Is it possible to just be too damn awesome?
November 26, 2006 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to just be too damn awesome?

I'm a woman in her early 30s and I've been single a long time - since my mid-20s.

When I was younger I had relationships of varying lengths, from several months to several years. I took a break quite intentionally in order to go back to school, focus on myself, deal with depression: to get my house in order. I thought that I might spend a year or two alone, grow as a person, and then smoothly resume dating like normal people, but somehow, years later, I find myself a spinster.

I'm doing all the stuff that people say you should. The time I've spent alone has been enriching, and I have a good life, a good career, good friends, and many things going for me. I enjoy spending time alone, but I have hobbies, take a continuing ed class, and take good care of myself physically. I'm generally well-liked and well-regarded. I'm no beauty queen but I'm reasonably attractive, I'm sexually driven and confident, and I am intelligent with interesting thoughts. Many people, when discussing relationships and singledom, have expressed amazement and confusion that such an eligible lady as I has been alone for so long.

Meanwhile, I've taken every approach out there:

"Get out there and take on new hobbies."
"It'll find you when you've stopped looking."
"It's OK to pursue him. Ask him out."
"Men don't want to be asked out. Wait for him to ask."
"He can't read your mind, be up-front that you're interested."
"Just tell him you want to fuck."

Still, I'm perpetually, firmly, unfortunately single.

Over the years I've gone through periods of sadness where I bang my head on the wall trying to figure out why I can't be loved. During a couple of these periods whilst talking to male friends, it has been posited to me that I intimidate men by being too awesome. I seem confident and have my shit together, and either I don't seem like I need anyone, or I otherwise scare men away.

I think it's an interesting theory, but I'm inclined to think that these men were just answering the question the only kind way possible.

Is it a real possibility? Could I be too much for men? Has building character and becoming a richer person made me unlovable?

On the flip side, would men generally prefer that I be more helpless, less capable?

I know that no one here can tell me why I'm apparently unappealing. I just want to know if my friends' theory could possibly be true, if it's a known phenomenon - and if it is, how on earth to proceed in the hopes of someday finding a partner again. I don't need a man to be complete, but everyone needs affection. It's been years for me and I'm withering without.

[questions can be sent to]
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (65 answers total) 96 users marked this as a favorite

This threat wins my award for best Front-page post ever. It made me laugh and I couldn't resist coming inside. If I wasn't already married, I'd be on my way to find you right now!

I do think there's something to what your friends are saying, though naturally I can't tell whether or not it applies to you. Some people (too many!) are intimidated by impressive people. And many men are intimidated by impressive women. I can't prove this of course, but I've seen it over and over.

God I hate blowing my own horn, and God knows I have my faults, but I'm a pretty accomplished guy. I can discuss just about any topic, I've written several books, I've had a bunch of careers, etc. And yes there have been plenty of people who have gotten intimidated by me. But that's NOTHING compared to the number of people -- men mostly -- who have been intimidated by my accomplished wife.

It makes sense, and I even have some sympathy for those people. You know what many people want? A quiet life! They don't want to struggle to keep up; they don't want to compete all the time; they don't want to feel stupid. Alas, I've learned that no matter how hard you try to be kind and unsnobbish, a certain number of people will resent you just for your accomplishments.

However: there ARE people out there who are attracted to smart, successful, accomplished people. (There's nothing I like more than being around people who are smarter than me!) You need to find them. And currently you don't know how. I don't have a specific suggestion for you, but I suggest you use the same skills that allowed you to become successful in other areas. Really WORK on meeting people who are attracted to awesome people.

Use online tools, and not just dating services. Join discussion groups, etc. I was once looking for new (platonic) friends, so I put an ad on Craigslist. My ad was about five-pages long, describing myself in detail, my interests, accomplishments, etc. The length and detail were great sifters. I got a few emails from people saying I should have written something shorter, and I'm sure that for each of those, there were dozens of people who just looked at it and thought, "Christ! Life is too short!" But I also got some really good, thoughtful replies, and I'm still friends with some of those people.

Lastly, you say you're in your early 30s. For someone like you -- someone who has been working hard on herself and who is not going to enjoy dating any Tom, Dick or Harry -- that's not surprisingly old to be single. I didn't find love until I was 30 -- my wife didn't until she was in her very late 20s -- and now we've been married for 10 years. 20-something people are especially intimidated by high flyers. But when people reach their 30s, they tend to get a bit more confident. So you may have more luck, now that you and your dating pool are older.

I feel for you, because I know what you're going through. If you want to discuss it further or brainstorm ideas, my email is in my profile.

Good luck!
posted by grumblebee at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2006 [6 favorites]

(This THREAD wins my award...)

posted by grumblebee at 7:49 AM on November 26, 2006

Is it a real possibility? Could I be too much for men? Has building character and becoming a richer person made me unlovable?

Not a chance.

On the flip side, would men generally prefer that I be more helpless, less capable?

No man you would want to be with.

Relax, don't obsess on your singleness and, according to Amir Aczel, if you just keep dating, the odds are surprisingly good that your soul mate will turn up. Indeed, "[y]ou will maximize your probability of finding the best spouse if you date thirty-seven percent of the available candidates in your life, and then choose to stay with the next candidate who is better than all previous ones."
posted by three blind mice at 7:49 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

I'm afraid I'm not much help, but I get the same thing.
posted by awesomebrad at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2006

To answer your question: not really, sorry. Your friends are being nice.

Perhaps you should go on more dates. Or is it that you're going on first dates but they're not leading to second dates? More information here would help (email's in profile, if you feel inclined to supply it).
posted by myeviltwin at 7:52 AM on November 26, 2006

three blind mice's number comes from analysis of a mathematical problem where you have to choose the best "thing" but you only get to see the "things" in sequence and not compare them side-by-side. It turns out the best strategy is to look at the first n candidates, discard them all and then take the best one that comes after all those. I forget how to calculate n, but the analysis is out there somewhere.

Anyway, I don't know if I'd take tht advice too literally, but it is funny to think that there's a mathematician out there slaving away, trying to solve your dating problems.
posted by GuyZero at 7:58 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

would men generally prefer that I be more helpless, less capable?

Men can be intimidated by confident women; I know some who've been so relieved when the object of their affections have shown some vulnerability - it allows them to play the hero.

On the other hand, there are men who are disgusted by "sudden emotional vulnerability" in women who otherwise seem to have it together.

Both these types of men (or women) are idiots and aren't worth your time.

Keep doing what you're doing. Keep being who you are. If you get into a situation where you like a man, then maybe review your behaviour.

Are you being too jocular when he's trying to say something serious? Are you on your first date and enthusing a little too much about your incredibly fulfilling, busy life? Might he take that as a warning not to ask you out again? I'm not saying that either of these scenarios are accurate; just trying to follow your train of thought.

Also, you don't specify whether you're dating at all, and if you are, where you're meeting these men.

If you haven't already, you could try online dating. You might meet someone who appreciates your rich life and your resilient, brave, self sufficient nature.

I'm not sure how helpful my advice is. The only thing I know is that when you're single it can feel like the world's divided into creeps, attached men, and indifferent men. It's when you're attached that everyone seems to want you!

Just please don't compromise who you are. It won't work out in the long run.
posted by unmusic at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Have you done volunteer work? Have you done anything other than think about yourself. The best way to have people enjoy you is to enjoy yourself. Is it possible you really are a bore? An educated, intelligent bore.
It seems you are very self aware (I dare not say self centered). If you think you are to awesome believe me when I say that you are NOT. That is a given. Ta.
posted by JayRwv at 8:06 AM on November 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

Is it possible to just be too damn awesome?


