Why Being Attracted to Smarter Men Is the Biggest Reason You’re Single

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“I can’t help what I’m attracted to!”

If I had a dollar for the number of women who have said that to me, well, let’s just say I’d be writing this from Tahiti, not Los Angeles.

And I can’t disagree with you: attraction is NOT a choice.

Yet if the very thing you’re attracted to never leads to the relationship of your dreams, don’t you think it may be wise to make some adjustments?

I think so.

You’d make adjustments if you didn’t feel good about your body on January 1st.

You’d make adjustments if you were only looking for jobs on Monster.com and it never got you a job.

You’d make adjustments if you alienated your co-workers and wanted to feel better from 9-5 every day.

We’re constantly making adjustments in life.

Except in one arena.

You’d make adjustments if you didn’t feel good about your body on January 1st.

Should it be any news that it’s the one arena in which you struggle the most?

And a big reason you struggle to connect with men is because you’re so bright.

I hear ya.

Like many of you, I’m a bit of an intellectual snob. I read voraciously. I like to discuss weighty issues. I know a little bit about a lot and can pretty much hold my own in any cocktail party conversation.

You want to know something else about me?

I’m a know-it-all.

I’m difficult.

I’m moody.

I’m opinionated as hell.

I’m a workaholic.

I’m an egomaniac.

I always want things my way.

Now before you decide that you hate me, I’d like you to consider two things:

First, does that description remind you of any of the men you’ve dated in the past?

If so, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

That’s the thing about really smart guys. They live in their heads. They’re somewhat tortured. They know what they’re worth. They have enough information and ammunition to be impossible to argue with. They can be endlessly fascinating and even more frustrating.

You’ve seen this yourself MANY times.

And yet you still say you want a man who is smarter than you are.

Hmmm…

Sounds like a pretty exhausting relationship, doesn’t it?

Sounds like the price you pay for dating a great conversationalist is pretty steep, huh?

On one side, you get a brilliant, stimulating mind, which really turns you on…

On the other you get a narcissistic, difficult, self-obsessed, coldly logical man who is much more concerned with ideas than feelings, and much more concerned with himself than with you.

Once again… Hmmm…

Before I forget, there was one other thing I wanted you to consider:

You will STILL be attracted to geniuses, but you now know that they do not make for a good fit in your life. Never have. Never will.

Very smart. Know-it-all. Difficult. Moody. Short-tempered. Opinionated. Workaholic. Egomaniac. Judgmental. Always want things your way.

Does that describe anybody else besides those brilliant men you’re drawn to?

It certainly describes my clients. And I wouldn’t be all that shocked if it somewhat described you as well.

And when two people who are that smart, that opinionated, and that strong-willed get together, it should obvious that sparks will fly — and tensions will mount.

So while I’m not judging you for being just like I am — I AM pointing out to you that if you insist that you can ONLY be attracted to men who are smarter than you, you are relegating yourself to less than 2% of the population (before we consider things like looks, height, money, religion, humor, charm, attraction, values, etc.)

Moreover, you’re relegating yourself to a man who is NOT A GOOD FIT FOR YOU.

And therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’re attracted to only MENSA men.

The key to your future successful relationships is going to come in opening up to smart guys without all the baggage that comes from being brilliant and driven.

That does NOT mean that you are going to find yourself with a man who has never read a newspaper, who has no interest in foreign travel, or who can’t keep up with you and your friends.

It does mean that you need to accept men who are not in the 98th percentile of intelligence, and recognize that there are plenty of amazing, bright, relationship-oriented men who may not be smarter than you.

It’s not all or nothing.

We compromise on things every single day.

Your job isn’t perfect. You put up with it for 10 hours a day.

Your friends and family aren’t perfect. You put up with them for the rest of the time.

And yet you still hold your boyfriend to a ridiculous standard, as if a man who went to a state school and doesn’t watch Sunday morning political talk shows is a dullard.

I know, I know.

You can’t help what you’re attracted to.

Me either.

But I spent the first 35 years of my life chasing women who were just like me — the smartest women in the room. And I put up with the same things that you have to deal with from men — selfishness, difficulty, self-righteousness and so on.

I married a woman who was smart — who gets every joke, who knows about Shakespeare and classical music, who has definite opinions about Israel/Palestine — but she’s not necessarily in the 98th percentile of intellectual curiosity.

And you know what?

It feels GREAT.

Because most of our lives are not spent discussing the finer points of Proust, or the best way to fix the 2-party system, or the science behind String Theory… our time is usually spent talking about fixing up the house, raising our daughter, planning our next vacation, figuring out what we’re going to have for dinner, etc.

