are all men looking for damsels in distress?
September 23, 2007 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Are men not attracted to independent women? Are they more attracted to women who need some type of assistance from them?

I am very independent. I take care of myself, pay my own bills, do my own house repairs, take care of my car myself and so forth. I know of ladies who like to have a man around to help them take care of certain things, but I am not like that at all. I like to have a man for companionship, but I don't really need a man in my life.

Anyway, all of my relationships seem to fall apart in the same way. My boyfriends are initially attracted to me because they think I am cool or smart or whatever, but eventually, they drift away from me, always (kindly) telling me something along lines of "you are too together," or " you are too perfect," or something else completely weird and untrue. Do these men feel that they must be more pulled together and independent than me because of some old-fashioned idea about the role of men in relationships?

I am in my late twenties, and had usually been dating men my age, who had not yet established a career or finished school or anything, and maybe they just didn't like the fact that I had. But my current boyfriend is a good twenty years my senior, very successful, very intelligent, even purports to be some kind of feminist, and I can feel that we are in the verge of the same sort of breakup. He thinks that I am sort of mentally too-level. He says he's never known a girl who doesn't cry or have emotional fits, two things that he does with some regularity. I feel like he wants some girl to console and take care of, and perhaps that is why he chose to date someone so much younger than he is, but with me, he certainly is not finding that person.

Anyway, are men looking for someone to take care of when they look for a companion? I have always wanted to find an equal, like a partner, but I am beginning to think no men want that. Tell me it isn't true.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (56 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Of course it isn't true- there are all types of people in this world. What you need to figure out is why you keep dating the same guy over and over again.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:47 PM on September 23, 2007 [12 favorites]

My first reaction is "they don't feel needed." People tend to be turned off by the idea that someone is too with-it and perfect because they feel that they bring nothing to the proverbial table.

It sounds like all you apparently need out of a boyfriend is someone to prevent you from feeling alone, rather than emotional support or anything like that. Most decent people dislike being in a one-sided relationship, and I suspect your boyfriends have felt like you aren't getting anything out of having them around, and it can be unnerving.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:47 PM on September 23, 2007

no. sounds like you have been dating chumps or you are not telling the whole story.
posted by mailbox125 at 5:48 PM on September 23, 2007 [5 favorites]

For some men, looking after a woman is part of their function. If they can't have that, they start to look elsewhere. Perhaps it's the caveman instinct - they have to go out and kill stuff to bring back home to the woman, to impress her.

I once watched a Tony Robbins video called "Reclaiming your true identity". It discussed for a large part why we turn out the way we do (it's all our parent's fault), but it also gave me a massive insight into why I prefer strong women - my mom is one. She always wore the trousers in the relationship, so that's what I think a woman should be. When I look for a man (I'm a 4 on the Kinsey scale), I look for someone quiet and hard working, just like my dad.

I'm very much a result of my upbringing. I suppose we (and by extension, most men) all are...
posted by Solomon at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2007

I think the good doctor has it. Are you affectionate a lot, or do you feel that people should not need affection. More importantly, how do you take praise and affection? People are interested in loving and being loved.

These things may not be the issue however, and you just have to keep trying. Remember that most romantic things never work out. So you try until it does.

As for me, I prefer independent.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

He thinks that I am sort of mentally too-level. He says he's never known a girl who doesn't cry or have emotional fits, two things that he does with some regularity.

Could you be coming off as too emotionally distant? Maybe these men feel uneasy about sharing their emotional lives with you while you remain aloof and superior.
posted by contraption at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2007

Are you affectionate? Do you know how to show vulnerability, or do you always have a brave or perfect face? Do you know how to be off-kilter --- learning something new, trying something out, not knowing it all? Or do you always have the answers? I like strong women (I'm a woman too) but those who are *too* together are kind of creepy and not being that honest with themselves, with me, with their friends, with the world. You can be independent, rock-steady, inspirational, together, knowledgeable, but you can still be raw, see the sheer craziness of life sometimes, and be willing to take a chance -- not "I'll try a new entree at my favourite restaurant" but something that makes you re-evaluate your own comfort zone.

