March 1, 2014

"To generalize roughly: women want their partners to be at least as smart as they are, but men prefer to have something of an edge on the woman."

"A very smart man — someone whose name you would recognize — once told me that in looking for a wife, he made a list of qualifications, one of which was that she be 'almost as smart' as he is. Now, maybe he only meant that he knew he was so incredibly smart that the most he could hope for was someone 'almost as smart,' but I think he meant that he wanted smart, but he didn't want to be outmatched. He wanted to feel dominant. If this pattern of preference is followed by most people, the men at the bottom and the women at the top will have the hardest time finding partners. Too bad! One more reason to favor the equality of the sexes: more people will find mates. If the theorizing in the previous paragraphs is true, however, maybe the smartest women will embrace the unmarried state happily. In that case, the ones who are hurt the most are the least intelligent men, whose true equals have been snatched away by dominance-seeking men who have outwitted them."

The last paragraph of a post I wrote in 2005, about "a study that supposedly shows that 'a high IQ is a hindrance for women wanting to get married,'" which I was reading this morning after noticing in my Site Meter record that someone had entered this blog on that page (after Googling "what is the more reason why women with high iq found it difficult to get married").

If you go back and read that old post, keep in mind that my first marriage broke up in 1987, and my second marriage began in 2009.

ADDED: The Site Meter record shows the Googler came from inside the Miller Brewing Company. It's funny to think the search related to beer-brewing somehow. Perhaps some theory for marketing beer... to women.

60 comments:

Birches said...

I've never once wondered who was smarter in my relationship. I guess I always figured we were equals, even if our specialities were in different areas. I might be more "book smart," but my spouse understands spatial problems and engineering in ways that I cannot.

I wouldn't consider marrying a plumber or an electrician as beneath my intelligence level. You really have to get to know someone before you can be aware of how intelligent they are. I know some fairly dumb accountants and some very smart general contractors. Perhaps those high IQ women are focused too much on status and not intelligence...

Laslo Spatula said...

I want a woman who is smarter than me but only speaks rudimentary English. Problem solved.

Ann Althouse said...

Did anyone watch the new episode of "Survivor" this week? It's a new season, and the idea is 3 tribes: Brains, Brawn, and Beauty.

It was very, very funny, because the Brains people did things that were so dumb. Especially the nuclear engineer lady.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't think high IQ hurts women's prospects, though it could be correlated with a career orientation. That would probably make marriage somewhat less likely.

campy said...

How is marriage ever possible, since all womyn are smarter than all men?

Laslo Spatula said...

Men probably don't mind a smarter woman, but they do not want that smarter woman to go Dworkining them.

Dworkining: a good word I read somewhere.

Christy said...

That nuclear engineering PhD was unbearably embarrassing to watch. I have to wonder what her undergraduate degree was. Used to be the freshman year was mostly mechanical engineering which should have clued her in at least a little. Truly, I loved that Beauty kept beating Brains.

campy said...

Truly, I loved that Beauty kept beating Brains.

So did the focus group. That's why it happened that way.

tds said...

High IQ requirement for a husband is not a problem in the high IQ band, since there is a few times more men than women there.

Having a problem going to the kitchen and making a sandwich is.

Bob said...

Hoggamus hergamus,
Women hypergamous.

EDH said...

Smarts is a status thing.

What both sexes seek in men is leadership, superior crisis management ability and decision-making under stress, even if the man's exercise of dominance is in fact subordinate to the woman's preferences.

Michael K said...

One of my students last week told me he feels more pressure because the Board Exams, which are this summer were taken last year by his fiance who is at another medical school and she did "very, very well." He wants to do about as well because they want to match at the same training program when they graduate, even in different specialties.

He is concerned that they might not match at the same place. Another issue for the present practice of medical students marrying each other.

William said...

It is much harder to fake orgasms than to fake stupidity.....A smart woman can make a man feel that his ability to change a washer is a far more valuable survival skill than her post graduate degree in gender studies, which, of course, it is.

Lucien said...

