Men and smart women.

16 Nov

A reader emailed me a blog post suggestion with the following comments:

You sometimes complain (not exactly the right word) that men avoid smarter women.  You should expect this, shouldn’t you?  Don’t you believe that, all else equal, a) a woman a man can’t credibly “lead” can’t be happy with him, and b) a man can’t credibly lead a woman who is markedly smarter than he is, due to “the truth-extracting powers of time and familiarity”?   Maybe guys  know enough to avoid things they can’t (by definition) appreciate anyway.

Hmm.  Yes and no.

I think the key here is that a woman can’t respect – and therefore can’t feel romantic passion for, and therefore has no interest in being led by – a man of small intelligence relative to her own.  If she feels that he is a dunderhead, there’s no way she’s going to put her life and well-being (and those of her future children) in his hands.

However, a man does not need to possess book smarts in order to be impressive in intelligence to a woman.  Here is why:  book smarts aren’t as important to women as street smarts/people smarts.  A woman will be more attracted to the guy who got all Cs in high school but is resourceful, witty, and well-liked than to the guy who was valedictorian but can’t leverage his intelligence into social currency.  It follows, then, that very bright women can be attracted to (and naturally soften themselves for) men who aren’t Einstein but are socially savvy and quick-witted.  The key typically with smart girls is that the guy must have some aspect of intelligence that the girl admires.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be book smarts.  As long as the man can parlay his brainpower (in whatever form that may take) into increased social dominance, many a smart woman will be happy to follow such a man.

Obviously, there are some limits to how big an intelligence gap can exist in a couple.  Educational level and socioeconomic status are reasonable proxies for determining this gap, though not absolute.  For example, I’ve found that a lot of people with bachelor’s and graduate degrees, both men and women, may have “smarts” but not really much intelligence.  Really, though, the “dunderhead test” is probably the most reliable.  Dunderhead-ism kills admiration and respect, the two crucial ingredients for a woman’s attraction and voluntarily submission to a man’s leadership.

Finally, yes, I think that men tend to avoid women they perceive as smarter.  Most men assume that they will have a hard time being impressive to such women and therefore bail without even trying.

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62 Responses to “Men and smart women.”

  1. Lover of Wisdom November 16, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    “As long as the man can parlay his brainpower (in whatever form that may take) into increased social dominance, many a smart woman will be happy to follow such a man.”

    Can you give some examples, Haley?

  2. Aunt Haley November 16, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Lover of Wisdom–
    Some examples:

    – Can handle a variety of social situations with aplomb
    – Popular with children (understands kids and how to interact with them)
    – Creative (artist, actor, singer, musician, designer, inventor)
    – Good with money
    – Good orator

    The main thing is that the man doesn’t have to have the same kind of intelligence that the woman does in a superior way; he just has to have some intelligence that is impressive to her and shows dominance. Often the man will be the woman’s better in her type of intelligence, but he doesn’t have to be.

  3. sdaedalus November 16, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    This is pretty accurate.

  4. David Collard November 17, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    I am a very clever man. You will find my name in books and journals in several sections of the library. I have a Ph.D and am a technical manager.

    Despite all that, I feel threatened by women who are too clever for me. I chose not to pursue a couple of women who were more professionally successful and/or more intelligent than me. I wanted a woman who was intelligent, but clearly less intelligent than me.

    I chose a girl who only had a Bachelor’s degree. (She now has a Masters).

    It was not just male pride. A man might avoid a really clever girl because he might feel that turning her into a wife and mother would limit her brilliance and hold her back in her career. It would seem wrong to have a really clever woman ironing one’s shirts. Too much opportunity cost.

    Also, a really clever woman might know one’s limitations a bit too clearly. It is best if the woman is clever enough to know how clever her man is, but not as clever as him.

    Also, intelligence is quite womanly, but not very high intelligence. The data show that very high intelligence is more common in men. Even these days, the media makes only token efforts to subvert this truth. When most people think of real brilliance, they think of men. A woman is an anomaly.

  5. Joseph Dantes November 17, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    “Also, a really clever woman might know one’s limitations a bit too clearly. It is best if the woman is clever enough to know how clever her man is,”

    Good insight David.

    That’s part of why Haley’s blog has such broad appeal to men – her intelligence is workmanlike but not blinding.

  6. Joseph Dantes November 17, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    And the faint edge of objective bitterness resonates more with the male experience.

  7. y81 November 17, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    I wouldn’t call our hostess bitter, at all. “Wistful” would be more like it. I find blogs by bitter people–there are plenty–unreadable.

  8. Thag Jones November 17, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    A woman will be more attracted to the guy who got all Cs in high school but is resourceful, witty, and well-liked than to the guy who was valedictorian but can’t leverage his intelligence into social currency.

    This is very true. Emotional intelligence, being able to remain calm in a variety of situations, and so on, count for a lot. I usually end up being the smarter one in relationships (oh how I long to be the “dumb one” – really, I’m not *that* smart!) and although I really would prefer someone who could outwit me a little more often (but not ALL the time), I can overlook a good deal if a man has other desirable qualities, is loyal and easygoing, and can cook a mean curry. ;) Obviously, some people love intellectual intelligence and can’t respect a person who doesn’t have much of it, and it’s fair enough if that’s a deal breaker, I just don’t think most women mind that much if her man isn’t William F. Buckley Jr..

