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Am I Intimidating or Are You Intimidated?

Recently Kelli Lawless did a great post on her blog around the idea that certain women were considered intimidating men (and why that might be). I commented with my 2 cents and have been interested to see how the comment stream evolved.

One of the reasons I found this post particularly compelling was its timing. It came just a couple of weeks after a 2-parter in Huffpo by Jag Carrao called 10 Lies Women Tell Themselves. Now, to be honest, I thought the piece was hysterical, and tend to find her posts kind of ridiculous. It’s just The Rules rehashed (and, in fact, she “trained” with the esteemed authors of The Rules so that’s exactly what we should expect from her). Anyway, her number 1 lie that women tell themselves is, He’s “intimidated” by you.

So which is it? Are there indeed cases when men are too intimidated to ask women out?  Are some women, because of their looks or intelligence or personality more intimidating than other women? Or is that just a myth that women tell themselves at night when they’re sitting at home, dateless?

Here’s what I think in case anyone cares: it’s not about me/us/women. I am a strong woman. I admit that. I have a strong personality.  I’m also 5′ tall and weigh not much more than 100 lbs.  Physically intimidating I’m not. And, I tend to smile a lot. At everyone.  Not when I’m genuinely sad, sure.  But most of the time.

And yet I’ve been told by male friends that I can be intimidating. When I parse this with them it turns out that there is nothing I’ve ever done or said that’s intimidating, but rather some men are intimidated by me.  In other words, it’s the guys’ problem.  They lack .

Now, Carrao asserts that if a man really liked me he would get his shit together and ask me out, no matter what.  That no man is so lacking in confidence that he would let the woman of his dreams pass him by. This seems to be negated by the multi-million dollar industry of pickup artists and trainings that feed off the average man’s lack of confidence.  But whatever.

When it comes down to it, I don’t care.  Really don’t care.  It doesn’t matter if a guy thinks I’m intimidating.  Or if he’s just easily intimidated.  All that matters is what people actually do.  If a guy doesn’t ask me out, he doesn’t.  If he does, he does… And truth be told, it’s probably best that I don’t go out with any (more) guys who are borderline mousy.  I’ve tried it and believe me it just gets ugly.

Just a final word on this, even though it’s probably saying too much:  The Rules, this post, so many books and posts – they’re all pretty much the same, say the same thing.  Single women are wrong and frequently delusional.  We need to change our ways, shift our priorities and focus on snaring a man (the path to which is almost always looking prettier, using sex as a weapon and manipulating him). Happiness and self-awareness don’t enter into any of these equations, nor does rethinking traditional relationships and gender roles.  Honestly, the fact that these authors continue to make so much money makes me sad.  But then, Bush was reelected so clearly we are not the brightest people of the planet.


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20 to “Am I Intimidating or Are You Intimidated?”


  1. Anonymous says:

    Ha! Thank you for saying exactly what I have been feeling for years now, whenever one of my male (or female, for that matter) friends tells me I am too intimidating to men. As if a woman should somehow become Betty Crocker or the faithful assistant to a man so he doesn’t feel insecure.

  2. Miss Alpha says:

    “When it comes down to it, I don’t care. Really don’t care. It doesn’t matter if a guy thinks I’m intimidating. Or if he’s just easily intimidated. All that matters is what people actually do. If a guy doesn’t ask me out, he doesn’t. If he does, he does… And truth be told, it’s probably best that I don’t go out with any (more) guys who are borderline mousy. I’ve tried it and believe me it just gets ugly.”

    AMEN! If men find you intimidating, who cares? You are who you are and you don’t want to trifle with men who are not secure enough to ask you out / date you. Onto the next :)

  3. Tahoe Bill says:

    The Rules, the “he’s not that into you” approach really emphasize superficial criteria. Intimidating, Easy, Romantic, Mysterious, whatever–these are all just first impressions. I think intimidating is more of a problem cuz it’s a barrier to getting to know you, not cuz it’s a barrier to asking you out.

  4. TerrySimpson says:

    Sometimes people just have to grow up – and now I’m just talking about men. I don’t know about women – God knows I’ve tried. But this is what I’ve learned:

    If you want a relationship – a real relationship – a partner, someone who has your back, someone who you can bounce ideas off of, someone who will help you forge a path — then you want someone who is, on occasion intimidating. You want someone who you take seriously. You want someone who will tell you (quietly and not in front of your friends) that you are full of it.

    That’s just me- after a lot of years, and a few relationships. So I like strong, independent women. And if at times they are a bit intimidating– great.

    In terms of looks – well, if you are intimidated by looks you’re an idiot. It means you will want to date a pretty one, and not figure out that (a) pretty ones will date almost anyone and (b) you will always want to date a pretty one til you figure out that what you want is more inside than outside and a pretty one with a rotten attitude is a miserable life.