Has building character and becoming a richer person made me unlovable?


I think it is fabulous and wonderfully mature of you to take a break from relationships to find and improve yourself. That takes a lot of strength and discipline.

Something is happening here. Either you are coming across too strong and invulnerable, or you aren't flirting and conversing in a way to attract men.

In the dating world you are selling yourself. Like it or not your appearance counts--a lot. The way you pull yourself together can communicate more than words. Learn to use your assets to your advantage, and make the most of what you got. Think neat, crisp, and clean. What is your hair like? How about your clothes, accessories, and make-up? You don't and shouldn't have to be a fashion plate, but if you haven't had your hair cut in ages, or it's an unflattering style, or your skin is a mess, or you wear too much make-up etc. it could send the wrong signals. Are you exercising? Would you choose you if you were a man? Dating is hugely competitive and you have to put together a package that sells.

You sound like you have your act together, but there could be some things that turn people off that you may not be aware of. Things like being too serious , catty, critical, boring, etc. Maybe your sadness or desperation to get a date is coming through. Maybe it's not, but just something to think about. You don't sound catty or critical or boring, but these are examples of turn-offs and sometimes people aren't aware that they are coming across this way.

Never estimate good listening skills. Really listen and shut the conversation off in your head. When you truly listen to a person it conveys that you care about about the person and what he has to say.

You may be doing everything right, but those are my suggestions.

And may I add, never, never ask a man that you are attracted to that you just want to fuck. I don't care what anybody says--don't come on too strong. Let men pursue you. They will.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:08 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have had the same problem and never actually realized it was my problem. Having been single forever, I thought that I was just kind of....defective. I once met this guy and thought it was going well - until it didn't. A mutual friend finally told me that said guy had told him: "She's so intimidating. She has her shit together, has accomplished so much in her career, have multiple degrees, has travelled the world - I just can't fit into that." I was totally blown away - and since this incident, similar things have been said to me by several men/friends over relationships that haven't worked out - or even begun, really.

So yes - men can find this difficut, but not all men. Men who don't find this intimidating but in fact, are attracted to it DO exist. I have recently met a couple of them...hallelujah!

On the flip side, would men generally prefer that I be more helpless, less capable?
Maybe some. but not any man you're going to be attracted to! Patience is not a virtue I possess, but waiting for the right guy who doesn't think you are too awesome isn't going to make you or I a spinster.
posted by meerkatty at 8:18 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Either you are coming across too strong and invulnerable, I don't want this statement to be misunderstood. I don't believe you should pretend to be a fragile, incapable, airhead. I mean that you may be coming across too strong in your interest in dating. On the flipside you may be acting like one of the guys, and they don't know if you are interested in dating.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:18 AM on November 26, 2006

Are you dating older guys? Younger guys? Or guys right in your age range? There's this (un)sweet spot right around early-mid 30s I found where the guys that were the same age as me were coming out of long term relationships and they weren't looking for strong confident women to get into a relationship with -- they were looking for short-term, rebound babes. I started looking at older men and younger men as possibilities -- older guys who had been out of a relationship for a while and had worked through their rebound phase and younger guys who were more open to a relationship. And I ended up with a guy 7 years younger than me and we've now been together almost 7 years. So there's another option for you -- broaden your age range options if you aren't already. Good luck!
posted by macadamiaranch at 8:21 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Maybe you have confidence mixed up with aggressiveness? The former is attractive, the latter less so, especially if you seem like you're always trying to prove something. I think trying to cultivate a more relaxed attitude might really help you.
posted by teleskiving at 8:26 AM on November 26, 2006

One of the things that attracted me to my husband was his quiet confidence and his ability to embrace his faults as well as his strong points. A self-deprecating sense of humor in an intelligent, good-looking, talented person can be very attractive.

I'm not saying that you have to badmouth yourself or lower yourself somehow, but acknowledging your own vulnerabilities lets other people let down their guard show theirs, which creates comfort and closeness. I think that a lot of what's in relationships comes down to letting down your guard and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with someone else.

Good luck.
posted by christinetheslp at 8:29 AM on November 26, 2006 [5 favorites]

I get that it was said tongue in cheek, but even so, your question of "am I too damn awesome" can have only one answer. Even playful, self-deprecating narcissism is a severe drag to be around after a very short while. There is a very fine line between "confidence" and "why Mahir is funny."

Think it over for a moment; what, realistically, do you think is more likely to wear out people: actually being dynamic and interesting, or thinking that you're dynamic and interesting?
posted by dong_resin at 8:35 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sigh. I have to study for finals and so I'm not going to make a bunch of point-by-point rebuttals, but I think you need to consider the possibility that all of the posters who are saying "no, it's not possible to be too awesome" are not so much... correct. At least not for every context, and possibly not for yours.

I go to a prestigious law school, and I have lots of friends here who are single women in their mid to late 20s. Almost without exception, they say that telling men where they go to school is the kiss of death - it shuts down a conversation like nothing else. And these are casual, chatty conversations, where, regardless of their true inner nature, no one had yet had a chance to come off as "too serious, catty, critical, boring, etc."

So in a way, yes, it is possible to be too awesome. A lot of men are absolutely intimidated (or just plain scared) of accomplished, intelligent, self-sufficient women. And no matter how often someone says that "no one you want to be with" would be intimidated by you, it still knocks out a large proportion of the population and can really make life suck, day-to-day, if you're interested in being with someone.

Now, there are several ways to respond to this. You could assume that, since you're too awesome, you should become less awesome. This might lead you to develop some kind of Tragic Flaw, like a coke problem and an eating disorder, that would allow some man to feel stronger and more capable than you, and at the same time tell all the other guys what an awesome chick he's banging. As you may have surmised, I don't think this is the way to go.

Instead, you may have to resign yourself to the idea that you're too awesome for most people, and that, as an intelligent, accomplished woman, your dating pool has basically shrunk to very intelligent, accomplished men. Most of my friends here (the ones who aren't still stuck in your very situation) end up with doctors or I-bankers; this is probably the crowd you're looking at. Maybe lawyers, executives, professors. People at the top of their field.

The problem is finding single ones, and for that, location matters a lot. I don't know where you live, but hopefully it's somewhere coastal and urban; your search is probably not going to go well in Peoria. But if you can find your way to New York, San Francisco, Boston, or someplace like that, you should find a substantial crowd of people who went to grad school and dove straight into their careers and still find themselves single and looking at 30-ish.

So I guess what I'm saying is that yes, you probably are too good for most guys, you'd probably have better luck with executives and professionals, and they're most likely to be single in the major coastal cities. If you're already trying all these things, then just keep it up because you're on the right track.
posted by rkent at 8:47 AM on November 26, 2006 [8 favorites]

Definitely an interesting thread. And I would say excellent suggestions all around.

I know a lot of women like you. I married one. But the one thing that singled her out the most to me was her sense of humor. Our ability to get through day to day life of both small things and large is the ability to laugh at life and each other. Neither of us are flippant, mind you, and we don't always succeed in find the best in situations, but the we try hard. We kid at each out our minor and major foibles and we we laugh at each other a lot.

