Writer’s note (31 March 2019): This piece was written when I was targeting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) women who were having dating troubles. Now I help all women who feel anxious and insecure in their relationships find peace. Learn more.
When I was building my business of helping smart, successful, and fiercely independent millennial STEM women who feel lost at sea in their dating lives, I posed a question on Facebook asking my target audience about their biggest dating obstacles.
A high school friend who works as a software consultant told me about her frustration when going on dates with men who end up disappearing because they can’t seem to keep up with her intellectually. When she explains her line of work to them, they get lost in the lingo, and she loses them entirely. She could feel them becoming small, intimidated, while trying to enjoy a nice meal.
There’s no second date.
The (Dating) Disconnect
This may sound familiar to many of us STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) women, especially the millennials who are continuing a decades-long women’s movement: breaking glass ceilings, entering the STEM world, and trying to equalize themselves with men.
Even I deal with this disconnect between the science world in which I work and the outside world. In my day job as a science writer and editor, I partner with scientists to translate complex topics (such as climate change) for a lay audience. Trying to understand their research can oftentimes feel like I am swimming against a technical current. Eventually, my neurons stop firing, leading to mental fatigue and sometimes emaciated confidence.
Trying to understand their research can oftentimes feel like I am swimming against a technical current. Eventually, my neurons stop firing, leading to mental fatigue and sometimes emaciated confidence.
I remember sitting with a planetary geologist to learn about Martian glaciers and asking him to explain everything to me as if I were a six-year-old. He told me “That’s impossible,” and proceeded to flood my brain with Mars satellite mission names I’d never heard of and geological terms that didn’t compute, as if I were “one of the scientists” who could speak his language.
I was too shy to ask him to slow down and break things down for me, for fear that he would view me as an inferior human who belonged in a barn. Even if I was interested in the subject matter, I quickly became tired and turned off.
As you’ll find in any jargon-drenched field, many STEM folks are too used to speaking a language that helps them communicate only with each other. For example, in the natural sciences, we have “anomalies,” “uncertainties,” “variability,” “mass balance,” “feedbacks,” “forcings,” “albedo,” “altimetry,” “bias,” and other strange terms that have context in STEM conversations but can alienate outsiders. (Do you ever feel awkward when people around you start speaking another language you can’t understand? You can’t participate, and it might even make you feel a little self-conscious.)
The scientific community’s culture requires scientists to get the language right to maintain respect among their peers. One might call it prioritizing correctness over clarity, while those on the other end (mere mortals) might feel like that correctness actually impedes clarity. This impediment can turn away those who might be potentially interested in the subject and might even want to go into STEM.
It can also turn away people on a date who have not been exposed to that lexicon and feel uncomfortable, even emasculated, when a woman outsmarts them. When a woman’s intelligence scares off men like a flock of birds, women sometimes feel they need to dumb down who they are to appear more romantically eligible. (I’ve been there!) It could be a reason many women ditch a STEM career for a path toward marriage, child-rearing, and maybe a less lucrative career. As the men disappear, women might start to look at STEM as unattractive and smarts as unsexy.
When a woman’s intelligence scares off men like a flock of birds, women sometimes feel they need to dumb down who they are to appear more romantically eligible.
How Life Coaching Helps
There’s hope for us millennial STEM women, and all it takes is some empowering life coaching. As I alluded to earlier, I’m a Certified Professional Coach from the International Coaching Federation who helps these women bushwhack through bad advice and sexism to start achieving the love life of their dreams.
As a dating coach, part of my process is acknowledging and validating my clients’ feelings about their dating troubles. For example, I might say it’s perfectly normal for my high school friend to feel frustrated on dates with men, given that she’s probably aiming for correctness when she explains her line of work, while he wants clarity. They’re not on the same page, and after many dates, she just wants someone to understand what she’s trying to communicate for once. Likewise, and while unintentional, he might feel intellectually inferior, small, and intimidated.
Acknowledging and validating can already improve my clients’ mindset, and they often feel more ready to take action because they remember that they have every right to feel the way they do. If they were slouching, they start to sit up straighter and open their core. If they felt a pit in their stomach, their anxiety starts to disappear. If they felt tight, they begin to relax. If they felt hopeless, their tears start to dry and they begin to smile.
Then I guide this new-found glory to a higher paradise by asking my clients open-ended, empowering questions. They become clearer and begin to connect their who they are as unique individuals to the optimal dating life they want and need.
Some of those questions might be like:
- How do you feel when intimidated men throw you off your dating game?
- What kind of action do you take when this happens?
- Let’s flip that around: Instead of telling yourself that intimidated men are throwing you off your game, what can you tell yourself instead?
- How can you take that new thought even further? (And what’s your new feeling?)
- The next time your date seems intimidated, what can you do? (And how does that feel?)
- What does this say about who you are as a smart, successful, and fiercely independent woman?
That, my friends, is the beautiful world of life coaching. You might have noticed that the coach helps the client regain control of her life and remember who she is and that she has options. She begins to feel lighter, happier, more energetic, and more confident, and the next time her date seems intimidated, she’ll have a new, golden mindset for handling it. She’ll slay victoriously.
The coach helps the client regain control of her life and remember who she is and that she has options.
As a dating coach, I act as a virtual wing woman to help my clients look at their situation from different angles, opening a door to a world unlimited by detrimental interpretations, assumptions, limiting beliefs, and inner voices telling them they’re “not good enough.” They’re more able to set aside those mental blocks and attract men who like a smart, successful, and fiercely independent STEM woman.
Take Action Now
If the time is right and you need help moving away from relationship anxiety and insecurity and toward peace, then fill out the easy form toward the bottom of this page and I’ll be in touch ASAP.
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