Why Are Women Expected to Date Men With a Lower Educational Level?

Why Are Women Expected to Date Men With a Lower Educational Level?

Dear Evan,

I was at a speed dating event last night for the second time. Just like the first time, it was full of smart, pretty, successful women in their thirties and forties and men of similar ages with manual labor jobs (and a few running their own manual labor businesses) but no men of equivalent professional or educational status except for one doctor. Why he was there, I do not know, as he made it clear that he was not really looking to date anyone. He did however buy me a drink in the bar afterwards and asked me what I thought of the event. I said I would be unlikely to go again because I have nothing in common to talk about with the men that I have met at these events.

He proceeded to give me a lecture as to why I shouldn’t automatically dismiss dating the two guys who were responsible for service washes in the launderette as they may be perfectly nice people and that career women in their thirties get what they deserve if they don’t. I am just wondering how many other men think like this? For me, it seems plain common sense that, while professional women with masters degrees may be compatible with men in less successful professions, the guy that left school with no qualifications to work in the launderette is highly unlikely to be a good fit.

It is not the first time that I have come across the attitude that career women deserve to be alone if they don’t want to date men without any education, or men a generation older, or the obese. I am just wondering how many men really think like this. –Fiona


It doesn’t matter how many men think like this.

Just like KC’s email a few weeks ago about how she receives emails from disappointing men she meets online, you’re illustrating an amusing concern with men’s preferences in women.

Men do what they want. They don’t do what you want.

My answer to you is largely the same as my answer to her.

Men do what they want. They don’t do what you want.

If he is a dishwasher and he finds you pretty, he’s going to ask you out.

If you don’t go out with him because you intimate that you’re “above” him on the dating food chain, it’s predictable that he might lash out at you.

You may be technically correct that he’s not of your social station, but that’s of no concern to the man you’ve just insulted to his face.

Literally, the ONLY thing he can do when you tell him that you have nothing in common (without getting to know him) is tell you that you’re wrong for judging people and that this attitude may come back to haunt you.

Women tend to adhere more to their checklists, which usually call for a man who is just like you, but better. And without your flaws.

He’s right about that. This is one of the big blind spots that women have in dating.

Allow me to explain.

You painted a black and white world, Fiona. It wasn’t that he was less educated than you. It’s that he was a laundry operator. It’s not that a man is older than you, it’s that he’s a generation older than you. It’s not that he’s a few pounds overweight, it’s that he’s obese. All of your examples are extreme, but not all men are extreme examples of anything.

So, to be crystal clear: no one (besides the fat, stupid and elderly) is saying that you have to date the fat, stupid, or elderly.

Got it? Good.

What I am saying – and what these men are inartfully suggesting as well – is that you don’t marry a list of traits. You marry a human being. And if you never think outside the box, you may well find yourself standing alone at the end of the dance.

The reason that I call this a blind spot for women is because women tend to adhere more to their checklists, which usually call for a man who is just like you, but better. And without your flaws.

Taller. Richer. Smarter. Funnier. Saner. Sexier.

Alas, men don’t care if you’re taller, richer, smarter, or funnier.

We just want you to think that we’re amazing.

Which is why men can date ANYONE – regardless of education, income, and height – while many women can only date 1 in 1000 men who are 6 feet tall, with a masters degree and a $200,000 income.

So are some men unrealistic in thinking that they deserve a chance with you?

Yes, they are.

Are they also correct in pointing out that they are open to a lot more women than you are open to men, and this may hinder your ability to find lasting love?

Yes, they are.

To your original question, no one is saying (apart from the jilted men) that you deserve to be alone. But I would be remiss if I didn’t pull out the nugget of wisdom from the flawed logic of the laundry operator.


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  1. 1

    Reading between the lines of your post I got the impression that you are a decent just trying to make your way through the world like everyone else. Your choice of words, however, makes you come like a stiff snob.   Being viewed (judged) like that is the reason why many men will not even go near a woman who earns even a little bit more than he does.

  2. 2

    Like many women on this blog, I fall into the category of high-earning, intelligent successful women who have had the experience Fiona and others describe of feeling like I rarely met men my “equal” and got criticised for being too snobby or picky or dismissive when I bemoaned the fact that I got asked out on line by 55 year old overweight bus drivers who couldn’t spell.

    After years of fruitless dating since my divorce, and thanks in no small part to Evan’s advice on this matter, I have now met a wonderful man who I am happily in love with, who wants to marry me. He earns less than I do, has little formal education beyond school and works in farming, so in that respect he perhaps falls into the category of men who for a long time I would have considered “unsuitable.” And yet – he is highly suitable! He is manly, confident, has intelligent and interesting things to say about all aspects of life, is the same age as me (48)sexy, good looking, has no ex wife and kids complicating the picture, has money in the bank…. He is also loving, committed, a good cook and great at DIY.

