your gender.

    *Which is not to say that they might not have colorful internal lives. But if they never speak, we'll never know.

    • GentlemanJohnny says:

      Confidence is sexy, whether its confidence in public situations or confidence in your relationship that allows you both to sit and read separately without feeling the need to be constantly entertaining your partner. Both have their time and place. Silence is not inherently awkward.

    • The thing with shy girls/guys, when you get to know them and they come to trust you, they may open up a lot. The shy girls I've known have been more fun to hang out with, after I got pass their defenses.

      • i'm a seemingly outgoing introvert (seemingly only because i only talk a lot with you willingly if you like you, so of course my friends forget i can be quiet) who has really only dated other introverts, naturally and also for my sanity. ;) i have one ex who i swear to you, people who don't know him all that well would never believe he's got a very snarky, kinda mean sense of humor (and it's hilarious, btw). shy and introverted as we know are not synonymous, but both types of people are gonna open up when they're comfortable.

    • Do a lot of guys equate manic with intimidating? God I hope not, I really try to separate myself from "crazy girls".

  9. I'd like to point out one of many reasons for why these women might have adopted being intimidating:

    I went to a technical school, and even after dropping out, I pursued a career in the field I had "learned". I also spend a lot of my time on Open Source projects. There are only about 10-20% female. In Open Source it's about 1-2%.

    So, like in all geeky, male dominated fields.

    Often these women have to out perform their peers by an order of magnitude to even be recognized, all the while fighting off sexism, misogyny and sometimes, assault at conferences.

    Naturally, many develop a rather thick skin. (Some might even develop a shouty nature unconsciously, because thery're every bit as socially skilled as male nerds)

    • Hell, yeah, Igor. it's annoying that we are required to be twice as driven and ambitious to be taken seriously in the workplace, and when we do that, we are labeled as monsters who run over everybody else. Sometimes these determined women are doing the exact same things as men, but because they are women, and women are 'supposed' to be meek and shy, they are seen as very aggressive.

      I am often seen as an intimidating woman. I have strong opinions and I love to discuss about everything. But men who try to get into discussions with me seem to be expecting an ego stroke (I honestly don't know why). It's like they think that, because I smiled to them or because I'm interested in them, I will publicly lose an argument / play the fool just for them to look good in front of their friends.

      • Dear god, this. It's absolutely outrageously galling that I will sit in on meetings and observe men behaving in certain ways (asserting themselves, interrupting others, putting their ideas forward, monopolizing discussion) and it's accepted as normal by the Society of Egoes. I behave the same way to the same men and I get taken aside and "advised" to "watch my tone." It's enough to make me want to scream.

      • It's because idiots like me will do that, even when we're smart enough to know that they're wrong. (sorry)

  10. also is regards to be intimidated by number of partners…I think it's more of a fear it's not very special. like, it just seems like you're another dick or vagina that means nothing you know? people usually see sex as something SPECIAL and when guys or girls just kinda see it casually it turns people off because they come as as not being very serious about you, or you're being used.

  11. Unfortunately, a lot of this advice boils down to "be more of a woman" advice that us intimidating women have been putting up with for aaaaaages.

    We have: be nice, open, welcoming, be interested in what he has to say, tone it down, don't be obnoxious, soften your language, smile, use a higher pitched voice (!!!), don't be too publicly smart, don't be too open about how many people you've slept with for fear of him being upset.

    I know you say that a lot of this advice applies to men too, but on a lot of it, the line where a man being openly smart or conversationally agressive is a problem and where it's a problem in a woman are in veeeeeery different places.

    To be honest, from this side it seems like the problem is mostly with the men who find these women intimidating, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it other than give in to that. And while some women might find this advice useful for them (and if it makes them happier, coolbeans), for me I'm very glad I have a partner who thinks I'm a stunner, and smart, and opinionated (well, if you've read this far, you're hardly surprised, right? :P) and that I'm out of his league (I'm not, just the opposite), but doesn't turn that into a fault in me.

    • 2 O'Clock Queen says:

      Agree with your assessment. If it comes down to changing everything about my personality (and that's on top of the constant advice about how a woman should look), or staying alone forever…. well, that's a rough choice to make. Glad you found a partner you didn't have to change for. :-)

    • The article isn't saying "change yourself." He's not telling you "be more ladylike." In fact, he acknowledged that that's the advice that women tend to get, and that it's not acceptable.

      By saying "think about your tone," and offering ways to modify your approach (including not pursuing guys who are going to be automatically turned off by strong women), he's suggesting more self-awareness.

      A lot of us strong, "intimidating" women tend to dig our heels in against change just as much as the shy nerd-boys do. We see our behavior as "just how we are," and, you know what, it *is* how we are. But, we also need to have some perspective about how we come across. If you saw a video of yourself, would it change your opinion about your behavior? Is it understandable that a woman who is being obnoxious in the name of "not changing" is still being obnoxious? Could it be that, as a response to feeling like people are telling us to change, we actually ramp UP our outgoing/competitive/intellectual/whatever nature without really realizing it?

      As a strong, independent, intellectual woman who has had to compete with "the guys" academically, professionally, and personally, I totally understand the challenges inherent in the situation. I've learned when not to back down (in academics and professionally), and when to think about how I'm coming across (socially). Many a time, I've been in a social situation with other, similarly strong, independent women, and their behavior has totally turned *me* off. These women come across as bitchy, obnoxious, and shrill.

      I've also been in many situations with strong women in which they use what I like to call "The Velvet Hammer." These women use their force of personality and intellect to establish themselves in a conversation or a situation. I've seen the effect it can have (quite striking; pardon the pun), and it's what I've chosen to strive for in my own interactions. It's served me well, and hasn't required that I change who I am, or try to make myself look less intellectual. In fact, it's made me look even *stronger,* and it's harder to be dismissed as a "hysterical woman" when the Velvet Hammer is employed.

      • **Applause**

      • Huzzah.

      • Let me put it this way, this advice is like telling a person of colour that in order to succeed in business they had to be less black. Or tell a gay person in the military that being gay is a-ok, as long as they never, ever, ever mention it to anybody they work with. Sure it "works" for a POC to make sure they never have "political" hair in the office (yes, they get this kind of advice, and for the record, political hair apparently is any hairstyle that is natural for their hair and isn't straightened at great pain and expense to be just like white hair), and the soldier could just never have a photo of their loved one on their desk or never bring their partner to social gatherings, but it's not right. And, really, who wants to find them selves being that person who's giving that advice?

        This isn't new advice. I came to this article really excited to see what insights the good Dr had on the subject. I came out feeling like I had just been reading Cosmo. We know this advice. It's in our magazines, it's in our books. We get it from well meaning parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, friends, teachers, employers, passing strangers in the street ("smile!"). I honestly expected this was the place I wouldn't find it.

        And the crux of it is, this is an issue of sexism. There is no trope of the "intimidating man", and no blog post about being less of an "intimidating person" when it comes to dating. It's part of the madonna/whore complex (which I thought the Dr covered just fine), it's not just about sex. The madonna is not an intimidating woman, but golly, the whore is.

        • Dr. NerdLove says:

          There is no trope of the “intimidating man”, and no blog post about being less of an “intimidating person” when it comes to dating.

