Do smart men prefer bimbos?
August 17, 2009 10:03 AM   Subscribe

I am a successful professional woman, I want to date successful professional men, but they seem to want subservient types. Should I be looking for a subservient man?

The middle-aged, say divorced doctors & lawyers, they say they want to date intelligent, age-appropriate women, but I think that just may be for show to their peers, that they can actually get a woman like that, when in reality, they prefer just a pretty girl with a nice body who will not challenge them intellectually. Is this true? And if so, to balance the scales, should I just start looking for that in men?
posted by Goodgrief to Human Relations (51 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is that what you want in a man? Because if not, it seems weird to look for those qualities just to make a statement of sorts.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:05 AM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is this true?

No. It's true of some people, and not true of others.

should I just start looking for that in men?

Only if that's what you want in a partner.


I think you need to rethink your criteria for dating, though. I see that you've tagged this as "lawyers" and "doctors"--there are lots of successful professional men who are not lawyers and doctors.

The kind of man who is comfortable with being a trophy-husband-good-provider is likely to be the kind of man who is looking for a trophy-wife-little-woman-arm-candy. You're buying into one half of a sexist equation and getting annoyed by people buying into the other half--that hardly seems reasonable.

It seems to me that the most desirable qualities in a partner are things like meshing intellectually, sharing similar values, having great sexual chemistry, getting along well, etc. Job description isn't part of this, except insofar as someone shares one's own values about professional dedication and motivation. Doctors and lawyers aren't the only two professional groups who are highly motivated and dedicated.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:10 AM on August 17, 2009 [19 favorites]


Wait, what?

People are people. There are plenty of successful, smart men who aren't interested in a smart partner, and do just want some arm-candy. But there are also those who want someone who's an equal. Different humans are different, be they male or female.

As for what you want - why in the world are you looking to "balance the scales?" Go find the kind of man you want; any guy who's going to be intimidated by your success isn't worth being with. If you really do think you'd be happier with a "subservient" man, please, go hunt one down! And by doing so, you won't be wasting the time of men who're looking for an equal.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:11 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, in my experience, everyone I've ever known who has expressed things like "Men just want bimbos" or "Women just want assholes" has had a miserable dating life. (This is equally true for the gay and lesbian versions: "Men just want young, hot gym bunnies" and "Women just want young, big-busted vegans with long, flowing hair.")
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:13 AM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


To answer the age-old question of brains vs. beauty: This might be true in some contexts and not in others. Depends on the people involved and about a billion other factors.

This question makes some pretty broad generalizations about professional, successful men.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:16 AM on August 17, 2009


Most of us are looking for brains and beauty together when we're looking at all.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:20 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am a successful professional woman, I want to date successful professional men, but they seem to want subservient types. Should I be looking for a subservient man?

Perhaps you could think about your definitions of "successful" and "professional", and whether you might want to change your criteria. If you're picking out men based on what they do for a living and what their incomes are... well, honestly, those attributes really have nothing to do with what kind of a partner they'll make. And if you're looking for driven strivers whose idea of success is the Mercedes, the summer home in the Hamptons and the wardrobe of Armanis, it is very likely they will be equally acquisitive and status-conscious when looking for a woman.

It's good to see you are starting to question what you want, because it seems necessary.
posted by orange swan at 10:25 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


1. Have you experienced a smart, successful man turning you down for not being a bimbo, or are you just angry about the stereotype? It's probably not as true as you think it is.

2. A lot of really smart men don't end up being doctors or lawyers. If you try to meet some teachers, nonprofit leaders, or research scientists, you might miss out on the financial benefits of dating a doctor or lawyer, but you might also gain a lot in terms of, you know, an interesting and nice person to date (not that doctors and lawyers can't be interesting and nice).
posted by oinopaponton at 10:25 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is this a question from Cosmo?

Honestly, I think the older you are, the more established and immovable your peers' dating habits and requirements are going to be. But, just because they might be looking for X doesn't mean that you should adjust your expectations and seek out Y. Where does happiness lie in that equation?