    Where I think Evan’s advice has helped me is that it has somehow freed me up to give things a try with a man who is not exactly what I thought I was looking for but who has so many good traits that things work really well between us. It took me a long time to come round to the idea that I could potentially have a successful relationship with someone who wasn’t a professional, university-educated type, but through Evan’s repeated message about not looking for a carbon copy of yourself but looking for someone who was loving and marriage minded, I had reached a place where I was at least prepared to consider it when this man came along. He pursued me, he saw the potential in the relationship before I did, is not the least bit intimidated by my income or letters after my name and is very much the man in the relationship, which is important to me.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that although its true a lot of the guys you meet at events will not be suitable for you, it is important to be at least open to the possibility that the laundry guy may be your ideal mate. Its hard to get your head round this, and in no way changes the fact that most of these guys (most guys, period!) will not be right for you, but it is possible that one of them might be. Does that mean you have to date every overweight, ageing laundry worker who comes along? Absolutely not!  But if there was a less overweight, kinda cute, younger laundry worker… well, maybe…   

    Anyway, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to thank Evan for the part he has played in helping me to meet my soon-to-be husband, so this seems like a good opportunity: THANK YOU EVAN for opening my mind to this possibility and enabling me to meet someone I would likely have passed up had it not been for your wise words.   

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thank YOU, Helene. Comments like yours make all the hate mail, criticism, and arguments with anonymous strangers worth it. Seriously. Congratulations on your happiness.

    2. 2.2

      Firstly, thank you to all.
      Without repeating too much, I agree with the need to be open and to find a partner who compliments one, such as Helene has described. I too, fall into the professional university educated category of woman and would like to think I am reasonably emotionally mature. I thoroughly appreciate Helene’s description of the man she has found. I have a respect for men and have healthy communication and kindness in past relationships (a long marriage without sexual compatibility), so no complaints about men. However, having been in a relationship with a kind and witty man for around four years, I find that I am unable to commit properly. I feel the difference in education and general achievement runs deeper. That is, that there may be a mismatch of compatibility in the long-term. The main issue being a lack of intellectual curiosity and general curiosity in the world. I fell that curiosity drives action to a large extent. I would like this quality in a partner. My partner does have many good qualities (the reason we have lasted this long, along with his determination). He is kind and loving and we just get-on. However, I don’t feel we have much in common. Another big issue that holds me in the relationship is that we have built a hard-to-give-up sexual bond that I feel is quite ideal, and seems to keep growing (we are very compatible in this way). My dilemma is despite the good parts of the relationship, and despite my being open minded about differences in education etc, I still feel I cannot commit in the long-term. I have struggled from the start with what I believe to be a deep-seated incompatibility in the long-term ( but have also found it hard to move-on, due to the good things).
      How can I go-about figuring out whether we are compatible in the long-term? I care deeply (there is quite an attachment), but I have been unable to feel that I could love this man completely. I do feel I understand the difference between ‘in love’ and ‘the commitment to love’.
      Thanks again to all, and Evan for including the subtleties in discussion.

  3. 3

    I disagree!  Men are likely more willing to date a larger range of women because they are not as marriage oriented – they will date for sex, or short-term reasons more often than women will – 2)  They are fussy in different ways! – They prefer thinner, more attractive and youthful women, and do not care so much about education and career, because they are not as concerned with intellectual interaction.

  4. 4

    Congratulations Helene, I am pleased that you have found what you are looking for. All the very best with it.

  5. 5

    @ Kathy: if you’ve read any of Evan’s work, you should know that men don’t care about your accomplishments or intellect–what they do care about is how you make them feel.

  6. 6

    I, too, followed Evan’a advice and am very happy i did.

    I have been in a relationship with a man one generation older than me and i am the happiest woman in the world, i am so grateful God sent me this wonderful man!!! Of course he is less educated than me (most people on this earth are), but who said education = intelligence? If anything, intelligence in a human being has often been hindered by his/her education…

    My man is smart and generous. His knowledge of art has taught me so much about the beauty of life, nature, and human beings… and his approach to life, as a whole, is extremely inspiring. He has got integrity and he treats me wonderfully… when you encounter sb like this, who care if he does not have a PhD (or a masters, or a BA?) 

    DITCH tHE CHECKLIST !!! Take time to really meet and get to know the person behind the labels !!! 

