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


“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.


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?


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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  1. 61

    Sheri #66

    Sounds like you might have over-reacted by going too far in the other direction after your ex left you. It’s possible to find a man who is both smart AND caring, and who does not bore you to tears.

  2. 62

    “Aren’t you aware that it is only a recent phenomenon (in the context of human history) that women were allowed to choose their mates ?”  

    You can substitute women by ‘people’.   The men in arranged marriages generally have no more choice than the women.   And while mothers and aunts may consult the matchmakers, even in deepest Pakistan, the girls in the overwhelming majority of cultures have the practical right of veto, as did the daughters of Medieval European nobility.   Medieval apprentices may not always have chosen to marry their Master’s daughters but it was a reliable way into the business so long as they weren’t rejected by the girl.   The first time or so, she might count on another apprentice albeit younger coming along later.   So women could usually veto men who are not smart rather than choose men who are smart.    (BTW the Pakistani boys don’t get a veto unlike their sisters).   What young men and women didn’t get was the right to choose their mate at random on the basis of sexual desire.   Agricultural societies can of course be rather more coercive about mate choice because the rulers generally have a monopoly of serious violence. So for example, regiments of Zulu men were ordered to marry age/clans of young Zulu women and support them but this was not general.   (Shaka Zulu notoriously put 35 000 young men and women to death because he changed his mind about their marriage arrangements and some of the girls protested because they liked their already chosen future husbands.   It was the girls who protested.).
    However,   Homo Sapiens Sapiens is about 120,000 years old.   The 6000 year long behaviour of peasants tied to the land or 3000 years of urbanisation is not the largest part of our social history when measured in generations of ancestors. Most of that time was spent in small groups of hunter gatherers.   Modern small groups of hunter gatherers have societies that are quite unlike the imaginings of self appointed Evolutionary Psychologists who seem to imagine that our ancestors lived in a state of wild anarchy.   For example, hunter gatherers usually have very elaborate kinship rules to prevent inbreeding (Eskimo/Inuit, Aborigines, Bushmen, Chuchksi, the group around Lake Tangynika whose name I forget etc.).    Neither party to a marriage has much choice, given the rules and given the limited number of mates available within the immediate clan or even in the larger tribe.   The first girl in her generation may be able to veto the least clever of two or three available boys but the third girl and third boy are going to be stuck with each other.   Higher status males may eventually get more women but they will be the widows of a brother or cousin attached to him because of his status, not conquests due to his sexual “Alphaness”.   “Alphaness”, as used in modern marketing jargon for dating courses, would quickly get a man killed in a hunter gatherer society.   There is an argument that until 30,000 years ago sexual anarchy may have prevailed but by 30,000 years ago we were definitely creatures of culture rather than anarchy.   We have been neither gorillas nor baboons for a long time.

    Modern urban society is a wholly new experiment in mating strategy.   Limited choice within a small group was a form of security.   Assortative mating due to either sex having the power to choose personal characteristics is one new strand greatly reinforced by modern life. Now the clever may choose the clever for marriage on a scale never before seen.   We are not prepared for this.   I suggest that women seek taller, richer, smarter for the lost security of clan life as much as sexuality as such.   We are evolved to pair bond with pretty much anybody when required.

    Next attempt I may have time to write a shorter comment?   Androgynous pressed a button.

  3. 63


    I don’t think you understand men or how men think.   I don’t know any man who has a problem dating taller women.   Of course, most men I am friends with happen to be taller than 75% of women in the country.   And really its only been women who have ever voiced major height preferences.   One woman told me that she wished I was taller, even though I was already taller than her.   That’s crazy.   Also I’m an engineer so I happen to make more than most women.   However, how much money a woman makes is not something I’m even concerned about.   I’ve been interested in women who have the potential to make more than me once they finished grad school, but these women seemed to be too busy to date.   Of course men prefer beautiful women.   Doesn’t everyone?   Yet I see more average women in good relationships than the hot ones.   All of my hot female friends except one, are either getting played by losers or have already been divorced by age 28.   In reality solid relationship oriented men don’t put too much stock into the superficial things.   You should probably stop complaining and instead work on finding better men.   Men are not always going to behave how you think they should.   It would also help if you listened to Evan and had something to bring to the table besides beauty, money or an education because that is NOT what makes a man love you.

  4. 64


    There is a  dating advice website named after a popular B-52’s song that featured this topic exactly.   (taller women  and shorter men).   The originator of the post (a man) said he’d have a  hard time dating a taller woman and asked other men if they had the same problem.   Most of the other men did.   Said they’d feel emasculated.

    Maybe 2-3 out of the bunch said they didn’t have a problem with it.      Sure, by no means is that website representative of the male gender, but it is interesting, doncha think?  

    I don’t know what you are talking about in your last paragraph.  People don’t always behave how you think they should.   Has nothing to do with gender.   People love you or hate you for  all kinds of  rational or irrational reasons.      I think women (and men) would do better to start treating each other as individuals and not stereotypes.