First thing that came to mind. Do you see yourself as able to express vulnerability or is that a sign of insecurity for you?
posted by barnone at 6:00 PM on September 23, 2007 [4 favorites]

It may be worth reading this thread about whether it is possible for a woman to be too awesome.
posted by sueinnyc at 6:03 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

two things i've learned about men: 1. they are better at doing things than saying things. 2. they like to make their partners happy and derive satisfaction and self-worth from having pleased her.

so, the problems an independent woman faces is that she doesn't need things done for her, and therefore the man doesn't receive praise or affirmation from doing things for her. female independence short-circuits that feedback loop. he takes it as rejection.

which isn't to say that you need to turn into a simpering weenie to keep a man around. instead, give him the opportunity to do things for you. if you need your gutters cleaned, instead of saying, "i can't hang out on saturday--i have to clean out the gutters," ask if he wants to help, or if he knows of a good service, or whatever. ask him to do you a favor every now and then--not because you aren't capable, but because it will save you time, or aggravation, or whatever. because it will make you happy, and that's what he wants.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Is it possible that you aren't showing you whole self/vulnerabilities to these men? Everyone has insecurities, weaknesses, just some people deal with them better than others or hide them better. It's hard to show your emotions and weaknesses to another person if they never do the same and after awhile these men may feel they can't really connect with you, or they are just an emotional burden on you.

I once had a friend who was in a ltr and they were going through a really bad patch. In the middle of a fight her boyfriend broke down crying saying how he wanted it to work, but he just didn't know at what point you stop trying. She was totally calm, cool and collected and just said she thought they should keep trying. A day later he ended it once and for all and she was devastated, yet oddly proud that she hadn't broken down in front of him. Looking back, I think her coldness in the moment, just made him think she didn't care. I really don't know if you can relate to this situation at all, I might be off base, but it's something to think about.
posted by whoaali at 6:07 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Are all men $anything?":

posted by pompomtom at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2007 [12 favorites]

Are you busy this Friday? I know a great sushi place... Seriously though (unless you really are free and live in Boston). I am turned off by overly needy women and turned on by independent, competent, level headed women. Seeing my girlfriends cry never felt good, so I can't imagine what the downside of a partner who rarely cried is.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 6:10 PM on September 23, 2007

I guess some men are looking to be rescuers, but you only need to find one who's right for you who isn't. It might be harder, but...

I have a friend who thinks that for each person, there are plenty of people they could be with (really be with, commitment/soulmate style). Of course, she found her partner when she was 17, so... But who knows? Maybe for her, it's absolutely true that if hadn't ended up with this guy, she could have ended up with half a dozen other guys.

I'm pretty sure that's not true for me though. I don't think there are plenty of people I could be with, and while I hope to find one of the (I guess few) that I could be with SOON, it just might not happen that way.

You have to be yourself. I think thepinksuperhero was right, and you could ask yourself why you keep ending up with the same relationship. But if you are this whole, calm, balanced person who will never feel emotionally/otherwise dependent on her partner, then that's who you need to be, and I think you CAN find someone who fits you. It's a BIG world.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2007

Men like to feel useful and important. I (male) wouldn't feel very comfortable in a relationship where I was simply good company.

Obviously this is a generalization (and arguably true for women as well!)

If you really want to make this relationship work, look to him for help occasionally (surely you aren't perfect.) Help could range from the very practical (cooking, repairs, etc) to something more subtle (emotional support, guidance, etc). Find where your weaknesses match his strengths/interests (does he like to cook? garden? listen?).
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2007

In my experience some men do get freaked out if you don't need them. When I was dating I had men actually ask me in frustration to let them take care of things because it was emasculating to be with a woman who takes care of herself.

Fuck that.