  7. 7

    Again Soul, I am glad that you found what you were looking for. I think however that I am better judge of what is good for me than anyone else is.

  8. 8

    I am willing to date a “larger range of women” because if I stuck with some checklist authored from my fantasies I wouldn’t get dates. Lisa Fremont won’t be walking in a door near me any time soon.

  9. 9
    Evan Marc Katz

    What, if anything, did you learn from my response to your question, Fiona?

    Because I’m going to suggest that understanding what may be in your blind spot is far more important to you than “how many men think like” the man in your question. 

    If you were a great judge of what is good for you, you would probably not be asking the question. Most of us are very poor choosers until we get it right.

    And people who chose to value intellect more than kindness, or money over character and consistency, often end up choosing educated wealthy men who either don’t want to commit or have trouble staying faithful. Worse, they bemoan their fates by saying “there are no good men” out there, having passed up the good ones for bad ones.

  10. 10

    Hello Fiona #8:

    Quite the contrary actually…. you might not be the best judge because of your blind spots (it is the same for everybody) …A little humility goes a long way….

    Please receive a warm and friendly hug; I sincerely hope you’ll soon find what you are looking for! 

  11. 11

    Well Fiona,  Evan just posted an excellent reply!!! 


  12. 12

    @ Kathy #4: I agree with you! Men are plenty superficial when they are just looking to casually date, which is the norm for them.
    Actually, and ironically, it was the DOCTOR (who showed up at a speed-dating event not really looking to date anyone) who told Fiona not to dismiss the manual laborers. I do object to his comment “that career women in their thirties get what they deserve if they don’t” consider all types, and would urge Fiona to consider the source.
    However, I wouldn’t rule out a man who ran his own manual labor business, or a self-made man with with less education, a shorter guy, or whatever. I’ve dated PhDs, but one of my smartest exes was a guy with a high school education. It really depends on the person and their interests and curiosity about the world. 
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having one or two must-haves. If a very intellectual man is important to you, that’s fine, but you my have to compromise on other external traits. Look for the intellect, but don’t neglect the deeper layers of kindness and integrity.

  13. 13

    I do not understand one thing. You said:
    “Alas, men don’t care if you’re taller, richer, smarter, or funnier. We just want you to think that we’re amazing. ”
    However, these re the qualities most men look for in a woman, can you explain this??

    1. 13.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Maria, I don’t understand your question. Can you please rephrase so I can clarify?

  14. 14

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and get Fiona’s back, at least a little.  The doctor at the speed dating event who lectured Fiona sounded like an ass. A professional woman in her thirties does NOT need to date a service washer at a launderette if she doesn’t want to. And no disrespect to the service washer, but odds are, they don’t have much in common for all sorts of valid reasons. Socio- economics influence our cultural experiences, and consequently our interests. The things we have in common with others is what adds to our attraction of others. The doctor implied that she didn’t have the room to be picky in this department, based on her age. It was ridiculous of him at best. That aside, Fiona, don’t be afraid to date someone without a college degree. There are PLENTY of good men who are motivated, successful, intelligent, kind and sexy without that piece of paper. Soul is right: ditch the labels and get to know someone as a person before you write them off. 

  15. 15

    The problem with checklists is, it’s so difficult to find someone who matches all the criteria, that by the time you do, you’re ready to overlook this man’s personality flaws, just because he was so hard to come by and you may never find another MBA six feet tall, no extra weight, your exact age, that lives five miles from you and makes six figures. So you try to ignore the facts that he still hasn’t set his divorce date with his ex-wife, or that he’s a control freak, or that he is leaning the very opposite of you in politics and religion and you argue about that each time you meet, or that he’s a pretentious douche, or that he is boring as hell and you have nothing in common. (That last one, happens more often than you’d imagine.)
    The first man I dated after my divorce, checked off every item on my list, up to and including the love of classical music. He also told me a story on our third date about how, when he walks his kids to school in the morning and sees someone run a stop sign, he jumps out in front of that car, stops it, and yells at the driver while his kids stand on the sidewalk and watch. Same date, he brought me home, parked in the driveway with his engine running, his headlights shining into my neighbor’s bedroom windows (at midnight), and tried to make out with the car still in drive and his foot on the brake. Charming. I stuck it out with him for another month because I was afraid I wouldn’t find another, six-foot-tall, liberal agnostic who’s working on his PhD. Then I finally came to my senses and ran off to date an old friend of mine, who never went to college, wasn’t liberal, didn’t like classical music, and carried about a hundred pounds of extra weight, and had an awesome time.
    That got me thinking. I realized that matching every item on my checklist is not a guarantee that the man will have something in common with me or that we’ll have a good time together. Now my approach is that it is okay to have some kind of a checklist, but they aren’t carved in stone, and slight deviations from the list on one or more items are okay. Nobody says to date a bum off the street. But an intelligent, successful man who hasn’t completed his college degree is perfectly okay.
    The man I’m seeing now, while exceeding my expectations education-wise, definitely missed a few items on my list, and I on his. (He probably hadn’t counted on dating an immigrant, for one thing!) But we have a great time together and that’s what matters.

