A Q&A with Rachel Greenwald
I am very successful in my career and earn a high salary. Since I am 47 and never married, I have been able to buy many luxuries for myself, rather than spend my money on nannies or orthodontia or minivans, like many of my colleagues who are married with children. I have a beautiful loft in a posh east side neighborhood, I wear a fur coat in the winter, I vacation at spas and top resorts around the world, and my business card says “President.” However, despite all this, I am often lonely and would love to meet the right man. When I go on dates, I am rarely asked for a second date, and my friends have told me it’s because I intimidate men. I have dated a range of men from CEO’s to plumbers to teachers, but have not found someone secure enough with himself to pursue me. How can I find a man who is comfortable with what I’ve achieved?
I am wondering if your issue isn’t actually that you “intimidate” men, but rather that you come across as “snooty?” With your long list of luxuries and possessions, your letter has an alienating tone that might make someone bristle. I wonder if that is happening on your dates? I have met several very successful career women (and men) who flaunt their status, and not many people actually like them as a result.
First, I want you to do some “market research” (you’re a business woman after all, so you understand the value of this exercise!). Ask for very candid feedback from three men and three women about your personal style. Be sure to select these people (friends, family, colleagues, even your hair stylist?) for their honesty: you are looking for real help here, not self-affirmation. If there are consistent issues that arise with the feedback, take them to heart and try to make some adjustments accordingly. This will verify whether the “intimidation” issue is really the root cause of your dating problem, not an alienating personal style.
Second, you may very well intimidate men with your achievements, and that is a common problem among successful women. Of course you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and should not have to pretend to be anything less! However, dating is a game in the early stages—whether we like it or not. Don’t shoot the messenger here: that’s just the reality. So you have to be savvy enough to know what turns men on (and off). According to 1,000 “exit interviews” that I conducted with single men, they are most attracted to women who appear kind and thoughtful, and least attracted to women who appear competitive, argumentative, or emit a “masculine” and/or “business” vibe.
Here are three easy suggestions to succeed with first impressions (including first dates, phone calls, and email exchanges):
- Try to ease men into seeing the “strong” you, the “career” you. Initially you just want him to get beyond any monetary or job stereotypes that may prevent him from getting to know you for what really matters (i.e., what’s on the inside). If you’re the president of a real estate company, for example, simply tell him initially that you “sell real estate,” explain why you’re passionate about your job, and highlight how you help people find their dream home. This will be more impressive to your date than bragging about your job title (remember: you want him to date you, not hire you!)
- For the first date, edit your wardrobe and accessories to be more down-to-earth (nothing says “I’m a rich bitch” like a fur coat!). Don’t dress for success or go straight from the office wearing power suits, expensive jewelry, or flashy clothing that flaunt your monetary status. This only deflects attention from your interior to your exterior.
- Don’t let your conversation focus heavily on your accomplishments at work. Rather, focus on mutual interests such as family, films, books, or pets (not items that signify career success, such as the ability to take expensive vacations). This will help both of you evaluate whether you have emotional chemistry, not just healthy bank accounts and impressive resumes.
I applaud you for dating a variety of men from different career levels, and hope these suggestions will help you project a positive first impression that will lead to finding true love. Remember that the goal on a first date is to simply get him to call back for a second date (if you like him) so that you can begin getting to know each other better. Only then can you determine whether he’s secure enough with himself to make you happy.