Can Men Handle Dating Smarter Women?

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If you've been following the headlines, you know that President Obama's new Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, has been undergoing some unfair (if typical) scrutiny regarding her lifestyle. People have been saying: "A 50-year-old never-married woman — is she gay?"

Uh, no, she's not. And really, who should care?

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What Elena Kagan clearly and indisputably is, however, is an extremely intelligent and incredibly successful career woman. And on Friday, a Washington Post columnist speculated that the reason Kagan isn't married is because she worked her tail off to advance her career and by the time she was able to relax a little, later in life, she didn't have many marriage options — whereas a man in her position would.

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As the writer says: The brutal fact is that if a never-married man in his 40s or 50s decides, well, better late than never, he's got options — some of them in their 20s or 30s. A never-married woman tends not to have the same array of choices.

Exactamundo, baby.

The Post columnist goes on to make a more salient point, saying that as much as men like to date smart women, most men seem to be put off by women who are smarter. This seems like a pretty legit point. Would you argue with it? I myself have tons of incredibly smart male friends who like dating smart women — but have any of them dated smarter women? Or, at least, have any of them dated women who make a public show of their superior intelligence? It's hard to think of any examples — whereas I can think of tons of examples in the opposite direction.

WHAT THE MEN HAVE TO SAY

Nonetheless, three of my male friends reassure me that they are turned on by smarter women...and I believe them.

Man No. 1: He says he likes women who are smarter than him in different ways. "I have such confidence in my sense of humor — which is a form of intelligence — that I figure I will always have that 'over' someone. So I'm happy to be with a woman who's smarter in some respects, as long as I'm the one who's funnier. Ultimately, I want to be challenged, and if I'm with a less-smart woman, I'll get bored." (This goes back to my post last week about how to prevent cheating and ennui in relationships: Read!)

Still, he adds: "I think it's very rare that an extremely smart woman will choose a man who is noticeably less intelligent."

MAN No. 2: He more or less confirms what No. 1 said. "Smarter women don't intimidate me, especially if they're not working in the same field as I am."

MAN No. 3: He thinks it's at least partly Oedipal. "I'm primarily attracted to women who are smarter than I am. I think that's in large part because I have a very strong, intelligent mother. I want to be with a woman who will challenge me, and from whom I can learn."

Anyway ... I totally want to hear your thoughts on all this, ladies. And gents! (I will say that I personally tend to like men who are smarter...but that is another story for another day.)

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