I assume there are men out there who are willing to be with women who don't need a man to go check on the scary noises in the night and who can change their own oil. I would suggest you consider your independence a valuable quality for weeding out men who can't handle having a relationship with an equal.
posted by winna at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

In my experience some men do get freaked out if you don't need them. When I was dating I had men actually ask me in frustration to let them take care of things because it was emasculating to be with a woman who takes care of herself.

Fuck that.

I assume there are men out there who are willing to be with women who don't need a man to go check on the scary noises in the night and who can change their own oil. I would suggest you consider your independence a valuable quality for weeding out men who can't handle having a relationship with an equal.

I kind of have to disagree. I don't think it's about not being equal, I think men want to make your life easier and want to be there for you. When a guy offers to come pick you up from work so you don't have to take the bus, he isn't doing it because he thinks you are incapable of getting home safely by yourself, he wants to do something nice for you. These are the same types of things that friends and family do for you, but men in relationships do to a far greater degree. If I get a flat tire, of course, I could either change it myself or call someone up and pay them to do it. In fact just about everything in life falls into those two categories. It isn't a sign of weakness to let someone help that wants to.

You are attempting to form a partnership here, it's a give and take. You have to let down your guard a bit and learn that it is ok to depend on another person sometimes.
posted by whoaali at 6:36 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

but I don't really need a man in my life.

Then why do you continually have boyfriends? and why do you care if these relationships fall apart? If you didn't really need/want a guy you wouldn't be asking a group of random strangers.

Honestly, you're independence sounds sexy at first glance, but pretty arrogant and boring once you describe it. Say you got a house repair, are you really not gonna ask your boyfriend for advice or help, even if it's just coming over to drink some beer and shoot the breeze while YOU fix it? Do you really think that there is no possible way that he might have a better suggestion on how to do it or just might be pleasant company while you're working?

What's the point of being in a relationship if you're SO won't talk to you about stuff, because they've always got it under control?

Finally, no one can take care of themselves, solely by themselves. We all need someone in some small way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

There may some truth to the idea that men want a damsel to rescue. But that only goes so far. Sure, men want to have someone to take care of, but so do women. A good relationship has elements of independence, and interdependence. Taking care of someone is important, but so is being taken care of.

As mentioned above, are you so independent that you don't seem to need anyone else?

Do you have some fear of making yourself vulnerable? This could cause you to hold back in expressing your affection.

Are you open to hearing his opinion about things, or do you think you already have the answer, so you don't need his input?

Do you get offended or brush him off if he offers help with something? Just because you *can* do something yourself doesn't mean you have to. Accepting help doesn't mean "Ooo I'm a helpless little girl." It just means you trust him enough to help. In the same way, he should let you help with his things.

Are you emotionally available? You mention not crying; I don't think it's chauvinistic to expect women to be emotional, it's just the way things are. I'm a man, but if I never expressed emotion to those who are close to me, they would wonder if anything was there. It's normal for both men and women to cry.

In short, I don't think healthy independence is a turn-off to a healthy man. So maybe there is something else you are doing that causes the problem. Or maybe you have a pattern of picking the wrong kind of guys.

Good luck. At the risk of sounding cliche, a few visits to a counselor might be a big help.
posted by The Deej at 6:38 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

is "independant" a euphemism for "uptight control freak who allways gets her way and insists she is always right on every issue"?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:38 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

we all want to feel needed, men and women. We like to be able to do things for our partners and provide something that in some ways complements them and makes them more whole.
posted by edgeways at 6:40 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

There is a difference between a relationship between equals, where you help each other out some, and a relationship where you don't actually need anything from someone. If that makes sense.

Basically, I think it's lame (and probably common) that some dudes need to feel that they are "taking care of" a woman in order to feel important; but at the same time, everyone wants to feel wanted and like they are important to someone.

I'm not sure which problem you're having, not knowing you, but if it's the former, I'd second ThePinkSuperhero.
posted by SoftRain at 6:40 PM on September 23, 2007

I was going to post the "you are dating the wrong guys, repeatedly" answer till I read:

He thinks that I am sort of mentally too-level. He says he's never known a girl who doesn't cry or have emotional fits, two things that he does with some regularity.