  16. 16
    Jackie Holness

    Being too picky gets you picked over…not saying that you shouldn’t have standards, but the standards should be realistic considering all factors involved…

  17. 17

    My husband has less education than I do, is from a lower-social-class neighborhood, is much less sophisticated in many ways than I am, is less ambitious, has no interest in current events or the broader world around him, isn’t well-read, has siblings who are unemployed or low-skilled workers – and yet, he and I are perfect together. He treats me like gold, makes me laugh and draws me out of my head, where I would prefer to live most of the time.  We’ll be married 7 years this coming New Year’s Day.  (Time flies, huh, Evan?)  Evan is SO right about the “checklist” nonsense.  Fiona, you might want to read Lori Gottlieb’s excellent book, “Marry Him” if you are at all interested in getting married and having a family one day. It’s a real wake-up call for us “perfectionists.”  

  18. 18

    @2, Helene, good for you, congrats!  We’ve have a similar experience.  As a result of Evan’s thoughts on broadening our horizons, I made a concerted effort to date all kinds of different men…from really good looking, to highly educated and successful and/or older.  What that did is allow me to more clearly see why my current boyfriend is a good fit for me and why all those men were all good men, just not good partners/boyfriends–for whatever reason.  He is a professional, I have a BA, he never went to college.  I’m more interested in the world around me, he’s not, but can still talk intelligently, which I like.  We both like sports, etc., etc.  I really get this concept that no one is perfect…there is no perfect man, and there’s no perfect for me…there are just good men who can make good boyfriends that we can partner with perhaps in marriage.

    If you want someone that’s more educated,.  Be careful what you wish for and good luck!  

    P.S.  I think that doctor saw exactly what you were about, and challenged you on it.  He did you a favor :) 

  19. 19

    I agree with KATHY4 “  Men are likely more willing to date a larger range of women because they are not as marriage oriented – they will date for sex, or short-term reasons more often than women will – 2) They are fussy in different ways! – They prefer thinner, more attractive and youthful women, and do not care so much about education and career, because they are not as concerned with intellectual interaction”"

    Evan says men just want to date women who make them feel good about themselves. Hmm, now if a size 16 woman thought a man was wonderful    I doubt she would make him feel wonderful. What would make him feel wonderful would be a a very attractive, size 8-10 woman at least 10, maybe 20 years younger.


  20. 20

    I do understand what you are saying Evan and I am a bit flexible. Just about every man is taller than me so that is not so much of an issue and I don’t mind someone being a bit less successful, a bit less intellectual, a bit less well educated, a bit older (even all in the same package). However, it would be hard for me to accept anyone that didn’t at least meet those criteria. I do not value intellect over kindness – I do think that both are important. Nor do I think earnings are more important than character but I do think being able to have a reasonable standard of living is important. How flexible does one really have to be before feeling that you have settled for a man or a life you don’t really want?

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Catherine – I would think that it goes without saying that a man (or a woman) has to find his partner physically attractive in order to forge a relationship, so your point is kind of moot.

      Give a man identical twin sisters and he’s going to choose the one who is fun, easygoing, and makes him feel the best about himself, not the one who is constantly criticizing him for his flaws.

      @Fiona – “How flexible does one really have to be…?” Well, since there’s a lid for every pot, if you haven’t found a lid, you’re either not trying on enough or dismissing one that fits. Once I learned to let go of my list (East Coast, Jewish, liberal, Ivy League), I was able to find a life that I DID want. You don’t seem to be able/willing to do the same. So all I can say is that you should keep on dating and consider the wisdom of the women who posted on this thread…

  21. 21

    ps. why is this woman going to speed dating events that attract men without degrees? I would think most speed dating companies offer a variety of events according to age groups, interests, educational level etc

  22. 22
    Karmic Equation

    There are so many good, intelligent men out there who may not be highly educated (“book smart”) but are very street smart. And street smart men are just as awesome and sometimes even more intelligent than the book smart ones.

    Character and spirit are the qualities that should top any checklist, if you choose to have one. And if you judge the book by it’s cover you’re likely passing up many good men who would have treasured and adored you in a way that your fantasy-inspired alpha, well-educated, well-earning man never could.

