Do Smarts Matter? Readers Speak Their Mind.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 17, 2009

Two weeks ago we ran a column discussing author Alex Benzer's theory that dating is more difficult for smart people.

Intelligent folks are more focused on achievement rather than on relationships, he asserts, their pool is incredibly narrow and they often feel entitled to an easy, perfect relationship.

And heavens, did you people have something to say about that.

Mostly, you agreed that it was the story of your lives. A few dissenters thought that it was nonsense and that it just provided a convenient excuse for the socially inept.

And enough of you saw yourselves reflected in the sentiment to make us briefly consider dropping journalism to launch a "gifted and talented" dating service.

At any rate, many of you asked what others had to say on the topic, so we're turned this space over to you, to talk amongst yourselves.

We'll give the floor to a few of the ladies first.

"Being smart does make it harder to date, and I think it's worse for smart women," writes Katherine Wertheim, 46, from Ventura, Calif. Wertheim says she found "the dilemma of dating-while-intelligent (DWI)" less troublesome when she lived in Washington, "a town filled with smart people." Still, she says, out of her crowd of very smart friends, all the men except one "chose women who weren't quite as smart or well educated."

Tammy Jarocki, a 35-year-old from Austin, agrees. "Whether because I'm too intellectually intelligent or too emotionally dumb, I find dating in my 30s to be difficult. I do find intelligence in a man attractive, and I think my own intelligence has turned some men off -- perhaps speaking less would be better? Still, I find that I am getting dumber as I get older, so maybe there is hope for me yet!"

Kirsten Paulson, 49, of Rockville remembers that as a college student she and her roommate "were fairly good looking women who watched the interest fade in men's eyes when we answered the usual intro question -- what's your major? Instead of admitting we were international relations and biomedical engineering students, we started telling them we were nurses or teachers. Then we had dates."

But Eleanor, a 40-year-old lawyer who didn't want her last name used, warns against that game: "I have tried playing stupid before, just to see how that works out -- and it works out fine, so long as you can keep it up. But of course, that is a social experiment rather than a way to find a decent companion."

Sheila, a 43-year-old from Arlington who asked that we use only her first name, takes issue with the suggestion from dating coach Amy Schoen that struggling smarty-pants should pay more attention to a potential mate's values than to the degrees on a résumé. "I agree that asking for someone's collegiate credentials is a shallow social tool, but shared values don't necessarily provide for real world harmony," she writes, recalling a relationship with a man who matched her on the values front but was in a different league culturally and intellectually. "He's now married to a lovely, if somewhat vapid, young lady, and we're all relieved and content," Sheila says. "I've returned to my previous savvy dating religion and am much happier for it. It's the religion of 'It Is Better to Be Alone Than With the Wrong Person.' "

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