Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

His Take: “Am I Too Intimidating for Men?”

I’m beginning to think I might intimidate men. My last boyfriend and I met in my apartment building after we’d each been living there for almost a year. We got to know each other when I struck up a conversation with him in the elevator, and again when we bumped into each other on campus. After we’d been dating for a couple weeks he confessed to me that he’d liked me for a long time but was nervous to talk to me, “because cute girls are scary” and “what if you were a bitch?” I was flattered he liked me for so long but sad that he felt he couldn’t approach me. I told my best female friend about this and asked if she thought I was intimidating. She hesitated but admitted that I could be because I dress well, always look neat and am organized and ambitious.

I understand that to a certain extent, but am frustrated because I always try to smile and be friendly to people. I really doubt anyone who knows me well would say I was a bitch or give anyone a reason to be afraid of me. I feel that I am always having to make the first move with guys and I would like to feel as though I am being pursued, instead of the other way around for once. I think all the reasons my friend gave that I am intimidating are positive parts of my personality, so what am I doing wrong? Do you think I need to make some changes, or is this just something I’m going to have to deal with? β€” Intimi-dating


ART:You are doing zero things wrong. In high school I was told I was intimidating (my senior year! Thanks, “friends”!). I had no idea what that meant, but I think it had something to do with the fact that I was/am shy, that I can tend to furrow my brow when thinking which makes me look angry, and that I can come off as distant because of these things. Also, as you can see from my picture, I’m supermodel handsome.

I did all the smiling things, I did all the compliments and engaging in conversations. But I think the main problem here is a more universal one: we all have our challenges in finding people to date. We’re all too picky, not sufficiently picky, we come off as assholes when we’re not, we come off as nice when we’re actually assholes, you name it. There are lots of reasons why dating doesn’t happen with the ease and results we want. For me, it was a complex about the fact no one would strike up conversations with me, which, once I got over it, resulted in plenty of dates and, eventually, the horror of wedding planning.

I think you just need to figure the way of getting dates that works for you and run with it. If it’s asking the guy first, then so be it. Make him want it so bad that he pursues you. That way you can be pickier, you won’t have to worry about intimidation, and you still feel wanted. But the thing is, being asked on a date may happen by chance, but who the hell wants to just sit back and wait for life to come to them? Go out and grab your date by the balls and make him want you.

DENNIS: To answer this question, I’m going to pull a concept from statistics called “sample size of one.” What “sample size of one” suggests is that if you take a survey, and your results are based on one single person’s responses, said results will probably be meaningless. To that end, do you get called intimidating by men all the time? Or just your boyfriend? Always having to make the first move could be caused by a host of different reasons β€” reasons that, unfortunately, I don’t have enough details about you to even start guessing. As for your friend, it seems like she was reaching for answers when trying to explain why you might be intimidating, so I don’t see why you should put much weight in what she said, either.

My advice: Keep smiling and being friendly, keep dressing well, don’t give up your ambition, and give your boyfriend a backhand upside the head for making as preposterous a statement as “because cute girls are scary.” Just… you know, slap him playfully and smile when you do it. You don’t want to scare him or anything.

JOE: I think that your situation is a good one to be in – as you said, those traits that could come across as intimidating are all positive ones. You’re not mean, not egotistical, not cold and uncaring. You’re simply an intelligent, attractive, organized, ambitious woman.
Will you always have to deal with men being intimidated by you? Of course. Sure, you could make yourself less intimidating, but what traits would you be willing to sacrifice? Your ambition? Your neatness? Your appearance? None of these are negatives, so why alter them?

Instead, just realize that, if you want men to pursue you, you’ll need to wait for a bolder, more confident man to appear in your life, but you’ll need to realize that such a man will also likely be able to easily get his choice of women who are less ambitious/organized/etc. than you. Such a man might be tempted to go for the easy score, especially at the college level. Or… you could accept that such confidence for men often comes a bit later in life, along with more maturity, and that, for now, you might need to be the one who does the asking. The men who aren’t yet bold and self-confident might also be the very same men who will, as life goes on, grow into the traits and abilities that they have, because, as people mature, things that once caused confidence cease to matter, and things that once seemed irrelevant begin to inspire confidence. It’s thrilling to be pursued. It’s more thrilling to be with the right person. Don’t do so much to gain the first that you sacrifice the second.