  9. Brendan November 17, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    Isn’t it more that, per hypergamy, women want men to “have something of value that is higher than they do”, and that this is typically measured by social dominance criteria?

    For highly intelligent women who are conventionally attracted in terms of hypergamy, a man who is even *more* “intellectually intelligent” than the woman is probably going to be much more likely to *not* be socially dominant in the more-or-less conventional terms outlined by Haley (social aplomb, artistic creativity, public speaking, etc.). So if she looks for a man who is hypergamous in intellectual intelligence, it’s much more likely she’s going to pay a price for that in the guy possessing fewer of these conventional social dominance characteristics. So it would seem natural for a high intelligence woman who are otherwise conventionally attracted in terms of hypergamy to seek out men on the same basis as most other women: hypergamous social dominance. You can call this “another form of intelligence”, but it’s also Game 101. And therefore not surprising. The guys at the right end of the tail in intellectual intelligence are, generally speaking, not often naturally gifted with social dominance characteristics, so it would make sense for intelligent yet conventionally attracted women to pick men on the same basis as other women, and rather avoid such high intellect men in favor of the socially dominant ones. And that’s why a good number of men on the right end of the curve invest in Game these days.

    There are some women at the extreme right end of the tail, too, of course. These women tend to make pretty good mates for the extreme right tail men, probably because when the woman herself is that extreme right tail in intellect, the likelihood that she “needs” a man who is, in terms of intellect intelligence, her equal or better, is much greater, and she’s more likely to trade off conventional social dominance for that intellect she “needs” in a mate. That is — she’s more likely, due to her own intellectual profile, to be unconventionally attracted. And I think that the real right tail men are not intimidated by the real right tail women, either — in both cases, however, we’re talking about truly tiny groups of people, even though the number of men outnumbers the number of women at that level.

    It’s in the more “normal” levels of high intelligence that highly intelligent (but not super-intellectual right tail) women will generally tend to be conventionally attracted, and therefore select men based on social dominance characteristics.

  10. Joseph Dantes November 17, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    “I wouldn’t call our hostess bitter, at all. “Wistful” would be more like it. I find blogs by bitter people–there are plenty–unreadable.”

    Wistful doesn’t contain anger. Give her more credit, Mr. White Knight.

  11. Wayfinder November 17, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Speaking personally, I do wish that I could find a smart woman; but then I’m pretty far on the right side of the bell curve. Not far enough to count as super-intelligent, but a little bit frustrated that I haven’t been able to find very many people (not just women) who have a clue what I’m talking about.

    There are environments where intelligence is a big asset, but those don’t tend to be good places to find dates.

    I’d have no problem dating an intelligent woman, but the difficulty is as Brendan says, a problem of attracting one. I stand out when I’m in my element, but translating that into dates is tricky, especially when I’m not dating in the workplace.

  12. Lando November 17, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    I think I read somewhere that people tend to pair up with people that are about their same level of intelligence. So I don’t think it’s just a male dominance thing (though that is certainly part of it), I think it’s also just pure compatibility.

    If a woman wants to pine about the virtues of theoretical physics, I’m going to find that boring.

    I will admit however that I’ve avoided pursuing attractive women with majors that would land them jobs that make significantly more money than I do. It’s a shame because there’s this really cute Electrical Engineering girl I see all the time. But the conscious part of my brain says “that’s probably not a good idea”.

    I definitely feel more comfortable being more financially well off than the woman.

  13. Old Guy November 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Haley: So, women can be stably attracted to less intelligent men, if the men have other mental virtues that translate into social dominance (and so long as they aren’t dunderheads). Nonetheless, most men won’t bother to try to impress women that they perceive as smarter than they are.

    I don’t think you’re saying that men think it is harder to impress intelligent women with their social dominance. If guys avoid the clever ones because they’re clever, is it only because guys are wrong about what women want?

  14. Silas Reinagel November 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    In my experience, I find extremely few women who could even remotely be called smart. Hence, I rarely converse with girls I’m dating about intellectual topics. Even when I attempt to, it essentially ends up that I’m simply rambling about my own ideas and thoughts with very little true feedback or input from them. Therefore, I generally covnerse with girls with the sole objective of self-amusement.

    Of course, I might be spoiled by having a sister who is extremely intelligent and level-headed. She is the smartest girl that I know.

  15. Rebekah November 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    Intelligence is socially and practically valuable, in the same way that the ability to club someone over the head would be valuable should society revert to marshall law. Women desire security – intellect and brawn as well as social intelligence provide various forms of security in various situations and cultures.

    Presuming that men do not have the same need for security from a woman, it would make sense that they not necessarily desire someone with more intelligence [or brawn] than they possess.

    Dunderheadedness is an issue of trust: crucial to any relationship – if I cannot trust someone’s judgment more than I trust my own, I’m unlikely to be willing to follow them.