Thus, my wife doesn’t HAVE to be like me — because we’re great together.

So if you believe in self-help, if you’ve read books about spirituality, if you’ve gone to shrinks and taken weekend seminars, and yet you still think your husband has to be on the exact same wavelength as you?

Sorry.

He doesn’t.

He just has to respect you. And you have to respect him.

My wife hasn’t done any of that personal growth stuff and you know what?

She’s happy. Better than that, she’s CONTENT.

Have you ever been with a brilliant guy who is, at heart, a miserable person?

I’ll bet you have.

And I’ll bet you’d do it again — hoping for a different ending this time.

Once again, there’s no different ending.

Brilliant men tend to be bad partners. You’ve seen this numerous times.

So, from now on, you’re going to discover the virtues of smart, kind, thoughtful, generous, easygoing, commitment-oriented men.

You will STILL be attracted to geniuses, but you now know that they do not make for a good fit in your life. Never have. Never will.

You CAN get the relationship you want; just not with the man you always thought you wanted.

Trust me, the reality is FAR better than the fantasy.

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Comments:

  1. 41
    nathan

    “Men REALLY appreciate when we can discuss things with you and have you accept our answers and our apologies, instead of turning every emotion you feel into some referendum about our future.” Yes, I totally agree with this point!
      
    Also, I think everyone might do well to study up on Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman wrote a best selling book about it several years ago, and in a lot of ways, the kind of healthy communication that people seem to crave isn’t “cold and logical,” nor “overly emotional,” but really a blend of everything human in a way that reaches the particular person.

  2. 42
    Ray

    nathan@48

    Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is a fabulous book.   The two  qualities most necessary for  Emotional  Intelligence?   Empathy and ability to delay gratification…. interestingly, these are qualities that can be tested at a very young age too.   Fascinating book.

    I’ve also read from some very good sources, that CEOs tend to have some of the lowest emotional intelligence among the pool of employees.    One wonders if the  qualities necessary to be a CEO  require the opposite traits.    Hmmm… Some food for thought.          

  3. 43
    henriette

    Many of you commenters are staring at the trees, missing the forest of Evan’s piece.   Basically, he’s saying that we should re-examine our some of our rigid views of what we can and cannot find sexy.   We should never accept man who is not kind, thoughtful or honourable.   But some guys who are not conventionally good looking can become devastatingly attractive once we get to know them.   And we can find real wisdom in some fellows who aren’t bright in the way we thought we needed.   Is that really so hard to swallow?

  4. 44
    mellie charnalia

    TOTALLY on point!!! I used to look for super smart, ambitious, talkative guys but I’m finding that I’m sort of running away from that now. Emotional intelligence/capacity is what I’m looking for. But even then, I’m not expecting a man to act like my girlfriends (I used to!). So, I agree with the part about being rational and logical (and I used to get pissed off when I read that). Often I think when women react to men emotionally, it’s because they’re making some meaning out of something that the man didn’t intend at all. We are remembering old stuff from childhood or abusive/neglectful relationships. I think there’s a difference between a man who’s emotionally immature/illiterate/abusive/unavailable and a man who’s just not into analyzing/processing every emotion. Sometimes we may mistakenly think the latter is the former….? Granted, that difference can be hard to tell sometimes :-).  

  5. 45
    Lucy

    Hi Evan
    I am very intelligent, having done Law at an Ivy League university.   So did my ex boyfriend (who was a very big alpha male).   One of the problems we had was exactly as you mentioned – the intellectual attraction sparks too easily turning to tension as we are both strong willed and opinionated and excellent at arguing a point.   He said it was one of the things that turned him off me.   I was sad because on the one hand, smart guys seem to like smart girls, but on the other, if I actually ACT smart, giving my opinions and men don’t like me (or perhaps alpha males just don’t like me as I had a bad habit of only dating smart alphas who impressed me).   I have the flaws of ‘smart’ women that you listed: opinionated, know it all, moody, sensitive, but very very in touch with my emotions – not cold and heartless.   My question is, if ‘smart’ people are so difficult to date, and sensitive people are difficult to date, this pretty much renders me a horrible partner, no?   How do I overcome the flaws that come with having too much head and too much heart?   Do I need to get a lot of therapy just to be acceptable as a partner?   I have friends who think I’m great and dateable, and people think I’m generally a great person, but I now feel discouraged, thinking that I am a dating “bad bet” and destined not to get married because of my smart/sensitive flaws (I’m 26 and single).   