JMagic: “I dress well, look neat, and am organized and ambitious.” If that’s intimidating then I must have a fetish for intimidating women. I would venture to say that you and your potential suitors are in your early 20s? I know it’s wrong to paint a group with such a broad brush, but most guys in that age range would much rather reach for the low-hanging, easy to ‘bag’ fruit, than a woman who seemingly has it together and doesn’t fall for the “hey baby, you must be wearing Windex cuz I can see myself in your pants” type conversation-starters.

It might not be much consolation now, but I think any man worth having will look at your traits as a positive and not the “what if she’s a b***” BS. However, maybe you ‘trying’ to smile isn’t always as apparent. I’m a pretty smiley guy and the moment I walk around with a ‘straight’ face people immediately respond with “what’s wrong??!” So you might want to be a bit more aware of your mood and how that may translate into facial expressions. Good luck!

ERIK: If I see you out somewhere, doing something responsible-looking while sporting a well-styled outfit and a motivated look, I’m going to assume you’ve got your shit together. I think as guys it’s our general assumption that women are usually attracted to men who have their lives in order and live to a high standard. If it looks like you’re two steps ahead of us in that department – whether or not that’s true – we might be intimidated because we feel like we don’t have a chance.

Don’t change yourself for this, though. It sounds like you do have your shit together and that’s awesome. There’s plenty you can do to put the people around you at ease without sacrificing your sense of fashion or driven nature. If you’re with a guy and you want to encourage him to pursue you, just do something to let him know that you aren’t really high-maintenance and help him be comfortable around you.

* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at [email protected] with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.

66 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Bethany August 2, 2011, 12:09 pm

    I agree with all the guys, especially Joe. In your letter you come across as confident, put together, and very mature. That might be a lot for a guy to handle (especially college age guys), but you probably don’t want to be with those guys that can’t appreicate you for who you are anyway!
    I think in another couple of years this really won’t be a problem for you… Until then I think you should try to enjoy being the one initiating conversations/dates. It can be fun!

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    cdobbs August 2, 2011, 12:18 pm

    i’m going to get alot of thumbs down for this, but the LW seems like a narcissist to me and maybe that is what is putting guys off.

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      Maracuya August 2, 2011, 12:28 pm

      Eh, I didn’t read it that way. Calling herself neat, organized and a decent dresser doesn’t seem like bragging.

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      AnitaBath August 2, 2011, 12:50 pm

      How the hell is she narcissistic? Because she admits to looking put together? Is it only acceptable for women to have low self esteem nowadays?

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    • Heather

      Heather August 2, 2011, 1:01 pm

      Gonna have to disagree with this one. Just because a woman admits to being put together doesn’t mean she’s a narcissist. There have been DW letters where the LW came off that way for sure, but I absolutely didn’t read this as one of them.

      Kudos to LW

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      Samantha August 2, 2011, 5:19 pm

      I gotta say, I am inclined to agree. It’s not that she acknowledged her good qualities – that doesn’t make her a narcissist – it’s that she wrote this letter in the first place. What does she want? Some sort of validation that she was too good for her last boyfriend? Yes, LW, you probably intimidate some guys, we all do if we’re confident women, but to write asking advice for something you know is not a real problem is weird. This is a self-congratulatory letter that gives off some strange vibes, like Leilani mentioned below.

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        AnitaBath August 2, 2011, 5:21 pm

        Or it could be that she wanted a guy’s take? Or an expert’s opinion? Or to be told whether she should change her demeanor? Wouldn’t almost all LWs be raging narcissists then?

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        Maracuya August 2, 2011, 5:33 pm

        OMG, this letter is all about the LW. The gall! What makes her think I want to hear all about her proble–oh wait, this is an advice column.

        We get tons of letters from girls and guys who feel like they just can’t get traction in the dating pool. It doesn’t sound narcissistic to me.

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        Jshizzle August 2, 2011, 6:20 pm

        I agree with AB, a guy called me intimidating once…I wanted to get to the root of it, and I considered myself pretty sloppy and meek at the time.

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        moonflowers August 2, 2011, 10:38 pm

        Me too! Really threw me off, because a bunch of other people had told me I was approachable and friendly. I spent a few months being confused before I finally realized it was him and not me.

