Dating Myth: Men Are Intimidated By Strong Women – NOPE!

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Sammy

Comment: How do men decide to say no to a women they are so attracted to but are feel intimidated by her personality? In my experience men adore me until they know about my education, work and me being a single mom. They are so interested in me but the minute I leave I never hear back. I always feel that being honest is important. What am I doing wrong?
Age: 36
City: Boston
State: MA

I’m not with you on these dates so I can’t say what, if anything you’re doing wrong in regards to your approach or behavior. The one mistake I do think you’re making is believing that all of these men “adore” you.  Maybe they don’t actually adore? Maybe they’re just acting like they adore you because they’re trying to feed your ego? Maybe..they were never all that interested in the first place? That’s the first thing you need to consider. Many men know that one of the quicker ways to get what they want from a woman is to ply her with compliments and attention. (Actually, that’s how many men function, too. How about that?) It’s called greasing the wheels. I will bet that in at least a few of these cases, these guys were just looking for a quick hook-up and nothing more. Hence the effusive ego stroking. Now let’s get tot he meat of this question.

The myth that men are intimidated by well educated or successful women is another one of those dating tropes that needs to die.  The percentage of men actually intimidated by a woman with success is relatively small. The “he’s intimidated by my strength” nonsense is usually uttered by women who very well might be educated and assertive and successful, but are also probably brash and caustic.  Most guys have no problem dating women who are driven and ambitious and smart and outspoken. It’s all in how someone with those attributes presents themselves. A lot of men can get away with acting like abrasive assholes because women confuse that behavior for confidence. Women don’t get that luxury. We’re just bitches.  If men are telling you they’re intimidated, then that’s not a great sign. “Intimidated” in guy code means “Turned off.” So pay attention to cues and feedback like that.

Now, the single mom thing? Yeah, that might be an issue. We’ve discussed the drawbacks of dating single moms and dads before. There are definite hurdles to overcome that aren’t present in situations where both people are child-free.  Then there’s the concern many people (men and women) have about financially supporting someone else’s child. That’s another issue. As is the desire to have they’re own biological children. For a lot of men, being a step-parent before they’ve even had their own kids isn’t all that appealing.

If you’re meeting these men online, then you need to be upfront in your profile that you have children. It might also help to focus on dating men who have children of their own aka The Single Dad Crowd. In fact, I would suggest concentrating your efforts there.


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17 Responses to “Dating Myth: Men Are Intimidated By Strong Women – NOPE!”

  1. bbdawg Says:

    Yeah sad but true men don’t value your job, not in the way we women value it in men. That’s a projection that doesn’t work for them. I have the impression men aren’t interested in dating a resumé, they’d rather just hang out with a pleasant person who isn’t too difficult or hard to please.

    There are endless articles online about how men aren’t really interested, generally speaking, in women who have a more masculine/competitive attitude as they already have male friends.

    The OP has two “red flags” to work around – her “I’m the boss” attitude and the fact that she is a single mom, neither of which is appealing to most men. She has to remember that the things she values in herself aren’t things that men will value in a woman necessarily.

  2. EANx Says:

    For this guy, her accomplishments are interesting but not nearly as important as being sweet and a pleasant person to be around. A hairdresser with a pleasant disposition is someone who has a nice personality while a ball-buster with a PhD is a ball-buster. It all comes down to how the other person makes you feel; why spend time with someone that doesn’t make you feel good when you’re with them?

    So, intimidated? Hardly. Choosing a better route, you bet.

  3. yb Says:

    Before my husband married me, he dated a couple of women with children. They were attractive, professional women he had met online. He always gave them accolades for being “Great Mothers” and they were. I once asked him why those relationships never went anywhere…His answer, “are you kidding??? they had kids!”
    Sounds like a total rat bastard thing to do, to date them fully knowing the relationship was going nowhere. However, in his mind he never promised them anything or led them on. He thought they were fun women and they had great dates. He acknowledged they would make great partners just not for him.
    I asked him if he ever told them this…of course he never did.

    • Sammy Says:

      Thanks for your feedback. This is exactly how I feel that guys see a single mom as an easy catch. They love them for many reasons, it could be the looks, being strong, independent, good mothers etc. But when it comes to take the dating to relationship level they hesitate. It is very confusing. I am kind of struggling with the same thing.

      On the other hand I have also seen men with a women who have been divorced 4 times and have 5 kids from different men.

      Again thanks and Happy New Year !!

  4. Noquay Says:

    The kids thing is a big issue. Parents of children at home truly are living on a different planet from the childless. You really do need to look at dads with kids as they understand your life a whole lot better. When I was raising my bro, though I was quite young and ostensibly should’ve been dating, I had zero social life till he was out of my home. My peers had zero clue as to my reality nor I theirs. Being a parent and working is hard. Yep, there are a few men out there that cannot deal with an educated, successful woman. You don’t want these men. I have no idea about your presentation but I’d suggest focussing on your away from work life; kids, hobbies if any, goals, stuff you enjoy. How about looking for single dads that are at your socioeconomic level?