    1. 45.1
      mgm531

      @Lucy 45

      “I have the flaws of ‘smart’ women that you listed: opinionated, know it all, moody, sensitive”

      “How do I overcome the flaws that come with having too much head and too much heart?”

      Well, you can start by not being so opinionated and accept that another person’s opinion may have as much validity (or more even so) than your own.   Stop acting like a know it all because, quite frankly, at age 26 you haven’t lived/experienced life enough to ‘know it all’.   And while it’s okay to be sensitive it’s not generally attractive to be overly sensitive and look for negative connotations in otherwise innocent or innocuous things people may say to you.   And lastly being moody may be a cute quirk when you’re in your 20’s, but as you get older you may find that most people feel that moodiness is just a sign of emotional immaturity.

  6. 46
    Lucy

    It seems like I have to date a beta because alphas find my challenging their intellectual arguments on   X issue with my own take on the issue/pointing out the weaknesses of their points is frustrating.   Regardless, I LOVE to learn from alphas and find their discussion stimulating, though often arrogant.   However, I feel angry to think that if I want to be around such smart alphas and not get dumped is to morph into a lady who always nods agreeably to his opinions and doesn’t ever really critically examine them and threaten his ego.   They want me to be smart but always defer to their intellectual/decision making power.   I think I would have a hard time doing this, as it goes against my natural personality.   Yet, with betas, I have not found one which stokes my intellectual fire and makes me feel like I learn from them in the same way.   Are there betas like this out there and I just haven’t found them because alphas seems to hunt me down as they look for smart, accomplished and above average attractive young women such as myself?   

    1. 46.1
      Russell

      The hat may not fit you, but then it might, so I will tell of my experiences with women who describe themselves as you do.

       

      All too often, those intellectual discussions always seem like a chess match, or a battle of wits.   They almost never felt like just an enjoyable discussion, like I have with guy friends where we discuss serious stuff.

       

      My ex did this.   And I can’t count the number of times she would take other’s people’s side against  me in debates, and I would then come back with proof that I had been right.   I never gloated, and never rubbed it in her nose after showing her the proof.   Yet I was always the bad guy.   What it came down to was that she just had this fear of being overshadowed by her man.   She had a fear of being run over, of being relegated to the kitchen.   So her way of dealing with that fear was to always be combative in a subtle, passive aggressive way.   I talked with her about it, and she was in complete denial about it.   She wouldn’t even admit that she never, or rarely took my side.   I am not saying this is what you do, but I can tell you this…and maybe Evan will agree…we men do NOT want to argue with our woman.   We want an easy going relationship without added drama.   Life puts enough drama into your life without adding to it.   Read that as stress.   We don’t like stress when it isn’t necessary.

       

      Not all men love to debate.   I love to.   However, I don’t like combative debates.   Occasionally may be Ok, but it is stressful so too much is not going to be enjoyable.   I like debates where when there is a disagreement, nobody feels like they have to convince the other person.   We simply look it up online to see if we can find something to settle the disagreement, and then we just move on without any gloating.   I don’t gloat.   I don’t like it when the other person does it.

       

      Many women I have debated with are not good debaters.   They are often very intelligent, but they don’t handle disagreements well.   They seem to feel that if the other person isn’t willing to accept their point of view, they don’t respect her and see her as inferior.   I do not ever see the other person as inferior, but at the same time, if I have researched something, or believe my opinion to be right, I don’t concede until you prove your point.   I can agree to disagree, but this never seems to be good enough with most of the women I have had these kinds of conversations with.   Also, if he/she proves me wrong, I admit that I was wrong, and become interested in learning more about that subject.   Not one single time has a woman said to me, “Hey, you were right and I was wrong.”   Not one single time.   My belief is that has to do with how women often simply carry with them the belief that men see them as inferior, so in their mind, admitting they were wrong will cause him to gloat, and confirm in his mind that she is inferior.

       

      I think both people, in a relationship, should make it a point to tell the other person that they were right, when they were right.

       

      I do know from hearing the same thing from many men that they simply don’t want any form of competition between them and their woman.   Why is it so hard for women to understand that we men see the majority of our life as a competition.   We have competed our entire lives.   We want something different with our woman.   Think of it like a sailing ship sailing around the world, braving all manner of hazards at sea, but then pulling into a port.   In port, you want calm, and fun, and pleasure…not more storms and danger.   That is how many men see a relationship.   It is supposed to be our home port.   It isn’t that we want you to act dumb, or inferior. Go do battle with your friends like we do.   We don’t really want to debate with you.   We don’t want to compete with you.   Isn’t that easy to understand?