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        Dennis Hong August 3, 2011, 2:51 pm

        She wanted an expert’s opinion, so she wrote to His Take??? πŸ˜‰

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        Vivster August 2, 2011, 8:03 pm

        Well, typically, when one writes a letter to an advice columnist, one wants advice.

        The LW doesn’t seem to be seeking validation at all. As you said, “to write asking advice for something YOU KNOW IS NOT A REAL PROBLEM is weird.” However, writing to get advice that might help you understand whether or not this IS in fact a real problem? Not weird at all.

        A narcissist is by definition someone who is self-absorbed and vain. Someone who’s actually considering the possiblity that their own behavior is causing a situation? Doesn’t quite seem to match that definition.

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    • katie

      katie August 2, 2011, 9:06 pm

      what i dont get it is that she says all these positive things about herself, but her friend says shes intimidating. i feel like if she had written the letter without asking the friend, WE would be the one saying that she is intimidating those college guys… i dunno, i kind of agree with you, but i still feel like we would be giving her that advice if she had written in with an “im put together, im ambitious, but no one ever asks me out! whats wrong with me!” letter…

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      unbounded August 2, 2011, 11:07 pm

      Uh, no. This letter does not scream narcissist in any way, and I know the signs VERY well. A narcissist is someone who has an over-inflated sense of self, manipulates and uses other people for his or her own gain, and is obsessed with appearances and success, among many other not very nice traits. A true narcissist would never in a million years write into an advice column asking for help on a problem they are having, they would deny ever having a problem in the first place.

      The LW is clearly concerned about the effect she is having on men and wondering what she should do about it, if anything. She doesn’t blame anyone else for the issues she is having and accepts that maybe there is something she needs to change. The fact that she likes the things about herself that her friend named as intimidating doesn’t mean anything – she got one person’s opinion and is now seeking additional input; again, not actions a narcissist would take.

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  • leilani

    leilani August 2, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Aren’t you ever a little nervous to go up and talk to a guy you find attractive? It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with him he needs to change…its just a natural reaction when we see someone we want and we know that they have enough positive stuff going on that we aren’t the only one who probably wants them. As long as you’re sure you’re being friendly and open to new people, I wouldn’t really think twice about this.

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  • leilani

    leilani August 2, 2011, 12:32 pm

    Actually, reading through this a second time, I wonder if you are putting off some weird vibes. I don’t think most guys look at cute girls and think “what if they’re a bitch?”. I’ve had guys tell me they didn’t approach me initially because they thought “she probably has a boyfriend” or “maybe she wouldn’t be into me”, but not because they thought I might suck as a person. Also, when you asked your friend what she thought, it seems like she hesitated and then tried to sugarcoat the answer. I don’t think I would ever tell my friend she was intimidating just because she was a good catch. Maybe you do come across a little haughty or grumpy without realizing it.

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    • avatar

      demoiselle August 2, 2011, 12:56 pm

      If what a guy thinks when he looks at a cute girl is “what if she’s a bitch?”, the problem is probably his.

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        moonflowers August 2, 2011, 10:40 pm

        A guy friend told me he wonders that about everyone he’s interested. It’s just something he always checks for, not specific to the girl.

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      spark August 2, 2011, 6:53 pm

      Totally agree with you!

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      Betty Boop August 2, 2011, 7:04 pm

      Nah, thinking “what if she’s a bitch” is a super easy way to talk yourself out of approaching someone when you’re nervous. I’ve thought similar things about guys I found to be super hot and was too nervous to approach. Particularly if I think he’s hotter than me.

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary August 2, 2011, 12:39 pm

    I agree with all of the guys. We all have our challenges, especially when it comes to dating. The lesson to be learned here is that you are comfortable in yourself and you don’t need to change yourself to attract men (and you have a boyfriend already, so why does it even matter?). Their are women out there who are perfect tens. They look amazing, are super smart, successful in their career, and have a great family and group of friends. Who the hell wouldn’t be intimidated by someone who seems so perfect?? Your boyfriend was probably just afraid he wouldn’t match up or was afraid of rejection. The right man either won’t be intimidated by you, or will finally get the balls to ask you out. Or maybe you’ll ask HIM out?

