Dear Blunt Monkey,
I have a friend who is super smart, classy, and sophisticated. She was recently dating a guy who just stopped calling her. I’ve seen on his Facebook page the girl he’s seeing now…she’s total white trash. I just don’t get it! – Kate, Los Angeles
Short answer: Smart guys will generally date the most physically attractive girl available to them. Other attributes are secondary. By the way, girls do basically the same thing. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Long Answer: I’ve had three separate girl friends this week tell me a different version of this same story. They have a friend who, out of nowhere, was dumped by her boyfriend. The consensus seems to be that all three girls were dumped because they are too intelligent; men simply can’t handle a woman who is smarter than them, and they definitely can’t handle a woman who makes more money than them.
I suppose this is a comforting reality to live in post-dumping; we all need to tell ourselves little lies to cope in sad times. So don’t keep reading if you are emotionally fragile. Go ahead, dry your tears. I’ll wait.
Ready? Okay. First, nobody gets “dumped out of nowhere.” If a guy breaks up with you after dating for a year, he probably started working up the courage to do it around the nine month mark. You’ve probably been bugging the shit out of him since the six month mark. There were probably some fights he intentionally sprinkled in towards the end to prepare you. He probably started getting really distant and not talking much. He probably got sick of having sex with you. You probably ignored all of it.
And when you DID finally get dumped, you had been living in denial that the relationship ended months ago, so you were forced to contrive a reason, any reason, that something this horrible could happen. Encouraged by friends hoping to comfort you with a rationale that the tragedy was not your fault, but his, you concoct a comforting myth: Men can’t date women that are smarter than them.
First, this presumes that you actually are smarter than him, which you may be, but you may also not be. I don’t know. But the failure here isn’t in assuming that smarts were a factor in the breakup. The failure is in thinking that a disdain of superior intellect is a one way street, men to women. That’s just not the case at all.
While it’s true that a man may prefer to be smarter or make more money than his significant other, it works the other way as well. I know a lot of smart, funny, outgoing girls who never date men of their intellectual caliber. Oh, women hide this fact. “I like the strong, silent type,” or “he’s really chill,” or “my boyfriend is really down to earth”…it’s all quaint slang for “My boyfriend is hot and I don’t let him talk a lot.” In fact, as of 2009, 33.5% of wives made more money than their husbands, and the percentage of women making more than their boyfriends is slightly higher. Whether or not this makes the marriage better or worse is irrelevant to me. The point is, these are relationships where both parties entered understanding one fact: At best, I know my wife likes to wear the pants, and at worst, I might have to wear the skirt.
Personally, I think it’s great. What a different world we’d live in if women had enjoyed equal career opportunities with men for the past few thousand years. Think of the progress we’ve sacrificed by asking women to choose between housewife, seamstress, or prostitute. And God knows why it’s taking women so long to level the playing field. News flash, ladies: the physical superiority that made men hunters and women gatherers is now worthless. Success in the workplace has nothing to do with physical strength. I know society forces this gender inequality on us, but for Christ’s sake, women make up over half the population of said society. Someone should start some sort of “woman’s movement.” I’m gonna look into that.
What I think is funny is that we mistakingly classify this “I can’t date someone smarter than me” thing in gender terms. The truth is that smart, opinionated people of both genders seem averse to dating intellectual equals. I believe there’s a reason for it. It has been said for centuries that “opposites attract,” and we all know many couples that prove the point. But people of opposite dispositions pairing up is not an accident. In evolutionary terms, this is an effective way to diversify your gene pool. Diversifying the gene pool is important; if we inbreed, we open ourselves up to radically higher rates of bad genetic mutations and poorer resistance to disease. Conversely, if you can bang someone with very little genetic similarity to you, you invite a whole ocean of new genetic benefits to confer on your offspring. This is why it’s fun to get laid in foreign countries with strangers.
So basically, we seek those different from us because it brings something new to the genetic table. Intelligence in partners is the same. If I’m smart, I already bring smarts to the table. God knows I don’t need another set of opinions clogging up my already overloaded brain. No, what I need is some ‘sexy’ in my gene pool. And as it turns out, sexy needs some smarts. Now our kids will be both sexy AND smart. In relationships, we all tend to be the ‘yin’ to someone else’s ‘yang.’ Two yins don’t win. Two yangs don’t bang.
So does that mean that smart people never marry other smart people? Of course not! Smart, ugly people marry other smart, ugly people all the time, because neither can get a sexy partner. But sexy usually wins even in this case; a smart female nerd, given the choice between an ugly, really smart guy or a sorta smart, sorta attractive guy will still opt for the sorta smart guy more often than not. Additionally, there are those lucky people out there who are both smart AND sexy, and if you find one of them, you don’t have to choose which genetic benefit you want because you’re getting both. No guy is going to dump a girl who is incredibly sexy just because she’s also smart. Natalie Portman went to Harvard. You know any guys who wouldn’t date her? I didn’t think so. And if your friend says “What about me? I’m smart AND sexy,” I guess I’d politely suggest she might be the one a little more than the other. Like most of us, she’s probably somewhere in between gorgeous and hideous. When do you know when you’ve found the appropriate physical and intellectual match? When he doesn’t dump you and you don’t dump him.
And while this might come as troubling news, the brainiacs of the world can at least take solace in knowing they are not alone. Trust me. If having a big brain was the aphrodisiac women claim it was, I’d spend less time writing this stupid nerd blog and more time boning Charlize Theron. The simple truth is we’re all suckers for a pretty face. It’s only when we get to choose between a few equally pretty faces that we have the luxury of factoring intelligence, sense of humor, and access to Lakers tickets into the equation. The primary purpose of a car is that it has an engine. Once we know it can take us where we want to go, we can worry about vanity plates and shiny rims.
So tell your friend not to worry. We all reject, and we all get rejected. She got dumped by one guy, just like she probably rejects 90% of guys who approach her in a bar or message her on eHarmony. In fact, women are ten times worse than men about discriminating based on looks. “Ew! That guy is so white trash! 5’6″? Yuck! $25,000 a year? Keep walking, loser!” Meanwhile, men are more than happy to date short, jobless, trashy women.
If they’re hot.
Next post: How attractive are you…really?