Are you single, smart, driven, and wondering if you’re simply too smart, too ambitious, too successful, too intimidating—too much—for men?
Then you may be part of the generation of SWANS—"Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse"—according to Dr. Christine B. Whelan in her book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women￼.
SWANS are a growing contingent amongst many young adult women and many confess that the dream of marriage seems like a distant glimmer slowly fading away. Yet, Dr. Whelan makes the case that smart, successful, and motivated women do get married—to men who marry them because those are the traits to which they’re attracted.
Still, knowing there is hope doesn’t help much during the waiting. If you’re like me, you want to know what you can be doing. We are, after all, Strong Women Achievers.
As a former SWANS myself, let me offer some words of advice that I picked up along the way:
1. Be as intentional about a relationship as you are about a career.
If you yearn for a relationship as much as a career, make time for it. Decide to build habits that will enrich your relationships, such as compromise, flexibility, and generosity. And instead of compartmentalizing your dreams by completing your education and establishing your career before even considering marriage, learn to pursue them all in tandem. Stay open to guys that ask you out while you get your education, pursue your dream job and travel. We avoid the "absent boyfriend"—the guy who stays at the office until 10 pm at night, rarely returns our calls, and repeats the refrain about being "too busy right now"—so let's not model our behavior on theirs.
2. You’re smart. So date that way.
I spent more time than I should have dating guys that never had future potential. Sometimes we had different ideas of what marriage looked like; sometimes they didn’t want kids; other times, they couldn’t imagine a wife who would do anything but keep house and have babies. These are important factors to long-term happiness, so don't feel obligated to continue dating someone who doesn't share your values.
We often know when a guy is the real deal and when he’s going to drain our time and our heart. Be strong enough to walk away, even if you have to walk alone a bit longer before you find the right one.
3. Be confident in all of who you are.
Though a man may not have yet risen to the challenge of winning your heart, yours is still a heart worth winning. You are not too much nor are you not enough. Whatever your skills, personality, interests, or talents, they are uniquely combined in the person of you. Don’t take that lightly. Confidence is not arrogance, but rather, a quiet assurance that who you are is exactly what the world needs.
4. Just because you can do everything, doesn’t mean you should.
While Gloria Steinem said "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," I have found that my husband has propelled my career faster and afforded me more options in life, not less. As a SWANS, I had to learn through dating that letting my man help me was a way to honor him and allow him to love me. It didn’t detract from my identity as a woman, or from my abilities or dreams as I had feared. Myth busted.
Life does not usually happen exactly according to plan, which is what makes it such an adventure. Don't give up your dreams or harden your heart. Experience has shown me that you can have both: a career you love and a man that loves you.
(image via slightly everything)
Based out of Los Angeles, Joanna Hyatt speaks and writes on dating, relationships, and sex. She blogs at