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Am I intimidating?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  May 27, 2011 08:41 AM

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Sorry I've been posting at 9. I'll be earlier next week.


Q: Hi Meredith!

I'm an independent, caring, honest, athletic, average-looking female in my 30s, I'm happy with who I am and know I have a lot to offer, but and I'm having trouble meeting the right guys (or any guys at all for that matter!).

I actually get along better with men than I do with women, and I think I have a lot of similar interests with most men. I love sports (play softball, run regularly, and love to try new activities), I work out regularly. I enjoy hanging out at sports bars with apps and wings, traveling, etc. Other than that, my interests aren't scary. I enjoy being out of the house, raising money and organizing events for charity, zoos/animals, scrapbooking, reading and writing, hanging out with my family, etc.

Some of my personality traits are strong. I'm very independent. I've gotten used to being on my own and having to do things for myself to the point that it often makes me uncomfortable when people want to do things for me or give me gifts. Yet, I'm very giving and generous. I always donate and support friends' charity endeavors, and I always buy little gifts or make little treats for those I care about. I wear my emotions on my face. If I'm angry, it's obvious. I've had troubles in the past discussing my emotions with others, but that is no longer a problem as long as I am given some time to figure out how I feel before being forced to discuss it. I like to have a packed schedule. Having free time makes me anxious. I've had boyfriends in the past who have found these traits unbearable and left.

I could understand if these personality traits scared some people away, but I haven't even had a chance to display these personality traits because I can't seem to find a date!

My personal trainer, who acts as my pseudo-therapist, says that men are intimidated by me. His opinion is that men look at me, see how in shape and strong I am, and run away in fear. I have a hard time understanding this because I see myself as exactly the opposite. I don't see myself as a big, mean bully, but rather a petite, happy, calm, fun woman. I can do more pushups than most men, but I don't brag, and it's not like I look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'm an average sized woman who is fit.

How do I stop intimidating men when I don't even know why they are intimidated?

– Unintentionally Intimidating, Saugus


A: We've had a lot of "I'm so awesome -- why can't I find a mate?" letters, and I usually tell the writers to be patient. In your case, UI, I want to bring up the importance of emotional presence. Sometimes we're so busy that when we're doing one thing, we're thinking about the next thing. We're checking our phone, considering our plans for later, or contemplating how we'll document everything we've already done on Facebook (or in a scrapbook).

That means that we're not fully engaged in the present. And that's intimidating, for sure, but more importantly, it's off-putting. It's difficult to click with someone -- or meet someone -- if you're not really in the moment. And that goes for meeting female friends, too. Engaging with someone doesn't just mean donating to a charity or baking cookies. It means listening. Laughing. Really connecting. Not thinking about anything besides the person in front of you.

So that's my advice. To slow down. To listen. To court some women for friendship. To be in the moment. To skip some of those pushups and sit around with a pal on a couch. Your homework: Make plans with someone and spent an entire day with them. See if you can block everything else out and connect.

I have to quote Rob Lowe from a recent episode of "Parks & Recreation": "What's the point of doing 10,000 pushups if you're going to do them alone. I'd much rather do 5,000 pushups with a wonderful woman -- sitting on my back to increase my resistance."

Readers? Am I right about her being distracted as opposed to intimidating? Is this different than the other "I'm great. Why can't I find a mate?" letters? Does she just need to find someone as scheduled as her? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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