I have always thought the key element in finding someone you get along with is finding someone that can make you laugh at yourself, not take yourself too seriously, and still feel like they're being human about it (and not vicious or cruel). In fact, that would be my only concern in finding someone on equal footing. I work with a lot of "confident" people who are so single-minded in their pursuits that it is to the exclusivity of treating other people around them like human beings. They have their shit together, but they also are impatient and angry to everyone they work with (I work with a very competitive scientific community). They don't have a empathetic sense of humor about other people's weaknesses or their own. So my primary concern is that if you want to find someone that is compassionate and caring but also equally footed on your set quotient of awesomeness then be aware that they may put a lot more things before you. If you're aware of that and ok with that, then I agree with meerkaty that there are men like that out there, but expect that you and that person will be equally wedged into each other's lives as time permits if you have successful careers that you are both pursuing.

Or you could always hook up with a house husband slacked who want to read philosophy all day. ;) (That was my plan, and now my wife with the PhD in a hot science field has decided the field sucks. DOH! Ah, c'est la vie, she's a cutie so can pursue whatever makes her happy.)
posted by smallerdemon at 8:59 AM on November 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

My best friend and ex-girlfriend is in this same situation. The reason that we're each other exes and still best friends are that we're both pretty awesome... we just don't work out in a relationship because I'm a sonofabitch and she can't take no as an answer when I'm busy with something else and she wants attention.

What has struck her down is that she doesn't have that open of a mind about dating. She's 26, graduating from vet school in the spring, and is drop-dead gorgeous in both a "going out on the town" and "I'm a real cowgirl" kinda way. But she has a very clear idea of what her ideal man is, and she's out to find him come hell and high water. She has VERY high expectations, and isn't open to adjusting them ... OK, well, she'll SAY she's open to adjusting them, but deep down inside the adjustment never takes.

No, guys don't want a helpless blonde bimbo. I've dated one, they're way too much work for the payoff. But we also don't want a cougar -- a woman who thinks she's a spinster who's on the prowl. That just leaves most guys feeling stalked and creepy ... and damnit, WE'RE supposed to be the ones doing the stalking! (ok, that came out wrong, but you get the idea.)

So. You might try playing it coy a little bit. You might also try to not come on so strong, unless you can find a guy who comes on as strong as you do. You came across as QUITE cocky in the post -- it's difficult to know how you come off in real life from an post, but it might be worth asking a guy you can trust how you come off to other guys.

I'd second using some online dating to get back into the swing of things. I've used before, if you're in a big city you might also try Craigslist. I'd also second sitting back and playing it cool for a while, and getting to know some guys without them feeling like you're evaluating their genetics.

Oh, and don't be afraid to date some younger guys to get back into the swing of things. One of my close friends dated a woman from his yoga class who is ten years older than he is, ... she was just out to get back into dating after completing her doctorate, and they ended up married.

Email's in the profile if you want to bounce any comments back at me.
posted by SpecialK at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2006 [5 favorites]

The way sounds is that there really isn't a place for someone else in your life as it stands. This is nothing to do with men wanting to be the provider or wear the trousers or any other gender politics bullshit, but if you're inviting someone into your life, you have to actually give them something to do that you can't do by yourself. "Intimidated" is a really bad word to be using to describe this.

I can't offer any solutions though.
posted by cillit bang at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

We're never as awesome as we think we are, never.

Hope this helps. Also, what dong resin said.
posted by matteo at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

To answer your question: No, there is no such thing as being too awesome.

There is definitely such a thing as *thinking* that you're too damn awesome, and I've seen several bright, attractive, stable professional women in their 30's make bad choices based on that. Specifically, they regularly try to date men who have "player" written all over them, telling themselves that the guy just hasn't met the right woman yet, and that they, naturally will be the last station on that train.

I don't know if that applies to you or not, but in any case you might want to look at the men you've been choosing to date and see if you aren't sabotaging yourself.
posted by tkolar at 9:12 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I bang my head on the wall trying to figure out why I can't be loved.

This jumped out at me, from your description. It seems like, other than the lack of a relationship, your life is pretty great. You have some great friends, do interesting things and mostly like your own mind and life. On the other hand the lack of relationship appears to distress you and cause you to doubt yourself and doubt [and that whole idea of not being deserving of love, etc] is in and of itself unattractive.

I have your problem, to some extent, but without the head-bashing-wall part of it. And, not to read too much into what you are saying, but the fact that you don't seem to need a partner to have an awesome life may be part of the hurdle of finding a partner. I'm not saying "go be more vulnerable" at all, but there's a problem with having a life that is so full and otherwise complete that it's hard for people to envision themselves as being a part of it. If your life is awesome, why do you want a partner? I'm sure there is a good answer to that, but think long and hard about what it is, because it will help you plan.

My last two serious relationships, in hindsight, suffered from me being so into ME, and sort of waiting for cues from my partner that they wanted time for them -- assuming they'd just ask, as I would -- that I may have missed some things, not been who they wanted in a partner in that way. I see this as sometimes a boy/girl problem with really strong women, but that doesn't solve your problem, does it? I have a groupie theory, that superstar men attract people who, among other things, want to have sex with them or partner with them. Superstar women often attract men who want to BE them which is not always the best foundation for a relationship. I know that at least some of the men that I am attracted to think I'm "out of their league" and I'm never sure what to do about that, since I know it not to be true. I have my own idiocies and foibles like everyone else, sometimes it may be a good idea if I'm more forthright about them.

If you're not some super hottie, it's harder to just put a female vibe out there and see who picks it up, as you age. That sort of thing works for women in their 20s pretty much no matter what type of person they are and I think it can be hard to readjust the "I'm looking" vibe to take that into account.

I've always felt like there are a few parts to that readjustment.

- be honest with people about what you're looking for (companionship, dating, a partner, kids, im buddy) and think some about what you'd need to make your life feel complete.
- figure out how much a partner needs to be like you and how much it's okay if they're different and aim accordingly. also adjust what you're looking for to take into account what you really need (i.e. if someone needs to be good in bed, go LOOKING for that, don't just be psyched when you accidentaly find it, this is esp true with where you fall on the kids/family continuum)
- be honest with yourself about who you are and what things you can and can't or will and won't change. try for realistic. (if you're no beauty queen that's fine, but are you okay with that? does it show? do you like how your body looks? do you like how/where you live? do you like your job? do you have the relationship you want with friends/family?)
- the line between assertive and aggressive is important
- the line between "a little lonely" and "desperately unhappy being alone" is important
- put it on a scale with the other things in your life. If finding a partner is The Most Important Thing right now, do what you need to do to make it happen. Move, date, put up personal ads, get a new job, haircut, friends, hobby, whatever. When you start making that list, of what you might need to change to just flat out handle the problem (and if you're super cabpable, this IS within your control, it just is, it totally is, it is, keep saying that, you know it's true).

If you're single and you don't want to be, some part of your equation isn't working. I think the "awesome woman" angle could be part of it, but isn't the real problem because awesome women date and marry and find partners all the time. Dig deeper and ask yourself, just like AskMetafilter "what is the problem you're trying to solve" Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2006 [10 favorites]

First of all: Dude. You are not a "spinster" if you're unmarried as a woman in your early 30s.

Second: You need to chill out. Yes, it seems weird that you have been without a guy for so many years, especially as you are attractive and without any heinous personality flaws. But there are plenty of attractive, smart, funny women out there without men. (There are plenty of attractive, smart, funny men without women, too.)

Shit happens. Planets don't align. The forces of the universe don't toss you into the path of the eligible guy who frequents your gym, etc. etc. A huge percentage of meeting the right person is luck.

It seems like you're overthinking your singledom, and attributing it to something you've done wrong or something wrong with you, when -- to be honest -- you don't have all that much control over it. As long as you're doing what you can to get out and meet people generally -- and not sitting around your apartment crying into your cornflakes -- you're doing as much as you really can to put yourself in the path of potentially compatible people.