          Disagree. When a (straight) guy in the dating world is "intimidating", he is usually coming off as threatening or creepy. Hence Don't Be A Creeper.

          • Stephen says:

            I'm not sure they're really the same thing to be honest Dr. The creeper is about women feeling in physical danger… and given the level of rape (depending on where you read) is it any wonder they are constantly warned of dangerous men in the media.

            The intimidating woman is not putting the man in a position of physical danger. What we have here is men, who's egos are unable to handle strong, confident, outspoken women. I think I see what you were where aiming for this article was but here's my main issue…

            Yes, when dealing with men like this it might help to play the innocent, reserved, respectful, submissive mouse. But to me that smacks of putting the responsibility on (and possibly the blame) the women to manage these men's problems and I don't like that.

          • I disagree to your disagree, sir.

            The key differences are firstly, that the "creeper" is leaving women feeling in physical danger. I've had to deal with creepers. I worried about being trapped in a lift with one guy. He kept touching my hair after I repeatedly told him to stop, and I wasn't sure where that was going to end. An "intimidating woman" doesn't leave a man carrying his keys on the way home, just in case.

            Secondly, as I said above, this is an issue that us so-called intimidating women are getting hit with *all* *the* *time*. In the classroom, in the office, in dating, in the street. I'm not sure there's any aspect of our lives where someone hasn't given us this advice in order to "get by". On the other hand, the "creeper" usually has sufficient privilege that he gets away with his behaviour for most of his life, and it's only when he's trying to date that it backfires on him.

            I'm not proposing that an obnoxious woman just stroll around being obnoxious and anybody who suggests she does otherwise is sexist, but you have to admit that what counts as obnoxious for a woman is usually when she strays too far from being a nice little woman. So when your advice boils down to "be more of a lady" repeatedly, it's going to rub the wrong way.

            Out of curiosity, do you agree with my POC/homosexual analogy?

          • Dr. NerdLove says:

            The difference in "intimidation" is the difference between social power and physical power. Men who are intimidated by women are very rarely intimidated by them physically. Exceptions exist, obviously, but the average woman is not a physical threat to an average man while the reverse is demonstrably true.

            Meanwhile, there are fewer women who are intimidated by the prospect of dating a man who is more successful than her, or or by one who is the alpha partner in the relationship. There are much fewer women who feel threatened by the concept of dating a man who has had more sexual partners or sexual experience than she has. There are many men out there who feel threatened when the traditional social roles are changed. If you (generic you) are someone who does not follow traditional gender roles, someone who expects or requires them will take issue with this and find you (again, generic you) threatening to his world view.

            (Side note: This is has long been an ongoing issue with men; the idea of masculinity has changed and men are scrambling to keep up. Some are adapting while others are panicking and trying to hold on to the old and familiar roles. Next Monday, I'll be talking about modern masculinity and what it means to be a man and why the old definitions don't hold up any more.)

            Creepers don't get called out for their behavior as often as "intimidating" women do, no… and this is a social factor. As I've said many times in many articles, women are culturally socialized to "go along to get along". This doesn't change the fact that when women find men intimidating, it is most often because they are perceived as a physical threat. A creepy guy may not intend to be a threat, just as a woman with a strong and outgoing personality may not intend to overpower or overwhelm someone who is shy or introverted but the end result is the often the same: the person on the receiving end is not interested in the other person as a romantic partner.

            And yes, I do disagree with your analogy. My advice isn't "be more of a lady", it's "be more self-aware". Being more open, inviting or friendly isn't about being more "ladylike" or "feminine", it's about making someone feel welcome. A man isn't going to want to approach a cold and disdainful woman, no matter how beautiful; similarly, a woman isn't going to want to approach a handsome man who gives her a stony faced look and maintains closed-off body language. Having a strong, outgoing personality isn't a bad thing, but it's going to be too much for some people, especially nerds and geeks who tend towards the introverted side of the personality spectrum. You have the choice of either looking for people who are in tune with that personality, or you have the choice of making adjustments if the people you are attracted to are going to react badly to it. A person, regardless of gender, who likes to debate ideas or has very strong opinions on matters and wants to discuss them can come off as angry or pushy. This is true whether we're talking about male privilege, socio-economic theory, politics or religion – nobody wants to feel as though they're walking through a minefield when one misstep will lead to a lecture about why they're wrong and a horrible person for believing or acting in a particular way.

            There isn't any advice that I've given to women, especially in this particular article, that I haven't given to men.

          • Hi Suzi –

            You seem to be positioning this as an 'on' and an 'off'. Which it's not. It’s seriously a matter of degree. Are you saying that any adaptation at all is bad? Then what about someone who learns to be more professional in the working world? Is that bad?

            We all have to 'go along to get along', to some degree. To stick with your Person of Color / gay analogy, yes, these people have to adapt to a majority society that is different than them, just like you and I do, just like nerd boys do. (It seems to me that Dr. Nerdlove’s example of Creepers was just that – only an example.) Funny thing: So do the majority-holders. Exhibit A: Political Correctness.

            There’s advice all over this site telling men how to adapt – I would expect any article on women from him to be telling women how to adapt. Everyone has to adapt. The Doc explicitly says in this article (twice, if I’m correct) that a lot of this advice goes for both genders. Nerds should tone down a bit if they want to get along, men or women. I said in a comment to someone else that it’s a trade-off: The more you insist on going your own way, the more self you get to express – but the less likely you are to elicit a wanted response. That’s the point of adapting, to elicit the response you want.

          • Hi Kira,

            Firstly, I did address some of this in the post above you.

            "I’m not proposing that an obnoxious woman just stroll around being obnoxious and anybody who suggests she does otherwise is sexist"

            In a perfect world this would be a perfect article, but context matters.

            If you haven't already, I actually suggest you read the piece on this blog about privilege as it's the crux of this whole discussion.

            "We all have to ‘go along to get along’, to some degree. To stick with your Person of Color / gay analogy, yes, these people have to adapt to a majority society that is different than them, just like you and I do, just like nerd boys do. (It seems to me that Dr. Nerdlove’s example of Creepers was just that – only an example.) Funny thing: So do the majority-holders. Exhibit A: Political Correctness."

            I'm genuinely sad at your equating these things. Someone having to be politically correct is not the same burden as a POC/homosexual/woman. Me not saying "retard" (I really hate that word) is not the same as, to use the hair analogy, being considered politically threatening and unprofessional for having my hair neat, clean, tied back but in it's natural texture.

          • Stephen says:

            Kira… em…

            "We all have to ‘go along to get along’, to some degree. To stick with your Person of Color / gay analogy, yes, these people have to adapt to a majority society that is different than them"

            Wait a minute! We all have to adapt to get along? I'm sorry but are you suggesting that a gay person needs to toe the line to get along? As in to avoid bigotry and prejudice?

            So, people of colour should be less overtly different to the white society around them? Be more white? To get along… y'know to avoid racism?

            Women need to adapt to be liked by men… to get along because men are treating them with the same level of respect as property but that's not the men's fault?

            Transgender people need to be more like their Cisgender friends? Transgender women need to avoid being transgender women so they can avoid getting murdered and other such inconveniences?

            So the only people who don't need to adapt to get along are white, straight, socially 'normal' men? Wow. That's handy… although you're right they too have to adapt and be more politically correct… what a burden it must be to have to not be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ablest, ageist, xenophobic and exploiting their privilege every day. Yeah, that must suck.