    I just realized I said absolutely nothing of importance or new great ideas here but– yes, if someone is intimidated by you then its best if they pass by and grow up. There is a right kind of intimidation – the type that they respect you, want your opinion, input, and believe that your mind and heart are in the right place.

  5. TerrySimpson says:

    grammar and nouns are off on my last post– but Simone- I’m sure you could correct it all for me– or know what I meant– or will tell me that I’m full of it

  6. AndThatsWhyYoureSingle says:

    Let’s approach this from a different angle.

    First, few if any men who are actually intimidated by a woman will tell her they’re intimidated. They’re automatically putting themselves in a position of weakness and making themselves vulnerable. Now, the one time men will freely make this confession is when he’s talking to a beautiful woman. He’s stroking her ego and trying to make himself appear insecure, letting her think she has the power in the dynamic. Women do this too. We let men think they’re in control at times when they’re really not. So I’m not implying that this is some sort of devious form of manipulation.

    Second, if a man tells a woman – be it a female friend or a woman he’s dating – that he or another man finds her intimidating, he’s really just trying to soften the blow. She’s not really intimidating to men. She’s off putting. She’s either too aloof, or cold, or aggressive or loud or combative. Or she’s just boring. Or she comes across like an elitist snob. The word “intimidating” is just a nice little umbrella under which all these more accurate descriptors fall. Men use this excuse because they know us well enough to know we’ll secretly be happy at the thought that men are intimidated by us. Then they’re off the hook. It’s a way for them to avoid getting in to an argument or hurting our feelings. But it’s also they’re way of saying “It’s not them. It’s you.”

    If a woman hears the “you’re intimidating” excuse often, even more than once, then it’s time to re-examine your approach.

    Sure, there are some men that are intimidated by certain types of women. But they aren’t the norm. They’re just not. This IS a lie women tell themselves to justify why they’re single.

  7. Maria the Date Coach says:

    Have you ever said to a guy “You are intimidating.” Only if you probably aren’t into them…. probably.
    And there is always that one defying characteristic that probably made that person intimidating, which became a turn-off.

    Earlier commentator said:

    “She’s not really intimidating to men. She’s off putting. She’s either too aloof, or cold, or aggressive or loud or combative. Or she’s just boring. Or she comes across like an elitist snob. The word “intimidating” is just a nice little umbrella under which all these more accurate descriptors fall.” -

    i could not agree with this more.

    If several people have a perception of yourself that you do not agree with, whatever that characteristic is, make an effort to re evaluate your perception to others, and then evolve those characteristics into the perception you would like people to view you as.

  8. ThemisSpeaks says:

    I don’t think females needs to look at The Rules and restructure their persona, but at some point of hearing “you’re intimidating” so many times, it becomes apparent some self-evaluation is in order. Females can console themselves with this thought of being intimidating because it seems like an accomplishment – as if we’ve reached that level of being on par with a man so that means it makes other men uncomfortable. I think that 1) shooting for that is detrimental to true female empowerment and 2) it colludes the fact that “intimidating” may mean negative things: rude, overtly aggressive, criticizing, combative. Overcompensating for “traditional” female qualities in misguided attempts to appear like a contemporary woman are just as harmful as gender stereotyping.

    There should be give and take in a relationship – and, a woman should WANT a man versus NEEDING him. I do think if a man wants to be with you, or if anyone wants anything, they will make it happen. No one who is truly intimidated would ever admit it until they felt more comfortable with that person (aka no longer intimidated).

  9. Kelly Seal says:

    Thanks for sharing—I just wrote about this on my blog yesterday!! Have you read Dr. Benzer’s posts on Huffington Post? He is rich—basically, like Jag, he says smart women should “not think so much” and tell guys how great they are. I’m pretty sure he thinks we should massage their feet at night, too. anyway, it’s really annoying that women are just expected to change to “snag” a man. Why can’t we make both men and women equally responsible for creating good relationships, and not try all these bullshit tactics? Sigh.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think if men keep telling you you’re intimidating they just mean you have opinions of your own and don’t back down easily when they talk rubbish. Some day a really intelligent opinionated man will come along who’s delighted to meet someone who will actually stand up to him. It happened to me it can happen to you. Don’t go changing.

  11. Manhattan Male says:

    The percentage of men partaking in PUA seminars and coaching is small.That’s why such courses are so inordinately high priced. You’re using a tiny segment of your target audience to negate Carroa’s argument, which voids your counter. If this is how you assert your opinions with men, with a tone of superiority and backed up with opinions disguised as facts,then that explains a lot.

  12. periken says:

    one millllllion times over, i would rather be intimidating than easily intimidated. later scaredy cats!