    Makes it very easy to follow God when we humbly recognize our “dunderheadedness” and His greatness…

    Prior two comments in context – if the context of the marriage relationship is meant to be a witness to Christ and his Bride, a woman trusts in her husband not because he is so “S-M-R-T”, but because he follows and trusts in God. It’s not her husbands massive intelligence she is reliant upon, but his willingness to follow Christ even where his intellect would otherwise depart horribly from what God says is best, and where he will not gain applause from the crowd for his faithfulness.

    As for a man not wanting a woman who is smarter than him? I have no idea. Assuming that a man wants a partner, not a competitor… this makes sense. Which is why a man also does not want a partner who is more athletic than he is. No one wants to get schooled by their girlfriend – in the classroom or on the court.

  16. Esau November 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    “You sometimes complain (not exactly the right word) that men avoid smarter women.”

    Of course, as with most general statements about men this one, too, fails the simplest test: when you say “men”, which men do you mean? There are many, many men who find intelligence in women to be highly attractive, and I’m sure that they greatly outnumber those smart women (by some measure) who are available. So just by number count, smart women have nothing to complain about, they all have plenty of admirers and desirers.

    The “problem” comes, and here I’m echoing what Brendan/Nova has written above, is that smart women, as a general rule, don’t find themselves attracted to the men who find them attractive. So the original statement is badly insulting, almost genocidal, since it doesn’t even recognize the existence of these men. The flaw, as is so often true, is really on the woman’s side, that she insists on having incompatible qualities be true at the same time.

  17. Aunt Haley November 17, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Lando–
    Some of those girls could be willing to give up their careers for the right guy. You’ll never know unless you ask. Not every woman has the “luxury” of getting married right out of college…or by the age of 30. What are these women supposed to do, be low-wage receptionists or work part-time retail barely scraping by for years on end just so a man won’t be scared of them?

    Old Guy–
    If guys avoid the clever ones because they’re clever, is it only because guys are wrong about what women want?

    I think it’s basically male pride. Men don’t want to take the risk of looking dumb or having the woman challenge his opinions. Also, on a related note, if the woman is not as intelligent, the man doesn’t have to work as hard to impress her intellectually.

    Esau–
    There are many, many men who find intelligence in women to be highly attractive

    Men always SAY this, but in practice it’s just not all that true. Men want women who have enough intelligence to fully appreciate them, not women who are objectively very intelligent.

    Let’s say a man is a chef. He goes on a date with a hot woman who is as dumb as a box of rocks. He tries to talk to her about the intricacies of food prep. She can’t understand anything that’s beyond the scope of People magazine, plus she never cooks and doesn’t care where food comes from. The frustrated chef goes home and writes an angry blog about how there are no intelligent, attractive women in his city.

    A few weeks pass, and our chef goes on another date, this time with a cute kindergarten teacher who got mostly Bs and a few Cs in high school and graduated in the middle of the pack from the local wing of the state university. Our chef talks to her about the intricacies of food prep. Even though the kindergarten teacher’s cooking skills are limited to boiling water, she has enough intelligence to appreciate that the chef is doing expert work. The smitten chef goes home and writes an elated blog about how he finally met an attractive, intelligent woman, and in his city, of all places.

    What the chef does NOT do, nor ever considers doing, is find a Ph.D. candidate in food science who minored in art and design in college to discuss the chemistry of cooking and the art of food presentation.

  18. Brendan November 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Men always SAY this, but in practice it’s just not all that true. Men want women who have enough intelligence to fully appreciate them, not women who are objectively very intelligent.

    Again this depends on what one means by “intelligent”.

    I like to cook, and my GF and I share this hobby, but I do not see it as a sign of “intelligence” in either of us. A skill, yes. An interest and hobby, even more so. An intelligence — ahem, no.

    As I say above, women who are intelligent but not really right-curve-intellectual tend to be more conventionally attracted. The ones who edge toward the right curve tend to value “intelligence” (defined in the conventional way, and not the way the PC public schools define it) more than other “smart” bit not intellectually-intelligent women do.

    Case in point: I work in corporate America. Contrary to popular belief there are tons of “smart” people in corporate America who are creative and approach their jobs and lives intelligently. However, almost none of the people in corporate America are “intellectual intelligent” or very right curve. These people are rare and tend to be in specialities like law or IT, OR, in rare cases, in very high management. These people are rare, but they value intellect highly.

    As for the rest of the women, they are conventionally attracted to socially dominant men. If they are moderately right curve, they will begin to trade some of that conventional social dominance for pure intellectual intelligence, and if they are rather right curved, they will trade even more.

  19. David Collard November 18, 2010 at 1:04 am #

    I have had real trouble with a couple of girls who were much less intelligent than me and thought I was pretentious and over-analytical. As I said above, it is best it the woman is less intelligent than the man but not much less intelligent. But there are no perfect matches. I use a lot of irony in my conversation, and my wife just doesn’t get it. She is literal-minded, so I have had to learn not to do this. It is a shame though.

    I used to think my wife was attracted to my brains, or maybe my looks, because I was cute back in the day. But I now suspect she liked my youthful arrogance. She often “complains” about the way I used to be.