The hope is that increasing intellectual ability will bring with it an increased appreciation for different, and especially complementary, qualities in a mate.

Isn't it?

harrogate said...

"So did the focus group. That's why it happened that way."

Bazinga

Michael K said...

" especially complementary, qualities in a mate. "

When medical students are considering marrying other medical students, money is a serious consideration. Female doctors tend to work fewer hours but the money is still good. It compensates for the decline in incomes of the past few years, especially now.

traditionalguy said...

Real practical intelligence in your spouse is the greatest blessing. Thinking so fast about life's problems that they are anticipated and handled in a safe way before others notice them is a rare talent among men and women.

Meade probably thanks God everyday for the Professor's intelligence.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The degree of detail that SiteMeter gives you about your visitors is a bit creepy.

Both my husband and I are reasonably book-bright (he has more degrees but I am better read) and have wonderful conversations but we hugely value each other's practical intelligence as well. I just like being married to someone who can move though life handling situations adroitly, competently and perceptively, and I believe the reverse is also true for him.

Hagar said...

High IQ = liberal Democrat?

And it often takes a really intelligent person to do something really, really stupid!

Alex said...

Way to generalize. I want a woman who doesn't give lip and knows that her place is in the kitchen making me sammiches.

Hagar said...

F.E Smith said about Churchill: "Winston is usually right, but when he is wrong - oh boy!"

I think of that quote whenever I see something about Rumsfeld.

Alex said...

Well we all know Ann married below herself...

Alex said...

No offense Meade, but we all know who wears the pants on the Althouse couple.

Hagar said...

The main thing about marriage is to respect your spouse.
Never snark him or her in front of others.

Original Mike said...

re: Survivor: I only found 2 members of the Brains tribe to be, well, smart.

Fen said...

High IQ = liberal Democrat?

No, most of the intelligent libs I know are in the 130s. Just smart enough to understand and embrace a stupid concept.

Take this group. Where are the intelligent liberals? Other than Althouse, who makes you think harder?

I've been here since Valenti posed her breasts for Clinton. And I can't recall any intelligent liberals that impressed me on par with say, Bruce Hayden or Freeman Hunt (or lately, Angelyne).

Am I missing one? Who do you find to be the most intelligent representative of the Left here?

Fen said...

The hope is that increasing intellectual ability will bring with it an increased appreciation for different, and especially complementary, qualities in a mate.

For me, its more about having a sidekick that you can have a deep conversation with. And also the humor side. Been married 14 years now to a women who is more intelligent than me - best call I ever made.

Birches said...

The main thing about marriage is to respect your spouse.
Never snark him or her in front of others.


Bingo!

Paul said...

I suspect most men aren't looking for "dominance" so much as the feeling of being useful and needed. A comparatively brilliant and/or well-off woman might seem inherently out of reach to these men, leaving them to feel that they don't have anything to offer in such a relationship.

Women at the top shouldn't need to feel like they have to conceal their intelligence, talent, or ability, but they would be well-served to consider how to make their prospective partner feel useful.

Fen said...

Good point. I have young female friends that are having a tough time finding and keeping good men.

Advice to "let him be the Man even if you do it better" has had good results.

cubanbob said...

Since few marriages today are arranged marriages why is anyone surprised that men and woman tend to marry spouses who tend to have similar characteristics?

rhhardin said...

Men search for women who find their jokes amusing.

That means smart enough to get them but not so smart as to find them trivial.

Kirk Parker said...

rhh,

"Men search for women who find their jokes amusing"

That totally worked for me!

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Humperdink said...

I value my wife's judgment more than I value her intelligence. Intelligence is way overrated. She can cut through an issue in a heartbeat. No college for her, just secretarial school (back when they had such things).

Bruce Hayden said...

Now that someone is calling (hopefully) me smart, I am a bit embarrassed by this...