            I'm sorry but I really cannot understand this. Incidentally, there are more POCs (and women) in the world than white people? Perhaps all the white people should 'adapt' to get along in the coloured majority? No… wait what a silly idea that is!!!

          • Wow, I guess what I said about matters of degree got completely ignored.

          • Stephen says:

            Not ignored but where does one draw the line on how gay, black, etc someone is allowed to be in white male normal society? You can be gay but no kissing in public? You can be black but straighten your hair? You can be female but be submissive?

            You say it's a question of degree but it's still the asking of adaptation of someone because we are intolerant of then…

          • Suzi, I just commented on the analogy that had been given to me. I in no way condone racism, sexism or homophobia. Someone else made an equivalence and I followed it.

            But saying that it's 'privilege' to say that people have different expectations of men vs. women in flirting is, I think, incorrect.

            Saying that women being less often perceived as being attractive if they are assertive is I think also incorrect. I think it's a matter of presentation, something we all have to contend with, no matter who we are.

            If one asserts oneself within the context of the signals that are generally societally accepted for your gender, you're more likely to be successful – e.g., men being confident.

          • Stephen, I think you're picking a non-existent argument with me. I can't tell if you're coming at this from an honest place, or trolling, or willfully misinterpreting me in order to raise dudgeon and release it.

            The best kiss I have hands-down ever seen was a beautiful moment between two men in a restaurant. I hope to whatever is up there that all that money I donated to ACT UP and the NYCLU pays off sooner rather than later so that people can stop thinking I have a right to presume to comment on other people's kisses.

          • Disagreeing = trolling and "but I like gay people". Great.

            I'm just bowing out of these comments now, and, with a genuinely heavy heart, unsubscribing from this whole mess. I expected better, but I'm stuck talking to a brick wall. The lack of awareness is staggering and even an intimidating, kick-ass woman like myself only has so much time and energy.

          • Kira,

            Firstly, I'm not trolling. You said it was a question of degree and I want to know to what degree? I am coming at this from an honest (if annoyed) place. You say I am misinterpreting you… you said that poc/gay people needed to conform 'to some degree' 'to get along'… I want to know why and who makes the call on to what degree?

            The best kiss you've ever seen… so how would you feel if someone said they shouldn't be allowed to do that as they need to conform to some degree? You'd be angry. But where is your 'to some degree' ?

            If I was trolling I would have suggested you use a higher pitched voice so as not to come across so seriously and intimidate me…

          • Dr., the difference is that the behaviours you described in Don't be a creeper (awesome post, by the way) are indeed intimidating. But the intimidating woman is just there, living her life. She hasn't even been approached. You're automatically assuming that her behaviour is excessive just because she is being perceived as intimidating. But often regular women, who are not obnoxious, but just self-sufficient, confident women, are perceived as intimidating because men don't know how do deal with women who know more than they do or are assertive. The problem does not lie with them.

            OK, obnoxious women got a lot of pretty useful advice on how to be less obnoxious – let's hope they get off their pedestals and put these advices to use.

            What about the women who are not obnoxious? Do you have anything to say but 'play down your strengths so that men don't run for the hills'?

          • Dr. NerdLove says:

            Well to start with, I disagree with your assessment that I'm telling women to play down their strengths.

            When a woman is being told that she's too intimidating to date, it can generally be assumed that she has attempted to ask someone out on a date, or has gone out on a date with that person a number of times. Unless things in your neck of the woods are incredibly different from mine, men aren't randomly coming up to a woman and saying "Yup, too intimidating, I'd never date you." I mean, if they are, then they're just being assholes and that's another subject entirely.

            As I've said to Suzi, my advice is about self-awareness. If someone is telling you (generic you) that you intimidate them and therefore they don't want to date you, you have some choices. You can try to figure out what they mean – hence my including the most common interpretations. If you have a handle on what it is they mean, then it's time to decide whether or not your behavior is or is not a problem and whether something that needs to change. This is, again, where the self-awareness and examination comes in. There are behaviors that are off-putting, even when they aren't meant to be. If you (again, generic you) are the sort of person who lectures rather than converses or the sort of person who talks down to people or uses their intelligence like a club, this is going to turn people off. You can decide whether to modify this behavior or continue under the assumption of "people can take me as I am." This applies equally to men and to women and, as I've said before, I haven't given any advice in this article that I haven't given to men.

          • arsepolitico says:

            uh, no, they do it ALL THE TIME. sometimes, it's just "smile…bitch" but no, literally those exact words from people you live or work with, and were blithely walking past in public, most of them claiming you did something to cause it, but when asked for specifics, they don't know any. It's because they are making them up—the fear comes from much the same place the fear of random black men comes from; so please stop giving it credence by spouting these rationalizations.

            In reality, this stuff is rarely anyone who has actually dated or bedded the woman, unless he's mad he's feeling inadequate, and it's not usually after a long-term relationship, it's before one gets too far underway.

            You really should ASK WOMEN when and how and from whom they hear these things and specifically. You need to look into stereotyping and its use instead of assuming this is valid on the part of the men involved. Perceived reality and validating said perceptions by rationalization are two totally different things and this article falls into to latter category.

          • arsepolitico says:

            as someone who has hardly ever heard this nonsense from gay women, and even most women going so far as to peg "intimidating" as the femme in the relationship, i beg to differ.
            the problem IS men.

          • Arashi, Here Here!

            Dr., I usually agree with you on a bunch of stuff but I wonder if you're just not seeing it here. I know you have the best intentions, believe me, but given some women here are taking issue with/ saying you're off on this, maybe you're off on this?

            If I find a woman who is strong and confident intimidating, we need to fix me. Not tell the woman to change.

            As I'm sure you'll talk about next week, the traditional roles/definitions of masculinity don't hold up now (and maybe never did). Thing is, if we give women advice that legitimizes the traditional position they hold in a male dominated society, are we not making it worse? Saying be friendly is one thing but it's the whole higher pitched voice stuff… we shouldn't be feeding into that.

            I get that in certain situations you may have to act a certain way for your immediate safety but it shouldn't the standard operating procedure, y'know? If I'm being mugged I hand over my wallet, but it's not my responsibility to hold out my wallet all day long in case a mugger wants to mug me…

          • No, doc, what I mean is that I am usually told I am the intimidating type, and I honestly don't understand why, because I don't make a point of showing off to men. It takes a while until I relax in the presence of new people. Still, when I say I'm single, that's the kind of thing I hear:

            - you're too smart, men don't like smart women. You can't be smarter than them

            - you study too much

            – you don't act like you need them

            - you have to play coy (apparently men don't like when women answer the questions they make, I have to twirl my hair and bat my eyelashes instead)

            I am all for self-awareness – and the advice you gave on that was very nice. But the kind of self-awareness needed in this case seems to be too much – I'd need a personality transplant and become a stupid, uneducated, fragile, alienated little girl. :(

          • arsepolitico says:

            you are a non-shy introvert. probably highly intelligent and english is your second language, right?
            these are all factors–things you're not supposed to be if you are a woman. You are supposed to be outgoing and quiet and do all the things you said.
            What these men are really "intimidated" by is your violation of gender prescriptions. It's because they don't know what to do when when the situations is off-script. Even if that script isn't particularly working for them, it feels safe because it is what they know, even if they don't know it's what they're thinking.
            They are scared they will be "wrong" and confused by you not doing what is "right". Anything could happen and that is scary!!! They will have the same reaction even if you respond to them positively, if they were to approach, and for the exact same reasons.
            Why it takes some of them a good 15 years to understand that rejection is rejection, no matter what script they'd like to use, and everybody has to deal with it all day long, not least the woman who doesn't even get a chance to turn anyone down, and to get over it, I don't know. It's probably that they are more invested in how they look to themselves and other men than to women, much more than they would like to admit. It's not the relationship with the woman, but the relationship to themselves they're looking for. It takes a lot of maturity to learn the difference.

