Recently my friend Jennifer Wright at TheGloss.com came across another study purporting to show that men prefer to date women who are less intelligent than they are. She asked me about why this might be, assuming it was true at all.
I think its more complex than that. Our economy is quickly becoming what people like to call a “knowledge economy,” in which the financial rewards for smart people who are really work oriented are tremendous. Smart women rationally respond to this by spending more time in school acquiring the tools they think they need in the knowledge economy, and once in the work force, working more and harder. The rewards for the dumb staying in school or working long hours are considerably smaller, so they rationally choose more leisure time. What’s more, with the economy geared in ways that limit their opportunities, attaching themselves to a smart mate is one of the few tactics for economic advancement. So dumb chicks have both greater opportunities and greater incentives to try harder to date smart men than smart women do.
Interestingly, the hedge funder who Jennifer asked gave a very similar answer:
Dating a less successful woman isn’t about wanting women to be dumb. It’s about wanting someone who prioritizes their life in a way that’s compatible with how you prioritize yours. I love my job, but I work all the f**king time. If I date an equally driven woman, we’re both working 18 hours days, when do we even have time to see each other? We don’t. I date a kindergarten teacher who works—f**k, I have no idea how many hours kindergarten teachers work. How many hours do you work? Really? Sh*t. Well, you’re a really driven person and you love work. But the theoretical Kindergarten teacher, she has a more flexible schedule, she’ll be able accommodate me, it’s going to be easier. Just on a literal level, it’s easier. Why don’t women do this too? Every alpha woman I know wants to be with a man who is as successful as her or more so. And coordinating that stuff is almost impossible. Why don’t they just date some beta male who works in a bookstore and will make dinner for them every night? Doesn’t every successful person—man or woman—see how that’s easier?
But the answers from the tech start-up guy, the photographer and another journalist were very different. So is this just a Wall Street trope? Or are me and the anonymous hedge fund guy onto something?