  5. 65


    Well those guys are mostly morons.   Anyways it doesn’t really matter because on average most men are taller than women.   So I don’t really see your point.   Unless you a 6′ tall woman your still shorter than most men.   

  6. 66

    Re: height.   IMO, men don’t bother pursing women who are taller than they are simply because experience has taught them that women who are taller than they are will not date them.   It’s not because dating a taller woman is emasculating, it’s because being rejected by them is emasculating.

    Re: intelligence.    often people who flaunt their “intellect” are really not  very deep at all.    All they have is at the surface, and  once you get below that intelligence, there’s little there.  

  7. 67

    I am a 27 year old girl just married to a man who isnt that intelligent type. I often compare him with my friends who are more informed and as you say great conversationalist. The reason I like such people is that I feel I get something from them. They show me a different world, a different aspect of things…which is very exciting in day to day life. Living with a partner you also want to grow intellectually, or to say you want to have a sense that you too are getting something from the man. In my case, I am person who likes intelligent people and when I see my husband doesn’t know the weighty issues or frowns when I express my views on drugs, prostitution, drinking, marriage etc, I think of him as someone who is very traditional and conventional. I hold a master’s degree and so does he. But…spark just doesnt flow between us. And this affects other aspects of our lives too.  

  8. 68

    cool! this is just stated reality…that unfortunately, most women don’t see. (which is just too bad)

  9. 69

    @ Joe, just because you can tell right away that the person is smart, doesn’t mean they’re flaunting their intellect. The opposite is also true, just because a person comes off as not so bright, doesn’t mean he’s a modest guy trying not to flaunt his intellect.
    When dating online, when I wanted to determine a person’s intellect level, I used to ask them what they like to do for fun. That’s really the only question you need — it’s a non-threatening question that they’re happy to answer, and their answers tell it all. Sometimes they make it easy for you and put telling things on their profile. One guy had this under favorite books: “lol not really into that stuff”. Unfortunately I’d been a little scatterbrained about reading his profile, so I saw this little tidbit 15 minutes before leaving to go on our first date… talked to him for over an hour and confirmed that his profile tells the truth — my dog is more intelligent than this poor guy.
    Also, it’s not just a man’s intellect, it’s what he chooses to do with it. There are highly intelligent people out there who just don’t like using their brain outside of their normal work hours. So in answer to my question they’d say they like hanging at the bar, or watching TV. Also a red flag.

  10. 70
    Saint Stephen

    Goldie @77
    All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.  

  11. 71

    I agree that it is best to avoid egotistical, self-centered males and the pool of highly intelligent men seems to have more of them than the general male population.   That said, I have a really hard time giving up on intelligence in men.   I completely agree with Goldie and others that *it is what they do with their intelligence* that is important, but isn’t your biggest sex organ supposed to be your brain?   For me, having a great conversation is a huge turn on.   I love word play and that kind of flirtation.   While it definitely doesn’t trump character, I would have a really hard time giving that up in a man.   I can understand Evan’s point about avoiding the Bill Clintons of the world and I have to admit that being verbally gifted seems to be a strong element in being a charming manipulator.  
    Hmmmmm….   I’m really going to have think about this.

  12. 72

    I disagree with Evan. Intelligent people can learn to live outside of their heads. All It takes is awareness that something is missing in life when spending all of their time analyzing everything, arguing or spouting factoids just for the sake of being right. What is missing is connecting. That is where the convesations about breakfast cereal, wallpaper and if the Richardsons are being nice or if they just want to show off their new hot tub. With that awareness the smart person also has to have the will to connect and to seek out how to connect. Some intelligent men do this.

    For every difficult smart man, I know from experience that there is a less smart man who is obsessed with sports statistics or lives for Beer, or likes to sleep 14 hours a day on weekends.

    Looking for the 98th percentile does limit our pool, but not because more of those people are harder to get along with, only because you are already limiting yourself to one man in fifty.

  13. 73

    I am divorced from a man who was Ivy league educated plus a law degree, self-made, very successful. His IQ is close to mine within 3 points. He is very narcissistic, detached, and loves the sound of his own voice. I am now in a relationship with a guy who is above average intelligence, went to a selective prep school, a top tier college and went into his father’s business. But he is not as smart as I. Not even close. You know what? He has to ask me what words mean when I speak to him, we can’t play word games like Scrabble, he refuses to watch Jeopardy with me, he makes sarcastic comments about me being to smart, and I have to edit what I say so that he “gets” what I am talking about. Granted my IQ is an outlier on the Bell curve, but heck, this relationship is challenging just because he can’t keep up with my mind. He is mostly very sweet, attentive and compassionate, but all that falls away when he feels “threatened” by my intellect.

  14. 74
    Margaret Thatcher

    I kind of disagree with this post. I do insist that a man be smarter than I am, generally by a considerable amount. BUT I also expect to compromise on things like looks (the only rule is that I must be attracted than him, but 5’8, chubby, hairy, badly dressed doesn’t bother me.) money (I don’t even WANT a man with money!), power, confidence, etc.
    I don’t really see the problem with having one thing you won’t budge on, or possibly two if you’re young/attractive/charismatic enough to back it up…as long as you’re willing to make compromises in other areas.
    And neuroticism, pretentiousness, etc? I find it endearing. I know this puts me very much in the minority, but it is what it is.