          • Wow, I just got through this entire argument, and honestly I think the best thing in it is when Stephen says:

            "If I find a woman who is strong and confident intimidating, we need to fix me. Not tell the woman to change."

            Let's face it, if a man finds a strong and confident woman intimidating, is this right? If it is, then I don't see why this article is even needed. If it is not, then either the woman is wrong to be strong and confident or the man is wrong to be intimidated. Which of those makes more logical sense?

          • Anthony says:

            It is wrong that men can find smart, funny, attractive, (insert numerous positive adjectives here) women intimidating. That is an issue with the men, though, and this is an article that is advice for women. It has been said that if a woman doesn't want to change, she should not. That makes the pool of date-able men a bit more shallow because you have to weed out the insecure ones who can't handle an 'intimidating' woman. And that should be the overwhelming advice.

            But, what is also being pointed out, is that all people (men and women) need to be self-aware. Personally, I don't find strong or smart women intimidating (in fact, that is the only kind of woman I could date). But I find people who are cocky or rude off-putting, regardless of gender. I know that I am a slightly more special case, because I truly do hold men and women to the same standards, and a lot of people will expect women to be more 'feminine.' But, if people seem to be generally put off by you, take a look at how you act – an honest look. If someone else (male or female) acting that same way would make you feel uncomfortable, then maybe you need to adjust yourself (and if you have a higher tolerance for arrogance or opinionated discussion, maybe see how other people feel about it). If not, if a woman is truly suffering from gender bias, then fuck the weak guys who can't take it. The best men are the ones who need a stronger woman to be their equal in a relationship.

            Side note: of course those are the best guys, I'm one of them. Haha

          • Hi Stephen – Thanks for sticking with it, and for being more polite than I was. I got a little annoyed myself, so I guess my last post wasn’t very good.

            Separately I want to stop and say that I said something tone-deaf and insensitive, and I want to apologize for that to anyone who was offended.

            I think there’s a distinction that is not coming across.

            Racism, sexism and homophobia are bad things. Someone takes away your power, your agency and/or your rights.

            There is a totally separate issue that is about all of us having to share the same planet. No one of us can just run around sounding our barbaric yawp and expect everyone else to make room for us. The more we insist on being the way we want, the less likely we are to elicit the response we want from others. Everyone gets to decide that balance for themselves. That’s *having* power, and agency, and rights.

            Specifically where assertiveness is concerned, well, men don’t exactly always get a great response from being assertive themselves. Nerdlove’s original post about male privilege in part described that false sense of privilege as an annoyance with women who didn’t respond well to men asserting themselves.

            Yes, women get an even less positive response, if they try to use men’s prosody – I’ve known some women who got very good response to their assertiveness, because they worked within traditionally female prosody. It’s kind of awesome watching a woman win an argument with her eyelashes and a tightening of the cheeks and a particular lean of the shoulders – I wish I had that level of mastery of female prosody. But the thing is, that’s a choice I can make about how to act and how to respond that will get me what I want. I could study that prosody just like someone studies a language (because it is a language, only one without words), and in fact doing just that has brought me more success in interacting with others. I can’t behave in ways or study models that will stop sexist or racist or anti-gay actions; I can only cheer on successes and try to change people who are sexist or racist or homophobic.

            Models of male and female behavior are changing in America – women are less approving of male assertiveness within the traditional model, and men are more approving of female assertiveness outside the traditional model. Maybe not as fast as some might like, but it’s giving us a greater range of acceptable behaviors on both sides of the fence. Which only means greater acceptance, which I'm a fan of. But it's not going to take away the basic requirement that we all have to mitigate our own individuality a bit in order to participate in the group project of getting along.

          • you surely realize these two things have NOTHING in common. an intelligent woman is equal to a creeper?aka someone who might rape me? honey, you need a sanity check. that's…actually incredibly daft and offensive.

      • "Could it be that, as a response to feeling like people are telling us to change, we actually ramp UP our outgoing/competitive/intellectual/whatever nature without really realizing it?" no, i'd do it on purpose.

    • he had the right answer at the start: look for more confident, together guys. fine by me. sometimes i aim wrong, is all. XD

  12. UnderOrange says:

    Reading all of this has just reminded me of how glad I am to have stopped caring about whether guys like me or not. Perhaps saying that makes me cynical and jaded or whatever, but honestly I am so much happier now that I don't have to worry about following this advice (which I have received a few times over the years from various different sources).

    It's good advice in that it works, don't get me wrong. I could probably dredge up personal experiences and everything to back that up.

    But seriously. Fuck that noise. I want to be intimidating. I want to be as smart and beautiful as I can be, and I want to (finally) be outspoken about my opinions. If that makes me scary, then okay, I want to be scary. I want to be goddamned glorious and I don't want to have to hear it from somebody to believe it.

    So I will. Just watch me.

    • mad bokhi says:

      Late to the party, but: *claps* Hear hear!

      Also want to add: on a practical level, the whole "changing myself to suit my maaaaan!" is unsustainable – basically you'd (general you!) end up play-acting and that shit's draining. And unsustainable in the long run.

      And yeah, totally not worth it.

    • Christopher Ivan says:

      I just like how if any male made such a bold assertion, he''d be labeled as anti-progressive, misogynist, domineering, etc etc ad infinitum. Seriously, men have feelings too, and many of us (esp. those of us who are widely read and intelligent) have internalized the critiques leveled at patriarchy to the point that we can't feel confident, assertive, or be willing to push back energetically against an overly assertive partner. And further, it's that kind of arrogant self-aggrandizing, so lauded in the business-world, that is perfectly simpatico with social and economic exploitation of oppressed peoples (do you by any chance work in finance or academia? Please, chase after your own prerogatives all you want, you exemplar of American exceptionalism).

      • Yeah, that's not an ideal lesson to get from criticisms of patriarchy. Patriarchy gave entitlement to one group and disenfranchised another based on the idea that it was necessary for there to be inequality–necessary for both parties. I've been socialized to be the stool to make men feel taller, just as men have been socialized to feel they need a womanstool to be tall enough. Both of those beliefs are a disservice to humanity. I don't see UnderOrange claiming she's taller than you, I see her intention to be demonstrably as tall as she freaking is–which I personally think is great, and also an approach that is open to men. Women refusing to be less than they are only takes something away from men in the worldview that men aren't enough in themselves to get by in the world. Men get to be glorious all on their own as well.

    • AnonymousGuest says:

      I so love women like you. :)

      Let me just say that there are some guys who LOVE so-called "intimidating" women. These are the women I am most likely to fall for. Yay for you!