  7. 47
    Ria

    Funnily enough, one of the dreams women have is to have a guy Evan described. Which isn ´t news. But here comes the catch – in the end of all the list of the characteristics Evan described, they secretly wish to add one tiny characteristic bit:”…and loves me, and is dedicated and commited to me (against all odds of his nature) forever.”
    Which never happens, because that isn ´t in his make up and should you look deep down and examine  how you really feel, you know that you arent a match, but you dont like this feeling like you are “not good enough.” So we want to be exception of the rule and “win him” anyway. Another hard work less paid…cos sadly, when you cant afford Ferrari, you need to drive more affordable for your budget.

    As for Evan describing himself in this case, my  opinion is that he married a very exceptional and special lady, who IS exception of the rule.  Not everyone can make a man like this to commit:) it has to be a special lady.    
      

  8. 48
    sthrnphoenix

    My entire family is composed of extremely intelligent (97% and up) men and women.   Those that are relationship-successful are the ones that focus on emotional intelligence and the qualities that make a person a good partner: loving demeanor, patience, kindness, and responsibility among other characteristics.   My father always counseled me not to hide my intelligence, but not to put it on display.   Though I value intelligence, I honestly value the other qualities I listed above much more.   I got lucky.   I’ve been seeing a wonderfully kind, patient, loving, and responsible man that my father, a true genius, loves and called ” a really nice guy” just this morning.   He treats me and my children extremely well, fits in with my family, and fits into my life.   He’s got a beta personality, but is not a pushover.   He’s also smarter than me.   That wasn’t something I was looking for or even expected, but it impresses me.   It just doesn’t impress me as much as his loving character.   Thanks, Evan, for the advice you’ve given that has helped me to meet this wonderful man and maintain a healthy and happy relationship with him.

  9. 49
    Sayanta

    Mellie

    51, I really like your last point about the difference to keep in mind…I should def keep that in mind  

  10. 50
    Anonymous

    This blog has really opened my mind to other possibilities.   For example, I thought it was normal to want to date a man I considered my equal in looks, education, career etc.   After reading the information here, I learned to be more “open minded” and date men that I wouldn’t normally consider.   

    I ended up dating a man who physically revolted me, had bad breath, a big belly AND wouldn’t pay for dates. (The fake purse grab backfired on me).   He was jealous of my career success, as we are in the same field, and constantly questioned me for advice on how to improve his success at work.

    When he started asking for sex, I had to end things.   I was feeling lower than a prostitute – at least they get paid for “dates” – I was paying for everything!  

    I repeated some of your ideas to a female life coach, who said that I had a lot of negative associations that she would help me with.   She truly believes that I can find a man who I find attractive and consider an equal, and is supporting me in rebuilding my self esteem.  

    Prior to reading this blog, I didn’t think it was possible for a man to be writing such negative propaganda against women with standards.   Evan, your advice neglects the fact that some men are opportunists who will milk a woman for money, career advice, sex, and her self-esteem.

    I’ll be careful in future.   Thanks for opening my mind.  

  11. 51
    m

    It’s women who need men who are Taller. Smarter. Richer.”

    As usual, EMK, not the problem.

    The problem is men who need women who are shorter, less intelligent, and have less money.

    I was Tweeting at a man who tried to poll ladies saying “Would you go out with a man who is shorter?”   I explained to him that I had my own empirical basis for concluding that was not the problem.   I’m 5’6″, so if I’m wearing 2″ heels for a date — hardly skyscrapers, mind you — the men who have the biggest problem with me are the ones who have lied and said they’re 5’9″ or 5’10”.   They get all sulky and insulted.

      I’m 5’6″.   Hardly a giantess.

    He Tweeted back and admitted that yes, if he was 5’10”, he wouldn’t date a woman who was 6′ — so it’s safe for me to conclude he himself is precisely the type I was describing.

    It’s all in the framing.   The problem is not women who want “more than” — the *real* problem is the men who want their women to be “less than”.

    And we don’t talk about that enough.

    Happy holidays, everyone. 🙂

      

  12. 52
    Tina

    Yes, of course I want a man who is smarter than me. Just because I should not respect him otherwise. I could not love him too.
    But here is the thing: there is no so many smart men out there. As there is no so many really beautiful women.
    And the things never are two-dimensional only. The smart women want not only smarter than them men but they also want this man to be a nice, good man, and crazy about them too. You, the men firstly look for   beautiful women and then want she to be nice, loving and interesting woman.
    And I know, most people are with somebody just because they do not want to be alone, they want to be “normal” people in some relationship because our society is in this way. But the rest of the people (the remarkable ones) want to be with someone similar to them. We all ALWAYS have a choice though.
    As for this that the smarter women are selfish and arrogant, that depends on the woman character, not the intellect.
      