But, I find that with the women with whom I have been involved over the last 40+ years, I probably have been just a little bit smarter, but they worked harder, and got much better grades. At least until now, and am with someone who has, or at least did have until very recently, a photographic memory. School was always really easy for her, because she could just rerun the video of the textbook, class, etc. while taking a test, and ace it. I don't think that she really ever has had to do much analysis, but that could be my biases speaking here, trying to maintain whatever male dignity I may have left. Her mind is also preternaturally fast, which makes her able to fake being smart and knowing a lot of stuff work for her. Still, I need something to salve that delicate male ego of mine, when I have no idea of what series some actor played on before this one, and she tells me that anyone with any sort of brains would know that. Or, how many shades of green are visible there in that forest? My answer? Three (light, medium, and dark).

We are still, as a species, somewhat wired for the females to want to marry up, or at a minim, across, and the opposite for the males. Brains is just one aspect here, but one that is becoming ever more important. Size can help, some. But, as my ex points out, size works better intimidating other males. It is the intimidating other males that they find sexy.

How can the female think, in her reptilian brain, that she couldn't have done better in terms of mating potential, if she exceeds her mate in most relevant areas? This isn't really logical, but rather, emotional, and probably somewhat hard wired - the females who held out for the best mates, tended to have more and better surviving offspring. But, we are really entering a weird place, where females are more likely to graduate from college than males, and college degrees are required for a lot of the best jobs. With the natural inclination for females to be more attracted to males above them, than below them, where will many of the best and brightest women go for mates? I worry that we may see across society what we probably have been seeing in the Black communities, where a lot of accomplished Black women never marry, because too many of the Black men around them are not up to their standards.

Chance said...

I have a strong preference for a woman smarter than me.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe to amplify a bit - for a lot of females, it seems like they need to be swept off their feet to be happy with a guy, and the more that they feel superior to him, the less they are likely to feel swept off their feet. My mother could be smarter than my father (Phi Beta Kappa, etc), but he had more degrees, and made good money. It worked well for over 50 years together. But, what about the woman who is both smarter, and better educated (or, at least has more real college degrees)? How can she not feel disappointed in her choice of a mate?

Personally, I have never understood why men feared smarter women, except, maybe the worry about not being secure in their esteem. And, that may be the reason. Thanks to my mother, I always craved smart women. And, esp. ones who could stand up to me intellectually.

And, to end on an upbeat note, that may be the answer to the dilemma. Ultimately, if enough boys and girls are raised in families where the mothers are smarter and more accomplished than the fathers, maybe they will come to expect that as the norm, and my worries about hard wiring will turn out to be more about programming.

gregq said...

Well, as a high end of the bell curve male, I've always valued intelligence in women, and would have preferred to find a woman brighter than I am,

Since the standard deviation of men's intelligence is higher than that of women, this has always been a very challenging search. And when I've found such women, they've always been in relationships.

(Short stats lesson: you can have two pools of data where the average is the same, but the distribution is different, i.e.: (1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9) vs (2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8). In the above case, the standard deviation of the first group is greater than the second group, but the mean is the same. If the first group is male intelligence, and the second is female. you can hopefully see the problem. That 9 male can only find an 8 female, The 8 male got snubbed for the 9, so he had to grab one of the 7 females.

Guys near or below the mean can find a woman brighter than them. Significantly above the mean? Any male there hunting on brains is going to have great difficulty finding a woman at his level, let alone above him.

LarsPorsena said...

A PHD in Women's Studies is how much smarter than a plumber?

LarsPorsena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

A smart spouse is also a professional asset.

"If you hire that one, you get the spouse for free. What a deal!"

AReasonableMan said...

This has changed. My two sons seem uninterested in these kinds of issues and can see the advantage of a being married to someone as bright or brighter than themselves.

Once at a conference I was sitting with a group of women and one said "I meet all these successful men whose children are a disappointment to them and not one of them asks themselves why they married a bimbo". There seemed to be broad agreement with this sentiment. While looks remain important in future mating success our society has changed in ways that put a premium on intelligence for both men and women.

Fen said...

not one of them asks themselves why they married a bimbo.

I don't think it works that way. I thought that intelligence "genes" tend to skip generations.

n.n said...

