Are you a well-educated, intelligent, independent, and successful woman… who is still single? You’re not alone (no pun intended).
More and more women are getting advanced degrees and pursuing their careers. And staying single. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily.
Wait, involuntarily? Why is that? What’s preventing them from being in a relationship?
Before we answer that, it’s important to realize that many women are staying single because they want to. They’re focused on their careers, are very ambitious, and are pursuing their dreams. Their hectic schedules don’t offer much time for the hassles and turmoil of dating.
Many do ultimately want a relationship, but are independent enough—financially & emotionally—to postpone it until the right man comes along. They hold high standards for their men, just as they hold high standards for themselves. Although these standards weed out most of the men they meet, they don’t mind; they’re willing & able to wait.
But what if you don’t want to wait anymore? Maybe you’re ready to settle down now. Maybe you’re lonely and want companionship. Maybe your biological clock is not just ticking anymore, it’s pounding. What to do, what to do…
The easy answer is: go out and find a man. Yea, sure, and while you’re at it, pick up an extra million dollars on the way home too.
Why do well-educated, intelligent, independent, and successful women find it so hard to find a man? Is it because men are intimidated by them?
To answer that, let’s look at three real-life anecdotes from women I know.
Women with MBAs
Within a local, prestigious MBA program, two girls noticed that most of their male classmates going for girls without advanced degrees. Instead of dating within their sizable pool of beautiful, sexy, and intelligent MBA classmates, the guys were dating, and even marrying, girls outside of their program. “Guys with MBAs just don’t want girls with MBAs,” one lamented. They seemed to prefer less educated women.
Women in Triathlons
After meeting a great guy, one girl was shocked to find him suddenly pulling away after a few successful dates. This was shortly after talking about her rigorous triathlon training program. He cited her busy schedule (which included work and triathlon training) as the reason to slow things down. She sensed it was more about her triathlon than her work, though he denied it. However, he would occasionally make comments about how much stronger she was than him.
Women as Doctors vs Teachers
A group of female doctors often went clubbing together. Each time, they’d try an experiment. On some nights, they’d tell guys that they were doctors. On other nights, they’d tell guys that they were teachers, librarians, and interior decorators. Guess which profession the guys gravitated towards? “It’s funny; every time we told them the truth, they’d disappear. But if we told them we were teachers or something, they’d flock around us and try to get our numbers.”
Sure sounds like men are intimidated to independent and successful women to me. We can even add physically fit to that list. What’s an independent and successful woman to do?
A Solution and a Silver Lining
Kris Frieswick of MSN Money has a solution. In her article “Too successful for a mate?” she notes that many successful women hold unrealistic expectations for a relationship. They look for a partner who is just as successful as they are, if not moreso. She suggests adjusting those expectations and seeking only those that are relevant to a happy relationship.
“I abandoned the expectation of many ‘must-have’ items in my years of dating before I met my husband.” Frieswick writes. “It’s not that I couldn’t find a man who possessed the right qualities, but it turned out they were irrelevant to a happy relationship. Was it crucial that my husband have a master’s degree? No. Would it be a deal- breaker if he didn’t love mountain biking as much as I do? No.”
Even Kathleen Gerson, a Professor of Sociology at New York University, agrees. “Women have increasingly high standards for who that partner might be, and because they have the ability to support themselves, they can afford to wait. They can apply those high standards.”
Aside from adjusting expectations, there are really many men who are not intimidated by independent and successful women. (Yup, right here on Earth!) A good buddy of mine actually seeks out highly intelligent women. The girls he dates typically have advanced degrees, are highly ambitious, and are successful in their careers.
Another good buddy won’t settle for anything less. “If I can’t have an intelligent conversation with her about things like economics or world culture,” he says, “then I can’t go out with her.”
As for me, I’m attracted to well-educated, intelligent, independent, and successful women too. I’ve dated girls who are eleven donuts short a box of dozen and those relationships never lasted too long. I can’t date a woman I don’t respect, and I have a lot of respect for intelligence, autonomy, and ambition. Plus, big brains are sexy. Mmm mmm mmm.
I realize that my friends and I are not the norm, however. But men with this mindset do exist. The majority of them are successful too. The challenge isn’t one of simply adjusting standards, in my opinion (though it’s helpful for everyone to at least have realistic standards). It’s also of trying to find one who’s compatible with you.
It’s not an impossible challenge either. As Gerson happily notes:
“The more highly educated a woman is, the more likely she is to ultimately marry. But it’s also true that she’s more likely to postpone marriage until she gains a foothold in the workplace and feels more secure about her working life until she’s a chance to figure out who she is, so she knows what kind of partner she wants.
“And ultimately, women who do postpone, especially if they’re highly educated, are more likely to find a partner who is right for them. [It is] more likely for that marriage to work, to last, and to create that balance between personal autonomy and commitment that they desire.”