  20. Joseph Dantes November 18, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    @Rebekah I will say this: I’m not sure how I felt about it before Game, but after Game I am obsessed with highly intelligent women. I wouldn’t say the sample size of women I think are more intelligent than I am is large enough to draw a statistically significant conclusion, natch, but I like all of them. Game removes all kinds of traditional male insecurities: height difference, income difference, and even “sharing out” the woman, at the extremes.

    @Brendan: NAWALT – now there’s an acronym worth remembering. Unlike MGTOW. So Peter Pannish.

    @Julius: I thought so too, but bravo for self-correcting.

  21. nothingbutthetruth November 18, 2010 at 5:25 am #

    I don’t usually say this, but I am ntelligent. I have a PhD, two masters and speak four languages (English is the one that I know the less). I have a good job.

    (I don’t say this to brag but to illustrate my point. In fact, there is is nothing to be proud. God gave me the intelligence and my brain is not my merit. It could have made me a dunderhead)

    But all my best relationships have been with women with far less intelligence. Not that I don’t like intelligent women: I love interesting conversation and I adore culture.

    It is only that intelligent women can’t stop turning any conversation into a proof of how wonderfully intelligent they are. They are so proud of being intelligent that they have to show it constantly. This is a major turn off.

    And it is rather silly. When you know an intelligent person, you realize that he is intelligent without him telling you anything about his intelligence. But these women can’t stop trying to be “the wittiest and more intelligent goddesses” in the world. They are unsufferable.

  22. y81 November 18, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    I think Haley is on target: most men want a woman smart enough that they can have a conversation with her, but not a woman smarter than they are. However, this preference shouldn’t be a problem in this lid-for-every-pot world. On most human traits, men show wider dispersion than women, so there are more men than women with very high IQs, more men than women with consummmate business skills, etc. Therefore every woman (and man) in the right half or even the top three-quarters of the social status spectrum can find a mate.

    Things get tough in the bottom quartile, where you find society’s rejects of both sexes. The men are itinerant laborers, in and out of prison and homeless shelters, with lower brains, income, and overall social status than the bottom quartile of women, and thus the women do not find husbands.

  23. nothingbutthetruth November 18, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    Oops! I meant “He could have made me a dunderhead”. First time in my life I have turned the Almighty into an inanimate object, haha.

    Time to get my coffee

  24. Esau November 18, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    Haley: “What the chef does NOT do, nor ever considers doing, is find a Ph.D. candidate in food science who minored in art and design in college to discuss the chemistry of cooking and the art of food presentation.”

    I don’t dispute this, but you’re really (deliberately?) missing the point. The female PhD candidate in food sciences that you imagine is probably surrounded, outnumbered five to one, by male PhD candidates in grad school — chemists, endocrinologists, etc — who find her intellect very attractive. They are few in absolute number, but there’s more than enough for her to choose from and they’re likely right there in front of her every day. The problem, of course, is that she doesn’t want any of them, likely for the reasons that Brendan outlined above.

    So, no, you’re just wrong here. Maybe some men are lying when they say they like intelligent women, but some men are telling the truth. But there is a real core of men, small in absolute numbers but large in relative terms, who genuinely do like smart women but who can’t get any love in return. The flaw is on the woman’s side, selectively rejecting the very ones who might best appreciate her.

  25. y81 November 18, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Is it really true, that there are large numbers of men with high IQs, good academic credentials and decent jobs, who can’t find wives? They don’t show up in any demographic statistics that I have ever seen.

    I’m willing to believe that there are lots of men with those credentials who, due to geekiness, can’t get casual sex on a regular basis. I’m also willing to believe that there are lots of men with those credentials whose wives don’t look like Michelle Pfeiffer. These things aren’t on my list of social problems, though.

  26. Brendan November 18, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    I’m not sure that highly intelligent men have a hard time finding wives in the long ter,m, but I think the point is that it’s not really true that men dislike smart women.

  27. Wayfinder November 18, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    I’d have to say that I have yet to find any woman who actually threatens my intellect. Not because women aren’t smart enough, but because I’m secure enough in who I am.

    I’ve also noticed that at the upper levels of education and intelligence there is a wide spread of interests. I suspect that part of this is a desire not just for an intelligent woman, but for one who also understands the subjects that the guy is passionate about. That’s a bit harder to find.

    I agree with Brendan. Many smart men aren’t threatened by an intelligent women, but they are more willing than then the women to date down.

  28. Cane Caldo November 18, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    “So, no, you’re just wrong here. Maybe some men are lying when they say they like intelligent women, but some men are telling the truth. But there is a real core of men, small in absolute numbers but large in relative terms, who genuinely do like smart women but who can’t get any love in return. The flaw is on the woman’s side, selectively rejecting the very ones who might best appreciate her.”

    This is why the Ancients referred to “wisdom”, and not “intelligence”, or “brains”. Wisdom will tell you when to fight, when to run, and when to crack a joke. This is what women want–at least, though each brings her own other proclivities to the mix. Men want women with the wisdom understand (“get”) them, and their jokes, and the wisdom to not judge the man too harshly. Both sexes are most likely to meet these criteria when the man is wisely skilled, and the woman more wisely prudent. In other words: AH is right.