It's not IQ. It's due respect. I think this is why there was a real and perceived need for a feminist movement. Well, the shoe is on the other foot, and it fits many women just as smug-gly.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
Did anyone watch the new episode of "Survivor" this week? It's a new season, and the idea is 3 tribes: Brains, Brawn, and Beauty.

It was very, very funny, because the Brains people did things that were so dumb. Especially the nuclear engineer lady.

The intelligentsia, especially those who self proclaim themselves as smart, are usually dumber than rocks. Look at the Obama administration. They were doing the "smart" foreign policy, and look at how they get played again and again.

Douglas said...

This is not a uniquely American phenomenon. My women law students in China sometimes complain about their prospects because Chinese men generally prefer to marry down (younger, not as well educated, earning less). So if they don't find a husband among their classmates at law school (and surprisingly, that seems to be pretty common), they go home and have their mothers berating them because they're not married and the men they meet don't want to marry women who are smarter and better educated. There's even an expression in Chinese for them at that point: sheng nu, or "leftover" women over the age of 27.

Freeman Hunt said...

Career women could try pairing up like career men. You don't fill a baseball team with shortstops. A career oriented woman might be better off finding highly intelligent man who would rather take care of home and family than focus on a career. If he's primarily raising and educating your kids, the higher acheiver that he is in that the better.

Lionheart said...

If I arrive at your site through a DuckDuck search do they rat me out to the extent Google does?

Jeff with one 'f' said...

I keep reading these "men fear women with higher IQ/income/status/etc" think pieces and I call shenanigans. I don't know any men who fear a woman with any of those "higher" qualities but I do know PLENTY of women with all of the above and they will not settle down with a man who is beneath them in said qualities. This is another example of Althouse's observation that if something impacts women negatively it's men's fault but if it impacts them positively it's to women's credit alone.

Most of the women that I've become deeply involved with were objectively smarter (or at least credentialed) than I am and I found it a fun challenge to be with them. They liked me despite my lesser academic standing, I believe, because I'm "funny and clever", that is that I will express ideas in a way that is different and entertaining enough for them to find me appropriately intelligent.

When I was younger I was a snob and avoided women who I thought were too uneducated or hip for me to talk to. I know better now, but I'm sill a snob about how funny the other person must be.

All that said, a close friend of mine with a BS in Chemistry was dating a woman in grad school at Columbia for Anthropology. She was so insecure that she would bring up the fact that he "only" had a BS and throw it in his face when they would argue. Usually after some departmental social affair that she felt his lesser education reflected poorly on her. He later dated a woman that has an MS in his own field- he went back to school while they were engaged and got his own MS. They're very happy.

sydney said...

It's not IQ. It's due respect. I think this is why there was a real and perceived need for a feminist movement. Well, the shoe is on the other foot, and it fits many women just as smug-gly.

Respect is the true foundation of a lasting happy relationship. When people talk about "intelligence" differences they are usually using it as a substitute for "education." Not the same thing. I know a lot of very well educated people who are pretty damn dumb. I also know a lot of uneducated farmers and mechanics who are very smart and whose judgement I respect over the educated snobs.

Brett said...

Fortunately, intelligence, while a somewhat general characteristic, has different aspects. I'm a successful engineer, highish IQ, but somewhat Asperger. My wife is perhaps not as good at math or logic problems as I am, but her social IQ is worlds ahead of mine, and she speaks three languages. Our son is the best of both worlds, learned to read at 18, AND can make friends. He'll go far, I think.

A bit of advice to smart guys looking for smarter wives: Poor countries in Asia. Coming from a first world country, you'll have enough of a comparative advantage to mate above your class. And a guy from a matriarchal country, (Let's be honest, that's what America is becoming.) and a woman from a patriarchal country, makes a good mix. You both think the other is treating you like gold.

Inkling said...

I suspect, if they have good sense, what both sexes look for in the other is competence, particularly competence both in general and in what the other's role in a marriage is likely to be.

