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Take a lesson from Cleopatra

Posted on Monday, August 9, 2010 in Advice, Men, Relationships, Women

“So, what do you think of my date?” my friend Dan asked, sidling up to me as the stunning blonde went to the ladies room.

Sara and I had run into them when we’d popped into the new brewpub to get a beer after a long
sweaty hike this weekend. Dan waved us over, and I hung around when Sara had to leave to pick up her daughter.

“Well, she’s really pretty.”

“Yes, she is! But, what do you think of her?”

I didn’t quite get what he was getting at, so I went with the Wonder Bread assessment.

“She seems very nice.”

“C’mon Kat. Tell em what you really think.”

I’m always nervous when people ask me what I think of their love interest because being honest often doesn’t work out well. So, I fudged it.

“Dan, I think I should be asking you what you really think; you know her a lot better than I do, and besides, that’s all that matters, right?”

“True. Well, she’s not too with it, you know?”

“You mean she’s not too smart?”

“She’s smart, she’s just …”

And just like that, she was back at the table, all dimply and freshly lip-glossed.

We chatted some more, and I listened and watched a little more closely before I said my goodbyes.

Then I realized what she was “just” about.

She was just beautiful, but dull — there was no charm or wit to her, no curiosity.

Does that matter?

“It’s essential,” Dan said when we chatted on the phone later. “And that’s something women have forgotten.

“What do you mean?”

“Women nowadays act as if their degrees and ambition are aphrodisiacs, but they’re not.”

“Don’t guys want women who are smart?”      

“Smart’s not enough. They need to think like Cleopatra.”

“Uh, she killed herself with a snake. How smart is

“Go read about her.”

So I did. Evidently the Egyptian queen was quite the hottie in her day (although as people debate whether Angelina Jolie is the right person to portray her, Egyptologists insist she was actually “short, fat and plain”), but it really wasn’t her
beauty that captivated men or her age — although she was just 21 when she hooked up with the 52-year-old Caesar, and really, you can do no wrong at 21.

It was her wit, charm and, as Plutarch says,
the “sweetness in the tones of her voice” that made her a guy magnet.

Oh, dear; well, good luck, Valley girls …

Not to mention that she could “make herself agreeable to everyone,” as Cassius Dio says — which nowadays we’d probably have some silly self-help guru telling us to stop being such a “pleaser.”

But, is that what men want?

Dan says yes. Beauty and intelligence? Sure,
but if you can’t be playful and charming …

Guys may or may not want their intellectual equal, but they want someone who’s low-maintenance and makes him feel good, someone who’ll “make herself agreeable.”

Is being “agreeable” another word for doormat? Could be, if that’s how you feel about it. Can “agreeable” also mean manipulative? Maybe — I wouldn’t say Ms. Cleo had just her man’s best interests in mind. She had a few people offed, including her own sister, to keep her power.

But, haven’t you ever noticed that when you have a little “sweetness” in your voice that a guy will do pretty much anything for you?

Maybe to be treated like a princess we need to act like a queen!

  • How important is charm and wit to you in a potential mate?
  • Have women forgotten how to be “agreeable”?
  • Is being “agreeable” giving up your power, or using your power?

Bring on the comments

  1. Steve says:

    “Women nowadays act as if their degrees and ambition are aphrodisiacs, but they’re not.”

    This topic comes up a lot, in one form or another on EMK’s blog. He summed it up well when he wrote that those things are what attracts women to men, not necessarily the other way around.

  2. T
    Twitter: tsquest

    Don’t you find it funny how men see beautiful women and want to have sex with them but then lose interest after? Maybe that’s why? There has to be some SUBSTANCE behind the beauty. Charm and wit can be part of that substance, yes, but you have to have intelligence in order to know how to use them.

  3. Wombat
    Twitter: kissnblog

    Agreeable doesn’t mean agreement. It’s not the lack of concordance that bugs me, it’s the way that it’s expressed.

    It’s the old story; one can say anything with a smile on your mug.

  4. KC says:

    I have to agree, Beauty is great when you’re looking down at them, their pretty faces looking up at you from the pillow… but, if she opens her mouth to say something and it comes out as gibberish, it’s SUCH a turn off! Of course, if I already know that I’m not interested in getting to know the “Real” person inside there, it really doesn’t matter as long as she enjoys what I’m doing or about to do or that she is going to do… there’s a big difference between a “Girlfriend” and a Girl Friend.

  5. Edgar says:

    Main Entry: agree·able
    Pronunciation: \ə-ˈgrē-ə-bəl\
    Function: adjective
    Date: 14th century
    1 : pleasing to the mind or senses especially as according well with one’s tastes or needs

    Thus spake Merriam-Webster. So, being agreeable means to please another’s mind or senses. I don’t think that equates to being a doormat. In fact, apparently what is agreeable to Dan is someone who generates interesting conversation, and someone who expresses an interest in him and his interests. Isn’t that what anyone would want?