In between those lines, I hear him saying that you lack emotion, passion, anger, etc. Especially since you say he has "emotional fits" on some sort of regular basis. Take some time and look at what you are calling an emotional fit -is it getting annoyed with bad traffic, or bad service in a restaurant? Is it getting weepy at a movie, or reading a story? Being "too happy" and not reserved in public?

If you want companionship, get a pet. Relationships are for those that want give & take, doing things for another person because you love them, not because you think they are weak or needy.
posted by kellyblah at 6:40 PM on September 23, 2007 [5 favorites]

Hello, I will be your counter-point voice today, with a different opinion. Feel free to discard.

eventually, they drift away from me, always (kindly) telling me something along lines of "you are too together," or " you are too perfect"

This is polite code for "you are an unspontaneous, unbending control freak."

It has nothing whatsoever to do with men wanting to be rescuers or men wanting weak, vulnerable or otherwise childlike women.

"You are too together" is a polite way of saying, "I do not envision a future where I'm going to be welcomed to make a contribution to a shared experience."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:46 PM on September 23, 2007 [7 favorites]

Most people, men and women, are looking for a companion who's an equal, a partner, someone to take care of, and someone who will take care of them when they need it. You need to recognize that there's no contradiction there. And you need to be ready, when your equal partner comes along, to be willing to lean on him when you need to, and to let him lean on you when he needs to, and to know that it doesn't weaken your equality, and it strengthens your partnership.
posted by escabeche at 6:49 PM on September 23, 2007

Nobody is "too together," or " too perfect." Have you been criticizing them for not being together enough, or perfect enough. Alternatively, if you seem to have no passion, that could also cause issues. Perhaps none of this is the issue, but I get the impression that you actually think you might be too perfect and have failed to actually examine yourself. If all these guys have left you, it is unlikely that it was always their issue. Don't believe the hype.
posted by caddis at 6:53 PM on September 23, 2007

I don't know, it sounds like you're actively seeking guys to date that are somehow inferior to you, or far more sensitive than you are, and then they get disappointed that you don't pay attention to them. I mean, you mentioned dating guys who aren't yet professionals, or your current beau who regularly cries and has emotional fits. It sounds like you need to date guys who are just as independent and self sufficient as you are, and not guys that are needy and emotional.
posted by echo0720 at 6:53 PM on September 23, 2007

I think that came out wrong - not guys who actually are inferior to you, but rather guys that you think are inferior to you
posted by echo0720 at 6:54 PM on September 23, 2007

I'm going to suggest a different tack.

You can't control for who is out there and what their attitudes are towards people who are like you.

If you are in a slump you have to work on who you are, because that is the only thing you can work with here.

Usually when I see this type of thing it has nothing to do with surface things like "am I too independent?" I'd suggest taking a longer and deeper look, possibly with professional assistance.

Start looking into other areas, such as your attitudes about relationships, your feelings regarding intimacy and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to another person. Look at your past, both when you were a kid and when you were an adult. Look at your relationship to an opposite-sex parent. One or more of these areas may be somewhere where you can do something about making it easier for you to find something that works for you.

Above all, talk about this with your current partner now. I see nothing in your question about having talked to him.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:54 PM on September 23, 2007

I haven't read any of the comments in here as I want to speak from my own convictions... as a 30ish guy, yes, I find an independent woman much more attractive than the alternative. But my first suspicion is that some guys might get in a frame of mind thinking the woman is so independent and headstrong that she has an upper hand on the relationship... and that conflict and being dumped are inevitable.
posted by antipasta_explosion at 6:57 PM on September 23, 2007

it isn't true.

Correct, it isn't true. You seem to have been, until now, dating men who weren't at your level by your own admisison. They may have felt that this inequality made a long term relationsip not a good idea. It's hard for people who are at different levels in accomplishments make things work well. It's possible but not simple and if it's the woman who is more accomplished, this can also toss a wrench into things. So, that's THOSE guys. Your new guy, well it just seems like you're different. He's emotional and you're... less so.