    If you find yourself being selectively rejected: there’s a reason. And just because people are fallen it doesn’t make every uncomfortable perception their fault.

  29. SugarAndSpice November 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    “What the chef does NOT do, nor ever considers doing, is find a Ph.D. candidate in food science who minored in art and design in college to discuss the chemistry of cooking and the art of food presentation.”

    No, I don’t think many men require the women they date to hold PhDs. But as you say in your blog post, women don’t tend to be overly obsessed with credentials either. They prefer a man with social intelligence/dominance to a man with impeccable intellectual credentials but crippling social awkwardness. And as you say in the post, this can be a good thing. Educational degrees are no guarantee of true intelligence, so women are right to consider a man’s personality and not the letters behind his name.

    Similarly, I think the reason most men care little for credentials is because credentials can be misleading, or can sometimes reflect the *wrong* kind of intelligence. Lots of men like intelligent women, but by this they mean a woman who’s an interesting conversationalist, has a good head on her shoulders (and preferably skills of some sort), and would make a great,wise mother. (So, yeah, a kindergarten teacher with some knowledge of child development would probably be attractive to many men).

    Think of the Proverbs 31 woman, who “speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” You don’t need a PhD for that. In fact, many women with PhDs–especially in fields where poststructuralism is the norm–are rather silly or, even worse, argumentative and snobbish.

    For the record, I’m a PhD candidate and I don’t think that’s ever impacted my dating life at all. It hasn’t scared any men away–after all, I still managed to have a normal dating life and get married–but I also don’t think it attracted any men who wouldn’t otherwise be attracted to me. And that’s exactly as it should be.

  30. David Collard November 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    My wife is not very intelligent, although she is not lacking in brains. But she is really interesting. I don’t know why, but I find her continually fascinating. It is not her conversation so much as that I am always curious to know what she will do or say next. I am really grateful I did not marry a dull girl. I think being interesting is not necessarily the same thing as being intelligent.

  31. Joseph Dantes November 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    @Caldo [Delete.]

    No gratuitous disrespect intended. I used to sound like a complete idiot. I find the process of transformation fascinating.

  32. CAB November 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Haley, you say in reply to Lando, “Some of those girls could be willing to give up their careers for the right guy. You’ll never know unless you ask.” This is true and all, but it does present a significant obstacle for a guy, and it’s a minority of women, even in the church, who think while in their 20s that they’ll want to work part-time at most in the future.

    Plus, women often give the impression that they want to stay in their careers, because they’re far more likely than men (in my experience) to gush about their jobs. This is partially because women (unlike men) don’t have much need to pick stable, well-paying jobs: they can pick careers that they truly enjoy. Now, if a woman’s an elementary school teacher and loves it, a man can infer that she loves kids — a definite plus for a marriage-minded guy!

    But if a woman’s a chemical engineer and loves it, a man can’t really infer anything positive about her as a potential wife. She may well look forward to staying home with the kids rather than tossing them in daycare, and (given her presumed intelligence) perhaps even wants to homeschool them. But there’s no good way for a man to find this out in casual, pre-dating conversation — the woman has to volunteer it, and as far as I know, that’s pretty uncommon.

    Granted, all of this applies to traditional-minded men more than the more consumerist types — those who want the standard of living which results from combining two strong incomes and having two kids at most. If the latter men stay away from intelligent women, I’m not sure why.

    SugarAndSpice and Cane Caldo make good points about the different skillsets and intelligence vs. wisdom. And yes, most credentials are meaningless — I’ve known a lot of stupid people with degrees, and not just B.A.’s.

  33. Aunt Haley November 18, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    CAB–
    She may well look forward to staying home with the kids rather than tossing them in daycare, and (given her presumed intelligence) perhaps even wants to homeschool them. But there’s no good way for a man to find this out in casual, pre-dating conversation — the woman has to volunteer it, and as far as I know, that’s pretty uncommon.

    Learn the art of crafty conversation, friend. Approaching conversation like an algebra problem isn’t a good strategy.

  34. AM November 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    I’d question the kind of guys you’re going after, if they truly are complaining about women being “too intelligent”.

    It’s never been an issue with me, nor has it ever come up with any of my male friends.

    I’m in med school, and I know many attractive females who are also med students.

    Do I have a problem with pursuing a relationship with any of them?

    Well, yes. But not because they are too intelligent. That has nothing to do with it. I just don’t want to raise children who have 2 doctor parents.

    Intelligence in women is attractive, and please don’t insult me by telling me when I say it I don’t mean it.

    Yes, men want to be admired by their women, and yes men want to be able to impress them as well… but this is unrelated to intelligence.

    An intelligent woman can appreciate her man (and let him know it), and a dumb woman can constantly challenge him and be obnoxious.

    To me, women who complain about being unwanted for being “too intelligent” are twisting things the same way as women who complain about being “too confident” (ie a bossy unlikeable shrew) or “too successful” (ie cares more about herself and her career than others).

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never come across someone telling me “man I really liked her, but the way she instantly calculated the 15% tip, that is unattractive!” or “she’s hot and all, but her diction and grammar were better than mine. Total turnoff!”