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  • Budj

    Budjer August 2, 2011, 1:03 pm

    I could be interpreting this way off…but perhaps it is the way you dress and your sense of style that may make guys assume something about you? If you dress conservatively and have your shit together guys may think there is a chance you are “lame” or that you may look down on some of their more immature habits. Guys that like that image have a higher probability of being shy types…and the out-going guys that are more pre-disposed to hitting on a pretty girl might be scared off by that image.

    I’m not suggesting in anyway that you should change your style for this or that there is anything wrong with how you dress now, but it may be a factor. If anything, you could be saving yourself a lot of hassle by having a filter for some guys. Anyways, using my example from before (which could be way off base) if you dress conservatively you could try and add a little flare to your outfit to send out a message that…”yea I have my shit together, but I’m totes down to party.” Food for thought anyways…

    There is also the possiblity that this isn’t a general consensus and you are letting one comment get to you too much.

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  • avatar

    Allissa August 2, 2011, 1:21 pm

    I’ve had friends tell me that if they were dating they would be too intimidated to ask me out. Bummer. I’m a little shy and that works against me. As long as you smile alot (which I need to practice more) then you’ll be ok, although you may need to step up being a little more outgoing than you normally are.

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  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl August 2, 2011, 1:22 pm

    I doubt you’re intimidating any more than any other 20-something young woman is. I have the same problem (if it even qualifies as a “problem”)- I never get hit on, never get asked out, and never really talk to guys I meet in real life. However, I’ve been wildly successful at online dating. Why? Because the fear of rejection is gone. I know they’re there to date, I know they know I’m there to date, so it takes away the embarrassment of the “Oh, you have a girlfriend/wife? Oh, you’re gay? Oh, you think I look like Ursula in this dress?” moment.

    So I don’t think you’re probably intimidating. I just think that a LOT of guys, particularly in the early-20s age range, are shy about asking girls they don’t know out. I think this because striking up a conversation with a random cute dude terrifies the sh*t out of me, and I am assuming that a lot of guys feel the same way. Your boyfriend is one of them.

    Anyway, I’d try not to let this bother you. You are with your boyfriend now, right? And he likes you just the way you are, and more importantly YOU like you, so everything is fine!

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    • avatar

      MsMisery August 2, 2011, 1:35 pm

      You may be in the very small minority of people to put “wildly successful” and “online dating” in the same sentence! When I tried it, I just had a lot of people want to be my long distance special friend. I guess I’m too intimidating even for American guys over the interet!! >___<

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      • Budj

        Budjer August 2, 2011, 1:39 pm

        Based on your location this is a good suggestion – if the LW is looking for more dates…I’d be weary if you live far from major populated areas though…I didn’t have much success, but I’m 4 hours from several major cities.

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        silver_dragon_girl August 2, 2011, 1:45 pm

        Really? Haha, well, your definition of “successful” might be different than mine πŸ˜‰ I can usually go online and meet someone interesting enough to be worth having a drink or dinner with 2-3 times a month, and I’ve met 3 boyfriends online (all of them, in fact). Of course, now I’m single again, so you could argue that I am in fact a spectacular failure at online dating, I guess…!

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      • Budj

        Budjer August 2, 2011, 1:50 pm

        Two different sites both 3 month memberships about a year apart from another. I self-admittedly wasn’t over-eager with the whole thing, but it’s tough to meet someone for drinks when they wouldn’t find anyone within 3 hours of me, haha. And I did contact people and what not…I’m not ugly (how attractive beyond that is in the eye of the beholder) and I have a decent job…on “paper” I looked great. I live in upstate new york though…so I’m not too surprised there aren’t a high frequency of 22 – 28 y.o. women on the online markets in this geographical area.

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        silver_dragon_girl August 2, 2011, 1:58 pm

        I feel your pain. I live in a tiny town in the Midwest, about an hour and a half from the nearest “city” (that isn’t really a city at all, just a larger town). It has definitely been harder to meet people here. At the same time, the plethora of small farm towns and the distance between large settlements really makes online dating the only *good* way to meet people, especially since I didn’t grow up anywhere near here and therefore have no “connections.” Most people are willing to drive a little way to at least meet someone. If you don’t hit it off, well, hey, at least you got out of the house on Saturday night.