This has nothing to do with you being together or independent to my mind it's how you process and deal with things. I'm a pretty low drama person, for exampe, so people who flip out freak me right out and would likely make poor long term partners. However I could see that this approach would seem cold and unfeeling to people who were more volatile with their emotional responses. This is likely what you are seeing.

As to independence, I think it's a bit of a red herring but I will say this. One of the absolute worst ways to convince someone you're going to be a great employee is for you in some sense to not want/need the job, whether this is due to independence, finances, personal goals, whatever. You can be the best worker ever, but a job is about more than that. It's about sticking wiht it, staying during hard times, being a team player, having job pride, etc. I think the same is true with relationships. If you were really totally "I don't need a man" independent, you would care less about this. Think of why you'd still like to have a boyfriend, figure out what needs that fulfills or what piece it adds to you or just plain old why you want to BE WITH SOMEONE and then figure out how to make that part show. It's a challenge, certainly, but I think it sends you on the road to addressing this long term, not just with this guy.
posted by jessamyn at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Wow. If you can work on a car and don't break into tears for no apparent reason every now and again you've got to be well on your way to ideal for many guys out there, myself included.
posted by waxboy at 7:39 PM on September 23, 2007

My primary partner is female and we have been together for thirteen years. She is completely competent, having run a farm herself - but she's completely competent in much more than that, from flying airplanes to fighting with knives. In short, she needs no one, yet we love one another more year by year. We've been together this long because we are not joined at the hip. We are partners because we don't -want- to be joined at the hip, either. We like being together, and we spend extended time together, but we have different interests that we do alone or in the company of others, too.

We pull together instantly when there is something serious going on. There are a few comments above that suggest such a relationship doesn't have commitment in it, and I think that's not necessarily true. I would rather have her to count on than anyone else I can name or imagine, and she has had me to count on through a few scary times herself.

I would much rather be desired and loved than needed.
posted by jet_silver at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2007

My SO (who happens to be male) sometimes seems to want to be completely independent of me; he refuses to need me at all. This is awful for me. I want to take care of him; if he affects _complete_ independence, then how are we a team? He should need me for _something_. Otherwise, why does he bother hanging around me? Sure, he says he likes how I look, likes that I laugh at his jokes, thinks I'm funny... but I want our relationship to be more than that. I want the two of us, together, to be greater than the sum of the two of us separately. I want my mind and my abilities to be part of my gift to him. I want us to be able to build something together.

I assure you, I am not looking for a damsel in distress. I'm distressed enough for both of us.

If your man wants to do things for you, that doesn't automatically make him sexist.

Maybe it's time to get out the book The Five Love Languages.
posted by amtho at 7:53 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anyway, are men looking for someone to take care of when they look for a companion? I have always wanted to find an equal, like a partner, but I am beginning to think no men want that. Tell me it isn't true.

I guess a relationship of "separate and equal" is ok for those who like it. But what kind of relationship is that? I want to be taken care of, and I want to take care of my partner.

Sometimes that means acting out stereotypical gender roles, where I fix things and she cleans. Sometimes that means the reverse, where I need my tears dried and she goes out to bring home the bacon. Either way, we are working to create a partnership, in which our weaknesses are supported and our strengths become complementary.

Certainly, there are men (and women) who seem to want a dependent rather than a partner. But most people, I think, want someone who will support them, and whom they can support in return. The specifics of that will really vary depending on the situation -- do both people work outside the home? Who fixes the car? Who wears the strap-on? -- but the general pattern is one of mutual support.