    *Sorry for my English but this isn’t my mother language

  13. 53
    happy

    the issue is really smart women sometimes will come up as unfeminine and too masculine ->masculine is the kind of energy he is used to debating with on the job

  14. 54
    Zaq

    m@58

    Utter nonsense
    I have no problems whatsoever with dating women taller than me. Women are hung up on height, men less so.How many men are going to have problems wanting to date Charlize Theron

    It’s the same with money. Women project onto men their own feelings.
    Sorry if you cannot stand shorter men, that is YOUR problem
    Less wealthy – YOUR problem !  
    Less intelligent – YOUR problem !
    Men, for the most part are not hung up on these issues

      

  15. 55
    Ruby

    M #58

    I agree with you, and don’t think your comments are nonsense at all. I’ve certainly encountered men who thought I was too tall for them at 5’8″, even men who were over 6 feet tall. I’ve encountered men who thought i was too smart for them, or not wealthy enough. Of course, men have preferences about these things – I don’t believe it when I hear that men only want someone “cute” and “fun”.

  16. 56
    Stacey

    M#58

    I concur. Most men like being “more”, nothing wrong with it, thats what the society tells them they should be: strong, provider, leader. And it’s just so much easier to be all that with a petit kindergarden teacher than it is with. 5’7″ lawyer.

  17. 57
    Ray

    m@58
    right on!   I’ve dated men who had less education… made less money… were shorter.   None of those things are important to me.
    I screen for character #1.   I do not flash my education around, and the topic of money never comes up (unless they bring it up).
    But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out on a few dates with men who have said “I’d never date a woman who made more than me”, or ditched me after learning my diploma was bigger than theirs.   I even had a guy tell me that all his friends told him “whoever has the money has the control”.
    So, yea, I”m totally calling BS on this one.   Sure, there are women (and men too) who wear their accomplishments around like a tacky sandwich board sign on the street corner… Love ME because of my stuff!!   Yea, that IS tacky.
    But I’ve definately met men whose own insecurities kept them looking for women they deemed ‘less’ than them.   That is the crux of it.   As a result, I just generally avoid people for friendships or romance who view every interaction as a power-struggle.   Or who define people in terms of labels…   ‘alpha’, ‘beta’, ‘feminist’… whatever.    
      

    1. 57.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      m and Ray – what you fail to get, every time you come here to blame men is that it doesn’t matter. This is a site for women. Advice is designed to help those women adjust. What a woman can control is how she deals with men…not how men deal with her. So if you meet shallow men who are intimidated by you? So what? Don’t date him. What you CAN control is getting over that very common female need for a man who is taller, smarter, richer, etc. I’m not making this up. ALL of my clients feel this way. So stop calling BS. It’s not BS. It’s my advice to women. Advice to men can be found somewhere else.

  18. 58
    Sheri

    I was left by my narcissistic, self-absorbed, Ph.D. “genius” a couple of years ago, a man who treated me like “less than” and left me dangling for years, although we were officially engaged.   The emotional devastation compelled me to became determined to find the opposite kind of man, one who simply adored me and was easy-going.   This man, however, cannot spell or speak properly sometimes, does not lift a book or newspaper, has no passions or interests other than his 2 dogs, and has not a lot of friends.   He is kind, loving, devoted.   BUT.   I am so bored, even after 2 years.   The conversation is so dull I find my eyes glazing over sometimes.    I am no genious, but I feel like I am the leader of this couple.   He can’t make a decision without checking with me.  

  19. 59
    Saint Stephen

    Sheri Said: (#66)
    I am no genious, but I feel like I am the leader of this couple.   He can’t make a decision without checking with me.
    If he’s decisions are going to affect you – why should he make them without checking it with you? Maybe you  inherently  don’t desire an equal relationship and that’s fine, but i’ll advice you to you stop feeling like a leader and view yourself as an equal participant or look for someone who will be happy to lead you.  

  20. 60
    Ray

    evan@65
    I don’t believe either of us have failed to ‘get’ it…     I don’t believe we are blaming men.   Just giving examples of insecure ones.   Sometimes it is helpful for women to know what to avoid too.  
    When you said ‘you’, I’m sure you meant hypothetical ‘you’ as in your readers… not me.  
    I’ve never had that issue… I learned to go for character first a long time ago… and I’d argue that women need to seek out men who date for ‘character first’ too.   For instance, the ones who’ve always dated younger women, or shorter women, or ‘beautiful’ women, or ones who make less than them??   Pass.  
      
      

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