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Smart Women and Relationships

I’ve written a lot about how many of the smartest women I know make unwise decisions when it comes to relationships.  These women usually point out that although we can’t abandon common sense when making decisions of the heart, we also can’t rely solely on logic.  I agree with them one hundred percent on this point, because love is a powerful emotion that often defies logic.  Where I often disagree with these women is when they argue that it is more difficult for a smart woman to find love “because men don’t like smart women.”

I’m not saying that there are not men out there who still believe that the man should be the thinker and the woman should mindlessly agree with him, but I do think that the number of men that still think that way is very small.  We receive many comments from men who want a partner that is interesting and that challenges them in a positive way to be a better person, which of course requires a woman to be both intelligent and confident.  So despite all these statements from men that imply that they’re looking for a smart woman, why are there so many women that are just not buying this?  I’ve done some digging into the stories behind some of these statements, that I hope will explain some of the confusion.

Smarts Are Fine, but Success is Different- One very interesting thing that we found is that although most men say they’d like their lifetime partner to be intelligent, they are not as enthusiastic when it comes to a women being more successful than they are.  For the most part, we define career success as income, and when we ask men if they would be comfortable with a wife who made significantly more than they do, many answer “no.”  Many of the smart women that have contributed to our polls are high earners.  If we put together the information from men and women, it looks like the problem that women view as being rooted in their smarts is really rooted in their success.

We still define the value of men mainly by their careers, so it’s not surprising that men aren’t sure if they want to get involved with a woman who has a higher profile career.  When we talk about successful men married to women who have less prestigious jobs, we hear expressions like “behind every successful man is a good woman.”  Support for your partner is what all marriages should be about, and your partner’s success should be hailed as your success as well.   Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone claim that behind every successful woman is a good man.  It’s no wonder that men are torn on this issue of success, because no matter how much society has changed, we do expect men to be more successful than the women that they marry.

Pro-Women Does Not Mean Anti-Men- Although we can lay some of the blame on society for how men perceive smart women, women also need to take a good look at themselves to see why their intelligence seems to be turning away men.  I know lots of successful women that are in fields that are still male dominated and they seem to adopt the mentality that being pro-women needs to go hand in hand with being anti-men.  Now coming across as a male basher or a woman who just doesn’t think very highly of men is as unappealing to men as a chauvinistic man is to women.

I’ve seen these women practically growl at men who open doors for them as if the man were somehow implying that she wasn’t capable of opening a door rather than trying to be polite.  I’ve also seen women who routinely have terrible things to say about men who then conclude that the handsome guy in her office must not like smart women because he is dating a woman in a less prestigious occupation than hers.  Did this man really choose this woman over her because he perceived her to be less intelligent, or did she just seem “nicer” and more approachable.  Some women are in fields where they need to be perceived as tough to get ahead in their careers, but that same toughness can be a turn off if she is perceived as just mean or cold because her work persona carries into her personal life.

So, even if the problem is more of an issue of success than intelligence, where does this leave highly successful women?  Is the neurosurgeon going to have to say that she is a waitress just to get a date?  I don’t think this is the case, yet as much as feminists may hate to hear this, I do think that she will have more success if she says that she is a doctor or maybe even “works in health care” rather than neurosurgeon until she gets a chance to show the person that is beneath that fancy title.

In many cases, the role of women has changed faster than society’s attitudes.   Much of this is rooted in the fact that no matter how high powered our careers become, women are still the ones who bear the children and men and women are still two very different creatures no matter how “equal” we are in most aspects of life.  In the long run, the men who thrive in relationships with women who are perceived as more successful do so because their wives make them feel valued even when society as a whole often doesn’t.  If you are a woman who has a prestigious career who has been asking herself “why don’t men like smart women?” then instead you may want to ask yourself “am I really the type of woman who is willing to go out of her way to make a man feel valued even if he has a ‘lesser’ career?”

What do you think? Please let me know what you think about whether or not men have a problem with smart women by sharing your thoughts in the comments section.

14 Responses to “Smart Women and Relationships”

  1. [...] Posts: Are You Too Picky? Smart Women and Relationships Thanks for reading, and I wish you all the best for the new [...]

  2. Henway says:

    I think what it comes down to 1) physical attraction and next intelligence. If you’re not attractive, or in the bottom of the gene pool it doesn’t matter if you’re intelligent, or not intelligent.
    Henway´s last blog ..Oxy-Powder ReviewMy ComLuv Profile

  3. In most cases, smart men will choose smart women. When I was in college a question was given to all my guy groupmates. The question, if you are trap in an deserted island, who’s the girl groupmate you want to be with? Most of the guys picked the smart ones, because a smart girl is pretty much reliable in times of need. I think it also applies in the real world where smart girls will not only sit in difficult times but they will find solutions to solve real life problems.