There is one central catch, however, and I'm guessing that this is why your boyfriend is about to break up with you. To create this kind of mutual partnership, you have to be willing to show your partner your vulnerabilities, your weaknesses, and your fears. Maintain that tough front to the world, but you can't block out your partner if you want them to be able to be there for you. If you can't take the risk of showing them your soft underbelly, they can't take the risk of loving you. You can still fix your car and balance your checkbook and rocket through your career, but if you want a partnership, you have to relax your guard eventually.
posted by Forktine at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2007

I think there are a lot of men who are afraid of strong women, but it's certainly not all men by a long shot. There's nothing all guys or women do on a gender line (No joke, I've met women who can pee standing up). If you routinely find yourself dating guys who are intimidated by it, maybe there's a quality you are seeking out that overlaps with the easily intimidated. Or you're just dating the wrong guys.
posted by history is a weapon at 8:24 PM on September 23, 2007

Find a man who's good at something you aren't. You're not good at everything, nobody is. If you think you are, get over it. Maybe he's good at cooking or sewing, at computer networking or keeping house, at doing laundry and taking care of small animals, at playing a music instrument or something that I can't even think of.

Let him appreciate you for all the things you're good at, and for how awesome you are. You appreciate him for all the things he's good at, and for how awesome he is.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:34 PM on September 23, 2007

Forktine has a good percentage of it, especially with the "relax your guard" message.

The rest, from my POV, has a lot to do with that -- relaxing. If you're relaxed, it's fine. If you start out the date by not letting the guy open the car door for you (you can do it yourself, after all!) and scoffing or making fun of him when he holds the door for you, both of you are going to spend the entire meal dreading the showdown over the check when it comes. This isn't the way to start anything or lead anything.

Yes, we know you can fix your own flat. (Hell, my sister's boyfriend didn't know how to change a tire -- at thirty-seven years old!!! My dad showed him how so that he could do it sometime if he was caught alone.) We know you can pay for your own meal. But as guys, we want to show you it's a special occasion, and you're special to us, and the way we may do this is to grab the check. You can do it some other time. We'll let you. Just not this time. Don't fight us, just smile and say thank you.

Let me also say this: Excessive 'strength' and independence are also signs of immaturity and a lack of confidence. Watch what messages you send with your 'strength' and maybe temper them a bit. What men really want is a woman who's confident in every situation.

Now, in your specifc case right now: Relationships don't work out for lots of reasons. I'm sorry that it sounds like this one's going to fall apart, but, sugar, it sounds like you've been dating losers. (My sister also had this problem. My uncle got one of her ex-boyfriends to admit on tape that he was only dating her because she was good in bed and she paid the rent.) Stop that. You're better than that. Time for you to do the choosing.

Right now, she's in the same situation you are too -- eerily so. She's got a great career, is dating someone who is older than she is by about 15 years and who is very successful, and yet the relationship goes through ups and downs. He won't seek help for his anxiety and other issues because they're what drive him to his success. Sometimes, those issues make her miserable even if she likes her life with him. Those things might eventually make the two of them break up. It happens.

You won't die an old maid, I promise. Through a series of really really strange coincidences, I met a wonderful girl five months ago at the dog park... and things have been amazing ever sense.
posted by SpecialK at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2007

Is it possible that in addition to being super together and one hundred percent independent, you're also basically emotionally disengaged from your relational life?

If not, then no, it turns out people are all different and do not all want the same thing, you just haven't found the right guy yet. Maybe you should investigate why you keep falling for these needy little crybabies.
posted by nanojath at 8:52 PM on September 23, 2007

Read The Five Love Languages, figure out which one you are, figure out which one he is, speak his, and tell him how to speak yours. End of advice =)
posted by Quarter Pincher at 9:11 PM on September 23, 2007

I'd guess 2 things are going on.

1) To some degree, you might be dating the same sorts of guys. You say that many of them have said that you're too together. Perhaps there's something about these men (their immaturity, or neediness?) that you are attracted to.