Don't try to be a mind reader when dating. Open up your mind and be open to new experiences, a broader range of interests and try not to have so many expectations (on you or your date). Otherwise, I think there might be articles in "women's magazines" about dating services dedicated to hooking you up with a doctor or a lawyer. But, I don't know, that sounds like an unpleasant exercise in separating the few grains of wheat from the chaff.

See lots of people. Enjoy life. Don't worry about procuring your own arm candy to impress your friends.
posted by amanda at 10:26 AM on August 17, 2009


So, what do you mean when you say 'professional' and 'successful'?

I would consider myself a successful, professional, single male, and I absolutely would date a woman who is at least my peer. Furthermore, I will say that I prefer women who are smarter, more educated, and more motivated than me. I think it's incredibly attractive. I mean looks to play a part, but a smaller role than one would think.

So, is there a site where I can sign up?

But seriously, over the years I was lucky enough to date a couple such women, and I'll generalize: they were overly picky perfectionists. They were looking for perfection in their partner, and as awesome as I was (ha), I never met their criteria. Deep down, I truly believed that they were looking for someone their superior, although they denied it emphatically. They wanted a surgeon or top lawyer, from an ivy league school, tanned with abs of steel and a full head of wavy hair. But, maybe that's my insecurity showing.
posted by TheOtherSide at 10:27 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am not sure what to look for in a man, but I would look for the traits you think you want not someone else's view just because you are bitter.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:29 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


This question contains broad sweeping generalizations which are as easy to confirm as they are to deny. If you want a certain thing in a partner then look for someone who possess it. Confirmation bias isn't your friend.
posted by ob at 10:31 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Men want a woman who isn't on askmefi asking if they should be looking for "subservient men."

Harsh but true.
posted by milinar at 10:34 AM on August 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


And if so, to balance the scales, should I just start looking for that in men?

If your reason for dating someone like that is to get back at society, then by all means, go for it. But frankly I'd be happier for you if you did it because you actually enjoy dating young ripped dudes and buying them stuff and taking them to Belize or whatever it is sugarmamas do.

I think your question more accurately phrased is "why aren't the doctors and lawyers I want to date interested in me?" We don't know. You can be into whatever you want to be into, and no one should begrudge you it - but it would be easier for you to meet and date men in general if you were able to move past your doctor and lawyer fetish. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:35 AM on August 17, 2009


I think you need to identify the qualities you want to look for in a man. If, near the top of the list, is 'successful' and 'professional', that's okay, this is entirely up to you, but what else do you want? 'Nice body', 'intellectually challenging', those can be on there too as can 'works as a doctor or lawyer' and 'is interested in successful professional women'. It narrows your choices, but if that's what will make you happy, go looking for it.

The 'nice body' and 'doctor or lawyer' criteria will save you from dating the fat truck drivers that, even though they're intellectually challenging, you'd never be happy with. Some of your other criteria, you're not going to know if they've been met until you go on a few dates with the person.

Your search might be difficult and frustrating because you've consciously limited your options but that doesn't mean there aren't any successful, professional, nice-bodied, intellectually challenging doctors or lawyers looking for successful professional women in your zip code.
posted by IanMorr at 10:36 AM on August 17, 2009


I don't think that all smart men prefer bimbos; the smart ones who don't are simply already taken, for the most part. You don't say how old you are; as you get older, it gets harder to find single people who aren't screwed up to the point that it's a deal-breaker. You're asking if you should lower your standards. Don't. Keep looking. And fight the bitterness, because it's so easy to let it consume you.
posted by Melismata at 10:37 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


This seems like the female version of the common male complaint that "women don't date nice guys". It's also equally misguided, I think.

"Jerk" is a horizontal row on the population spreadsheet and it intersects every column: doctors, lawyers, software developers, park rangers, and so on.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:38 AM on August 17, 2009


I think oinopaponton has an excellent point regarding the types of careers your potential mates might be in. There are nice guys and assholes in every profession, but there are certainly different type of prevailing cultures in different professions. If a man is in an industry that encourages or even demands that he be ruthlessly ambitious and prove he's better than everyone else, he might be intimidated by the prospect of coming home to a partner who is his intellectual and professional equal, particularly if he's on the insecure side. The corporate or professional culture anyone is a part of--meaning the social and cultural environment they inhabit for most of their waking hours--will necessarily affect (warp?) his/her sense of social norms even regarding relationships outside of the office.