You can't really force this stuff. Keep doing what you're doing, and maybe you'll have that one lucky day. Good luck.
posted by hazelshade at 9:26 AM on November 26, 2006 [7 favorites]

For what it's worth, I found what I wanted in the short term by looking and I found what I was found what I needed in the long term by not looking - total fluke. Little did I know that by dressing up as the victim of tiger attack I had a portable conversation starter with a plastics engineer about molding and casting.

Everyone's story is going to be slightly different and yours will be no exception. In the meantime, it can be frustrating, depressing, aggravating, annoying, and embittering. If you can avoid letting that get to you, it's a matter of being open to that new person and the possibilities that he will bring.
posted by plinth at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2006

Fear not, smart woman

You can be too awesome in that the things you like best about yourself are not the things that the eligible bachelors around you are looking for. That's not a reason to change those things, but I'll admit it can inspire frustration and nights of boy-bashing and indulgence in ice cream.

I do think, however, that many of the women I know who struggle with this (myself included, perhaps) just don't know how to flirt. It doesn't come naturally. I would rather discuss issues with people than ... whatever flirting consists of. Maybe you're good to go with the overt things, but you're missing the subtle unconscious stuff? You say you enjoy spending time alone, so I'll assume that you're an introvert and small talk doesn't come naturally. Maybe this is a bigger part of the picture than one would assume.
posted by heatherann at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2006

Do I know you? I do know someone who has expressed some of the same frustrations. I wonder, have you really, truly, asked your friends to be brutally honest with you about why they think you're having trouble? Because if not, they are probably trying not to hurt your feelings. And so you may be missing out on some important information.

In the case of the woman I know, I have often suspected that her singlehood is due to two things. One, she seems to expect an instant connection, to *know* about a guy the first time she meets him, and thus drastically limits her options. Second: she's obsessed with bettering her SELF. Sometimes "getting your house in order" can lead to a whole lotta narcissism.

Regardless, I think insisting your friends have a TRULY honest conversation may help.

In terms of my experience, I disagree with the woman above who said you should date the high-achieving professional types. Those are the types of guys who seem to have some sort of "checklist" and expect you too, as well. They also may be less interested in similarly high achieving women because of the reduncancy factor. The most interesting guys I meet (and I am married, so this is "meeting" in a non-dating way) are artists, musicians, carpenters, and entrepreneurs. These guys are not intimidated by high-achieving women, and they're awfully fun.
posted by miss tea at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2006 [5 favorites]

First of all, no, you can't be too damn awesome for all men. I'm sure it's possible to be too damn awesome for many men - it's not a myth that many men are intimidated by confident, successful women. For one thing, men often like to feel needed, and it's harder to feel needed when a woman has everything together. However, there are plenty of men out there who relish a strong, awesome woman, and those are the men for you. Now, I think I'm a pretty good catch too, but that doesn't mean I'm great at everything, or always strong, and that works out because my boyfriend likes to help me with things and cheer me up when I'm down, etc. And vice versa.

I go to a prestigious law school, and I have lots of friends here who are single women in their mid to late 20s. Almost without exception, they say that telling men where they go to school is the kiss of death - it shuts down a conversation like nothing else.

At the very least, I think this has to do with social scene, and milieu. Where I went to (a prestigious) law school, I never once got that reaction - much more commonly it seemed to increase men's estimations of me - they seemed to respond positively because they thought I was smart. So I don't think this is a given at all.

Over all, my hunch is that you may have a forceful presence, personality, and that might be hard to take in large doses. Maybe you just need to chill. Obviously, since I don't know anything else about you, I might be completely wrong on this, but I'm just thinking of the women I know in your situation, and sometimes I think they come off as awfully intense, which can be fantastic in a friend and short term, but I would never want to date someone like that. So maybe just learn to really relax and stop "working" on everything. Anyway, good luck and you do sound pretty awesome (especially the time you took off for yourself), so I'm sure it'll work out soon.
posted by Amizu at 10:11 AM on November 26, 2006


Just curious... why do you choose who you choose? Who have you been interested in, attached or not? What made them attractive to you and did you get any reciprical feedback or intuit any reactions from them? Do you get the sense that you do indeed, chase people off?

Do you have any history of a successful relationship? What did it look like? Did your parents demonstrate one?

What have you done to apply the same level of study to mating behavior / coupling that compares to the other areas where you have spent effort? You do know it's a separate field, and not just random experience, right? There's a fair amount of info on why we choose who we choose and what advertisements we make consciously and with subtext. It's subject to analysis.

Where do you hang out? You can't catch fish in the desert, and if you aren't hanging out where there are candidates, you just have to wait for the doorbell to ring, and that's pretty passive.

Have you inventoried the kind of person that you are interested in? Are you at all interested in non-conventional relationships?

Persistent problems usually have indentifiable solutions in my experience. It just requires doing something else for a while... the 'try a bunch of stuff and keep what works' approach. Converge on the desired state through observation/measurement, adjustment, and analysis. I know it sounds like engineering, (wonder why?!) but you sound perfectly lovely to me and I'd be surprised with your assets if you couldn't solve this problem.

As to 'too awesome', I vote NO with most other folks. Any man intimidated by a powerful, intellectual or effective woman isn't worth much, IMO.

Good luck! Don't lose your optimism. Despair is not an option.
posted by FauxScot at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Before I met my current boss/mentor, this would never have come to mind, but she was in something of your position about two years ago and was driving herself crazy by trying to date people who were initimidated by her.

She got on eHarmony and participated, and met the man that she married. They're very happy together and they likely would never know the other person was out there without the internets. So they also have very good things to say about how it all works within the website, and so I suppose that I do too, by proxy. Even though it's just AskMefi.
So I'm not telling you to settle down and stay the course, just not to drive yourself crazy by not using all the resources that you have.
posted by lilithim at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2006

You sound like the type of woman I'd like to meet, but haven't been, of late.

But... I know many men who are intimidated by powerful women (by that I mean supremely confident, accomplished, intelligent, etc.), though they rarely admit it and deny it when confronted. I know they feel this way because they've often made weird remarks when I've dated such women ("I don't know how you can date X--she'd eat me alive." etc.).

That said, those men are definitely in the minority. One thing, however, is that you need to make it clear you're single. I think that most people, when they encounter such a person of either gender, just assume they're taken.

Also, I'm currently reading The Year of Yes and finding it fun and interesting and it's making me wonder if perhaps I say No too often and am perhaps too judgemental. You might want to check it out.
posted by dobbs at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Don't know if this shoe will fit, but "you're too awesome" may be your friend's way of telling you that in the past few years, you've taken on the positive, "can do" spirit of self-improvement (giving 110%, soaring like an eagle, eyes on the prize, etc). And while that is awesome in many senses, this can seem like an impenetrable shell to crack for a new person wondering if they could have a real connection with you.
posted by the jam at 10:44 AM on November 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

Perfectly awesome men may get to know you and think "there goes my Sundays watching football" or something. Maybe they will think you are uncompromising in a way that any person in any relationship needs to be, or so busy that there is no time for them, nor any time for just hanging out. Maybe watching football is a deal breaker for you, but the urge to have downtime runs deep and emerges in many different forms: be aware you may appear to be busy in a way that threatens leisure.

I totally disagree that men who are worth anything wouldn't be intimidated by your awesomeness. I feel I am worth something, I am pretty high achieving, financially yaddayadda, and yet, I am not a very aggressive male, I don't enjoy the company of aggressive people, some people are intimidating and others intimidate: you don't have to be a spineless wretch to prefer the company of the mild mannered, sensitive souls of the world. Such people may or may not be your type; it sounds like you aren't their's either. But know this: they are strong people and good, and a large part of the community of men, and you may unintentionally be making yourself fundamentally unattractive to them.