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        MsMisery August 2, 2011, 2:16 pm

        I’m within 30 min of Chicago, so there’s lots of people. Of course that also increase the odds of nutters and people just out for a lay. I met one or two nice guys that just flat out weren’t a match, but the vast majority of the men to contact me were either Nigerian Princes or horndogs.

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      • avatar

        ape_escape August 3, 2011, 4:04 am

        “I met one or two nice guys that just flat out weren’t a match, but the vast majority of the men to contact me were either Nigerian Princes or horndogs.”

        oh my god ditto.

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        unbounded August 2, 2011, 11:13 pm

        I’ve had good luck online also – I think it depends on where you are and what you’re looking for, honestly! Knowing that everyone is on there to date does make it easier, it breaks down some of those initial shyness/nervousness barriers.

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    MsMisery August 2, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I have been told by boyfriends and male friends that I’m intimidating (and one female friend that I’m “bitchy”) but NONE of them could give me any concrete reasons on how so. If it’s a vibe, it is subconcious. If it’s my face, I guess it’s genetics. I wear a lot of black, but so do a lot of people. My only stab in the dark is intimidating means something like “different from what I’ve known before” and they don’t know how to approach you. I guess the good thing about it is when I get approached by a total creeper I can raise one eyebrow without any other expression and pretty much get the message across. 😐

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      SweetChild August 2, 2011, 10:00 pm

      Hahaha, nice! I love the raising-eyebrow thing that’s awesome, I think I fall into the same category!

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  • avatar

    Colleen August 2, 2011, 1:34 pm

    Great advice from the men–they’re right that a quality guy won’t be scared off by a successful and ambitious woman. But I wonder if in all of your accomplishments and organization if you might come across not as snobby, but just busy. If men always see you rushing from place to place, or they’re aware of all of your accomplishments, they might assume you don’t have time for them. So if you see someone you want to know better, make sure to show some attention and take time for a short chat. By slowing down, you’ll give them an open invitation to pursue you.

    I’d ask a few more of your close friends for their input if you’re still feeling a little unsettled about this. The very things that attract or turn off potential friends could be the same ones potential dates see.

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    bluesunday August 2, 2011, 1:37 pm

    ugh I have the same problem as the LW. Unfortunately I a case of chronic bitchface and I feel that might be the cause.

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      MsMisery August 2, 2011, 1:40 pm

      “What’s wrong?” “Why don’t you smile??”

      If I get asked that… ONE… MORE… TIME….

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      • Budj

        Budjer August 2, 2011, 1:42 pm

        haha i get that too….it’s an exercise to smile and not look like conversation woud be ill-received by me…i’m just in my own head a lot!

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      • JK

        JK August 2, 2011, 2:23 pm

        I think tht people always have to say something… when I was younger, and had a social life (haha), people always used to think I was drunk because I’d actually enjoy myself and smile (I don’t drink), now, whenever I’m not smiling I get asked what’s wrong! The main culprit of this is my husband, what i’m supposed to grin while I’m ironong/changing diapers/ cooking??? :s

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        SweetChild August 2, 2011, 10:04 pm

        Haha, totally, it’s like no I don’t WANT to put out the washing but I WILL do it because you asked me and I’m not UNHAPPY about it but it doesn’t make me HAPPY! Does that make sense?!?

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        AnitaBath August 2, 2011, 3:56 pm

        “What’s wrong?”
        “What? Nothing’s wrong?”
        “Are you sure?”
        “Yes…”
        “No, but really. What’s wrong?”
        “I’m serious. Nothing’s wrong.”
        “You can tell me. Why are you upset?”
        “I’M NOT UPSET! I’M FINE!”
        “You’re yelling. You’re angry. You’re obviously not okay.”
        “AAAAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHH”

        Conversation of my life.

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        RhyanShae August 3, 2011, 12:44 am

        My job is working with the public, so I often get the “It’s not that bad, smile!” Crew. I’m never really in a bad mood; I’m just trying to finish one task to start another, but I don’t know how to change my face to suit their interpretation.

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      VioletLover August 2, 2011, 3:05 pm

      The curse of the bitchface is a heavy burden. πŸ™

      According to a few friends (I try to avoid the ‘sample size of one’ dilemma so I always ask multiple people), my default expression is “Fuck you, go away.” I’ll just be focusing on trying to hit all the right steps in DDR, or daydreaming out the window, whatever, and apparently I look like I hate everything. Which is not true, at all!