  13. Come to think of it, the Pokemon song is a pretty good theme song for this blog.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6dBLZwjs58

  14. Why does this start out with saying that a woman shouldn't need to change her personality, but then evolves into advice for women to soften their personality to appeal to men – and not advice for men on how to approach a woman they like but are intimidated by?

    Okay, okay – the column was prompted by a smart woman's troubles with finding a man who appreciates an intelligent, assertive (and possibly even beautiful) partner. But instead of tips on what changes to make to be more attractive to peole in general, somehow one feels that it might be more practically productive to give advice on how to identify these paragons who appreciate one's true personality (I have reliable reports that they are not merely imaginary) and the most likely places where to find them.

    • My read on it (disclaimer: am male) is that it's not arguing a women should change their personalities, but how they present themselves at the start of some sort of involvement with a potential partner they're interested in.

      Everyone presents themselves differently in different contexts. In particular, when trying to engage with someone or attract them, they are almost invariably, consciously or unconsciously, presenting themself in a specific way to get the best outcome possible. (Such strategies can include a lot of things, such as "being totally honest so we know what's going on" or "saying what they think they'd want to hear" or "being oneself, but a good version of oneself". All of which are good in some metrics, and have variable efficies.) Changing the 'you' you present is something that's always going on, and under your control. It doesn't mean you're changing your personality, or that you'll always act different towards people.

      Or maybe you're someone who never minimises your anxiety, neuroticness, clinginess, and self-doubt to focus on the more witty, friendly and above all unscary side of yourself when approaching someone new. I know I'm not.

      • Of course we all want to present ourselves as our best – The issue I have is that these qualities that are mentioned as being intimidating in women would be usually considered as positive things to have for men.

        For example: let's imagine a man who was quiet, but handsome, assertive, serious with strong opinions and openly intelligent. Based on only that description, what do you think his chances in romance would be? Considering that this sounds like your average Alpha male, I'd bet pretty good.

        So why are these same characteristics something to be hidden and/or toned down if you're a woman?

        I agree that almost any characteristic can become obnoxious, if taken to extremes – is that what you were thinking? Unfortunately, what would be considered "normal" levels for a man can be "too much" for a woman.

      • The thing is that intimidating doesn't just happen at the begining of a relationship. I've taken society's advice: I've become a lot quieter. I tone things down, especially in the begining. I don't talk academics either, unless explicitly asked and even then I only mention the very non-threatening trade-school diploma I'm working towards. I play nice, but you can't lie forever and it's a lot worse to lose someone because they see you buy a book that's thicker or more complex than what they read or because you get an award/scholarship/accepted into a prestigeous program/other academic achievement than it is to scare someone off at first blush.

      • The thing is that intimidating doesn’t just happen at the begining of a relationship. I’ve taken society’s advice: I’ve become a lot quieter. I tone things down, especially in the begining. I don’t talk academics either, unless explicitly asked and even then I only mention the very non-threatening trade-school diploma I’m working towards. I play nice, but you can’t lie forever and it’s a lot worse to lose someone because they see you buy a book that’s thicker or more complex than what they read or because you get an award/scholarship/accepted into a prestigeous program/other academic achievement than it is to scare someone off at first blush.

    • It's not changing your personality, it's tweaking the delivery – it's no different than telling a nerd to take a shower and get something a little stylish to wear over the Green Lantern t-shirt when he goes out. I'm a very strong, very independent, very opinionated and very intelligent woman, and I'm not going to change any of that. I can, however, choose how I want to tell the world about that – or even whether or not I want to let them in on my little secrets at all.

      There's a timeless trade-off between self and society in all these questions. Would you rather be entitled to be who you are? Well, of course you are, but that has consequences one has to deal with.

      Or would you rather elicit the response you want? Well, of course you can, but that means you have to modify how you present.

      • The post starts out with describing this smart, good-looking, successful woman and we're led to believe there isn't anything wrong with her. Except that then all the advice is either "choose somebody who is okay with you being assertive, smart etc." or "maybe there is something wrong with you or how you present yourself". The first is plain common sense (although the problem is how and where to find this kind of a person), and the second…

        How you present yourself is a personal choice, and I don't always show my "true self" to everybody either, for various reasons. But for myself at least, going into a serious relationship and having to keep myself from behaving normally would be too stressful.

        This isn't a very straightforward or simple issue, either: it is true that people can be obonoxious about their smarts or about insisting on an opinion until the bitter end and so on. But that's different from some men apparently being intimidated by women showing certain traits even when they are displayed at a level that would be considered okay in a male friend.

        • Expectations for men are different from expectations for women, yes. All people are different and some are better matches for you than others, yes. What I expect from my friends, male OR female, is not necessarily what I expect from a romantic prospect. I don't know that any of those things is necessarily a bad thing.

          I also don't think it matters. The system has challenges for men and challenges for women – no one gets off easy. Not to mention you still come down to the same list of options: Rail against the system? Or work within it?

          I suppose if I were Queen of the Universe, I'd sort of rather design a world where everyone was human first, and gender was like fifth or sixth down the list, but I know I'd be taking some of the fun out of the universe that way, especially for the many people who find gender roles more interesting than I do.

          I think on some level it comes down to identity. A guy who really identifies with his Spider-man shirt isn't going to up his game in the fashion department. A girl who really identifies with her own outspokenness isn't going to figure out a more persuasive way of talking to guys.

        • Oh, sorry, I meant to add a question: When you are just getting to know someone, do you act just the same as you would towards someone you have known for years? Or do you have specific behaviors for each set?

          Me personally, I have always thought of the more…subtle? restrained? behaviors the Doc is talking about as things for people I don't know or don't know very well.

          • I'm also more reserved with strangers – but then if you do start to open up later on after you get better acquainted and more comfortable, and the other person becomes "intimidated" by your personality, then what can you do?

            Note that I am a feminist so this probably colours my thinking on gender roles… I think that it is possible to be a woman in many different ways, including being openly smart and assertive, even in our current society.

            But because I know that other women have found men who do appreciate their intelligence, strong opinions and so on (and these guys aren't supermen themselves, so it's not because of them being even stronger and smarter than their partners), I hate to think that I would be making both myself and an incompatible man unhappy by pretending to be somebody I'm not.

            The problem isn't trying to attract just any random man, it's finding those men who do find these personality traits attractive.

          • Yeah, it's a fine balance. In my experience at least, having known me for a bit makes it easier to not be intimidated when I start opening up, if I'm not too abrupt about it. But I think advance-screening for confident, intelligent, self-secure guys certainly makes it easier.

  15. I seek the intimidating woman. I like the yin to the yang thing. I'm an introvert, I want an extrovert to help me out of my shell, or at least someone I can watch and be an extrovert vicariously. =P

    I often find that only the 'intimidating' women are up to my standards. But I often find that women up to my standards, I turn out to be not up to theirs. =/ It's not just men that often want the man to be more 'dominating' than the woman, sometimes.