  5. D. Says:

    In my experience, men usually aren’t “intimidated” by strong women, in the sense of feeling threatened, emasculated, or unable to match up. It’s usually more that a “strong” women is, as Moxie points out, sometimes an abrasive or unpleasant woman. And I don’t mean in the sense of “Well, she acts like a man,” but rather that she acts like a jerk. As Moxie noted, many men act like jerks. While women might still want to date such a man, men aren’t looking to date a woman like that. I don’t think this has to do with men “punishing” women for acting “masculine,” but rather that women forgive men for presumably acting “masculine,” when “obnoxious” is probably the better term. I’d say it’s far, far more likely that the kids thing turns men off.

    Actually, though, I think the real issue for the OP is probably one of reading dates. She says that these men appear to adore her or to be really into her. And it’s certainly possible that, in the moment, they’re having a perfectly fine time. Maybe they’re even kind of gushing about how terrific she is.

    That’s all well and good, but in the initial phases of dating, it doesn’t count for much. People’s interest can fizzle overnight, early on. I’d bet that just about everyone here has had multiple instances of going on a date, maybe even two or three, that seemed terrific, where the other person seemed genuinely into you, only to get a text from them days later saying “Thanks, but I think I’m moving on” or somesuch. Or hell, just never hearing from them again.

    Early dating is very, very fluid in terms of people’s level of interest. While it’s fine to enjoy yourself in the moment, and while you shouldn’t be pessimistic or cynical about all your dates, you also can’t put a ton of weight on a person’s apparent level of interest on the date, early on. Someone can have a perfectly wonderful time with you on Monday, thinking that evening that this could really go somewhere, and by Tuesday (a) an ex gets in touch and they give that a go again; (b) someone new and more interesting emails them and they pursue that; (c) they sober up and realize they actually aren’t that interested; (d) some other reason you’ll never figure out.

    So, go ahead and have fun on your dates, and enjoy yourself in the moment, but don’t be surprised when it fizzles shortly thereafter. That’s how dating goes. You can’t let yourself get beaten up by it, or you’ll burn out really, really quickly.

  6. Fyodor Says:

    I love the lack of self reflection involved in thinking that your poor romantic outcomes are because people just can’t handle how super and fantastic you are.

  7. Sammy Says:

    Thanks to all of you for your comments and suggestions. I have tried multiple online dating sites (, e-harmony etc) and always list that I’m a single mom and set the age range around my own age or older and always been open to divorced and single dad’s. I always felt the men who’ve been through divorce and has kids would understand where I’m coming from. I have my phone full of contacts who started off as a date and ended up just a friend. They share their problems, invite me to their parties, introduce me to their friends and show so much respect and affection but agian I wonder if they like me so much that and everything is fine then why am I still single?

    I am not claiming that I’m too cool or anything but just seeking advice. I am fully aware that everyone is entitled to have their own opinion and choose the partner. I do respect everyones opinion. As far it comes to my child, I’m very clear that if a man don’t see my child with me, there is no need for us to invest any time.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year. :-)

    • bbdawg Says:

      OP, at which point do you feel you become “their friend”? How long does it take for men to fade and “become friends”? You might want focus only on divorced dads and to avoid sleeping with anyone of them before you find out if they are prepared for for a serious relationship, which might leave you with no options, or very few options, but at least you are not wasting your time getting involved with men who just want fun times with the single mom. You kind of have to decide if you want casual or something more serious and that is a lot more work obviously.

      Many divorced men are open to remarriage and if that is what you seek, you are going to have to focus on a much smaller audience.

    • Nicole Says:

      Just curious, have you asked these men why they’d rather just be friends? Are they the ones who said they were intimidated by your work?

      The last time I was on OKC I met several guys who were great but not right for me – usually because I was looking for a committed long term relationship and they weren’t. Most stayed in touch, and we’d text, have lunch, and go out drinking just as friends. I’m pretty sure I bragged about it on here … Men and women can totally be platonic friends, I’ve made so many friends on OKC!

      And then I got serious with my current guy, and my buddies all fell off the face of the earth. They started ignoring my texts or talking about how super busy they were. It stings, but I have faced the fact that they didn’t really give a shit about being friends once they realized it would never be friends-with-benefits. Once the possibility that I would get drunk and hook up with them was gone, so were they. Ouch. Lesson learned, I guess.

      Is it possible that’s what’s going on here? That you’re meeting guys who either aren’t looking for anything serious or aren’t up for dating a single mom, but who want to keep the hook up / fwb option open? Because I would guess that guys who aren’t interested in a relationship with a single mom make up the vast majority of men online. It may be that you’re doing everything right and it’s just going to take a while to meet a man who’s up for dating someone in your situation.