      So you just have to make the conscious effort to smile. For most people, it’s a natural, subconscious thing. For people with Chronic Bitch Face Syndrome, we just have to put a lil more effort in to letting the world know that we don’t really hate them all.

      Although if one more person says “Here, give us a big smile!” I may just snap and kill them

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        AnitaBath August 2, 2011, 3:55 pm

        YES. I was about to say this. Those of us with CBF almost have to make a conscious effort to walk around with a slight smile on our face, like we were just thinking of something pleasant and are in a particularly good mood. It sucks, because my default/spaced-out expression apparently makes me look like a snobby bitch. I’ve had more than one person tell me how they thought I was stuck up before they got to know me better, and it was all due to the fact that I’m socially awkward and shy, and it comes across the wrong way in my facial expressions.

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        Maracuya August 2, 2011, 4:06 pm

        This is me too! I get “Are you okay?” a lot. Yes, I am! Who walks around with a smile 24/7? I think I smile pretty often. Just when I’m eating, walking, staring off into space, thinking about dinner–I don’t. Sigh, CBF.

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        AnitaBath August 2, 2011, 4:08 pm

        Yes! I even get comments like that at completely unrealistic times. Like I’ll be all by myself, and I’ll hear someone walk up and say, “You’re so quiet! Talk a little more!”

        So you want me to just talk to myself when no one is around and I’m completely by myself?

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        Maracuya August 2, 2011, 4:10 pm

        That happens to me all the time! I’m by myself and people will come up and say, “You’re so quiet!” Me: I’ll try to be …louder? I don’t THINK I’m as shy as people think I am. Seriously, who makes a lot of noise by themselves? Keyboard, munchies, drink, phone. Limited noise potential.

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        MsMisery August 3, 2011, 8:39 am

        AHAH. I’m just going to start telling people “I have CBFS. It’s a (low voice) women’s ailment…” No one ever wants to talk about women’s ailments.

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      HmC August 2, 2011, 5:23 pm

      Same! My ex told me I had a down-turned mouth and sad eyes. So I try and turn my mouth up a little and think happy thoughts. It’s a constant struggle for people to not ask me what’s wrong. Strangers will even tell me out of nowhere, “don’t worry, it’s going to be ok!” Thanks.

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  • avatar

    Mainer August 2, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Well, at that age it’s not so much women are intimidating as it is guys are just intimidated easily. College is our first real encounter with girls we’ve never met who are our age. In high school, everyone (mostly) grew up with each other; there was history. So, if you got rejected you can just say “Whatever, Sandy! I remember when you threw up on Mrs. Sheldon on that field trip in second grade. Who needs you ANYWAY!” College, whoooole different story. People are new, you’ve never met them. Your mother’s never arranged play dates. There’s no basis for us to gauge how you’ll respond to us. Plus, if you grew up in a small town like I did, the really attractive girls were usually pretty bitchy. Cocky bitches thinking their milk shakes bring all the boys to the yard. Yeah, like I was the ONLY one to get a boner slow dancing with you! Pff, get over yourself, you didn’t need to tell Timmy! Sorry….I digress.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom August 2, 2011, 2:39 pm

    I think it helps to be specifically warm and friendly. If there’s someone you like make a point of stopping to talk with them. Make it specifically them and not just when they are in a group. Chat. Compliment them with something that is nice and make sure it’s true. A false compliment doesn’t go far.

    I dropped by my husband’s office every day for about a month before he asked me out on our first date. He wasn’t sure I really liked him and was cautious. There is always the chance that you will like someone who doesn’t like you in the same way and then you will sooner or later have to move on.

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  • avatar

    justpeachy August 2, 2011, 3:03 pm

    Got to agree with JMagic. I bet this girl is unaware of her chronic bitch face. She needs to look through a bunch of candids of herself and see what her face is actually doing.

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    • avatar

      Jess August 2, 2011, 7:20 pm

      one of my friends has this problem, people are ALWAYS asking her whats wrong! i feel bad for her.

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  • avatar

    Nick August 2, 2011, 3:43 pm

    There are a thousand ways people subtly choose mates based on seeking someone at their own level. Level of income, confidence, education, height, and most importantly, level of looks. Sure there are exceptions, but in general, you cannot outsmart that process either on the pursuer or pursued side. 50,000 years of genetics are against you.