And, if as mentioned, you are going through the cookbook of how to get a mate (be active, volunteer, stay in shape....) then it is entirely possible you are seeing yourself as a set of ingredients - and not as the whole person others react to as a first impression.

I also agree with those who say "am I too awesome", even as a "read back" form your male friends, is an odd and perhaps revealing way of expressing yourself. personally, I have a very finely tuned princess detector, and when it goes off, so do I. In my experience many high achieving people - male or female - develop an exaggerated sense of themselves, a personal mythos, and this can play out very obviously as contempt for "lessers", an unwillingness to listen, a contempt for "weakness" -- or it can play out much less obviously as an insidious, low-level judgmentalism about people. This can eliminate too many people from your dating pool; it can also make people still in your pool wonder if being driven reveals a self-centredness.

Also, those men may indeed have been answering the question the only way they could: it's a fine line between "I am wonderful in all these ways, why, oh male friend, am I single?" and "does my ass look fat in these jeans?".

Anyway, dear anonymous, a forum like this is bound to lead into misinterpretation, and I only know you by your words. I expect you have just not yet met that partner with whom you click, and I wish you luck, and fun searching.
posted by Rumple at 10:52 AM on November 26, 2006 [4 favorites]

Whether you are really too awesome or not, it sounds like you aren't even getting into the chance of a relationship. You need to arrange dates for yourself (swallow your pride and get online ASAP), and be the best dater you can be. Seriously. With a halfway decent picture and a funny, literate profile (get your friends to review it), you will have a date by next week. Sign up on multiple sites if you have the time. Online dating is a haven for intelligent people who are looking for someone exactly like you. Some advice from someone who has been there (also a woman):
--Look your best in pictures online and in person (ask friends for help if you're unsure). Looking somewhat sexy is not a bad thing, especially if you have the brains to offset any ideas about you being a bimbo.
--Let men contact you; it's easier on your ego not to be turned down by men who seem cool from their profiles and either ignore you or turn out to be players.
--Be as lighthearted and entertaining as possible and express genuine interest in the person you are meeting. The first date is just a chance to meet someone and shake off nerves. If there's mutual interest, go out with them twice (let them ask). People are generally a lot cooler on the second or third date when they aren't as nervous. Or, they get boring fast, and you leave with a clear idea of how little you like them.
--Tell everyone you know what you are doing. People love playing matchmaker if they know that you are really serious about dating and looking for someone.

And question the friends that say that you are "too awesome" to appeal to men. That's a really shitty thing to say to a friend. Your friends should be your cheerleaders, consoling you after bad dates (i.e. explaining why the men aren't awesome enough for you) and giving you advice to present yourself in the best possible way.

And you are allowed to admit despair/desparation to your close friends, but do you best not to project this. It's really icky to people who don't know you well. You know--really, don't you?--that your life will continue to be awesome with or without a man. A good man will add to your life, but you will enjoy it with or without one.

Good luck! You do sound like a really awesome woman, and I'm certain that there are many men out there who would thank their lucky stars if they got the chance to be in a relationship with you. It's up to you to find them, and introduce yourself.
posted by tk at 11:15 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

the urge to have downtime runs deep

This has been a key concept in my life -- it's something that separates me from many people and turns people away from me: I don't do downtime.

I'm pretty much always "on", which for me DOESN'T mean perky or outgoing (I'm a major introvert), but it does mean that I'm always thinking, talking, reading, listening to serious music, doing a project, multi-tasking, etc.

I've been described as "exhausting." Maybe that's true about you, too, anon.

I'm not sure if there's a solution. I LIKE that aspect of myself and doubt I could change it if I wanted to. I'm addicted to learning and hate the idea of "wasting" a mental minute. I'm not crazy about smalltalk -- shooting the shit about the game -- because that's less time I could be spending talking about philosophy, history, literature, science, etc. But I can see how -- especially in large doses -- this could be a turnoff.

I've accepted it about myself, and I've accepted that I'm never going to be to everyone's taste. So I work hard to cultivate the relationships that I DO have.
posted by grumblebee at 11:35 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Could your standards be too high?

You know how so many awesome men date women whose resumes aren't as accomplished as their own? Try the same thing. Remember, you're looking for a good person, not a pedigree.

Let me tell you about three highly successful, highly paid women that I know:

1. Degree from an Ivy League school, high-paying, high-profile job, does community service, plays sports, reads relentlessly, lots of friends, super smart. She'll only date "successful" men, whose resumes are in the same league as her own. She's had her heart broken repeatedly by guys scared off by her big salary and her accomplishments.

2. Degree from a top public university, high-paying job with a Fortune 500 company, travels the world, involved in her community. She dates widely, but has high ambitions for the men she's involved with. She ended a four-year relationship with a guy she loved because she was frustrated that he didn't seem interested in going back to school, finishing his degree and ambitiously pursuing a career. She ended another relationship with a guy who complained that work was sucking him dry and he was thinking of taking time off to spend more time with family and in spiritual contemplation.

3. Degree from a top public university, hired away from one company to another in a competitive field, outgoing extravert, gorgeous, book-a-holic. She thought she'd never date a guy who hadn't been to college, until she met a carpet layer who swept her off her feet. He's a kind, loving man, who has a lot of respect for his wife's kick-ass brains. They have a beautiful daughter together. I love being around them, because they clearly have so much respect for one another.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:41 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Are you sure your awesomeness doesn't [accidentally] look like one-upsmanship?

Say you just got back from Paris. Your date, meanwhile, just got back from Cleveland. The two of you start swapping stories: he's got a funny one about getting stuck in a McDonald's drive-thru, you've got one about a café on the Left Bank. He's got one about the traffic on I-90, you've got one about the first-class lounge in the Charles de Gaulle Airport. He's got one about this movie he saw in his motel room, you've got one about going to the opera. By the end of the night, you're thinking, "What a nice guy! We've got so much in common!" and he's thinking, "Why's she gotta act so superior? She must think I'm lower than dirt." You know what I mean?

Lots of people have preconcieved notions about what's "interesting." Most people assume that Paris is more interesting than Cleveland. You may be a great listener, but man, you've gotta act extra-fascinated if you want him to understand that you like his Cleveland stories just as much as he likes your Paris stories.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:44 AM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

I'm going to admit that your resume and assertiveness are irrelevant. You seem to be treating getting into a relationship as if it were getting into a law school. We have a name for women such as that, "down the line". They just go down the line (top undergrad, top law school, then they want a husband and kids that fit into their world). Nothing wrong with this and it may not be you, but you do give off that vibe. My best advice is to forget about getting into a relationship. Treat everything as a fling and just have fun. It will happen, counter-intuitively, when you aren't looking. Other advice that counters this may work if your only end goal is to find a relationship.
posted by geoff. at 11:52 AM on November 26, 2006

Little did I know that by dressing up as the victim of tiger attack I had a portable conversation starter with a plastics engineer about molding and casting

I had to read that 3 times to be sure it wasn't the output of one of those automated gobbledygook generators...