That doesn't mean you can't find a nice lawyer or doctor (indeed, I can think of a couple very nice male doctors and lawyers I know, who love and support their wives' career ambitions), but I think you'll definitely increase your odds of finding a smart man who doesn't prefer bimbos if you can recalibrate your idea of "smart" professions.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Re: I see that you've tagged this as "lawyers" and "doctors"--there are lots of successful professional men who are not lawyers and doctors.

True, there are lots of successful non-doctors and lawyers, my ex-husband is an MBA and I am CPA, and there are many others, but those are the professions of people who have asked me out since my divorce. I want a relationship, but I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth, and maybe what I should look for is someone who is not competing financially or intellectually or whatever, and go for someone who will just blindly admire me like so many successful men seem to do. Now I see that doesn't seem rational unless I really just want admiration and not an equal partnership.

Thanks for all of the intelligent repsonses.
posted by Goodgrief at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2009


when in reality, they prefer just a pretty girl with a nice body who will not challenge them intellectually. Is this true?

No. I'm a lawyer and that is definitely not true.

May I gently suggest that you explore how you feel about a close relationship? Because this sounds exactly like the type of defense mechanism I used to employ to avoid relationships without admitting to myself that I was frightened.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:47 AM on August 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


I think a lot of men are intimidated by women who are capable of being more than just a trophy or housewife. I believe that many men actually like your characteristics in a woman. I think most are unsure of how to deal with a woman who acts more like say, how they expect other men to act. Perhaps they are intimidated by it.

I'd say this is all to do with how "gender roles" are played out in society. Most men expect women to act a certain way, and most women expect men to act a certain way. Some individuals are different, of course.

You should try and find someone who accepts you for who you are and isn't intimidated by you. Someone who will treat you as an equal. You shouldn't limit your search to doctors and lawyers! Some great men are business owners, artists, writers, scientists, computer programmers, etc.
posted by Eastgate at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a professional man. I would only be interested in dating someone who's an equal partner. So if you approach dating as you've suggested, you would overlook me and lots of guys like me.

I recommend doing some soul-searching and asking if that's what you actually, honestly want (not if it's what you should want).
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2009


*sigh* I don't know you, but I know that the women I've heard express this sentiment were running into this because they were, well, pursuing superficial, image-obsessed potential partners for superficial, image-obsessed reasons. For every doctor/lawyer/banker alpha male master of the universe who turns you down for a 25-year-old (I refuse to repeat your "bimbo" assessment...these women may be appealing because they're warm, funny, kind, would make great mothers--stay at home or otherwise--for men with existing kids or who haven't had any yet, etc.), is there a slightly schlubbier, yet still funny, cute, and nice as hell engineer or teacher or non-profit nerd out there who finds good conversation a turn-on?

You're marketing yourself to the wrong demographic, if this is genuinely happening over and over again. Remember-- you don't want men who don't want a smart as hell partner, so you don't worry or overgeneralize when this happens, you move on and count your blessings that you found this out up front. I'm probably younger than you, but men who think intelligence is an actual turn on are my demographic and I don't worry about marketing myself, to be crass, to anyone outside of that niche.
posted by availablelight at 10:57 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


. . . I should look for is someone who is not competing financially or intellectually or whatever, and go for someone who will just blindly admire me like so many successful men seem to do. Now I see that doesn't seem rational unless I really just want admiration and not an equal partnership.
(Emphasis mine)

Maybe the level-headed, intelligent, successful men you want to date aren't into this kind of attitude.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:06 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am a successful professional woman, I want to date successful professional men, but they seem to want subservient types.

Actually, a whole lot of them want to be dominated in the bedroom. So much so as to be ye-rolllingly common. But I digress.

