10 signs you’re a strong woman and people find you intimidating

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Gone are the days when women are expected to be “sugar and spice and all things nice”.

But sadly, society hasn’t entirely caught up.

Strong women are confident, sassy and can light up a room.

But that strength can be a little scary to some people.

You’re just doing your thing.

But unbeknown to you, your thing threatens some.

Here are the signs you’re a strong woman and people find you intimidating:

1) You know how to stand up for yourself

Sticking up for yourself is empowering.

But not everyone is going to like it.

We’re not talking about being abrasive or aggressive. We’re simply talking about being able to fight your own corner.

Sadly, some people will always find other people’s opinions intimidating.

They see it as a personal threat to their sense of self when others disagree.

So you might find that as a strong woman, your ability to defend your ideas and beliefs doesn’t go down well.

In fact, perhaps your assertiveness has meant you’ve been accused before of the next thing on our list…

2) You’ve been told you’re “bossy”

Bossy is one of those subtly sexist labels that gets put on strong girls from a young age.

Whilst seemingly innocuous on the surface, the intended message behind it can be far from innocent.

In many cases, what we’re actually being told is to tone our strength down.

Not to complicate matters, but I admit some people really are bossy (both men and women).

But being bossy means rudely barking orders at people when you have no right to, and doing so with little tact or compassion.

Trying to take over before earning others’ respect is never going to go down well.

Yet that is very different from simply taking the reins and showing leadership.

In an editorial for The Wall Street Journal, billionaire business executive Sheryl Sandberg calls bossy “the other B-word” thrown at women.

She retells how at school a teacher told her best friend that: “Nobody likes a bossy girl. You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you.”

It can be really discouraging to girls and women to be labeled as bossy.

Unfortunately, if you’re a strong and forthright woman, you might have been called bossy —simply because those qualities can be intimidating to others.

Perhaps we should all take the advice of CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell:

​​“Next time you hear a girl called bossy, take a deep breath and say, ‘That girl’s not bossy. She has executive leadership skills.’”

3) Certain people have a tendency to brag whenever you’re around

Boasting is really interesting.

People try to use it to bolster their status. But in doing so it has the opposite effect.

Because we can usually see it for what it is at its heart:


If certain people you know — friends, colleagues, maybe even family members— ramp up their boasting whenever you’re in earshot, they might be intimidated by you.

They don’t have the self-esteem that you have as a strong woman.

So they try to inflate themselves in other ways.

As well as trying to make themselves feel “good enough” their motive could be to either impress or try to compete with you.

4) People make assumptions without getting to know you

We can all be a bit too quick to read a book by its cover at times.

Who amongst us hasn’t been guilty of judging someone before we really get to know them?

For sure, first impressions count. But as a strong woman, some people may look at you from the outside and get it wrong.

For example, because you’re clear in your boundaries, they label you as difficult or awkward.

Because you have the strength of character to not blindly follow the crowd, they assume you don’t care what other people think of you.

Or because you give off an incredibly confident vibe, they don’t realize that you’re also deeply sensitive.

Perhaps one of the false assumptions you’ve battled is that you’re somehow conceited…

5) Your confidence can be mistaken for arrogance

Loving yourself is all the rage these days.

Whether it’s well-being gurus, big-name celebs, or the latest research study— society is quick to share with us the many benefits of healthy self-esteem.

In the words of Oscar Wilde:

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”

So, you’d think there’s never been a better time to ooze confidence.

Yet the people who celebrate themselves in all their glory can quickly get knocked down.

Because the reality is that not everyone likes a bright shining star. Especially if they feel dim in comparison.

As a strong woman who celebrates her talents and successes, some may be quick to see your self-belief as conceit.

But the truth is that there is a subtle yet important difference between confidence and arrogance.

6) You rarely get approached by guys

Don’t be disheartened if you’ve pretty much never gotten chatted up.

It could be that certain guys are too intimidated to ask you out.

And as infuriating as the notion may be, it’s also sort of a compliment.

Because in all likelihood it means you’ve got a lot to offer. And they’re worried they may not be able to live up to it.

Maria Del Russo explained in Refinery 29 took it upon herself to find out what men find intimidating in women:

“The answers I found were actually super enraging — especially on one particular Reddit post I’d stumbled across. Some answered, “If she’s better looking than me,” while others brought up words like “smarter,” “stronger,” “funnier,” and “outspoken.”…Basically, it seemed to me that if a woman is better than a man she’s dating in any aspect of her life, she’s automatically cast as “too intimidating.”

Luckily there are plenty of men out there who can not only handle a strong woman but value her all the more for her strength.

7) You put your own self-respect above people pleasing

Respect is vital. Every single healthy relationship is built upon it.

But that includes the relationship you have with yourself. And every strong woman knows this.

You need to start by showing yourself that same respect you intend to extend to others.

Sometimes, that’s going to mean disappointing others in order to stay true to yourself.

Having the courage to do so should never be underestimated.

At the end of the day, we all want to be liked.

The fear of being rejected is strong.

How strong?

Well, scientists have even found the brain feels rejection in the same way it does physical pain in the body.

Hearing “no” can be difficult for some people.

They may find it intimidating when you refuse to go along with something you don’t want to do.

8) Some people seem to agree with whatever you say

People tend to respond to intimidation in one of two main ways.

They take the fight-or-flight approach.

What I mean is they either get defensive and have an attitude. Or they withdraw and make themselves small.

If they go with the latter strategy, then you might notice they simply go along with anything you say.

Of course, this really says more about them than you. It’s ultimately a reflection of their own self-esteem issues.

But it might come in response to feeling intimidated by you.

In a way, they’re putting you on a pedestal.

They see your confidence and look up to you.

9) Some people seem hell-bent on trying to tear you down

Perhaps there’s someone you know that seems on a mission to find fault.

No matter what you do, it’s never right in their eyes.

I’ve just said how different people take different approaches to intimidation.

They often do it subconsciously.

Whilst some may unrealistically dote on you, others will attack you.

When faced with your strength they feel like you’re a threat. So to try to reduce your perceived status, they’re seeking to “bring you down a peg or two”.

If you have a habit of bringing out other people’s competitive streak, feel flattered.

It means the positive qualities they see in you are unsettling them.

10) You’re intense

I hold my hands up and declare:

I am an intense woman.

I’ve always been this way.

And I’ve come to see it as part of my strength.

Although, I certainly haven’t always seen it that way.

In the past, I’ve wished I could tone down my passion, enthusiasm, and opinions.

Because intensity isn’t always well received by people who find it a bit “too much”.

I suck at small talk and love deep chats about the meaning of life.

I get immersed in intellectual debates, discussing the intricate merits of an argument.

I get incredibly animated when I’m retelling a story.

The intensity of a strong woman can mean she is more emotional, zealous, energetic, and eager.

And that’s not always going to sit well with people who are looking for lowkey.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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