The problem is NOT you, girl.
After four years of dipping my toe into the dating pool, I’ve recently taken a full cannon ball plunge into the depths of the single scene. I feel open and ready to genuinely explore the possibilities with curiosity.
But while I’ve met a few wonderful guys, most of the men I’ve connected with voiced a common objection to my company that I found quite perplexing at first.
Being self-employed as a Certified Professional Life Coach, I’ve done more than my fair share of networking, public speaking and teaching. So, I feel very comfortable meeting new people face to face and speaking confidently. I prefer to discuss big ideas and thoughtful insights instead of small talk, so if there’s ever a time I mention my accomplishments, it’s reflective rather than hubris.
I own my weaknesses as well as my successes, since they’re all part of who I am, but while some men feel my confidence and openness make me approachable, and even inspirational, a great number of men tell me that I’m … intimidating.
One guy even went so far as to advise me on how to tone down my confidence so that men might find me more desirable in the future.
When I look at it from the man’s point of view, I understand how hard it is to put yourself out there. The expectations about what it takes to “be a real man” these days is convoluted and confusing. Men want to know they shine amongst the competition, so it’s disheartening when they show up ready for validation only to find that the beautiful woman across the table is just as successful, can meet the basic needs in life herself, and is looking for something deeper and more profound than what the conventional paradigm offers. Accomplished women are just harder to impress.
But, let’s be crystal clear about something here, ladies: When a man says, “You’re intimidating”, what he’s really saying is, “I’m intimidated.” And there is a BIG difference between the two.
When women feel criticized, we inherently look within to see if there is any truth to the harsh judgment, we can’t help it. As such, women often instantly assume that because a man said it, that comment must be true. We’re the problem. And that’s nonsense. You can’t “make” anyone feel a certain way.
Short of arriving with hell hounds at your heels and blood lust in your eyes, there’s no way you “make” a man feel intimated. Every person comes with their own story about themselves (and their own self-worth, or lack of it) and what they want in a partner. We are rarely privy to knowing any of that during the introduction stage of a relationship.
The hot guy who thought you’d be impressed by his dedication to a job he hates and his lackluster (contractual) involvement with the kids who live with his ex-wife is bound to feel intimidated by the woman who has made the best of her new beginning, is willing to put herself out there in service to others, and does it all with a smile on her face and happiness in her heart.
What can a guy like that offer to the woman who is already taking pretty good care of herself? In his mind, not much.
So, don’t internalize “you’re intimidating.” Sure, absolutely self-reflect. And if you find work within yourself needing to be done, by all means, learn from it and do better. But, if you find that you are showing up whole, real and unassuming then keep on being your big, bold, bright self.
Men who feel good about who they are and what they bring to the table feel emboldened by happy, confident women, not diminished by them.
As for Mr. Critical … use the experience with him to hone in on what you really want in a partner.
Dating for strong, powerful woman is usually an ongoing process of elimination, and that’s OK. Perhaps you’d feel quite happy with an everyday achiever, after all, his life is fairly uncomplicated. Now just uplevel that notion to add “every day achiever” who is ALSO genuinely “happy with where he’s at.” Because those men are out there. Or, maybe you realize you really do want someone who sees something greater in himself and is willing to do the scary work it takes to rise into that. Those men are out there, too!
Either way, you’re honing in on what works for you. And that’s a gift that only comes from putting yourself out there in as real a way as possible.
Ultimately, ladies: We get to choose how we react to other people’s judgment.
So, NEVER dim your light for someone else.
Don’t cave to the temptation (e.g. social pressure) to slow yourself down or make yourself smaller to give the potential greatness in another person a chance to catch up with you’re own. Dimming your light and power only enables their weakness and creates co-dependency, which is the opposite of what you truly desire. As author Marianne Williamson says, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
So, stay true to your greatness and wish guys like this all the best on their journey as they grow into their own greatness.
Though I haven’t found my “forever” romantic partner yet, I have made a couple fantastic friends; my strength excites and encourages them. They are men who want to stretch and grow because of me and my influence, who feel that their own unique strengths can compliment mine. And I feel like I’m benefiting from their influence in equal measure.
Yes, the pool of prospective partners shrinks a bit the more you stand in your joy, confidence and power. Just use the hiccups to your advantage as you move closer to the “real thing.”
This article first appeared on Your Tango.