I do think that it's true that men are often intimidated by successful professional women, even though they may be unwiling to frame it in these terms. On the other hand, I see some professional women looking specifically for professional men who are often kinda snobby and superficial about it, or shrilly insecure. Not saying that this how you're acting, but it could be a factor which is informing others' behavior.

One thing that might help is to seek men who are not in your field. Go find out a good place to meet engineers and architects and other men who are not in the financial field at all. It's a little harder, sure, but it also removes the "direct comparison" aspect, which means that it's a little easier for both people to avoid knee-jerk power stereotypes.
posted by desuetude at 11:07 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want a relationship, but I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth

I have that kind of relationship, and so do all of my successful professional female friends who are married to men. This group includes doctors, lawyers, and one friend who is both a doctor and a lawyer, along with entrepreneurs, writers, newspaper editors, tenured college professors at Ivy League institutions, and other women who are dedicated to very demanding and high-profile careers.

So no, not a myth, and although I have no women friends who are CPAs, I somehow don't think that that particular qualification is a greater barrier to finding an interesting, professionally successful man as a partner than having a Ph.D. or an MD/JD or an MD/Ph.D. has been for my friends.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:09 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And also...paging scody on the subject of whether or not you need a man with a similar educational pedigree to have a great relationship....
posted by availablelight at 11:12 AM on August 17, 2009


I think that just may be for show to their peers, that they can actually get a woman like that, when in reality, they prefer just a pretty girl with a nice body who will not challenge them intellectually.

What specific evidence do you have that leads you to believe this? IOW, why do you think this?

I ask because I wonder if you're sitting and wondering why these guys aren't calling you back, when they're sitting at home wondering why you aren't being more assertive in pursuing them. Or some other weird misunderstanding like that.
posted by amtho at 11:12 AM on August 17, 2009


I want a relationship, but I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth, and maybe what I should look for is someone who is not competing financially or intellectually or whatever, and go for someone who will just blindly admire me like so many successful men seem to do.

....I've looked at this sentence a while, and I'm...not sure what kind of a read I'm getting from it. It seems to be sending a number of mixed signals about a) your perception of yourself, b) your perception of others, and c) your perception about THEIR perception of you.

I'm wondering if maybe the problem isn't a matter of "equal relationships being a myth", but may in fact be more a matter of you maybe giving off some mixed signals without knowing it, and that's maybe putting people off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:13 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Got it - sweeping generalizations are bad, I am dating the wrong demographic for the wrong reasons, probably shouldn't be dating while I have a poor opinion of a section of available dating population, just be myself. Gotta love strangers, your friends won't tell you...

Thanks again for all of your helpful reponses.
posted by Goodgrief at 11:41 AM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth

I think you're just possibly maybe overreacting to a couple of bad dating experiences. Wildly so.

If you date several different people but they all treat you the same way, that is not because all men are the same. Men are different from one another, and have different desires. You're the only constant in that equation.
posted by ook at 11:41 AM on August 17, 2009


From My understanding, it really depends on what the person you are dealing with is looking for.

Men and Women who are actually looking for Partners tend to seek out equals. Men and women who are not looking for that type of relationship have less rigorous standards.

Partner <> Spouse. A lot of people get married without looking for a Partner.

Sorry for the Brevity
posted by Lord Widebottom at 11:50 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am a successful professional woman, I want to date successful professional men, but they seem to want subservient types.



Wrong. Plain Wrong.

But most men want a YOUNG, PRETTY, LOVELY and NICE women and give a f... if she is successful or not. You mention that you are "SUCCESSFUL" as if this is an asset. Trust me, as long as you are not looking for a gold digger, it is not. But it is not a liability either it is just irrelevant. You don't write "I am a good looking woman", "I am a women with a great personality" but you write "I am a successful woman". You even don't write that you are a "smart woman". Smart or not, you obviously don't understand the dynamics of male/female relationships. As long as you don't understand this you are unlikely to succeed in finding what you want. Your argument that men don't like successful women is given a lot by successful woman because they don't understand that this attribute is totally irrelevant for most man. Likely they won't find a man because of their behavior or looks but not because of their successes.