  35. Esau November 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    y81: “Is it really true, that there are large numbers of men with high IQs, good academic credentials and decent jobs, who can’t find wives?”

    If for “wives” you substitute “girlfriends and/or sex partners before age 26”, then, yes the world is absolutely overrun with such men. If by “wives” you mean “someone to settle down with eventually” then the number is much lower, depending on your standard for “eventual”. Nearly everyone who wants to get married does, after some amount of time; the point here is that, a great number of men with high IQ’s, good academic credentials and decent/excellent jobs wind up spending a very long time, essentially their entire youth, in sexual purgatory.

    Perhaps all those wasted years, the punishment of the innocent and the wretched loss of life should make in onto your “list of social problems”, some day.

  36. Aunt Haley November 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    AM–
    Intelligence in women is attractive, and please don’t insult me by telling me when I say it I don’t mean it.

    First of all, I’m writing about generalities. If I were writing specifically about you, I would write about you by name.

    Second, I am sure that every man who says he finds intelligence attractive in a woman means it. The thing is, what he thinks it means isn’t what it means in practice.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never come across someone telling me “man I really liked her, but the way she instantly calculated the 15% tip, that is unattractive!” or “she’s hot and all, but her diction and grammar were better than mine. Total turnoff!”

    Heterosexual men do not talk to each other about women this way, and you know it. You’re reaching.

  37. CAB November 18, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    “Learn the art of crafty conversation, friend. Approaching conversation like an algebra problem isn’t a good strategy.”

    Haley, would you care to elaborate? Sure, there are ways to try to move a conversation in that direction — ask about her job, see if there’s an opening to ask if that’s what she sees herself doing in five years, etc. — but that’s no guarantee of getting an answer.

    And really, with as much as you know about Game, why are you taking a shot at men “[a]pproaching conversation like an algebra problem”? Men aren’t as conversationally agile as women, by and large, anyway; Game or not, plenty of intelligent, introverted men have to think a lot in advance about how they’re going to phrase things — or risk saying nothing at all. (Ever read about INTJs and smalltalk?)

  38. AM November 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    “””
    First of all, I’m writing about generalities. If I were writing specifically about you, I would write about you by name.
    “””

    Fair enough. Snarkiness aside, then it’s clear that you are aware that even if your view of most men were correct, that different men do exist.

    “”””
    Second, I am sure that every man who says he finds intelligence attractive in a woman means it. The thing is, what he thinks it means isn’t what it means in practice.
    “””

    Confused here, is this still talking about a “generalized” idea of a man, or is this refuting me specifically?

    “””
    Heterosexual men do not talk to each other about women this way, and you know it. You’re reaching.
    “””

    the point, which you quite avoided, still stands: it’s all too easy to trivialize men by saying they are scared off by intelligent women.

    In reality though, why would a man not want an intelligent partner? If the man is not attracted to an intelligent woman, it is because of other things he sees as flaws. Some kinds flaws may have some correlation (but not necessarily) with “intelligence” (or self-perceived intelligence), but as I’ve said, it’s not the intelligence itself which is unattractive to men.

  39. Rebekah November 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    AM: Not sure anyone is saying men don’t want an intelligent woman – a man not typically selecting a woman with a degree of intelligence exceeding his is what seems to be most up for discussion here.

  40. white and nerdy November 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    Is it really true, that there are large numbers of men with high IQs, good academic credentials and decent jobs, who can’t find wives?

    Yes. I have worked in several places where all the male employees except support staff had a masters degree or a doctorate in a STEM field. Less than 50% were married and of those of us who weren’t clearly didn’t have any prospects and weren’t likely to get any. If you took first generation immigrants out, out of the remaining men less than 30% were married with the rest of us likely to never find a woman.

  41. Chris November 18, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    Is it really true, that there are large numbers of men with high IQs, good academic credentials and decent jobs, who can’t find wives?

    Um… I was married. We both had medical degrees — not a good idea, as medics are very, very competitive (the ones whose marriages work turn this into cooperating and supporting each other).

    Now… Most of the sensible bright women I know are either married or in a partnership with someone. And… one of them said (when I was enthusiastically describing results of a generalised linear model) that I was far too geekish and would never get a girl.

    The very bright girls I know are hiding their PhDs and going for men with social smarts (And in my workplace I am one of the few people without a PhD). One of the reasons is that the kind of obsessiveness that leads to someone male being good at research — codes as being cold, overanalytical, and remote.

    Which… I am. Most of the time I hide it (I was “raised proper”). However, you cannot hide those traits from anyone who loves you.

  42. David Collard November 18, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Yes, but Chris, why can’t cold, analytical and remote be read as alpha, cool and sexy? I think I am this type, and I never had trouble attracting women.

  43. Chris November 18, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    Re AM:

    I agree about not wanting to raise kids with two Docs, particularly if you are in the US and facing 100 plus hour a week residencies.

    It is achievable in NZ, where part time training is acceptable. The downside is that the specialist exam has a 60% pass rate, and the minimum training post graduation to independent practice is seven years. Most people take 10. Idiots like me, who get a MPH as well as a fellowship, take 15 or longer.

