Do Smart Successful Men Marry Down?
Have you ever felt you needed to hide your success when you meet a guy? Ever asked yourself, do smart successful men marry down? Are you stuck in a dead-end relationship because you’re afraid your prospects of finding an equal aren’t good?
If any of these questions resonate with you, you’re not alone. So many of my college-educated and/or and financially successful coaching clients worry that they’re overqualified for love.
December 14, 2004 is when it all started. On this date the psyches of successful single women were singed with worry when journalist John Schwartz wrote a New York Times article entitled Glass Ceiling at Altar as Well as Bedroom. He claimed that “Men would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses…” The following year, Maureen Dowd followed with another Times column (and a book, Are Men Necessary?) agreeing with Schwartz. The authors’ clear thesis: Smart, successful men marry down. Since then both online and off-line media have continued with this story line.
But, is this really true? Do smart successful men marry down more of the time?
Both Schwartz and Dowd relied on one study to support their claims. Let’s scrutinize this study, which was published in the Journal of Evolution and Human Behavior. Researchers tested 120 male undergraduates by asking them to rate their attraction to a photo of a woman who was described as a “supervisor”, “coworker” or “assistant.” When it came to dating or marriage, these undergraduates indicated they were more attracted to the “assistants.” That’s it. From this study of undergraduates, the authors concluded that men prefer non-threatening women as life partners.
The research into the question, Do Smart Successful Men Marry Down most of the time?, has at least four serious flaws.
To begin with, this was a study of students at a university, not men who were at an age where they would normally be choosing a mate. Second, there were only 120 subjects, not an especially large sample from which to draw such sweeping conclusions. Third, the “supervisor” was described as someone who has “responsibility for disciplining absence or poor performance on your part, for rewarding reliable or creative performance…” These young men were rejecting a woman who had hypothetical control over their careers! They were not rejecting a woman who was simply described as powerful. Finally, the study’s design was all in relation to a photo with no real interaction. In conversation, brighter women might easily have an edge in relating to smart men. By all clinical and research accounts, intelligence and intelligent conversation play pretty important roles in mate selection! In fact. I, along with my team of Love Mentors have helped many smart, successful women find equally smart and successful men who loved and adored them. (How do you know if he adores you? Take this quiz.)
In short, Schwartz and Dowd’s premise is built on a house of cards. The answer to the question, “Do smart successful men marry down most of the time?” is NO!
In the next blog, I’ll chat more about the research that shows why smart men marry smart women. So, stay tuned!