Should I be looking for a subservient man?
You should probably start dating a few people and learn about the dynamics. And yes, most women want a financial stable, slightly older, financial secure, SUCCESSFUL male. For a male it IS AN ASSET to be successful.

What I have written here are facts. Take it or leave it. There are exceptions but at the whole picture my statements are true. Many of my girl friends made more money than I did. But I know that this is an exception and not the rule. And I dated them because I liked them. It is very hard for a woman to impress a man with money since it is irrelevant for him in what he is looking for in a woman.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:57 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, you're dealing in generalities, but I would say that what you're offering isn't very compelling to the men you're interested in. Most relationships aren't truly "equal", but give and take -- your partner fills a place in your life that you can't fill on your own, and you do the same for them. If the "trade" works out to seem balanced, we use the word "equal" to describe it... even if it's not really the right word.

The type of men you're describing... divorced, middle-aged and successful... just think logically about what they are likely to value in a new partner: they're divorced, so they've been through the battles and are likely looking for an easier relationship as opposed to a challenging one; they're middle-aged, so they're likely looking for someone who brings energy to the relationship to keep them feeling young; they're successful, so they not only can afford to expand their poll of potential mates to the much-larger pool of "unsuccessful" people, but have an obvious and easy-to-use tool to attract them with. Can you get these mates... sure, but you probably will have to be competitive with what those women offer to have a chance. Are you able to provide the things that guy is looking for, and make him believe you will? Are THEY going to be able and willing to give YOU what you're looking for?

Like others, I worry that you may be limiting yourself... since you're successful yourself and all, that would seem an obvious place you could afford to be less obstinate about. There are plenty of successful men who are not doctors and lawyers, and there are plenty of less-successful men that can be just as stimulating. Just a thought...
posted by Pufferish at 12:16 PM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


As a successful man who prefers an intellectual challenge but has often in the past wound up with air-headed bimbos, I'll share with you the single most important dating lesson I've learned:

If you are only attracting one type of person and it isn't the type you're looking for, then there's something about YOU that needs to change.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:18 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


For someone (both women and men) to be a lawyer/ doctor, and to be successful at their career, they usually have a certain type of personality. Type A, alpha-male/ female, career-and goal-driven*, and maybe, even, prestige-driven. Same goes for investment bankers, and maybe a couple more categories of people as well. Now, this is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it seems like it's something that you don't want. You might believe that you should want these type of men because it's the 'normal' thing to want successful alpha males. Maybe you should evaluate your priorities.

*I make these observations based on my time at an Ivy League college. There's a reason why most students hate taking classes with pre-law, pre-med, pre-(investmentbanking), pre-(managementconsulting) students: they screw up the grading curve, because they are really hardcore about grades and careers. Whereas we anthropology/ french/ literature/ history majors are pretty chill about these things like grades and careers.
posted by moiraine at 12:22 PM on August 17, 2009


If it's purely a numbers game and you just want a man to complete your set, sure, change your standards.

But if you're looking for a truely meaningful, satisfying long-term relationship, no, don't change what you're looking for, just realize that when you actually find it, it will mean even more to you.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:26 PM on August 17, 2009


Dunno, but the women I know who complain about bimbos and male conspiracies, usually have other things wrong with them and just pull out these tired excuses to avoid facing them or betting themselves.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:27 PM on August 17, 2009


Forget looking for a type based on employment. How about dating someone who makes you happy? You should have figured out by now what personality is compatible with you, or at least which ones aren't.
Speaking for myself, I find intelligence extremely attractive.
posted by arcticseal at 12:34 PM on August 17, 2009


I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth

Oh, and just some anecdata for you: both my partner and I are mid-level professionals at non-profits. Our jobs are VERY different, but we have approximately equal levels of responsibility and "success."