    However, when I was a medical student I swore I would not marry a doctor. But I did. Because you end up living in resident quarters, working the long hours, and the only people you meet are doctors and nurses. And the nurses (where I work) generally hate the doctors.

    (Haley, there is not a good time for a medical woman to have children. The first generation who got to medical leadership positions chose not to marry or chose not to have children).

    The one advantage of being married to a doc was that I could say three words and she knew what I meant. Or if I had had a bad clinical day. But we spend a LOT of time trying to build the other person up.

  44. Chris November 19, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    It can. I could. I choose not to because I am raising boys aged 12 (almost 13) and 15.

    We have just been through a very very rough separation and divorce. The boys have just had five terms in a four term academic year of stability. They need more time.

    Finally, I am an academic, teaching at a medical school, in a university town, and working in the hospital. This removes all patients, students, and colleagues I supervise from the dating pool.

  45. Joseph Dantes November 19, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    Definitely, David. My gf is always coming up with random girly stuff that, even when repetitive, never ceases to engage.

  46. Joseph Dantes November 19, 2010 at 4:12 am #

    Main problems with dating intelligent females:
    1. Smaller standard deviation for women means either they aren’t really that intelligent but think they are, or they have the panoply of personality flaws associated with IQs multiple SD’s above from the mean.
    2. Intellectual hubris, a failing common to both genders, multiplies the already enormous Western female ego.
    3. Feminine emo-irrationality cripples the intellect’s functioning, amplifying the unpleasantness.

    I’m not sure intelligence has always been such a female liability as it is now in contemporary Western culture. In the past it might have been a rarity that made soul-mate status possible with educated men.

  47. y81 November 19, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    “I have worked in several places where all the male employees except support staff had a masters degree or a doctorate in a STEM field. Less than 50% were married and of those of us who weren’t clearly didn’t have any prospects and weren’t likely to get any.”

    Well, if any of these guys are willing to trade weekly church attendance for regular sexual activity (in a marital context), they should check out the singles activities at the local megachurch. Not all church girls are as picky as our hostess, and plenty of them will take the other side of the trade, if the man in question is faithful, a good provider and a loving father, even if he isn’t quite the moody, mysterious Roissy/Mr. Rochester type.

  48. SugarAndSpice November 19, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    It’s my understanding that most people marry others with the same level of education anyway. It’s defined here and elsewhere as “educational homogamy”:

    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/05/assortative_mar.html

    A man with a graduate degree may not intentionally seek out a woman with a graduate degree . . . but if most people in his social circle have graduate degrees, and if he feels more comfortable around people with graduate degrees (because they “get” his references, have a similar lifestyle, etc.), then he may very well end up marrying one anyway.

  49. Brendan November 19, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    AM: Not sure anyone is saying men don’t want an intelligent woman – a man not typically selecting a woman with a degree of intelligence exceeding his is what seems to be most up for discussion here.

    Ah, but that’s a very different question. That’s not “men and smart women”, but “men and women who are smarter than them”.

    The latter is a bad decision for a man, clearly. Why? It runs afoul of hypergamy. The exception here is a man who is an alpha in terms of social dominance, because his social dominance will overshadow her higher intellect and his lower intellect will not interfere with her hypergamous attraction to him. So, for example, you’ll get nurses married to cops — she has a degree, he may not, she is probably book smarter than he is, but he may have social dominance. That can work, provided the cop has good social dominance to keep his wife attracted to him despite his lack of actual intellect.

    However, for the Dilbert cube guy who doesn’t have social dominance, a woman of higher intellect is a bad bet. Eventually, it will become an issue in terms of her attraction to him, because of his lack of social dominance to compensate for his lesser intellect. She won’t have anything to respect about him — she’s smarter and he isn’t socially dominant, so he fails the hypergamy test.

    In my own life, I generally have sought out intelligent, highly educated women, but not really “more intelligent” than me. I haven’t come across very many women who would fall into that category (I don’t work in a scientific field), but if I did I would probably not be attractive to them because I would fail a hypergamy test. Having said that, because I haven’t come across it very much, it isn’t much of an issue for me personally.

  50. Old Guy November 19, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Brendan: “Eventually, it will become an issue in terms of her attraction to him, because of his lack of social dominance to compensate for his lesser intellect.”

    Your disagreement here with Haley’s original post is worth pointing out. She said or appeared to say that a man who passes the “not a (relative) dunderhead” test needn’t worry further about his comparative lack of brains, but you think brains (beyond dunderheadedness) can make up for some lack of social dominance.

    If she’s right, it’s baffling why a non-dunderhead would avoid smarter women, or care about impressing them intellectually, or care about whether they challenge his opinions. If you’re right, and women care about brains beyond dunder, a man needs to pay for mental over-reaching, and have social dominance or something else to compensate for a relative mental disadvantage.

    If dumber is only disqualifying if a man is a relative dunderhead, but is nonetheless something a man has to make up for in other ways, that’s a pretty good reason for guys to discount the cleverer ones.

  51. cleared in hot November 19, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    Finally, yes, I think that men tend to avoid women they perceive as smarter. Most men assume that they will have a hard time being impressive to such women and therefore bail without even trying.