2) (this is the more important one) The things they're saying really make it seem like you're too closed off with your emotions, or like you don't ask for help when you could use it. People like to feel involved and like they're contributing something to the relationship. In particular, relationships are really about helping each other tackle difficulties and making up for each other's shortcomings. One of my good friends is a very independent girl, and she's had problems with guys finding her to seem too unavailable. Part of this is changing your behavior so that people you're dating know they're valuable to you (not by you saying so, but by you making use of whatever it is they can offer), and part of it just finding the right sort of guy (see number one).
posted by !Jim at 10:27 PM on September 23, 2007

Datapoint: I'm attracted to independent women. I have no wish to be somebody's surrogate father figure, but am more into the whole mutual respect and equal partnership thing.
posted by nowonmai at 10:41 PM on September 23, 2007

I love thinkingwoman's reply even though it makes men sound a bit like puppies.
posted by Skyanth at 10:41 PM on September 23, 2007

He thinks that I am sort of mentally too-level. He says he's never known a girl who doesn't cry or have emotional fits, two things that he does with some regularity.

Random guess.

You're in your late twenties, he's in his late forties: I'd say that to feed his vanity he wants you to act more immature. It makes him more of a stud if he's scored a passionate young hottie. You're not helping him recapture his youth if you're acting all mature.

The other guys were just trying to end the relationship non-confrontationally.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:36 PM on September 23, 2007

I learned a lot from the AskMe I did a while ago. I have realized that I simply was raised to be too strong and not show weakness, and it was standing in the way of people being there for me. I have since worked on not taking things that bother me in stride so often and expressing my feelings and faults and vulnerabilities and fears with people more. It makes a huge difference, let me tell you. I've seen it already.

I'm not sure if this makes sense, but sometimes you simply have to let people see you as vulnerable more often, even when you don't necessarily "need" them to, in order for them to get comfortable with you on a deeper level.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:43 PM on September 23, 2007

I have always wanted to find an equal, like a partner, but I am beginning to think no men want that. Tell me it isn't true.

I think it would be more useful to say that what you want is a very low-maintenance relationship. Basically a long term friends (with benefits) situation. A lot of people will say they want to be equals, but this is not the same thing as independent from each other, as others have already said.

You're right in thinking this is not what most men want (or most women, for that matter), but there are certainly some out there who will jump at the chance, you just need to look in the right places. The most obvious thing would be to seek out men who are extremely driven and focused on their careers, work long hours, and will welcome the opportunity to be with someone who doesn't demand a lot of time from them.

Some people have suggested that you change yourself, and if that appeals to you then it's certainly worth a go, but I think it's possible that you are simply not a very emotional person when it comes to relationships and your best choice would be to find someone who has the same personality.
posted by tomcooke at 5:25 AM on September 24, 2007

Who's your deity? Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. Like you, Pallas Athene is female, but has a masculine temperament. Jean Shinoda Bolen's book, Goddesses in Everywoman, might help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:56 AM on September 24, 2007

All I can say is my wife (of 25 years) is all of talented, independent, level and more. I love it. I can't understand how any guy wouldn't want that. She long ago passed me income-wise and I think it's great she's rewarded for her expertise. As for our lives, heck, it's great to have someone to trade off things with. For example, we find it's better to have her deal with repair guys and the such. They seem to respond better to her without that male-male competetive handyman knowledge thing. I do long-term financial stuff; she does the month-to-month. The list goes on and on. What a relief for me to have someone available to take any load off my hands. And as for the level-emotional palette. Love it. Gees, predicatble emotions take a whole element of daily stress and strife out of the picture and just let us enjoy each other. Maybe you want to seek out men from the brain side opposite of yours?

The only thing I can see that may relate to you is this. My wife, like any successful person, can let that "Let's plan it, organize it and get it done" personality drift from work into home. I have to gently remind her from time to time that she's not CEO and I'm line management. But that's all it takes: a gentle reminder and a laugh.

The other thing that seems to help is that we're from two different professions. Hers is more analytical while mine is more creative. Left-brain/Right-brain sort of thing. I think that lets each of us admire the others strength in areas. (For instance, the spreadsheet she put together to help my daughter pick a college was a thing of beauty that really helped, and something I would've never thought of or pulled off.)

But reality check time. Independent? Level-headed? Smart? Forgive me; I just don't see the problem.

So hang in there. There are guys like me who love women like you. I'm just surprised that it isn't the norm. Why that is, I have no explanation.
posted by lpsguy at 6:26 AM on September 24, 2007

Don't sweat it. Maybe you just haven't found the guy yet.