(And he does more than half the cooking and half of the cleaning/house chores. You want some crazy stereotypes and to be told you're batshitinsane unrealistic? Try telling the older women in your family that any boyfriend of yours must be willing to cook and clean. )
posted by desuetude at 12:37 PM on August 17, 2009


Personally I do find it attractive when a woman is successful and ambitious. But obviously that is not the only criterion any man looks for, just as you are being told that you will probably be unhappy with the results if you focus strictly on professional success.

Why is it that only doctors and lawyers are asking you out? I find that rather odd. Do you only ever meet physicians and lawyers? Are you cool to people of other professions so that they don't want to ask you out? I'm not trying to criticize or blame you—in fact, I think you should be applauded for being so receptive to the responses to your question. But I will echo what coolguymichael said, which I have also found true in my experience, if you keep attracting the same kind of person you should consider what you are doing to attract that sort of person, and perhaps what you are doing that does not attract the opposite of that sort of person.
posted by grouse at 2:02 PM on August 17, 2009


Who should I sleep with, Terry? Women like you? Your age? My age? I don't. You know why? 'Cause younger women are *nice*. You take them out, and they're actually grateful. "Oh look, a steak. Yummy." You go for a walk after dinner, the air smells nice, they say, "Thank you. This was *nice*. This was *fun*. You're *funny*. Tee-hee-hee." What should I do, Terry? Settle down and marry some pissed-off thing like you? I'd rather have someone come over and do *dental* work, *every day*, from my backside, up... through my *ass*! — Adam "Shep" Goodman, The Upside of Anger
posted by nicwolff at 2:04 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow nicwolff...anyway...I agree with Adam "Shep" Goodman. The expectations of the middle-aged-trophy-boyfriend being arduous, maybe I would like an easy *nice* and *fun* as well!

I think it was a legitmate question and I am glad I asked it because there were enough thoughtful, useful answers and a reality check of my own biases.

What I have learned from askmefi is "yes" a lot of, but not all, successful men my age do want that for reasons all stated above. And "yes" I should expand my dating circle.

You will have to take my word for it, I am attractive, have a good body and am nice (maybe doesn't seem so from my "attitude" but I am trying to real) but I am not satisfied with someone who values me solely for those superficial qualities (and yes, I consider "nice" to be a superficial quality).

Thanks again!
posted by Goodgrief at 3:06 PM on August 17, 2009


yes, I consider "nice" to be a superficial quality

After dating a mean person you might reconsider that. The men in your world may have been through some unpleasantness, which might cause them to value niceness above almost anything. I don't think that is superficial myself.

It seems you've mainly listed what you think are bad qualities to look for—what do you consider to be worthwhile qualities?
posted by grouse at 3:25 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I saw this thread earlier today, but it's been a long and busy Monday and I didn't have time to answer it until now.

Goodgrief (Charlie Brown), how good is your sense of humor? How often did you laugh at something today, honestly? How many times did you go out of your way to make someone smile and laugh or to flirt with a cashier or someone you meet waiting in line? The people who have the best relationships, in my experience, generally seem to be the ones who can build good relationships. Now, of course, not everyone's sunshine and bubbles every day, but you might need to think about the situations you have in your life and if you're happy with them. In this thread, you've seemed fairly bitter, and NO man wants to date someone who's bitter and abrupt, as Nicwolff's so ... delicately pointed out with his quote.

Also:
I want a relationship, but I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth, and maybe what I should look for is someone who is not competing financially or intellectually or whatever, and go for someone who will just blindly admire me like so many successful men seem to do. Now I see that doesn't seem rational unless I really just want admiration and not an equal partnership.
Well, how much of a chance are you giving them? How deep do you get into a man's mind to find out how he actually feels about you, and what do you say about yourself? In my recent dating experience, I've tended to pick something that I really like about a person and focus on it while we get to know each other. If you define yourself by your success, then it's logical for men to focus on your success first as they get to know you, and they'll focus on other things later.