  23. 23

    Aside from the “laundry guy” there are plenty of professions full of intelligent good earning men that don’t have bachelors degree’s. All of these men are not idiots because they didn’t go to college but they may have went to trade school. Just as every person that does have a degree isn’t intelligent or have common sense. Hundreds of thousands of men!! Some (not all) of these men may be great matches for Fiona or others like her. 

    Construction workers

    And the list goes on………………….. and I know they’ll always be snobby women that say “Ewwwww, those men get dirty at work and do manual labor”. Yep, they do while making a good living some 80-100K.

    I’ve been putting I have a bachelor’s degree for 3 yrs now in my profile even though I don’t. (Mainly because everyone “below” me at my profession has one and after years of being honest and putting “some college” and never knowing how many were’nt returning my emails because of it.) Not one woman I’ve dated from “some college” to “Master’s Degreed” teachers etc… in the last 3 yrs has ever asked me about it or known the wiser. NOT ONE!

  24. 24

    @Fiona, I don’t think you have a ridiculous list of wants.  Especially as you seem more flexible about some things such as height, age and looks (I’m assuming on the last).  I would suggest (and this is what I am doing) to just keep engaging in life (online and off) and keep tweaking things that matter less to you.  I have a well educated and successful friend your age and she didn’t even care about the things that you care about and still struggled until this year.  Even people who don’t care about successful men often struggle.  She is now seriously dating an ex who has been a good friend for many years.  The dating non-college men issue isn’t really relevant for me.  I’m not sure of the age of the other commenters or where they live.  Living in a highly educated area if I knocked on 10 random doors I would be hard pressed to find someone without a college degree.  Luckily it is the bare minimum around here (that doesn’t mean everyone actually is a professional though).  I read this blog not to do an entire overhaul on my view (I don’t think Evan did that either), but to question some of my wants and try to open my mind on some of them.  I definitely am less picky that I was 5 years ago, although some of my wants are going to stay.

  25. 25
    Karmic Equation


    “How flexible does one really have to be before feeling that you have settled for a man or a life you don’t really want?”

    I think you need to ask yourself if you had to choose between having a man who makes you feel good about yourself or having a life you feel good about, but not both, which would you choose?

    Answer that honestly and you should have a clearer vision of what’s important to you and gameplan for that.

    There is no wrong answer. But you really do need to be honest with yourself about what is more important to you. Life or lifestyle?

  26. 26

    Well if I was at such an event and a doctor bought me a drink I’d be telling him I was having a great evening and enjoying meeting new people. And did he have any   single friends who WERE looking to date? 

  27. 27

    Soul # 7
    You said: “of course he is less educated than me (most people on this earth are)”

    And then you tell Fiona (#11) that “a little humility goes a long way…”

    Ha, that made me chuckle :)

  28. 28

    JB #26
    Women haven’t asked because they probably figured a 50-something year old man ( or whatever age you’re using on your profile these days) would not be lying about his degree. The fact that you’ve run across women that have given you the benefit of the doubt doesn’t mean that you should feel proud of getting over on them.

  29. 29

    I’ll chime in here as another woman who’s found happiness with a less-educated man. My husband is a truck driver with a bachelor’s degree (I have a master’s) The difference in education is just about completely irrelevant. He’d intelligent, a great conversationalist, and we never run out of things to talk about. I think it’s a mistake for any woman to rule a man out just based on his education. There’s way more to a great relationship than having a lot of things in common. 

  30. 30

    @Goldie #17:  Your first paragraph summed up exactly how i feel about the list. I am so trying to fight my willingness to overlook personality flaws just because he meets most of the criteria. But it’s so dang hard! Whenever i put my foot in the door, there will always be this annoying little voice in my head saying ‘Well heck, you aren’t perfect either. So what if he is a control freak/arrogant snob/wise-ass etc’. I always end up feeling such remorse. 

    ‘(He probably hadn’t counted on dating an immigrant, for one thing!)’
    Ugh, i SO get what you mean by that! I’m happy it worked for you, but in my case… not so much. Or even better: not at all. It is so annoying. Every time i find a ‘decent’ guy (as in, someone who matches most of my things on my really reasonable checklist) and then he finds out i’m an eastern European immigrant, he either:

    a)pulls away (although he was initially attracted to me) 
    b)immediately starts having the ‘my place or your place’ attitude (if you know what i mean).

    This makes me so frustrated! I hate the awkwardness that always follows! What bothers me even more is that i haven’t figured out a way to deal with this yet!  If guys in college behave like this, what should i expect in a few years time? Grrrrrrr!

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