    All that a degree offers (besides some sheepskin) is more data – it doesn’t make someone any more interesting or able to connect with people. Although if the woman is beautiful with large tata’s, one can perhaps ignore the lack of substance for maybe a few nanoseconds longer than otherwise. Usually, though, in my experience, the possession of large tata’s is inversely proportional to the possession of intellectual chops and interest in others.

  6. Kat Wilder says:

    #cleopatra — it wasn't the kohl liner that made men go gaga over her.

  7. Tiia Jones
    Twitter: tiiajoneslove

    Just found you from Rachel Sarah’s Tweet. Congrats on the blog award! We have a lot of the same connections so I don’t know how I’ve missed you.

    Great post on Cleopatra. I think women sometimes equate being agreeable with subjegating themselves. However, I don’t think that’s at all the same thing. I think it’s more about manners and a pleasant, positive demeanor. The ability to make a man laugh and feel as if he’s the center of the universe goes a long way on a date and does not at all mean you are either obligated to have another date or that you have made yourself somehow less of a person.

  8. Sage says:

    Guys want game. Or this one does anyway. I haven’t been in the dating circle for a while but I always wanted game. Looks and brains were 2nd and 3rd.

  9. Kat Wilder says:

    Steve — That’s true, for many women anyway. I’m shallower than that 😉

    T — Men want to have sex with almost any woman, I’d say.

    Wombie — That’s true, but if she’s saying something not so nice with a smile on her face, isn’t that passive-aggressive? (nice to see you again, BTW!)

    KC — Gee, I thought that’s just when you tell her to shut up.

    Edgar — I agree with Merriam; a lot of women tend to get them confused, however. Men, too, probably — nice-guy syndrome and all that.

    Tiia — welcome! I see we’re of like minds (see comment to Edgar above). The worst thing women can do on the way up the academic/corporate ladder is lose their femininity and charm.

    Sage — Game? I’ll bring my Monopoly board next time … 😉

  10. KC says:


    Ah,,, Kat, you know I have better manners than that!! What you DO say is ” Didn’t your mother ever teach you any manners… don’t talk with your mouth full ! “

  11. The Observer says:

    I seemed to be most attracted to women with a large personality. That includes mostly having a complimentary sense of humor and a positive sense of themselves. Add a southern drawl and some curves and voila! “Most” implies “not all” and I readily admit to an attraction based on looks or smokin’ bod. But for a long-term relationship its not what’s between the sheets as much as what’s between the ears.

    A woman who is agreeable is one who is honest. Honesty is powerful, especially when its a two way street. If all a woman has is power–that doesn’t play well. If she is both powerful, honest and agreeable = a big turn on. Looks are a close second to the above combo. I don’t think women have forgotten to be agreeable…either you are or you aren’t.

    Take yourself, for example: you are agreeable and honest (to a point: cloaked in mystery to preserve your privacy by necessity) and yet preserve your power—even if the agreement is to be in disagreement on an issue. Your most agreeable trait is asking for the opinions of others. Not just telling. If only you had a southern accent 🙂 T.O.

  12. Kat Wilder says:

    Observer — and how do you know I don’t? 😉

  13. Edgar says:

    I would love to see both framed, Kat. I tried to find your academic credentials, but all I found was your publications (various blogs, etc.) Given your way around the literary canon, though, and not to mention your clever turns of phrases, it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t had the opportunity for training in the linguistic arts. This student of Heraclitus, Barbara Tuchman and Mary Daly does appreciate your brains.

  14. BigLittleWolf
    Twitter: BigLittleWolf

    You are too funny! And yes, wit, charm, dulcet tones (and French lingerie) . . . they all help, at any age!

  15. Kat Wilder says:

    Since men aren't too interested in our degrees, maybe we should frame our lingerie instead of our MBAs.

  16. Steve says:

    Found it!

    The whole quote doesn’t fit all of what is being discussed, bit overall it makes an often overlooked valuable point.


    When a man goes out with a woman, he’s not as concerned with whether she’s articulate and on track to make partner at the law firm. That’s what women want in men and they assume it’s of equal importance to them. It’s generally not. Men DO value intelligence, but they also want from their girlfriend what they CAN’T get from their business associates. Warmth, affection, nurturing, thoughtfulness. If he finds himself constantly hearing all the things he needs to change, he may just determine that he wants a bright woman who is less challenging. Not a Stepford Wife. Not a bimbo. Not a maid. Just someone who makes his life EASIER and more pleasant.

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