    • Speaking from personal experience as an "intimidating" women who was previously engaged to an introverted, geeky man I can see where the women are coming from. My ex is a really great guy who genuinely loved my outspoken self, but this dynamic ended up being a real problem that contributed to our break-up. I know that I need (and my similar female friends need) a partner that they can consider an equal. Someone who will call them on their shit and argue with them and debate and have hot, post-argument sex. And oftentimes shy guys just won't do that. Either they're too nice or want to avoid conflict or aren't good at arguing (honestly, I never figured out the why as he couldn't articulate it). I would so easily steamroll him in disagreements and that's just not satisfying for me. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it can become a real compatibility issue.

      And maybe you're not like that, but if you remind a woman of a previous relationship that worked that way then she'll automatically be suspicious that you are. The same way any issue with one of your exes would color how you view romantic possibilities with new acquaintances.

    • Don't assume that all of us who have been labeled "intimidating" (how many times…uncountable) are extroverts. I and my Silicon Valley engineer husband are both introverts. And it's not a woman's responsibility to get you out of your shell anyway.

      And I will add, to everyone: I have never put up with this kind of insulting roleplaying. I never had a problem being myself and was only single (by choice) for one year between the ages of 16 and 48. My husband is certainly man enough to appreciate me for who I am.

      My advice (and I suggest that as a woman who's been around for a while, I am a lot more qualified to advise women) is not to settle. You should not have to change who you are. Don't capitulate to any guy who needs you to pretend you're some kind of childlike being so his fwagile ego can handle it. You want someone who is worthy of you. If you live in an area where that's hard to come by, it could be worth it to move. You only have one life to live, and you should have what makes YOU happy.

      • I don't necessarily say that it's a woman's responsibility to help me out of my shell, just that she's welcome to try if she wants to. I'm not entirely sure how successful she would be if she tried, hence the "just watch her be the extrovert instead" also applies.

        I also don't mind introverts, as long as they have good communication skills and I'm not always left guessing what they're thinking or feeling or what their opinion is. Being an introvert myself, my communication skills are one of the things I work on most.

        Introverts come with their own potential pitfalls, and a woman that can avoid them is still an interesting woman to me. (Same thing with extroverts actually, just the pitfalls are mostly different.) So I'm not anti-introvert by any means. =P

        I make it sound like I've got some kind of super-high super-picky standards or something but really I don't. Most people are mature enough to not make the mistakes I look out for as dealbreakers.

        • Christopher Ivan says:

          I'm in your boat too, James. I have a massive laundry list of skills and accomplishments, but 1. I'm introverted, 2. I hate bragging and braggarts, 3. I clam up around angry or over-bearing people. Bring up a topic calmly, and I will be the most engaging and insistent debater you will ever meet. But some part of me just shuts down around people with overly assertive body-language (classic single-mother consequence?). The women I'm interested in, who share my love of learning, skill acquisition, and getting out in the world, don't remotely do it in my laid-back, judge not lest manner. They all tend to ignore me as lacking energy and passion (which is true). Don't know how to make it work…maybe I need to take an earlier poster's advice and move out West, where at least the hippie-types will be attracted to my outward serenity :p

    • Same as James, pretty much. Once they get past the shell, I can be very open, and I'm no sycophant if it's something I have an opinion about. But every time I read someone say "don't go after the shy guys, they either run away, become doormats or turn passive-aggressive," it just reinforces the belief that someone like me only has a chance with the more stereotypically 'feminine' women and/or women who I have some 'advantage' over in height, age, intelligence etc, even though that's not particularly what I find attractive. I'd love for someone I find attractive to hit on me in a slightly overbearing way, the way men stereotypically hit on women, but it's not likely to happen :(

  16. Very nice doc. Very Nice

  17. Funny story.

    I am one of those late bloomers you were talking about. I was totally asexual/agender through the first two-and-a-half years of high school, so when I found out my forceful personality kept me from having to deal with people I wasn't interested in, I had no qualms, whatever. I pretty academic, and I rarely spoke unless I was passionate about the subject at hand, so you can imagine how people reacted when the "voluntary mute" rushes into a debate headlong, with blue eyes blazing. :7

    At seventeen, I started being sociable and flirting and all those sorts of things. Hormones had their impact on my personality. I went from quiet and intense to a breezy, boisterous gaiety. I was very open to exploration, and I actually did have one very sweet, yearlong courtship that never materialized (the guy was gay). Point being, I was no longer being aloof, and I was engaging with people at a far more intimate level. I was also still a little intimidating (primarily in terms of quirky wit and etiquette), but only insofar as I wanted to attract my social equals. And I did — as friends.

    Fast-forward to nineteen, when I get my first (and final) boyfriend (we're engaged). So now that I'm "taken," all these "friends," all the guys in my life suddenly feel REALLY comfortable telling me that they had TOTALLY liked me in high school. The intimidation factor was strongly implicated. I had almost a dozen guys (and one girl) tell me this. One had the good excuse of my mentioning that I had wanted to ask him to Tolo, back in the day, and chickened out because he was in a foul mood (day after next, he was already taken). The others, however, were reacting SOLELY to the news that I was in a long-term relationship, and thus it was somehow "safe" to tell me, now.

    I cannot begin describe how infuriating that is. And here I am, going, "Seriously? You JUST heard that I have a boyfriend, and that is your FIRST reaction?" Totally inappropriate.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      lol, I think that's a really amusing response to a post about men finding women intimidating.

      "He may worry that every conversation is going to be a lecture rather than a sharing of ideas…Similarly, men may feel as though they’re walking through an emotional minefield and worry about accidentally triggering a reprimand or tirade because of an off-the-cuff comment, poorly chosen word, or a miscommunication. Feeling as though he’ll always be on the defensive, or having to explain himself, or that he’s always going to be hearing about why he’s wrong, can turn guys off.

      Let me ask you a question – when, in your opinion, would have been a good time for these guys to ask you about it and find out – when they thought you were interested in them – if you were actually interested in them, or if they were off base? This is really a question, I'm really curious if you thought it was a timing thing.

  18. I am one of these strong, independent, intellectual women. I've been told that I'm quite beautiful. I've been told that I'm "intimidating," but I've never been told that I'm "unapproachable." In fact, I've been told just the opposite (and, honestly, sometimes I'm really *too* approachable). I've never played dumb in order to get attention; I've never held back in a debate or discussion.

    The point that I'm trying to make is that one can be BOTH "intimidating" and "approachable." If you're approachable, then the intimidation factor can be overcome by the person who wants to approach you. "Intimidating" doesn't mean that you're off limits. A lot of guys *want* to approach that "intimidating" woman, but there's something that keeps them away. Those women aren't approachable. This article isn't about making yourself *less* intimidating, it's about coming across as *more* approachable.

    If, once you're in a relationship, the guy starts expressing that he's intimidated or threatened by your independence, your goals and ambitions, your career, or your intellect, then that's another matter. That might not be the right guy for you, unless those statements are followed by something to the effect of, "but I want to find a way to reconcile those feelings, because I love you the way you are and I want to be with you, and I don't want you to change for me."

    But there's no reason you can't maintain your "intimidation" factor, while also increasing your "approachability."

    • I think Doc should have just had you write the article. It seems that you're much better at explaining what he means!

      • I wasn't really trying to explain what he meant in the article (though I do think that his points have been misconstrued by some readers); I was merely using my own experience to illustrate a point (much as many other women have done here). Hence, starting the second paragraph with "The point that I'm trying to make…" Just adding my own two cents to the discussion, really.

