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What Does "Intimidating" Really Mean?

What does he mean?

I recently had a video date with a man I met on Bumble. After we chatted, he sent me a message saying he enjoyed speaking but didn't think we were a good fit. I thanked him for his honest but expressed confusion. I thought the conversation had gone well. He further explained that he found me intimidating. I asked what he meant but he didn't respond. The next day he unmatched me. WTF?

As difficult as it is to hear something like that, I'm going to implore you not ignore his comments or write-them off as a man being insecure. Yes, that's totally possible, but it's just as likely he's using the word intimidating as a catch-all phrase in place of descriptors like unpleasant or abrasive.

Intimidating, when used to describe a woman, is usually just a politically correct way to call her a bitch.

I'm far less offended when a woman calls me a bitch. Beneath the insult is usually an underlying admiration for my unapologetic unwillingness to kiss ass. But when a man calls me a bitch, the intention feels far more sinister. To a man, a bitch is a woman who doesn't coddle him or indulge his bullshit. In those cases, color me bitchy.

Intimidating is often code for off-putting

Google "are men intimidated by strong women" and you'll undoubtedly find a plethora of articles - all written by women - insisting that, yes, men are intimidated by women who make more money or have more impressive careers or who speak their mind. To some degree, they're right. There is a contingent of men that find confident and outspoken women intimidating. They're called man-children, and nobody cares what they think and neither should you.


Seriously, think about it. Would the fact a woman has it together really prevent someone confident and accomplished in their own right from dating her? Probably not. This is a question few rarely pose when the subject of being intimidating comes up. Usually, the conversation stops there, as though the truth had been uncovered and there was no need to dig further. Successful, strong, opinionated women were scary. Full stop.

Correction. Successful strong women are scary to some people. Some. Not all. We wouldn’t date those people anyway, so their opinions shouldn't matter. That’s why this theory, on its face, is illogical. Would a woman with her shit together even be attracted to someone weak? Probably not. If we’re attracted to them, it’s likely because we find them confident, among other things. Confident. Strong. Knows who they are. These are all things that we, as strong women, don’t just want but need in a partner. Therefore, does it make sense that this person — who on the surface appears quite comfortable with themselves — would truly be intimidated by a successful woman?

If someone tells you they find you intimidating, don’t just take their comment at face value and move on. Really process what they’re saying, especially if you've heard this more than once. Once should be enough. More than that and you need to face the real chance that something about your personality turns people - not just men - off. If, after someone has met with or spoken to you, they say they find you intimidating, they’re alerting you to the fact that something about your presentation or demeanor makes them feel uncomfortable in a way they can’t quite quantify. In no situation is that positive feedback, though many women interpret it as such. It’s never a good thing to be told that you bring with you an air of something that makes other people keep their distance.

Please make note of the fact that I’m not including times when someone finds the idea of you intimidating. As in, they hear you have an Ivy League Education or learn second-hand that you’ve traveled extensively, are opinionated, or own your own apartment. The distinction in those cases is that they haven’t met you yet, so any judgment they form of you is irrelevant. It’s when somebody has a first-hand interaction with you and deems you intimidating that there’s cause for introspection. Why do they feel this way? What is it about how you come across that makes them ill at ease? Those are the questions you need to ask.

Intimidated, schmintimidated. If they liked you, they’d date you

People do things that scare them all. the. time. Why would dating you be different? People jump out of planes, for god’s sake. They take jobs they fear they aren’t qualified for. We perform acts every day that fill us with dread.

That’s why the idea of someone finding you too intimidating to date automatically should give you pause.

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