Or maybe the kind of guy who catches your eye and turns your crank is not the kind of guy with whom you are compatible long-term. This is pretty normal.

Do you find yourself attracted to men who possess the qualities that you think that you want? If you meet men who seem "on paper" to be perfect, but you actually find them boring or arrogant or whatever, then your expectations and your stated desires may need calibrating.
posted by desuetude at 6:41 AM on September 24, 2007

1. Guys tend to "marry their mother". The kind of personality they are most used to is what they were raised with- their mother's. So you need to find the son of a fiercely independent woman.

2. Opposites attract, likes repel. The way to find out if a prospective guy's mom is like you is if you and his mom just plain don't get along.

So find some schmuck who's mom you can't stand and you should be fine.

It sounds a little glib, but honestly there is some truth to that. I have two brothers. All three of us married girls that are, in some sense, just like our mom. Even though they are quite different from each other, their personalities all resemble Mom's in some sense. Mom never really got along with any of her daughters-in-law at first and it took a long time to reconcile the respective personalities (and the jury is still out on one sister-in-law).
posted by Doohickie at 7:29 AM on September 24, 2007

"I am very independent. " May I translate this as "I have money"?

Rule of thumb (does not matter if you agree with this or not):

* Men define themself through their work and success
* Women define themself through their men

It lies a lot of truth in this. Women will always be attracted to the successful guy (biological reason: can provide security). A financially successful women is in much less demand by men. Men are just attracted to other things (beauty, youth etc.). I don't know if this is your case but I have seen a lot of successful (READ career/financially) women compaining that men get intimidated by them or that men don't like successful women. This is not the case, it is just that it does not matter for a men if a women is successful or not. This is not what most of the men are looking for. Most of the time there are other reasons that make men dislike this women (unattractive behaviour, not pretty etc.). Why don't you talk with male friends and ask them what could be a reason that a guy is not into you or does not stay with you in the long run? "Being disliked by men for being successful" was an "excuse" I often heard from females with serious personal problems that never were able to face the real reasons.

Please no rage about this post. If you disagree ignore it. But think about it: Who will easier find a partner? An unemployer male or an unemployed female?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2007

NYT article on similar subject

There is a match out there. It sounds like your current SO is a match in some ways, but really, I think emotionally stable people should date other emotionally stable people. Thank goodness such stability is more common in men than women.
posted by melissam at 9:00 AM on September 24, 2007

Thank goodness such stability is more common in men than women.

Uh, it sure isn't!
posted by crabintheocean at 9:28 AM on September 24, 2007

For men, feeling not needed = feeling not wanted = end of relationship.

In general, I find women need to be wanted, and men want to be needed. Make them feel needed, and they stick around.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2007

Here's another article from the New York Times about this by Maureen Dowd which made a bit of a splash in the feminism world a couple years ago.

I pretty much reject her premise, which is heteronormative and assumes every woman's goal is to become a wife and mother. But you are free to form your own opinion, obviously.

My theory is this: your concern about this is not unfounded, and don't listen to anyone who says it is. But you will find the guys who aren't necessarily looking for a damsel in distress when you decide to be yourself (distressed or not) even if no man will ever want to be with you again unless you change. This, of course, is not the case. And being uncompromising in this matter is the key to filtering out the guys who only want to marry their secretaries.
posted by lampoil at 9:44 AM on September 24, 2007

I would argue based on the limited information that we have that the common denominator isn't men, but who's picking them. You.

This doesn't mean you have a problem, it means that you are attracted to men that aren't good for you.

Time to switch hunting grounds. Ultimately relationships work because the people like each other... needs come and go if people are growing as they age, rather than just aging.
posted by ewkpates at 10:21 AM on September 24, 2007

Data point: I'm only attracted to independent women. I would rather die alone than spend the rest of my life with a needy girl.
posted by mullingitover at 5:58 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

« Older Do you know jokes which presuppose obscure...   |   How to get iBook G4 to stop freezing up. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.