    I’m not sure this is the case so much as the “smarter” woman (where “smart” = strong, independent, highly educated, professionally successful) often is just unattractive to us for many reasons.

    One is the typical “in-your-face” attitude that many professional women often display. Men like to be needed, but SW are often busy proving to the world that they can be everything a man can be and more. We’re not intimidated by you, we just want you to complement us, not compete with us.

    SW often got where they are because they underplay their femininity. But we love femininity, and feminine virtues like thoughtfulness, kindness, cooperation, discretion, flexibility, gracefulness, peacefulness, sensitivity, unity, tranquility, tolerance, innocence, hopefulness, consideration, helpfulness – you get the idea.

    Many times, “smart” women look & act more like…well…men.

    :(

  52. J November 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    @ David

    “Despite all that, I feel threatened by women who are too clever for me.”

    Wow!!! And yet when women say that men feel that way, we are told by the manosphre, it’s because we must be “not hot enough.”

    “It would seem wrong to have a really clever woman ironing one’s shirts. Too much opportunity cost.”

    I do domestic chores; to a lesser extent so does my husband. Doing chores is a part of everyday life; it’s not necessarily degrading. When it is cost effective, we hire people less educated than ourselves to do manual things, but a top level executive mows our lawn.

    “Also, a really clever woman might know one’s limitations a bit too clearly.”

    Ah, there’s the rub……

    “The data show that very high intelligence is more common in men.”

    Like very low intelligence and autism. Nature just takes more chances with men.

  53. David Collard November 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    J

    Yes, men depart more from the mean, as you say. A likely explanation is that having, effectively, one extra chromosome (albeit expressed randomly in different cells – the Lyon Effect) protects women from extreme genetic effects and makes them more mediocre in every respect.

  54. David Collard November 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Bad moments happen in any marriage and people get called names. You have to ask yourself, what is the worst this person (potential husband of wife) could say to me, in an angry moment? And could I live with it?

  55. Aunt Haley November 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    y81–
    Not all church girls are as picky as our hostess, and plenty of them will take the other side of the trade, if the man in question is faithful, a good provider and a loving father, even if he isn’t quite the moody, mysterious Roissy/Mr. Rochester type.

    Are Roissy and Mr. Rochester really the best examples of mysteriousness? Roissy is obsessed with anal sex, farting, and dumping women when their newness has worn off, and Mr. Rochester kept his wife locked up in the attic. Yikes.

  56. J November 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    @David

    “makes them more mediocre in every respect.”

    Dude, we were doing so well. Care to rephrase that? ;-)

    You are, of course, right about the protectiveness of the Lyon Effect. I imagine that things evolved that way because children of defective mothrs are likely to survive than children of defective fathers.

  57. Julius November 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    The way I’ve heard it explained, it’s more that if the most defective, say, third of the males gets wiped out it’s not as damaging to the population as the most defective third of the females suffering the same fate. Indeed, in the (vastly over-)simplified model where genes are either good or bad, you could get rid of the bad genes eventually simply by slaughtering the weakest third of males each generation, without selecting against any females at all.

    In human terms, this may not be so comforting as a male…

  58. Old Guy November 19, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    I have no idea how the mechanism might or could work, but a having a flatter distribution of talents in male offspring could increase a parent’s fitness, if the increased fitness of sons in the larger right tail of the distribution over sons in the larger left tail of the distribution is greater than the fitness of the sons that are missing from the middle. Does female hypergamy cause a flatter distribution of male talents?

  59. white and nerdy November 21, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Well, if any of these guys are willing to trade weekly church attendance for regular sexual activity (in a marital context), they should check out the singles activities at the local megachurch. Not all church girls are as picky as our hostess, and plenty of them will take the other side of the trade, if the man in question is faithful, a good provider and a loving father, even if he isn’t quite the moody, mysterious Roissy/Mr. Rochester type.

    Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. And not just me plenty of other guys in my situation tried that too and it was a failure like everything else. Women are the same everywhere so it didn’t work. Except here the women believed their desires for bad boys that had sex with lots of women were right because “God told them this”. And none of the single women were virgins either.

    Several men who tried to meet women at churches were devout believers before they tried this extensively. Now none of them are because of this. These men left the church completely because it became clear women’s behavior was not held to a Christian standard and the pastors/priests/ministers/other church leaders were busy justify the women’s behavior while attacking the men for things outside of their control.

  60. Xamuel November 21, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Re: Einstein vs. socially savvy: women are, correctly, evaluating intelligence based on a better metric than schools officially measure it. Intelligence isn’t really about solving rubik’s cubes, it’s about using your mind to get what you want. See: http://www.xamuel.com/what-is-true-intelligence/

    I think a lot of guys who have no experience with women SAY that they want a smart woman, because they’re socially conditioned to say this. Certainly, I used to say that. Now that I have some actual experience, I’ve learned to appreciate the finer points of a nice hot dumb ditzy girl. If I want intellectual conversation, I can get that from friends, there’s no reason my bedpartner needs to fill that need.

  61. Joseph Dantes November 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    All true, Xamuel, but things change when children enter the picture. And the total package has its appeal.

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