Why men can’t handle intelligent women

Men feel threatened by intelligent women, studies find.

You are a woman with an endless friends list, and your career has taken off. But something is missing from this otherwise idyllic picture; the right man.

The elusive piece may drive you to ask three perennial questions: “Are guys turned off by intelligent women?”, “If so, why?”. The last is the pivotal question:  “What is a smart woman like me to do about it?”

People have known since time dawned that men feel intimidated by smart women. Several studies seem to back this theory.

Research #1

In a study by Adam Kabawski et al. Polish economists set out to answer if intelligent women do, indeed, threaten men. They attempted to uncover how both genders responded to speed-dating partners regarding intelligence and attractiveness. As they would on a speed date, participants met potential partners every few minutes. They then rated each prospective partner on 10-point scales for intelligence and attractiveness, before stating if they would meet the person again.

The study found that women, of course, valued a man’s attractiveness. But they did not discount intelligence; they would meet an intelligent man for a second time, even if he were not attractive.

Men, however, did not value being smart as highly. If a woman were average in appearance, her high intelligence had no effect on whether he would meet her a second time.

Research # 2

Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that men liked the idea of dating smart women, but shied away from actually doing so.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo, the University of Texas and the California Lutheran University gathered 105 men. They then broke the study into two parts. In the first, the scientists read them a hypothetical scenario involving women who were either more or less intelligent than they were. The men favored smart women as more desirable.

The second part of the study involved asking the gentlemen if they would meet the women in real life. As expected, many opted out of a second meet up. The researchers concluded that the prospect of diminished masculinity caused men to shun smart women.

Why Men Are Threatened by Intelligent Women?

Female intelligence does not rank highly for several reasons. Insight into what they are may ease dating difficulties for intelligent women.

1. Emotional intelligence

Smart women have a need to express themselves and have strong opinions. They pride themselves on how “direct” they are. However, men may perceive that directness as tactlessness. Some women may cross boundaries and tell their dates what they think of them the first time they meet. Not surprisingly, men would rather be with a partner who did not doubt their actions all the time. Reverse the situation and women, too, would feel the same way.

2. Focus more on the emotional relationship

Men can still feel good about themselves if they have smart partners. Focusing on the love aspect of the relationship can steer it in the right direction.

Research by the University of Toronto proves this theory. Scientists told the men involved in the study that their partners’ obtained the best scores on their IQ tests. Before assessing the effect of this revelation, the researchers had the men discuss the love they felt for their partners. They realized that doing so did not affect the male participant’s feelings about their partner’s intelligence.

3. The fear of challenge

Smart women tend to question a man’s opinions. According to expert Evan Marc Katz, who counsels people on relationship matters, men feel uncomfortable when women belittle their judgments and choices.

4. Men want to feel needed

Smart women are more independent and self-sufficient than their less intelligent peers. Katz mentions that this makes them feel emasculated and less needed.

Six ways for smart women to succeed in relationships

Smart women can have successful relationships if they put in the effort to manage them properly. Naturally, they can use a few pointers.

1. No shortchanging

Remember not to shortchange yourself. Though bad experiences may have caused you to feel that succeeding in relationships is impossible unless you make compromises, do not deliberately make yourself seem less smart than you are. Everyone deserves a partner who values them as they are. You will feel unfulfilled in the long run if you settle for less than you deserve.

2. Practice unconditional love and respect

Mutual respect is indispensable to any relationship. No matter how smart both parties are,  self-love and love for each other are the essentials that will keep the flame alive.

3. Do not micro manage

Micro-managing is a killer of many relationships.  It is tempting for a woman to initiate actions, such as planning anniversaries and perhaps, just deciding where to go on a date. Making decisions is a shared responsibility; it is wise sometimes to let your partner do so for both of you.

4. Reach out to other women

Find yourself a support group of strong, successful women who are trying to navigate relationships as well. Doing this will make you feel less alone, and you can benefit from their experiences.

5. Increase positive feelings.

Positive emotions will build your resilience, and this is true no matter how smart you are. They will prompt both you and your partner to find positive ways to solve problems.

6. Communication is essential.

As a high achiever, you may have a tendency to want to be right all the time. Always quibbling with your partner over being right will not only jeopardize your relationship but cause your Cortisol (the stress hormone) levels to peak.

Smart women can have fulfilling relationships if they have some understanding of how they may overwhelm men. A little sincerity, love, happiness, and tact go a long way in making any relationship work.


By Michelle L.