  13. trinidarlin says:

    I have gotten that I am intimidating and that I LOOK high maintenance. I have gotten this from both men and women. A girlfriend saw a photo of me in the social pages at a work event and called me to tell me it was no wonder I could not get a man cause I look too GOOD. What does this mean? I keep asking – what does that mean??? What does this say about men…and women? Am I then supposed to not dress nice and feel like the star I am just to snag a man? I cannot believe this and won’t. You’re right – the shit has to go on, does not matter what the so called gurus say. If the man does not want me my with my high maintenance, intimidating looking ass, then ok.

  14. singlutionary says:

    If you have your shit together there are a certain portion of humans (men and women) who are gonna be a bit scared of you. Which is fantastic because then the people you meet tend to not be scaredy cats. I think that it is true that there are a lot of men out there who are looking for a female partner who will be the passive party in the relationship. So no, they’re not going to ask out an “intimidating” woman.

    Be intimidating if that is what you are and you’ll get a higher quality of man! One that isn’t afraid of a challenge or to be challenged and one who isn’t looking for a passive little honey to bring him his beer.

  15. Kolea says:

    “Single women are wrong and frequently delusional. We need to change our ways, shift our priorities and focus on snaring a man (the path to which is almost always looking prettier, using sex as a weapon and manipulating him). Happiness and self-awareness don’t enter into any of these equations, nor does rethinking traditional relationships and gender roles. Honestly, the fact that these authors continue to make so much money makes me sad.”

    OMG I think I love you and I totally needed to read this post at this moment in time. Thank you!

  16. drumdance says:

    My take is that most people — men or women — are not that initmidating once you get to know them. They have insecurities and vulnerabilities like everyone else (though people with narcissistic personality disorder just assume that their problems are your problems too).

    It’s when we first meet that we’re intimidated because all of us wear social masks.

    Re: confidence – all people have some degree of situational confidence. I’m knowledgable around a broad range of topics, especially computers, so when we get on my home turf I exude confidence.

    OTOH most of us have terrible role models for dating (our parents and teenage friends in high school) so a lot of men lack confidence in that arena. I used to be that way, and the PUA stuff helped me get my head on straight.

    So you can say I lacked confidence, but the truth was in certain situations I lacked confidence, much like some people can be very interesting but nonetheless suck at public speaking – would you judge them based on just that one skill set? Once I got a better feel for what makes me attractive to women, dating got a lot easier for me.

  17. Christian S. says:

    Why is “everybody” so judgemental?
    Or full of themselves that their’s is the only right way?
    Fundamentalists ;-)

    How about live and let live?
    You found happiness … great.
    Why not let everyone else decide for themselves what makes them happy.
    Might not be the same as for you.

    Shocking ;-)

  18. Sheila says:

    “s if a woman should somehow become Betty Crocker or the faithful assistant to a man so he doesn’t feel insecure.”

    Therein lies part of the problem: “Intimidating” = “not pleasant”, in my mind. Being nice to people doesn’t have to mean being a doormat or playing Betty Crocker to his Don Draper. Perhaps if you would knock that chip off your shoulder, you’d have better luck with men. Men like nice, open, happy women.. not women who feel the need to “one up” a man every chance they get.

  19. Simone Grant says:

    First, I guess I should apologize for ignoring this long comment thread. It was in no way intentional. Just a coincidence of timing. Things have been a bit extreme.

    Speaking of extreme, an awful lot of extreme feelings here about how other people should behave. I never will get it. As I don’t have time to address everyone I’ll just respond to a few things, somewhat indirectly. The best comment to this post came via twitter DM from a man I’ve met at a few social occasions, very briefly. In total I can’t imagine we’ve exchange more than 30 sentences total. He said that he GOT it. That I gave off a very type A vibe. And that people/men could pick up on that. And some would find that intimidating.

    And I understood what he meant. Because I sense that, hell I look for that in men. I don’t mesh well with men who don’t have it.

    I guess what I’m saying is that people are making a lot of assumptions here. About edges and “niceness” and being aloof. I can’t speak for any other women who’ve commented here or on Kelli’s blog, but my issues with men have never been for lack of being liked. Rather, I’ve picked and spent years with the wrong guys.

    Anyway, I probably sound defensive and I don’t mean to because really I think this is more than a little silly. Some women care quite a bit about how men perceive them and are very concerned about finding a husband. And some people think that that should be every single woman’s priority. I don’t happen to fall into either of those groups. If there’s a guy out there who can bring additional joy to my life then he’s going to be cool with me, type A vibe and all. And if not…

  20. lara says:

    women whom are over 30, no kids, single or living with a so called partner , some dude that aint a boyfriend nor a lover, just some dude that hangs around them they call partner, are usually the ones who get intimidated by young, usually muscular and beautiful men. Very sad.