I've dated a few women who are older than I am, and who are very successful. Actually, I don't think I've dated a woman in the past four or five years who didn't have or wasn't well on her way to a PhD. I'm certainly not well-educated, and I'm certainly not made of money, and I'm definitely not successful. I'm also not charming or funny, and I'm rarely in a good mood. What's worked is that we didn't expect those things of each other. I knew some of these wonderful women through very hard times in both of our lives, and the mutual comfort and support we could give each other. They valued my ability to listen and provide insights from angles they couldn't see, and loved the things that popped out of the massive amount of information I consume daily. I valued their company and the occasional reminder to eat and communicate with the outside world. Together, we formed something greater than just the sum of our personalities.

Of course, with one in particular, that wasn't supposed to happen. She'd actually picked me out as sort of a boy toy, because she liked the way I handled life and admired the volunteer work that I do. (I, of course, had no problem with that.) We surprised each other when we started to form a closer attachment, and she handled it with grace and good humor. We're still close friends and value the occasional times we get to see each other face to face, even though we've both are in or have been in other relationships since.

The questions that I think you need to ask yourself are: Are you happy? Would you be happy with someone else in your life? Why not? What do you need? What do you have to give? -- but be careful of using those to identify a 'type' of someone you want. It might be the chubby computer nerd who's largely clueless about the world in general who surprises you.

Feel free to MeFi Mail or email with further questions. I always seem to learn something from this kind of exchange.
posted by SpecialK at 4:04 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I should preview more often. Errata edition:

I knew some of these wonderful women through very hard times in both of our lives, and we valued the mutual comfort and support we could give each other.
posted by SpecialK at 4:08 PM on August 17, 2009


Grouse, I like you, you remind me of Alain de Botton. Anyway, in the words of Sondheim, "nice is different than good." Sometimes people are nice and mean at the same time if you know what I mean, haha.

I wouldn't date anyone who was mean, but I would rather date someone who was good than nice, though nice does have its place.
posted by Goodgrief at 4:43 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


yes, I consider "nice" to be a superficial quality

"Nice" may be a superficial quality, but it's often the tip of an iceberg of kindness, generosity, and respect for others.

"Rude" is generally the tip of an iceberg of entitlement, hostility, and rectal haberdashery.

The smart odds are always on "nice".
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:46 PM on August 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


Don't be on your "best behavior" (demure, passive, humble, etc.) on the first date. In fact, go straight your "worst behavior" (not subservient, intellectually challenging, argumentative, whatever). Basically, whatever it is that you do that alienates men who secretly want subservient women, you gotta do it RIGHT AWAY instead of hiding it then letting it slip out several dates later.

The men who find your spunk refreshing, can handle it, and are still attractive to you (that is, they do not react submissively if you are not looking for a submissive man), those are the keepers. Everyone, cut them loose after the first date -- no sense in wasting your time and theirs.

I'm surprised that you've had bad luck with lawyers! When I was single and dating, they seemed to the be the profession most attracted to (and able to handle) feisty women. Maybe you just got a bad batch?

It is true that in general [WARNING: BROAD GENERALIZATION] that women tend to be attracted to men more successful/accomplished than them, and men like to be able to be "heroes" to their mates in some way. If this generalization applies to your own dating life, and you are having problems because you are more successful/accomplished/assertive than 99% of people, then you just need to find and date men who are more accomplished than 99.5% or whatever.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:14 PM on August 17, 2009


I think maybe this whole equal-partner thing is a myth

There's equal, and there's equal... I think partners in a relationship should be equals, but that doesn't mean they should be the same [a bit like the distinction between "equality of opportunity" and "equality of outcome"].

Two type A personalities who end up trying to dominate each other is an equality that will not end well. A more successful coupling is where partners tend to compliment each other. Some commonality of interests and outlook is good, but a couple shouldn't be trying to compete with one another.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:36 PM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm less bothered about objective physical attractiveness and finances - the most miserable dating experiences I've had were with people lacking in ambition, less intelligent than me, or without a sense of humour. I once dated someone who was very very clever indeed (he is now a maths professor) but like you was very confused about dating, what he wanted, and what men and women were meant to be (nb this wasn't the reason we broke up - he just wasn't for me). However, I never got the impression he wanted a partner who he could intellectually best. I imagine that would get depressing fast.
posted by mippy at 6:12 AM on August 18, 2009


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