My thought here is "find a Heinlein fan"; we tend to like that sort of woman.
posted by baylink at 11:53 AM on November 26, 2006

In my experience, yes, many guys can be intimidated by women who have ther shit together. At the same time I have found it is possible to be too intense or busy or serious or focused for a lot of folks. That doesn't necessarily mean there is anything wrong with you, but it does mean that meeting the right person might take a bit longer. Have hope, though: I am intense and crazy and after years of wondering if something was wrong with me, I found someone sick enough to appreciate that. Besides, think of all the rotten people who have found true love.
posted by dame at 12:03 PM on November 26, 2006

if you are asking anonymously on an internet forum about being unable to make a date in 10 years, you probably are not as awesome as you think you are.
posted by naxosaxur at 12:48 PM on November 26, 2006 [11 favorites]

Your friends will tell you anything you want to hear. A therapist or counselor or even a mentor will have the guts to give you a perspective on your problems without emotion and with candor. Next time you are in a relationship --- or even next time you can't seem to find a date --- talk things over with a psychologist and see what is really preventing you from becoming intimate with someone.
posted by about_time at 1:13 PM on November 26, 2006

Is it possible to just be too damn awesome?

Yes. There's a quote in German literature about the ‚Vielfalt menschlicher Erfahrungen und Vorstellungen‘, the ‘manifold experiences and imagination of humanity’ and how impressive they are (the source of which I’m failing to Google right now, please excuse me) and given that Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Arwine Meiwes have all lived, it’s absolutely possible that you’re too damn awesome.

I think it's an interesting theory, but I'm inclined to think that these men were just answering the question the only kind way possible.

If it is multiple men, and they were not a) prospective partners or b) sufficiently concerned about the internal narrative of others that it is routine for people to ask them if they’re gay, they’re probably being honest. Simple folk, men.

Paul McCartney apparently has a really disarming interpersonal manner, chiefly because that's the only way he can interact with most people in a a way approaching normalcy. So I suspect it is possible for you to change your manner in such a way that this is no longer an issue. I have no idea of the details of your current manner, so I can't really suggest details in that direction. If he can do it, though, you can.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 1:15 PM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

There are (at least) two thing that "awesome" people do that can be super annoying.

The first is "you should". I know this girl. Every time someone mentions any kind of problem they might be having (be it in her area of expertise or not), she has a "you should". You meet this neurobiologist that I know. You should try yoga. You should come to this workshop with me. Etc. A conversation is not necesarily a plea for help with problems. She really, really wants to help. It's filled with good intentions, which just makes it all the more sad, because she has no idea that it generally drives most people up the wall. Drives me batshit.

The second is talking about how awesome everything is: So many things going on. I'm doing this. I'm doing that. Next week I have to go here and do this thing for these people. I've spent the last 4 years doing this thing and it's really great and it's finally coming together. And next summer I'm going to [some far off place] to do [some far off thing]. It's going to be so awesome and I think that it's really going to help me grow.

Now, any one of those statements alone, in context, is fine. But when it comes out as a random babble....not so good.

And thirdly (I did say at least two): People over analyze. Don't be neurotic. I'm not saying you are. I'm just saying: don't be. The best way to find out exactly how not to behave: watch Sex in the City. Specifically, watch Carrie ( the narator) and Charlotte, her princess friend. The way they analyze and mythologize their relationships is just grotesque. Unfortunately, the show's popularity says to me that millions of women are learning that those behaviours will, in the end, get your man.

They won't.
posted by jaded at 1:38 PM on November 26, 2006 [4 favorites]

I think the answer is that there isn't a right answer. The good news is that there's not a wrong answer, so you're not exactly doing anything wrong, either. But people are complicated, and they only get more complicated the closer you get to them (same goes for you, incidentally).
Remember it's not easy for anyone, keep getting out there, and just be sincere.
posted by willpie at 2:00 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

My email is in my profile. If your ever in St. Thomas I'd be happy to take you out.

posted by crewshell at 2:09 PM on November 26, 2006

I have a couple of "awesome" single friends exactly like you. One's a guy, one's a gal. One's a PhD who makes good money, the other is a semi-famous actress who makes good money. Down-to-earth people, great families, good values, both want to have children. Both have parents who love each other. Both want to be loved, and are capable of loving. Both lament their single status, craving marriage, kids, the works.

So I set them up. On a date. With each other. Just as I've set them up on dates before, with people of lesser awesomeness.

And guess what happened?

What happened was what happens all the time when they go out on dates. During the post-date, post-mortem conversation with me, they both said there was "no chemistry." They said that the other person "seemed intimidated by my success." And I said what I always say: "So, you mean you didn't find them physically attractive enough?" And they said, "Yeah, kinda."

Both of these people are nice, fit, and average-looking. Somewhere between cute and plain. No missing limbs or lazy eyes. But not gorgeous. They both also have the kinds of quirks that come with being single into their mid-30s: The guy sleeps with his cats. The gal sleeps with her dog. The guy is going bald. The gal is getting a little, ahem, large in the caboose. And they both have ridiculously high, pie-in-the-sky standards of physical attractiveness for their dream mates. He wants a porn star who wears glasses, she wants a beach volleyball player with a Prius.

And the older and plainer and more set in their ways they get, the more it's guaranteed that they will never, ever find them.

Which is all a roundabout way of asking you, Anonymous, what has happened on the dates you've been on lately? How is your unloved status manifested -- are you stood up, not called back, rejected outright, or simply subsumed by ennui?

This is the one vital piece of info missing from your question, and something that will help all of us help you.
posted by turducken at 2:16 PM on November 26, 2006 [5 favorites]

I think the "am I too awesome?" angle of your question is a bit of a red herring.

You come across as basically like any normal, educated person, not as a superachiever (and I mean this as a compliment). When you say, "I take a continuing education class" as part of your litany of good things about yourself, you make yourself sound very normal and inquiring. I think the problem for people like you is often that your work life and social life -- for whatever reason -- are not turning up many eligible people. So, the answer is, no, you're almost certainly not scaring people away by being "too awesome."

If you are super-accomplished and super-driven, and you like to boast about it, it's probably best to tone that down. (And not because you're a woman -- that goes for men and women.) Lots of very accomplished people are, surprisingly, humble about it and don't regard themselves as "awesome" so much as lucky. Talk to them about what they have done and you will hear them say, "I was lucky to have stumbled into something that worked out very well for me." So the type of toot-your-own-horn attitude is likely to be a warning sign that the person is a fake and blowhard, and people will run fast in the opposite direction. Not because they're intimidated by the superachiever, but because they've been around that type before, and they were bored to tears by the megalomaniac. The perverse pride that "I'm really intimidating" is a self-congratulatory spin they put on the real fact, which is "I'm insufferable." Someone who boasts, "I can talk knowledgeably about just about anything" is very likely most interesting to themselves.

That's a long way of saying, you'll never scare people away by accomplishing too much, but an inflated self-importance due to your accomplishments will scare people away, because, frankly, that's irritating and boring as hell.
posted by jayder at 3:09 PM on November 26, 2006 [4 favorites]

Ask this guy (first photo)

Hang in there. it'l happen.
posted by allelopath at 3:19 PM on November 26, 2006

You may well be awesome, but I'd bet my last dollar that there's something else you're doing when you're in dating situations that pushes guys away.

I have a wonderful friend who was funny, smart, cute, hot, etc and who'd had really rotten luck in relationships. I'd have been with her in a second if I was in the market. I offered to take out a personals ad for her, vouching for her as a guy friend.

One time, my wife had a colleague and we had them over for dinner to set them up. The minute the guy came over, I couldn't *believe* how much my friend changed now that she was in a dating situation. From being outgoing and funny she became incredibly shy, introverted, and barely able to hold her own in a conversation. We talked about it afterwards, and she acknowledged that that's how she is on first dates. I had known her as a buddy from an acting class, so she was never in that kind of restricted part of her personality with me.