There's a host of areas where I'd be quite happy to have a mate who's smarter than me. Raising kids is one. I like kids, but, like many men, the amount of time I can deal with them is limited. And I hate bookkeeping chores, so I'd be happy in an instant to turn over the checkbook keeping chores to her.

On the other hand, although I like to write on history, I'm not sure I'd be happy married to a world-class historian. It's enough that she understands what I'm talking about and finds it interesting.

A guy likes to have some areas where he knows more than his wife but, contra the feminists--and most realities are contra the feminists--all but the most pitiful and insecure of men are quite happy to have a wife with talent. The more your wife can do and do well, the less you have to do.

--Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II (one of my histories)

sydney said...

He learned to read English at 18?

StevenInBrooklynNY said...

It just needs to be said that academic-smarts barely correlates with what I perceive as intelligence. Also, equal intelligence but "differently" intelligent seems the best route to happiness in a couple. Not that I've officially found it yet...

Milwaukee said...

So this ordinary bloke had a chance to chat with God. He asked God, "God, why did you make women so beautiful?"
God answered "So men would love them and want to marry them and have babies with them, new souls for Heaven."
"Well" the bloke replied "Why did you make them so stupid?"
"Ah" says God, "so they would love you."

Mae West was once asked about which feature of a woman were men most interested in. She said something to the effect of 'men are most interested in a woman who is interested in them.'

G.K. Chesterton once said about money “Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”
Perhaps women with lots of education are like the man with lots of money. To be smart enough to get all that education you must be dull enough to want it.

Linda said...

Educated women can be awfully dumb. They don't understand that:

(1) A man in the skilled trades IS as smart as a woman who earned a master's in Liberal Arts.
(2) A BA in a STEM subject is the equivalent of a Master's, and, sometimes, a PhD in a non-STEM subject - it takes a LOT more brain power, as well as more work.
(3) To disrespect someone for the "lesser" education they have is unacceptable - if you do, you have just proven yourself less civilized. People do no pursue post-high school education for many reasons - lack of money, poor ROI (return on investment), lack of desire to spend more years in a classroom, or lack of interest in the career fields that need a college degree. "Smarts" can take many forms, including: musical, people skills, spiritual, and creative, to name just a few.

Too many women are snobs. They don't find a husband, or keep the one they have, because they are a major pain to be around/live with.

As a woman, I find them tedious, pretentious, and annoying. I'm so glad I can leave them at the end of the day, and go home to my fun, but less degreed husband. Not less educated - he knows LOTS more than I about many things - but without the same level of degrees.

chickenlittle said...

(1) A man in the skilled trades IS as smart as a woman who earned a master's in Liberal Arts.

Funny, just yesterday a young coworker announced that he was going back to school to major in "liberal arts."

"Why don't you major in "conservative arts"? I countered.

"You mean like business and finance?" quipped another.

JorgXMcKie said...

I wonder how much of the "problem" is that despite the Feminist Revolution many women still harbor delusions about marriage. There seem to still be many who believe that Prince Charming will ride up, recognize instantly that he's her soul mate, marry her and 'make' her happy forever after. The only thing that I can see that has changed in there is that there is now an intelligence level compatibility in there along with numerous unspoken "Prince Charming Requirements".

Marriage seems to me to always be a work in progress. Much like a good piece of machinery it needs maintenance, upkeep, added improvements, etc over time. Some women [men, too, of course] don't seem to realize this. Especially those who go to college and study soft disciplines that basically harbor the more hard core feminists.

Ah, well, I found [or she found me and decided I was a reasonable project] a woman to whom I've been narried over 20 years. The question of IQ has never come up. We are, indeed, complementary. Good thing, too.

autothreads said...

For exceptionally smart men, this isn't a problem. There are more very smart men than very smart women. Men and women have different bell curves for intelligence. While the averages are the same, there are more men at the extremes of intelligence, both exceptionally bright and profoundly retarded, than there are women. There are significantly more brilliant men than brilliant women so the chances of a really smart man finding a woman as smart as he is are slim.