LETTER #1

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am an attractive, 42-year-old woman. I'm intelligent and well liked by co-workers. I'm complimented regularly for my sense of humor, my youthful appearance, blah-blah-blah. But I couldn't get a date if I were a calendar.

What is it? My female friends say they don't get it. My male friends say that I intimidate men with my self-sufficiency and confidence.

What should I do? It's really getting frustrating.


LETTER #2

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I'm a 36-year-old male. My last courtship ended about six years ago, and I'm having immense difficulty meeting a woman. I encounter a lot of single ladies, but find that they usually aren't interested in me.

I own a nice house and fancy cars, have a good professional job that earns me a six-figure salary, and take a month's vacation every year to go someplace exotic. I'm medium height, fairly good looking, confident and intelligent. I communicate well and am easy to get along with. In my spare time I have lots of hobbies and interests, including training horses, film acting, scuba diving, piloting airplanes, and competitive skiing. My first book was published last year.

The problem seems to be that I intimidate women. I've had several women comment that I'm "too good to be true." Another phrase I hear a lot is, "You're too good for me." More than one has insisted that I must be married, because no man like me could still be single. They all agree that I'm a wonderful guy, and give me the usual line about how they're sure that I'll meet someone very soon. But I rarely get a second date; they usually just cut and run.

I'd like to get married and have a family someday. But at this rate I'll be 75 before that happens.

I've had this problem as long as I can remember. Women seem to avoid guys who don't have anything that needs "fixing." But I can't develop character flaws on cue.

The best success I've had is with younger women, who seem to be more accepting and much less suspicious. But many of them tend to be age bigots who won't date anyone more than a couple of years older than they are.

It frustrates me to constantly get turned down because I'm a nice guy who doesn't have any problems. What can I do about this?


ROSIE & SHERRY REPLY:

Well, you see this is a complex problem that affects both genders.

Generally speaking, men are more comfortable dating and marrying a woman they view as their equal or whom they feel will look up to them. Younger men are less intimidated by strong women, and it isn't because they are more "liberated" than older guys. Younger men have experienced fewer "hard knocks" and can be confident of their own future success. Many of them even admire strong and competent women, and don't feel inferior to them.

However, as men and women get older, many single women continue to "work" on themselves, and many single men stay within the confines of their careers and friendships. Since the men often expect to be on par with, or even more accomplished than the women they date and marry, they are intimidated by women who are more poised, self-confident, well-rounded and personally or professionally accomplished. These men are generally not interested in someone they perceive as being "better" than they are.

This is all a pity, because once a man gets to know an accomplished woman, he may find that he's not at all uncomfortable with her competence and success. The trick is to get him interested in her in the first place.

There's another factor at work here as well. Sometimes when a man or woman projects a too-polished self-confident image, they can't get dates because that isn't what the opposite sex is looking for.

Think for a minute of what personal qualities you'd like to see in someone you'd build a relationship with. We'll bet that most of the qualities you mentioned are inner ones -- someone who is kind, compassionate, giving, knows how to stop and smell the roses, will confide in you and give you emotional support, etc. However, if you don't project these qualities, you're not going to attract many dating prospects.

We're not suggesting that you "dumb down" in order to attract a partner. And we're not suggesting that you divest yourself of some of your interests, or that you keep your accomplishments a secret. However, you have to initially downplay them and instead focus more on the inner qualities that most people want in a life-long relationship. This means you should de-emphasize your professionalism and competence, while at the same time projecting the softer aspects of your personality.

It seems that in public, you may simply not be displaying your "softer side." Are you empathetic, giving, creative, introspective, even vulnerable at times? Have you ever let anyone see those aspects of your personality? Do you ever notice and comment on the beauty of your surroundings? If you have an interest in art, music, cooking, or dance, do your friends know about them? If you can emphasize these aspects of your personality and downplay the accomplished, professional, overly-confident image, you should find yourself attracting more dates.

It's also possible that you spend a good deal of time on a date talking about your life, your interests and your successes. This doesn't mean you are an egotist -- you may simply think this is the way someone will be more interested in going out with you again. However, if you engage in this kind of "conversation," you make two mistakes. First, you don't devote enough time to asking your date about themselves and listening to what they have to say. If they feel the date is all about you, they won't be interested in a repeat performance.

Consider enlisting the help of a trusted friend to role-play a first date -- and sincerely promise that you won't get annoyed for being brutally honest. Ask him/her to comment on your conversation and help steer you toward topics that can help you show that "softer side." They may also notice something in your "presentation" that you need to work on.

We hope this has been helpful, and wish you the best of success.

Rosie & Sherry