I've been talking with one of my friends about the harsh realities of the dating world. I know I lucked out tremendously, in that I haven't had to deal with those rocky waters for going on nearly a decade. But that doesn't mean I'll refrain from calling bullshit when I see what's going on with my single friends.
My friend's biggest problem right now is guys are intimidated by her. She's a bit of a rocker chick, she's smart, and she can outsmart you in hockey Q&A any day of the week. She's had guys tell her a whole list of reasons why they aren't going to make their dating more "official" -- I believe I ranted about this a while ago with my "too sexy" post. Lately guys have been telling her to tone down her overall personality, because guys don't want a smart-aleck chick who can banter with the best of them. They want "soft and unassuming".
And in case I haven't said it before, I'll say it now: if you want soft and unassuming, get a puppy.
Like I told my friend, it's good when guys who feel that way say what they're thinking out loud. It lets you know right off the bat that this isn't a guy who is looking for his partner in crime; he's looking for someone to smile and nod and stroke his ego (among other things). And what type of relationship is that?
I've been told I'm intimidating my entire life. It might be why, for the first 24+ years of it, I did everything in my power to be as soft and unassuming to the outside world as possible (constantly downplaying yourself does wonders for your self esteem, by the way). When I was a retail slave, it was always my job to confront shoplifters, because what's more intimidating than a 5'11" girl with broad shoulders hovering over you?
Then I started getting to yoga, tai chi, and martial arts in general. Suddenly my shoulders grew even broader because of all my chatarungas. I could imagine what Alternative Universe Unmarried Me would be dealing with in the dating world, being tall as all getout, with muscular legs and defined shoulders. I could hear the guys making jokes about being in the WWE, or maybe a wisecrack or two about being able to beat them up. Enough to make you want to dress like a flower child with long skirts and peasant shirts.
And what does my husband say when I point out how big my shoulders have become? "Well, better do some bicep and tricep exercises to keep the amount of strength balanced in your arms."
So -- surprise, motherfuckers -- this post is now about me gushing about my husband. Because not once has my husband ever wished I "toned down" my intellect, or "toned down" what others would find intimidating. In fact, he would routinely call me out when I would play down whatever it is I was trying to play down, telling me point-blank that those are all traits I should be proud of instead.
That's what you need. You need someone who sees what you bring to the table and, instead of asking you to dial it back, matches it without blinking an eye. This obviously excludes things like emotional manipulation or lashing out or anything within that realm of behavior. But a smart chick shouldn't be told to act dumb; she should find a smart guy that she can riff with. A strong woman shouldn't be told to be more "soft"; she should find a strong man who respects what she can do, physically or otherwise.
It's exhausting to see the dating world filled with so many egocentric narcissists who would have the gall to say, "No, what you are is wrong -- and I know this because I'm not attracted to it." But hey, they're looking for soft and unassuming, and if they can't get that in a terrier or retriever, they'll get it in their girlfriend.