  4. Bingkee says:

    I think there are still some men who are intimidated by successful women. Successful women signifies power which can be perceived as power in control over anything—relationships, family, etc. Men usually don’t like that since , even at the beginning of society, they are always seen as the one who should be able to control, to make more money, to keep his family intact, to provide, etc. So, if they meet women like that, it does not conform to their ideal picture of a relationship or family. Usually, it’s true that women extend their control from their careers to their family affairs and that leads to the breakdown of families and broken families—and that scares the men away.
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  5. [...] or Leavem  A sample blog post: Smart Women and Relationships (Good advice here, especially for the very [...]

  6. askcherlock says:

    If a smart woman holds out for a man with equal or higher intellect, I think the chances for a great relationship can happen. After the initial sexual rush subsides (and it always does), you better have someone with whom you can talk and communicate.

    “In many cases, the role of women has changed faster than society’s attitudes.” That is a profound statement, Tina, and absolutely true. Even women waft on just what their roles should be. Change is never easy but this one is taking a bit longer.
    askcherlock´s last blog ..Stop “Fence Sitting” Over Jewish Settlements My ComLuv Profile

  7. I’ve been a career guy and a stay at home dad. And let me tell you, it’s a hell of lot harder to stay home with the kids and deal with the household responsibilities than go to work.

    Career men and career women need to appreciate their spouses for all that they’re doing too. It takes a lot to make a household work.

    Men like intelligent women, but if they’re not also understanding, fun, appreciative and open minded we could care less. And this goes both ways..ALWAYS!

  8. This is such a great question for us to consider especially today when marriage seems to be so different then when I first married in the sixties.

    Women were moms and housewives then and there was nothing wrong with that, in fact I liked it better, however, today is different and so are men and women and I think you have both those men that are intimidated by smart women and they always were and always will be because that’s who they are and many more who think of us as their equal, and will respect and enjoy who we are.

    I have several men in my career who have been mentors and friends for over 30 years, and we share information and friendships that last and can be enjoyed if you understand it’s friendship via your work and not your personal life.

    There isn’t even a thought that I can sense which makes them or me feel anything other then we are associates earning a living, going home to our personal lives and enjoying that we can work together on the same level of knowing our area of expertise and getting our jobs done. And yes if appropriate we can have a drink together and go home to our wonderful families.

    Hope this makes sense good post.

    Dorothy from grammology
    grammology.com
    Dorothy Stahlnecker´s last blog ..Oprah Settles her lawsuit My ComLuv Profile

  9. Ray
    Twitter:
    says:

    I think men do have a problem with smart women in a working environment where the woman is the boss. Some of these women think they have a lot to prove and so can be very difficult to work for.
    I would say my wife is smart, what sets her apart from a lot of women I have met, is that she has a sense of humor that I can identify with.

    She can make me laugh, just like when I am enjoying time out with my male friends over a beer.
    I all comes down to enjoying a relationship based on mutual respect.
    Ray´s last blog ..What Is Talking Therapy? My ComLuv Profile

  10. Jude says:

    Some men do feel inferior when they are with a woman smarter than them and feel at a disadvantage when they don’t know what she is talking about. No one likes to feel stupid and men do have huge egos. You also made a lot of valid points about career and the attitudes that some successful women have.
    Jude´s last blog ..Disciplinary Actions/Verify A License/Lodge A Complaint My ComLuv Profile

  11. Kelly says:

    I think it depends on the relationship, and how secure each person is in who they are and what they do. It shouldn’t be a competition. If a woman feels she has to lie to cover her success or occupation, then she probably shouldn’t be with such an insecure guy.

  12. Suzanne
    Twitter:
    says:

    Good post topic! I believe men want smart successful women with whom they can *partner.* They do not want competition. It’s all in how you present yourself. Am I going to be a great ally? partner? friend? Or, am I going to try to outsmart, get one over, or pit myself again him? Showing how smart he is in choosing you (and visa versa) is much more empowering than someone being in constant competition.
    Suzanne´s last blog ..Quote of the Week: Simple Pleasures My ComLuv Profile

  13. Brandy
    Twitter:
    says:

    I think men enjoy a smart woman, younger men who not quite mature yet is a different story. I think the men who are true men and have grown realize that having a smart woman has many advantages, such as the woman being able to get along in just about any situation and most likely the man’s friends are going to like a woman is smart not ditsy!
    Brandy´s last blog ..Top 10 Tuesday: Friendship Is … My ComLuv Profile

  14. Anne says:

    When I was young and single I ran into this problem a lot. I think many men are threatened by a woman who is smarter than them. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find someone (I eventually did), but it does make it harder. Many men subconsciously believe that the man needs to be the provider and needs to be smarter, wealthier, etc.

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