Ask Lynn-This Female Cop Can’t Book A Date!

One woman in law enforcement asks: Why do men act afraid when I tell them about my career, and what can I do differently to be less intimidating? Lynn offers some wise advice.

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I’m middle-aged, divorced, in great shape and look young. I also have a very good job and am squared away financially — all pluses. I am also a supervisor, educated, and getting toward the end of my career. So, what’s the problem? My career is in law enforcement. And more frequently than I like, potential dates back away from that.

I try not to mention it with someone new. I say instead that I’m a fitness instructor (which is my part-time job)
I try not to mention it with someone new.
and then direct the conversation back toward the guy. It works, but only sometimes. Here I am in a great career, and men shy away like crazy! Any suggestions on what I should do differently? I never dreamed that so many men were afraid of female cops.
- Sgt. Frustrated

Dear Sgt. Frustrated,
I’d be scared of a female cop — if I were a crook. Otherwise, honestly, these fellas really have no excuse. I do, at least, have one explanation: they’re intimidated.

I’m not saying they should be, or, God forbid, that you should change. But I am saying: (a) have these people never seen Castle?! and (b) unfortunately, dated assumptions and old stereotypes about gender tend to die hard. That is, a woman with the power to cuff him and read him his rights, her knee in his back, his chin on the pavement (in theory, at least) sometimes goes against all the old-fashioned “the man is always in charge” stuff your average guy may have been raised with in regards to gender roles, power, and career-based stereotypes.

So now what? Well, don’t say you’re a fitness instructor. The longer you dither or wait to disclose the truth, the more your job becomes a thing. When it comes up naturally (or if your date happens to get a parking ticket when you’re out, for example), just go ahead and say that you’re a police officer — or at least mention that you “work in law enforcement.” Acknowledge that your suitor may not have encountered many lady officers; then, be open to answering questions about your career choice. (In other words, strike that balance between making it a big deal and acting like it’s really not that interesting.) In any case, you probably don’t want to date someone who’s so easily subdued in the first place. So have patience, officer, have patience! Arrest me for use of a grating cliché if you like, but it’s true: the right guy will not try to resist you if he knows what’s good for him.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
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