  19. uss_michellebachman says:

    “SHE COMES ON TOO STRONG. SHE’S TOO LOUD / TOO BOISTEROUS / A LITTLE TOO NON-LADYLIKE.”

    These criticisms should never be taken to heart, especially if you possess these qualities by choice and are otherwise comfortable with them.

    I am intimidated by plenty of women (rarely on the basis of looks) but often on the basis of their achievements and so forth. You shouldn't compromise who you are as a human just to be more appealing to men who can't deal with strong women.

    "Similarly, if a man is interested in a woman who’s more in line with the idea of more traditionally feminine or lady-like behavior, he isn’t going to make for a good boyfriend for an outgoing, dominant or non-traditional lady. There is no reason why you should try to force yourself to be someone you’re not in order to meet somebody else’s criteria."

    I got upset before i'd made it to this line. So, agreed! I think that, as we make further and further strides towards creating equality for the female sex, we will find many new challenges to be undertaken in reorienting the male sex.

    I sometimes understand the dichotomy women must feel between wanting to be sexually appealing and "feminine" while simultaneously being empowered. As a feminist, I will accept nothing less than a woman who is my equal and expects to be treated as an equal. But I still feel the desire to be a provider. To give safety and comfort. To be looked up to and desired. And there's a contradiction there: How can I possibly be looked up to by someone who I look on as an equal partner? I am as equally repulsed by these needs as I am desirous of them. I know there are answers to them, but they're answers that are difficult to internalize.

    So my answer is that, while women are making great strides in changing what it means to be female, men are still idealizing the notion of the male that has existed for thousands of years. It is difficult to accept that a woman who is my equal might also desire me as a man. I believe it's true, and I believe many women now alive want exactly that: an equal partner. But we're still struggling with outdated gender norms and until those are fixed, strong women will make us feel insecure. But just give us a shot and I'm sure we can work it out. But dont change.

  20. Thank you so much for this. I got told just the other day that I would be more successful with men if I tried being "less gorgeous and less intelligent". But the bad news is- it doesn't get better. I'm 35. Grow a pair, boys, and come talk to me. The cool kids sure don't.

    • I'm sorry to say that it doesn't get any better with age… I could be a poster girl when it comes to be an "intimidating" woman… I was a tomboy well into my teens, I didn't have much of a female role model while growing into womanhood, I got an engineering degree at 21, had to pick a guy and ask him to take my virginity, eventually he dumped me for more traditional girl.

      Argh… The list doesn't end there. I've always sexually assertive, I never played mind games with men… I let them know very quickly if I was interested or not, and I didn't have them fooling around me without hope. Fair is fair, isn't it? But no, they all pick less "intimidating" women along the way… Sometimes they may come back and tell you they regret it, but the damage is done.

      I'm 50 now, and I'm still single… Not that I didn't have meaningful relationships, but they never worked because I'm too awesome for men, too educated, too sexual, too this, too that… The list just goes on and on… It's funny how my failure in landing a partner doesn't come from what I don't have, but from what I have… And now, I have too many years.

  21. Wait… so why have *I* been single for a year then? I'm not intimidated by smart, assertive girls; I like the nerd arts; I'm told I brush up okay; I'm not socially awkward; I'm very kind and polite. I think we would get along great. Where can I find these girls?

  22. Wow great article and advice! I’m 23 and been single for a year and half now and have been called “intimidating” many times its been hard dating. My girlfriends advice and mothers weren’t helpful, this laid it out perfectly thank you!

  23. This article is gross and it is full of contradictions, I stumbled on it while looking for something else… Ladies kudos to you for being interesting, don't dumb it down or mask your awesomeness for anyone. There is someone(s) for everyone, why would you want to be with anyone who doesn't think you are as totally amazing just as you are- even if you are loud and opinionated and have zero people skills. I have met men who don't get me at all, and men who would lay down and die for me – mostly the latter because being yourself is incredibly attractive to men – I don't compromise who I am for anyone. Accepting that you are not everyone's favorite meal is the best thing you can do for yourself -then move on and be the best you, you can be.

    Don't be so desperate to actually think this is good advice. Again this article is GROSS and is insulting to women. It actually makes me angry every time I see something like this, why are women always looking to fix whats not broken?? Get some f+cking confidence! hows that for a strong opinion!

    • Anonymoose says:

      Most of the site is geared towards telling male nerds to get what they don't have, and the best way to do that is to appeal to as many people as possible (usually through traits and skills they don't have at all and have to change or develop)… only fair the ladies have to as well.

    • I don't think it's really meant like that. If someone's getting negative reactions to her personality and is unhappy about that, I think it's at least worth considering things that others might be reacting badly to.

      For some women, it might involve a change to something she thinks is just on the surface and doesn't have much to do with her actual personality. In a few cases, it might even be that a habit or two is causing people to perceive someone in a way she doesn't feel is accurate at all. In other cases, she might decide that it's a core part of her being and she's ok with only appealing to a limited audience.

      I think most dating advice involves at least some suggestions to change – if things were working, we wouldn't be asking.

  24. Damn, like Adam above I have always been interested in these so-called "intimidating" women. I love smart, confident, outgoing and assertive women!

  25. I disagree with the ideas expressed in the "She's More Sexually Experienced Than Me" part of the essay. To me (a guy), it's not a matter of measuring up but a matter of personal safety. The greater number of partners she has had, the greater her chances of having an std – the greater risk I am taking. Before choosing whether or not to enter a sexual relationship with a partner, I'm concerned about the context in which she engages sexually. Knowing how many partners she has had, along with other questions provides some insight.

    I find the thought of having to go to the clinic far more intimidating than I do measuring up to her previous partners.

    What do others think?

    • BritterSweet says:

      There is some validity in that. But there are other things to consider. It only takes one wrong encounter to get an STD, so numbers alone are not enough to determine how safe it would be to have sex with someone. A woman could have slept with 50 guys, but gotten herself and her partner tested and used protection every time and end up being clean.

      So yeah, even shorter version: numbers don't determine or reduce STD risk. That's what testing and protection are for.

    • To agree with what BritterSweet said: you can be very safe and still have multiple partners. You can be monogamous and unsafe.
      If you're unnerved by a woman's sexual history because she has a history of unprotected sex and hasn't been regularly tested, that's one thing. But the sheer number of sexual partners doesn't equal having an STI.
      Also, if this is an issue you're concerned about, be very proactive yourself about using barrier methods and getting tested regularly. That's going to keep you healthier in the long run.

    • I'd agree with the others on this. The best way to be safe is by using condoms and by getting tested when you find a new partner.

      That being said, having fewer partners and choosing partners who have had fewer partners is also a way of reducing risk, and it's a valid choice. I guess I'd just ask that guys apply some sense of proportionality to things. If you expect your sex partners to restrict their activities to relationships, then a similar and even more effective form of risk reduction would be for you to do the same, even if a tempting opportunity arises. Likewise, a partner who's had few sexual relationships may expect to know you quite well before the two of you have sex, which seems fair.

      Someone who's been waiting chastely until now, but who falls fast and hard and rolls into bed with you almost immediately is a powerful fantasy, but it's not one that's likely to happen all that often and it's a very heavy burden for women to live up to.