    So instead of looking at this information about yourself and saying “what’s wrong?” you can look at it and just accept that you may well be intimidating. This is a feature not a bug. Accept it. Likes like likes. You’re better off leaning into it instead of fighting it.

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  • avatar

    HmC August 2, 2011, 5:17 pm

    “It’s thrilling to be pursued. It’s more thrilling to be with the right person. Don’t do so much to gain the first that you sacrifice the second. ”

    This is brilliant, Joe. Your nuanced take on the type of guys who tend to be more aggressive and confident at a young age rings so true and flies in the face of all “The Rules” and I love you for it. I’ve known plenty of complete jack asses perfectly willing to pursue a girl actively- and they were often egotistical jerks who were pursuing for all the wrong reasons anyway. It’s not a myth and it’s not bullshit- sometimes guys who are *genuinely* interested can be shy! Some of the best guys, actually.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet August 2, 2011, 5:34 pm

    I think that unless you are in a bar/party setting, ALL women need to make the “first move.” This seems to be a common misconception amongst us ladies. We think the first move is asking someone out, whenever really, the first move is sending out the signals.

    Guys are not going to come up and flirt with you in a completely innocent and sober setting unless they think you might be interested. You have to flirt. You have to strike up/reciprocate a conversation. You have to smile and wave. You have to flash him sexy eyes. Basically, you have to let him know that you’re cool with him invading your personal bubble to ask you out on a date. You have to send out signals! The sending of the signals is the first move and it is NECESSARY if you want guys to pursue you.

    Of course, there will be the occasional case where a super confident guy will approach you out of the blue and say something charming. He may be a great catch who is just THAT confident and not at all scared of rejection, OR he may be a creep who will make you feel completely uncomfortable. But I stand by my theory that in most cases you have to send out signals first.

    So, LW, it doesn’t sound like you are anymore intimidating than any other pretty gal out there.

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    • avatar

      AnitaBath August 2, 2011, 5:42 pm

      “He may be a great catch who is just THAT confident and not at all scared of rejection, OR he may be a creep who will make you feel completely uncomfortable.”

      I have a friend who firmly believes that guys should ALWAYS make the first move in everything. They should always be the first one to kiss, to ask her out on a date, to even send her a text. And for YEARS she was attracting creep after creep. I honestly believe that the type of men who are okay with and “confident” enough to make EVERY.SINGLE.MOVE are usually the type of guys you want to stay away from because there’s something wrong with them. Most normal people need a little encouragement, and it’s usually the weirdos who need zero encouragement that you want to stay away from.

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      • avatar

        Lexington August 3, 2011, 8:48 am

        Pretty much. Those are the ones who don’t go away with discouragement, either. No offense, but guys in cowboy bars are the worst. I have said, very clearly, go away, leave me alone, I’m not interested, with a MASSIVE case of bitchface and it’s like they don’t even hear it. I wish I could say they don’t take the hint, but it’s not a hint! It’s an outright go the fuck away!

        People boggle me sometimes.

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    • avatar

      Lexington August 2, 2011, 6:10 pm

      I totally agree with you sobriquet! I think that is probably the Lw’s problem- she’s not flirting enough/sending the first signals. Guys aren’t necessarily going to read into friendliness. And you have to be more than subtle. Most guys don’t get subtle. Walking into their personal bubble, giving them flirty eyes, doing things like pouting when they tease you (funny pouting, not serious pouting), all these are staples of attracting a guy’s attention. And it’s not like he’s going to call you out on it/overtly reject you for these kinds of things, so you’re still safe.

      But, LW, I totally think it’s just a matter of being more vulnerable/open and it’s not anything else for you.

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  • avatar

    Jess August 2, 2011, 6:04 pm

    guys usually only come up to girls after the girls make eye contact and smile at them

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    • avatar

      Jshizzle August 2, 2011, 6:25 pm

      “only” ha ha! When I was a teen I wouldn’t wear my glasses out of vanity…but I wore them once out of the mall and kept wondering if I had stuff on my face because guys kept staring at me.

