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Women Too Amazing To Have Boyfriends

According to what men say they want in a woman, I’m in the ballpark. I’m 33, happy and independent, with a cool job that pays me well. I’m in good shape (yoga and blading) and people besides my grandma call me “pretty.” I don’t think I want something unattainable -- just a goodhearted, fun guy who’s got his life together, who doesn’t spend his free time parked in front of the TV. He doesn’t have to be a model-type, either. I care more about whether a guy reads the newspaper than whether he’s losing his hair. So, why can’t I find a boyfriend? And why are so many of my female friends in the same boat? These are attractive, accomplished women who, like me, get told they’re “too much” by guys they date. It seems that petty, unreasonable, possessive gold-diggers land all the guys. Is there hope for the rest of us?

--Boyfriend Repellant

What men want in a woman and what they say they want -- apart from breasts big enough to divert advertising from the Goodyear blimp and a waist like a Number Two pencil -- can be two entirely different things.

Never underestimate the allure of a mean, bitter, controlling woman with a mountain range of issues -- nothing that 3,000 hours of therapy can’t make a tiny, imperceptible dent in. She keeps a man on his feet -- ready, at any moment, to duck an ashtray hurled at him. Between ducking airborne objects, he’s ducking his own issues, which is probably the point.

Little men need littler women. For the man who feels crumb-like, the ideal girlfriend has much in common with a premature kitten -- just not so much that she gets him kicked out of his apartment for violating bylaws prohibiting pets. Such helpless kitties are frequently unemployed due to their inability to operate technically sophisticated office equipment -- such as light switches, bulldog clips, and ballpoint pens.

Assuming you aren’t smelly, desperately irritating, or otherwise objectionable, your problem is that you don’t have problems. Like a self-cleaning oven, you’re a self-rescuing woman -- a damsel imminently capable of extricating herself from distress with checking overdraft protection, a rereading of the directions on her power screwdriver, or one phone call to 24-hour roadside assistance. (You have no idea how unattractive all this self-sufficiency can be to so many men.)

Luckily, you don’t need “so many men” -- just one actual man. To find one, look beyond obvious indications of manhood like hair growing out of ears and nostrils just as rapidly as hair is evacuating the head. You’re seeking something more subtle -- a man completely comfortable with who he is and what he does. He’s the guy who won’t feel like a ground squirrel next to a woman who doesn’t need him to make her happy, but wants him to stick around because he makes her happier.

Should you find a real man, give him space to play the man role. Avoid the temptation to re-enact the part of General Sherman marching to the sea -- barking orders and constantly court-martialing him for being “wrong.” This won’t mark you as “un-feminist” or unable to function on your own. It instead suggests that you’re strong enough to stop being in charge of the entire universe for 20 minutes, and that you’re likely to respond to his opening a door for you by thanking him, not by slugging him in the mouth. Also, it’s sexy for girls to be girls and boys to be boys. It sure beats the alternatives -- taking Vindictive Shrew Lessons or practicing being fed your meals, preemie kitty-style, out of an eyedropper.

Copyright ©2003, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 100 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.