Maybe you should find a way to get feedback about your behavior when you're on dates, to see if you can get any insights into how you might be sabotaging yourself.
posted by jasper411 at 3:46 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Is it possible to just be too damn awesome?

No, but it's possible to appear too self-satisfied and too self-reliant. Next date try talking a lot more about what you don't have, the places you haven't been, the things you haven't done - i.e. things that might happen in the future, not things that have already happened in the past.

The past is a past which any prospective partners had nothing to with - with me so far?

The future is a future which you envision as better with someone else in it. A future which you could not achieve alone - see what I'm saying? To really engage, any prospective partner has to believe they're going to matter, make a difference, believe they going to make your life materially different than it would be otherwise.
posted by scheptech at 4:08 PM on November 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

Thank you so much for this ~ a close friend of mine and I recently were trying to puzzle this one out for ourselves...
posted by KAS at 4:13 PM on November 26, 2006

Start a blog. Seriously. If you're as awesome as you say, you will get an audience, and some portion of that audience will be male, and some portion of those men will ask you out. If your blog accurately displays your assets, you'll eliminate the losers who can't handle strong, high-achieving women.
posted by amber_dale at 5:29 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm gonna have to go with 23skidoo and croutonsupafreak here, and say that maybe you should look at the kinds of people you are going after.
If you are indeed an awesome person, you may be demanding that your partner also be an awesome person, or at least awesome in similar ways. By definition, awesome people are fairly rare.
You should take another look at the qualities you consider important in a partner, and decide whether or not you are holding them to the (apparently rather high) standards you hold yourself to.
posted by nightchrome at 5:46 PM on November 26, 2006

These may seem petty, but since so many have already posted so much good sounding advice, figure some lighter thoughts can't hurt...

1. Sounds like you have anxiety. No doubt it's leaking out w/guy prospects, and guys smell desperation a mile away. Get in therapy, get a dog, or get laid, but somehow, get rid of the anxiety before you continue putting yourself 'out there'.

2. If you haven't already, get in touch w/what you find attractive -- superficially -- in men. Then consider whether you're fishing in the right waters. As another stated above, you may be angling out of your league.

3. Think superficially:

- Are you putting your best foot forward? Time for a makeover?

- How's your oral hygeine. Silly? More dates have probably been sabotaged by bad breath than personality incompatibility. And it's the last thing anybody's going to talk to you about. Think about it.

- Are you a good listener? Most people aren't. Get a book on the subject and become a good listener.

Good luck.
posted by pallen123 at 6:10 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Guys can be intimidated by a woman who has her shit completely together. I had a girlfriend who told me she had scared off some guys because of her academic credentials. When I was doing the online-dating thing, I corresponded for a while with a woman who was a special-forces trainer, and I'm not ashamed to admit that intimidated me a little.

My wife, who I obviously think is pretty awesome, also exudes an aura of shit-togetherness that isn't exactly intimidating…but that's as good a word as any. When I discovered her minor flaws, like her tendency to oversleep, I'll admit it did make her seem easier to keep up with.

I'll take at face value the feedback from your friends that you are too awesome, but even so, I'll assume you also have humanizing personality quirks. So don't dumb yourself down for guys, don't play the damsel in distress. Just be yourself and put yourself out there. Date widely, have fun, and don't overload any date with too much importance.
posted by adamrice at 7:45 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

A few non-connected points that may or may not be useful:

1. The line between self-confidence and pompousness can be razor thin, with men or women. And it can be a major, deal-breaking turnoff.

2. naxosaxur's comment above is quite brutal, but is potentially the most valuable in the entire thread. Seriously.

3. Examine yourself thoroughly, from head to toe, inside and out. The visual component for practically all men, for better or worse, is vitally important. You do not have to have the cheekbones or waist of a supermodel to be fantastically attractive to most men, but you can't look like their highschool guidance counselor or their boss either. Make sure your hair, clothes, and makeup are fitting... i.e., don't dress for a date like you dress for work.

4. Have your trusted friends do an anonymous assessment of you. Typewritten so you can't tell handwriting, etc. Ask them to be brutally honest and that the point of the exercise is to help you, not coddle you. The results may truly stun you. I'll go out on a limb and say none of the anonymous responses will be "you are too awesome for mere mortal men".

5. You seem like a nice enough person, if just a little neurotic. There's most certainly someone out there for you. Don't give up.

6. Consider all the things in this thread carefully, and apply them to your life. But, think "small adjustments" not "major retooling". The surest path to failure is trying to be someone/something you're not.

7. Your willingness to try to find out what's wrong is admirable, and bodes very well for your future. This holds true for damn nearly everything in life, not just dating.

8. Good luck.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:20 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've known women who have thought this about themselves, that they're "intimidating" because they're so "intense" or too intelligent. In my experience these women are usually brassy and exhausting, like they're always in an audition.

I got lucky enough to meet and marry a woman who projects nothing about herself. She has no need of anyone around her to think of her in a certain way, as a certain type. In this area, the stakes with her are not low, they're nonexistent. It's a beautiful relief -- she just is, so much so that she doesn't even have to tell you that she just is.

So many of us, myself included, spend years in the fallacy that to make our place in the world we have to have an act and believe it. I'm funny, or I'm sensitive, or an intellectual, or just so damn fun, or really deep, or above-it-all, or have my act together. It becomes the job of friends and acquiantances to continually support that belief -- and that's an exhausting job, after a while.

When people first meet you, especially in date situations, they can tell if it's going to be their burden to be a role-player in your I've-got-it-going-on act, constantly buying in to your self-belief. Perhaps that's what's going on, perhaps not.
posted by argybarg at 8:42 PM on November 26, 2006 [23 favorites]

You mention you had to deal with depression, so it seems you've managed, which is great, but the experience may still weigh down a little on you and contribute to this 'seriousness' (for lack of a better word) you're projecting, which I am speculating is the problem more than the real/perceived awesomeness of your personality.

You sound like you're turning this search for affection into a chore. I understand you're looking for a committed relationship, but you're bound to increase your chances if you take it easier and split the goal in two - while looking for Mr Perfect, accept you can enjoy the affectionate companionships of some Mr Not-Perfects who would be interesting and nice enough to spend time with but not everything you want them to be.

And yes I know didn't talk about how your 'perfect' man should be but you talked about yourself in a way that makes it clear you're rather demanding. That's not a bad thing at all, but if you've been alone so long then you need to have some fun first. Especially if - forgive my brutality - the lack of affection implies you haven't had sex all this time you've been single.

I'm not talking of lowering your expectations for life, just get back into the game with no expectations other than enjoying yourself, enjoying the process of meeting new people and dating, enjoying the moment while planning for the future.

Also, do exploit your friends for more than advice - don't ask them to set up specific dates for you, that'll also turn out to be a chore, just have them introduce to more people, make new friends who will do the same, go to social occasions where you're likely to meet more people who share some of your interests, put yourself in situations where you have to be spontaneous - again enjoying the whole thing in itself, enjoying meeting people in general, not just with your ultimate goal of finding a partner in mind. If you want to be loved, you need to love being around people.

It's indeed entirely possible you may be too awesome for some men, but it's not possible you are so to all men you're likely to ever meet, unless you live in the middle of nowhere and have restricted social contact.

Have you ever met anyone who you thought was awesome, far more awesome than you perceive yourself? If you haven't, then you do think too highly of yourself, or you do need to expand your horizons and meet more men.

What do you like in men in general? Do you just admire specific personality traits and accomplishments, or are you responsive to some indefinite personal charm and charisma that anyone can have, no matter what their accomplishments in life or level of confidence?