  8. LostSailor Says:

    Moxie’s right, this is pretty simple: How do men decide to to say no to a women [sic] they are so attracted to, so interested in, and adore? They don’t decide, they were never really that attracted in the first place. It seems to me that these are first or second dates that go cold (“but the minute I leave I never hear back”). That’s a pretty short time to “adore” someone.

    I agree with Moxie and the commentariat that the likely explanation isn’t the education or job, it’s the single mom part. Sammy doesn’t say how old the kid/kids are, but that can be an important point, especially if they’re younger. For men who are interested in a relationship, it’s hard enough without having a woman’s attention being drawn away by family concerns.

    Sammy might also want to work on the whole reading a man’s real interest thing; if they were so interested, they’d call her…

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Sammy might also want to work on the whole reading a man’s real interest thing; if they were so interested, they’d call her…**

      Yeah, you can’t control if someone is or isn’t into you (assuming you’re putting your best foot forward and don’t have a bad attitude/aren’t trying to sabotage things – in other words, doing your best with the variables you do have control over). LS is right, OP, that your “They adore me until” comment means you could stand to brush up on your people reading skills. Get good at reading people so you know who’s a time waster and who’s not, and your dating experiences will be a lot more efficient and rewarding. Sounds like you’re wasting time on guys who are just in it for sex rather than moving on to the next adventure.

  9. Selena Says:


    As someone who was a single Mom for several years in her 30’s (and had a number of same situation friends), how open are you to having another child? For me, the older my son became the less enthused I was about starting all over again having another baby. Or more than one. I dated some child-free men during that time who said they wanted children “someday”. They didn’t mind I had a child, they were kid-oriented people, but the fact I wasn’t gung ho on having 2 more in my late thirties, or forties, didn’t quite fit with their own perceived life plan and they moved on.

    Just something for you to think about.

  10. AnnieNonymous Says:

    The “intimidation” angle is an answer that’s often bandied about when in reality, it’s a different question that’s actually being asked, if that makes sense. Are men intimidated by smart, successful women? No. But will a man who’s not ambitious or educated feel that he has a whole lot in common with a woman who values those things? Probably not. That’s not intimidation. That’s a lack of common ground.

    Women seek out men who don’t have fancy degrees or impressive jobs and expect these men to be blown away by their lists of accomplishments. I have to wonder why these women aren’t seeking out men who share those values and have similar experiences/accomplishments under their belts. Nothing wrong with not being educated, but let’s not act like there’s no value in it, or pretend that it’s not the result of a lot of hard work. Why are women putting so much time and effort into racking up diplomas and then showing them off to people who very clearly don’t care? They do that for the ego boost because, let’s be honest, a woman with a college degree doesn’t actually want to be with a man who doesn’t have one.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **let’s be honest, a woman with a college degree doesn’t actually want to be with a man who doesn’t have one.**

      In general, yes, but there’s something to be said for decent paying blue collar work and no student loan debt. A lot of times it’s the people without degrees who get really defensive and angry about the disparity.

      I have dated people without college degrees. Aside from the money/income angle, I didn’t feel mentally challenged or appreciated as an individual, which, yes, probably had something to do with education level. With the last one I remember thinking, “I guess I could deal with making more money/being more successful than my partner, provided the other parts of the relationship were totally fucking stellar – great sex, great friendship/connection, maintain a peaceful home – a partner to take on stereotypical ‘wife’ roles and knock them outta the park, in other words.” Eh, they weren’t that great and things fizzled. I was doing the majority of the relationship “work” and I felt resentful.

      I did meet a friend of friend recently who only has a couple spotty community college classes to his credit, but makes six figures as a computer consultant, so there are successful auto-didacts and people who didn’t go to college for money reasons (though yes, they’re probably the exception).

      Current BF has two Master’s and wants to go for a Ph.D. (which I’m actually not crazy about the idea of living in a college town for six years, but we’ll figure it out).

      • AnnieNonymous Says:

        “A lot of times it’s the people without degrees who get really defensive and angry about the disparity.”


        I agree with this. (It’s worth noting that I feel similarly about short men – I’ll date anyone who catches my eye, and I don’t discriminate against shorter men. They’re the ones who bring baggage into it, and it’s not my job to help them unpack it.) It very hard to acknowledge that, generally speaking, education is valuable, without implicitly insulting people who’ve chosen to take other paths. On the other hand, finishing college is a major accomplishment; people should be allowed to talk about it openly.

    • Gabi Says:

      YES!! Very often this is experienced by people who are dating people from different backgrounds/value systems. I don’t think a man who works in the trades would be intimidated by a female attorney, just that they have different experiences leading them to where they are. A contractor and an attorney can earn the same salary, but a man working manually might have little in common with a woman who thinks she’s so “amazing” because she spent $400k on a law degree.

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