  15. 75

    Evan, you are like awesome. Did i tell you that before?

  16. 76

    I’m so attracted to beautiful minds, but also big hearts. So Macho doesn’t do it for me. He doesn’t have to be smarter than me, but at least as smart. I get frustrated with men that aren’t as smart.   I’ve tried and spent 12 yrs trying to make the last one work.   I can put up with the list you made if they have a kind giving heart, sense of humor, love me, and have a certain amount of humbleness that goes along with their big ego.   Another words they don’t take it too seriously.   Evan sounds like your wife puts up with your attributes, so why isn’t it that other women like myself can’t find the balance like your wife apparently did. She must see something else there to be so content. I’d dare say just by reading your posts and e-mails that you also love deeply, are affectionate to your wife and your giving.   I imagine that goes a long way in a relationship.   That’s all I’m asking for.   He doesn’t have to be into self growth as much as I, but enough to where the relationship can grow. Otherwise I grow out of relationships very fast.   I love an opinionated man anyways… rather have that than passive one that never has anything to say or doesn’t care about anything important.

  17. 77

    My niece isn’t in the top 2% at her school.  She’s the TOP ONE.    Do we sit around and have highbrow converstions? No, we lark about, and talk fashion and make up, and it’s not just because I’m dumber than she is. She wears her intelligence so lightly you wouldn’t   know how successful she is academically, musically and creatively.  I love that about her.
    Most married people, like you say, don’t go home and start talking about their area of expertise. When you have kids it’s mostly about what they are going to eat next. (I exaggerate for effect).  
    And there are so many kinds of intelligence and ability. I love it when someone is good with their hands and can fix things.   I’m useless at that. If I’m smarter at some things, sod’s law (or brain wiring) dictates that I’m dumber at others. A colleague, possibly the smartest business negotiator I know couldn’t find her way across the road to a restaurant for lunch.
    I think it’s normal for  humans to be intelligent so I’ve never said to myself “my man has to be smart”, never mind smarter than me.  
    But I think my pet fish are intelligent so I’ll shut up now.

  18. 78

    As a “98th percentile” gal myself, marrying my husband who cannot beat me on an i.q. test was the most difficult and also the best decision that I have ever made. Previously, I only dated men who were charismatic and fiercely intelligent. Despite my intellect, I had the erroneous belief that marriages are more successful if the male is the more intelligent partner. I am academically, verbally, and logically more intelligent than my husband. He knows it, and mentions it often. However, I have many social and emotional deficits. I have traits that indicate antisocial personality disorder and I come from an abusive home. I have great difficulty navigating the nuances of relating to people on a daily basis in order to function. My husband has average to slightly above average intelligence, and the kindest temperament I’ve ever encountered. The longer we are married, the more I feel that I am the more fortunate partner, as opposed to when we first married and I thought he was lucky to catch me. Brilliance without compassion produces brutality.

    1. 78.2

      I’m with you, Amby. My IQ has been tested at 135 twice, whatever that means. I have a bachelor’s degree and some graduate school. However, making a difference has always meant more to me than money, so I’ve never earned a lot. Some would consider me successful, while others would say I’m wasting my potential. Whatever.

      I fell in love with a man who has a trade school education and is the traffic signal tech for our city. He is masculine as hell, wickedly funny, brilliant, and street smart. He amazes me every day. And most importantly, he treats me like a queen and loves me for the quirky, sometimes emotional woman I am. I’m the luckiest girl alive. Yeah, I’m the one who can read anything and grasp it, and I can write any document we’ll ever need. But he’s the one who can run any vehicle or piece of equipment made. He’ll keep us alive if we’re ever lost in the woods (not that he would let us get lost in the first place, but you get the idea), and he can repair everything in this house. We’re perfect complements of each other intelligence-wise…what I don’t know, he does and vice versa. I can’t imagine being with the male version of me. Ick. Yuck.

  19. 79

    Love it Goldie!   you nailed it… and also I agree know it all’s aren’t always that intelligent they just know enough to be know it all’s… I can even at times find the loop-hole in and challenge then and then all of the sudden they are gone.. That’s b/c they can’t handle a woman that actually might be more intelligent than they are..   There is a depth that comes with wisdom and intelligent doesn’t equate with wisdom.   I’m realizing that I’d rather have the depth of wisdom than the cocky moody arrogant know it all of someome that might be in the 2%… someone grounded and able to have life experience rather than just be well read..

  20. 80

    That sounds just like me apart from im a girl and every guy iv dated has just been so dumb. Basically i always date guys that are sweet handsome but when i talk to them and get into conversations then they are just stupid. I would actually be thrilled to date a intelligent guy for once, maybe he could teach me a few things for a change.

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