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  • avatar

    Violet August 2, 2011, 7:51 pm

    I always really love JMagic’s advice. πŸ™‚

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  • avatar

    Painted_lady August 2, 2011, 8:04 pm

    Listen, kiddo, Joe, JMagic, and Eric are right on the money. Most college guys are still growing up and want a woman who will be “just for fun” and never challenge them. If you look and act like you’ve got your shit together, then most college age guys know intuitively, or assume, that you are going to require far better treatment than they’re willing to give. It’s not that you’re necessarily a “good girl,” just that you’re going to require someone who will show up when he says he will, act considerately and maturely, and be into more than just sleeping late, partying, and hooking up. Even if all of them don’t want that, many feel pressured to act like they want that and haven’t developed the spine to stand up to the alpha brodawgs to say, hey, living like this all the time is stupid and shallow. I hung out with a bunch of guys in college who were led around by two or three ringleaders who wrote off any woman who required anything more than a BJ and a pat on the head as “drama queens” or “high maintenance.” Get those guys away from their ringleaders and they were really sweet guys who wanted smart, together, funny, strong women, but the second the lead bro didn’t approve of a girl, she was out the door. Fast forward to now, alpha brodawgs are gone, and these guys all have the sorts of women they weren’t “allowed” to date in college.

    I was like you in undergrad. I was put-together, goal-oriented, driven, and while I could definitely cut loose and party, I knew how to be responsible. The couple of guys I did date didn’t last very long, because I either required too much or I got dismissed by the guy’s alpha brodawg as too high-maintenance. I was told by my best guy friend I “overpowered” the men I dated, which is why he would never date a woman like me.

    Guess what? That guy and I have been dating for a year now. He grew up. I grew up in certain ways, too, but he freely admits that statement was made when he was living in a world where females who had standards they weren’t afraid to voice were high-maintenance bitches. He tells me now that, my standards aside, I am the most easygoing girlfriend he’s ever had. And here in the last few years, I don’t hurt for male attention. I’m not beating them off, but my “adult” vibe is no longer a liability. And I’ve become more comfortable in the vibe I give off. That helps, too, and you will find that comfort – absolutely nothing is wrong with you for being “intimidating” when you’re in college.

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    • avatar

      moonflowers August 2, 2011, 10:52 pm

      Can’t exactly say I was suffering from alpha brodawg types, but I definitely am getting more attention now as a 26-27 yr old than when I was 21. Guys my age somehow knew I was only up for serious quality relationships, and most guys aren’t looking for those until they hit around 25 and realize they actually kind of want to settle down someday. You’re probably sick and tired of being told to wait for the boys to grow up, LW, but at some point they *will*, and then you won’t be able to shoo ’em all away fast enough. πŸ™‚

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie August 2, 2011, 10:00 pm

    Finding someone to be a companion is difficult no matter what your attributes are. These pages are filled with that dilemma. Keep your standards high of yourself and those you choose to associate with.

    Men think beautiful women are intimidating because of our self doubt, as in “Why would she be interested plain old me”. Your ambition and success allow you to dress well is another warning sign that you may need to be expensively supported no matter self sufficient you are and can take care of yourself, thank you very much. This particularly true of young men that aren’t yet established in a high paying career.

    Bottom line is DO NOT STOOP DOWN TO ANYONE’S DOUBTS. A far more productive approach is to mingle with successful and self confident men. Admittedly that will not be easy but stop wasting your time on those that expect less and will not accept more.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph August 3, 2011, 2:36 pm

    Sorry I’m late to this topic but I just want to chime in and tell the LW my story.
    I decided I liked my current boyfriend, then I started showing up places I knew he would be. I showed up to cheer on his men’s softball team, I got his roommate to invite me to movie night at their house, etc. Well he was a shy clueless nerd type who was not going to make a move, and I was outspoken and aggressive and a girl engineer which scares guy engineers anyways… so I asked him out. And he said yes. And now we’ve been dating for over a year.
    My point is that you might always be the kind of girl who has to ask guys out. Or you might be the kind who, as the guys around you grow up, has more success being asked out. But what really matters is that you find a person you enjoy being with and are compatible with and who cares who asks who out? If my boyfriend and I get married, have kids, grow old, who-asked-who-out is just gonna be a cute story we tell the grandkids. If we break up, then it won’t be a story at all. Bottom line, its not important.

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