Just think about it, maybe you're just setting up all sorts of requirements and it's blinding you to a more spontaneous kind of spark.

Also, you say you asked your male friends for their opinion, why not ask your female friends as well - they may be more political or they may be more honest, who knows, depends what kind of friendship you have, but if they are honest and perceptive, their advice is going to be more helpful to you, as - generalisation warning! - it won't be hindered by any sort of gentlemanly courtesy and/or possible hint of attraction.

An honest outspoken female friend who really cares about you, and is not just being bitchy, is more likely to tell you when your hair looks like shit, when you're being too paranoid, when you're being a bore, when you're being too fussy and when you're not being fussy enough, when you should call back and when you shouldn't, when you should be acting proud and when you should let your guard down a little more, and so on - rather than lazily waving it all away with a meaningless 'you're just too awesome'.
posted by pleeker at 3:13 AM on November 27, 2006 [2 favorites]

late to this, because it's sort of a weird one to respond to, whichever side you're coming from, but I admit the "intimidating" suggestion has been made to me too, and I have thought about it a bit. I actually don't think it's true for me, because my problem seems to be finding people I think would be a good match with me, rather than continual rejection from guys I wish would give me a chance... Even so, I think there is a seed of truth here.

What I think it comes down to is that guys are just slightly more likely to be comfortable having a partner less successful/intelligent/etc than themselves. If women will usually date men as or more awesome than they are, but men will usually date women as or less awesome than they are, then there will be an excess of more awesome women without partners. So I don't think it's a conscious "she's too smart & successful" type of reaction, but simply that the guys are less likely to hold out for someone who matches a certain ideal. Plenty of guys will be happy with just a 'nice girl' as a wife, and count on their friends and colleagues for intellectual discourse, etc, whereas in my experience, more women imagine a partner who can truly be a mental or artistic equal.

Obviously this is a broad generalization and I'm not suggesting everyone fits the stereotype, but if it is even true for part of the population, that would be statistically significant.

(I have heard people say the reverse is true for physical attractiveness - that men usually seek someone as or more attractive, while women tend to go for as or less attractive. That ought to mean there are plenty of hot, single, but not that smart/successful men out there. Of course, whether they'd date you, or you'd date them, is another question...)
posted by mdn at 9:30 AM on November 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

(N.B.: Despite what I'm about to report, I have no illusion that I'm all that awesome. I'm, like, medium-awesome on a good day, and pretty happy with that.)

When I was in my twenties, my guy friends speculated that men found me "intimidating" and "intense." When I look back at the person I was then, I think of her as being intelligent, funny, and engaging, but also exhausting, overdramatic, and strident. I imagine this is what my guy friends meant, and were too kind to say frankly, but I don't know. Life has softened my edges rather a lot, and made me more tolerant and, I think, more tolerable.

About eight years ago, when I was single and frustrated, a female friend reported her husband's first impression upon meeting me: "She's seems like she could do anything! She doesn't need a man!" I think that explains a lot about my dating life.

My partner is a sweet, smart, and funny man who routinely makes me laugh until I choke, and I had a paralyzing crush on him for over a year before we started dating. He never thought I was interested in him romantically even after I asked him out, because (he said) "You looked so together." He assumed that I didn't need anyone in my life, or, if I did, I'd find that person elsewhere.

People tell me that a lot: that I seem together, complete, self-contained.

This led us to miscommunications in flirting. I thought I was vamping him; he just thought I was friendly, the kind of confident and happy person that chats up everyone. If you seem confident and extroverted, men (or anyone, but for your dating purposes we're talking about men) might think you are simply chatting, not flirting.

I don't know if any of this applies to you, particularly the first paragraph. You sound delightful, not nearly so smug and demanding as I was. It's not likely to be too awesome, if by "awesome" you mean intelligent, fun, and easy to be around. But people do often think a person like that is already totally fulfilled, thoroughly self-contained.

There's a separate issue here, that hinges on the meaning of "awesome." If you inspire actual awe, well, it can be hard to break through that and get to a personal level with anyone, male or female.
posted by Elsa at 1:39 PM on November 27, 2006 [4 favorites]

A few thoughts.

-I've noticed that the people (both men and women) that I find the most fascinating, together, cool, full of life, etc. are not the same ones who have always have gobs of potential dates lined up at their door. I assume this is because most people don't care about general "awesomeness". Most people care about looks and money. Also most people are stupid.

-I have a friend who's a lot like you. She's adorable, smart, well-educated, funny and very likeable. However she has a major flaw that she seems unaware of: While she has many interesting things to say, her ability to listen to others is markedly lacking, and this, understandably, tends to drive guys away.

I'm not saying this is your problem but maybe you have some flaw you're unaware of and that you could work on if only you knew what it was. Maybe you could ask some close, trustworthy friends for some constructive criticism.

-If your friends tell you you're just wonderful in every way, go ahead and believe them and just keep on being yourself. Also, keep asking guys out that you're interested in. The whole waiting to be chosen thing is really lame and a good way to waste your life or end up with a nincompoop because you didn't take the initiative to run your own love life. Who cares what men in general want. What do you want?
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:40 PM on November 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

djou see this? The "too awesome" issue did seem to be statistically a problem up until 2000, but the transition's mostly over... Not clear if that means that people are changing their minds, or that the young are balancing out the stats.
posted by mdn at 8:06 AM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

No, I do not think you are "too awesome" to find love. You sound very driven and resourceful, which was exemplified by posting this question to the hive mind (excellent idea). Perhaps that is what has gotten in your way because thinking things through has worked so well for everything else, so why not in relationships? At least, this is a question I struggled with for a long-time. I would probably still be struggling with it if love had not found me through circumstances so random that I do not think you would believe me if I told you.

I do not have the answers, but if I were you, I would read all of this through once or twice. Then, I would print out all this really wonderful and varied advice you have received. After printing, cut each response out, and fold it up. I would then put each folded response into a hat. Beyond that, I would try to trust and believe that I had put in enough effort and thought. I would do my best to put these thoughts on the back-burner and take a sabbatical from this particular pursuit.

However, if my mind banged too loudly, I would take out my hat and pulll out one of the folded pieces of advice, reflect upon it, and then move forward.

I would try to make finding happiness and a quiet mind my new pursuit. Love will find you when it is ready; there is no rushing it or trying to manipulate it. When you click with someone, it just works. What others find annoying, that person will find special or cute or at least inconsequential because what matters is the feeling you create when you are together. Take care, anon, I wish you the best.
posted by melangell at 9:56 AM on November 29, 2006

Some people are probably going to think this is bad advice. But I think you should consider meeting some new people in the alternative lifestyles (fetish, BDSM, etc) communities, if you haven't already. You are very likely to find people that appreciate your confident nature there. I agree with the other posters here that confidence tends to intimidate men, which is really unfortunate - I find I appreciate a confident woman much more than I appreciate a more submissive woman.
posted by arimathea at 7:42 AM on May 23, 2007

I'll give you a piece of advice that really took me forever to learn. You'll just skip over this small piece of text, but so long you do not learn it, you can only hope on being lucky.

Everyone is awesome. Really, you know those dumbass country hicks? If you can sit with one of them for an entire day and talk to them like real human beings, and not as someone you are patronising, then nobody will be intimidated by you.

People are intimidated by people who talk fancy, want to live upper style, etc. Just be able to talk to people and completely accept that they are also just as awesome as you, and you will find what you're looking for.
posted by markovich at 7:07 AM on September 24, 2007 [7 favorites]

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