  26. I am a strong independant outgoing woman and been told i'm gorgous , but can,t remember the last time anyone asked me out.The only thing ii catch men looking at me all the time so why don't they approach me i'm a very nice friendly lady . Look like i'll be single for the rest of my life , but i will not change the way i am for anyone, and also men treat me terribly and don't know why ??

  27. I'm still confused as to why anyone considers Joss Whedon geeky, and I'm not saying this because his shows bored me silly. It's just that they're positively mainstream.

    • eselle28 says:

      Superheroes are geeky, but most of the big summer blockbusters feature them. Harry Potter is geeky, yet it's one of the most popular franchises in recent history. Video games are geeky, even though most young adults at least enjoy the occasional FPS or sports game.

      Those things are geeky because geeks congregate around them and get way more into them, and more into the more obscure versions of those things, than people typically do.

      • The Simple Man says:

        Plus just becasue something is mainstream does not mean that it becomes immune to geekyness. Sport lovers that can fire off statestics are geeks of the Sport world but its just accepted.

        Plus you seem to mistake that mainstream = non-geek. Doctor Who is mainstream and culturalin the Uk but its still Sci-Fi and draws in geeks.

  28. Wow, I related to this article so much it was insane.

  29. I don't like confident strong women. I prefer highly feminine women, sometime lacking confidence but who are extremely decent, honest, and unselfish. I find a meek feminine voice to be bliss inducing (yes I literally feel bliss listening to some women's voices). I like women who become highly dependent in a relationship. And I like them to have a basic goodness to them, a kind of happy, hopeful, loving disposition. Interestingly I am not the only one who likes these women…they almost always have lots of extremely good friends of both sexes. I also like it when they are unambitious.

    I can't deal with strong women. I can be friends with them. I can even be sexually attracted to them. But I can't connect and have intimate relationships with them. Voice is often enough for me to lose the feeling. I can hear a women on the phone and instantly know it won't work. I hate when women are highly opinionated. I have ended a number of relationships for exactly this reason. I am not really intimated or afraid of strong women. And I am not really an introvert. I just don't have a desire to ever be in an intimate relationship with a strong independent woman. The whole idea of this fill me with an incredible fear.

  30. ConfusedGirl says:

    I'm not sure if I'm intimidating, but I must be, since from past experience, I sense that I'm not that unattractive yet still unapproachable to the opposite sex.

    Men often don't approach me. I always notice them staring, doing double takes, or even flashing smiles and greetings, but nothing more. My guy friend a long time ago once told me that the guys who were interested but didn't say anything were just intimidated; I didn't quite get that. When they did make a move, they'd approach my friends to approach me, and I'm not sure what exactly made me so unapproachable, but they'd give me gifts, obtain numbers, etc. through the people I knew, but not me directly.

    I've never been asked out on a real date. Sometimes, a guy will ask if I'll be around studying on a Saturday, and if I might like to join, but it's never an ACTUAL date, where we're sitting down and eating dinner together after a movie.

    • ConfusedGirl says:

      To be fair, I have never REALLY liked a guy, because none have gotten close enough to me. The few that did moved on by the time my feelings came around. Most likely, they thought I would never like them and remained oblivious to my cues. But then again, there's always that chance that they never liked me at all. Few men in general have made the effort to get closer to me in the first place. Most, if not all of my friends were and are girls. I am not loud or opinionated. I am the exact opposite- Very introverted, feminine, polite. Because I'm so sensitive, I try to be tactful. I use wit as a way to lighten the mood, even if it means making fun of myself. So I'm not THAT serious, and I love chivalry.

      I'm not sure why men are so damn intimidated, if that's what they are. I don't think I'm that scary.

  31. Well, I'm into video games, cosplay, action-comic based movies, etc but I don't see myself as a tomboy. I dress lady like, act lady like, enjoy being treated traditionally lady like, and all my closest friends are women. I also have more traditionally feminine hobbies such as appreciation for art and nature, cooking and dancing. I'm 30 but I am baby faced so I'm frequently mistaken for much younger to the point where I get carded for liquor, R rated movies and M rated games. I'm not loud and boisterous and I'm also more introverted than extroverted

    Guys, especially "geek" guys don't seem to like me as more than friend or want some sort of friends with benefits thing. I’m still meeting men who seem “put off” by what I share about my achievements (and they ask, I don't just start talking about them out of the blue).

    I mean, on dates as well as with male friends, I’ve started focusing more on a feelings level, i.e. why I enjoy the things I achieved rather than bragging about them at face value. But men I meet still seem “intimidated” by it or they just think I'm sexually attractive and nothing deeper. I also let them have their moments and show appreciation for what they share or do for me.

    It doesn't bother me if I make more than a man, I still know how to give him his space to feel manly. But this factor always seems to bug them, yet men complain how women feel entitled to be paid for? Or how we want them to approach us? I think a lot of modern men are confused about what they truly desire on a biological level

    It’s silly that guys I meet feel so sensitive to these things especially when I’m still letting them have their shine in other ways..like letting them decide where to eat,pay for dates, initiate, etc. And I ask why they enjoy what they do and wait for them to ask about me. Am I just meeting the wrong men? Despite my masters degree (in library and information services, which isn't a traditionally "male" profession), travel experiences, financial stability, etc, I’m feminine at my core. I don’t want to be the “guy” in the relationship :-/

  32. grabbagsdotco says:

    thanx….The point that I'm trying to make is that one can be BOTH "intimidating" and "approachable." If you're approachable, then the intimidation factor can be overcome by the person who wants to approach you. "Intimidating" doesn't mean that you're off limits. A lot of guys *want* to approach that "intimidating" woman, but there's something that keeps them away. Those women aren't approachable. This article isn't about making yourself *less* intimidating, it's about coming across as *more* approachable.

  33. I think this article has a lot of great points about why men find these types of women intimidating, and I agree that toning down behaviors that are actively aggressive or oppressive (not just misconstrued as such) is a good thing for dating and socializing (and I'm guilty of doing this, as a competitive, argumentative woman).

    BUT, I think there is a problem that perhaps hasn't been addressed in the comments. It's not that this is bad advice (the caveats Dr. NerdLove adds clarify things), but that it's a MAN telling WOMEN how to better behave to get a date. This is problematic. This article didn't need to be anything other than advising men on how to work out their insecurities about why they find these behaviors intimidating. It could have also, instead of telling women what not to do, simply informed men about which behaviors may actually be problematic and to avoid them (maybe the strong female in question is obsessed with winning and will argue counter productively for dominance). Tell the men how to navigate the difference between "intimidating" and DELIBERATE negative aggression.

    This article had good intent, but Dr. NerdLove – keep in mind that as women we have to deal with this all the time. We get it when we're told to protect against rapists instead of telling the rapists not to rape. I think it would be a good idea to be more aware of which group is doing the oppressing here. Don't tell us how we can change ourselves for the male gaze – our social skills are our own problem. Tell men how to break down these awful gender boxes that we're shoved into.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] share, so here is another. I don’t agree with everything Doctor Nerd Love says, I think he puts other people’s fears and issues on the person doing the thing, rather than, Hey, take care of your own issues too.  But I he has some good points in this [...]

  2. […] that you have reminded yourself of earlier (see step no. 2). Now stop comparing yourself with this intimidating woman simply because that won’t do you any good. You are unique and so is she and you’re two […]

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