Dating is already a rather finicky world to navigate; it always has been. People often don't know what they really want, claiming one thing when they really mean another, all because of societal expectations and beliefs that place some arbitrary boundaries on their desires.
Thankfully, with recent research starting to break these boundaries apart, a pattern of behavior is beginning to be exposed wherein those who claim they want an intelligent, successful partner are actually more intimidated by them than they want to let on.
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A Total Fakeout
No matter if you're still in the dating pool or have long since left it, at some point you probably encountered someone who say they want a certain trait in a partner, only to shy away when that trait actually presents itself.
It's a confounding experience that leaves the other party more than a little confused, but it actually happens way more often than you might expect, especially when it comes to smart, successful women. Men will often say they want this type of woman in their life, then run the other way when she actually appears.
What They Say
Every year, Match.com does a study on American singles and asks them about their dating preferences. Headed by anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, their most recent study surveyed 5,600 people and found that 87% of men claim they want a woman who earns more money than them, is more intelligent than them, and is more educated than them.
Any woman who fits these criteria knows that this very rarely translates into the real world. In fact, smarter, richer women tend to either intimidate single men, make them jealous by just existing, or put them off due to their antiquated beliefs about gender roles.
Putting It To The Test
In 2015, a team of researchers conducted six studies with the goal of finding out whether or not men actually like women who are more intelligent than them. Initially, a majority of the men involved claimed they would love a woman who was smarter than them, even saying they have a preference for them. These women were being spoken about as a hypothetical, though, with no real examples.
Then, these men were made to take both a math and language test next to a woman. In the end, they were told that the woman scored higher than they did.
After the results were announced, the men immediately showed less interest in the woman beside them, let alone romantic interest. Many even moved their chair to create a bigger distance between them.
For some of these test segments, though, the pair was told that the man scored higher than the woman. In this instance, the man remained interested in the woman, sometimes even gaining clear romantic interest in her, and he would move his chair closer to her to signify that interest.
During a self-assessment survey, these men expressed that they felt less 'masculine' around women who outsmarted them, feeling 'inferior' in their presence.
These findings match up with yet another study that found that people consider intelligence to be a masculine trait, even in the most femininely presenting people. This same study showed that men often overestimate their own levels of intelligence more than women do.
So, we now know that a great number of studies prove that men claim they want a smarter, more successful woman but, when faced with one, will turn her away. We also know that they generally see themselves as smarter than they truly are.
First, let this serve as reassurance that you are not the strange one here. There are many smart, accomplished women who run into men like this time and time again, with some believing it may be something they're doing wrong that drives all these potential partners away. It's not.
The male ego is oftentimes a fragile thing, though they loathe to admit it. They will never tell you why they lose interest when they see your strengths, but know it's because they're too weak-minded to be able to handle a woman who's confident, independent, and who knows herself.
Never Shrink Yourself
Knowing all of this to be true, it's always important to remember that you should never, ever make yourself smaller or more palatable for a man. For anyone, really, but especially not a man that you just met who you might date. It's never worth it. Submitting yourself to the male ego will never work out in your favor.
Whether it's downplaying your accomplishments so he doesn't feel intimidated or fully cutting parts of your personality in order to fit his ideal, all you're doing is robbing yourself of further opportunities for growth. You'd be dimming your own light so he can shine brighter.
It's On Him
It's not on you to change so you can fit into a man's narrow box of what a woman should be when placed next to him. He's the one in the wrong, letting his misogynistic beliefs alter his thoughts about not only intelligent women, but intelligence as a whole, thinking it to be a masculine trait.
Instead, he needs to do the work to unpack those thoughts, to step outside of himself for just a moment and see how his views impact not only his own life and dating pool, but how they genuinely harm women around him.
Let Your Light Shine
Above all else, you deserve to have a partner who isn't going to squash your successes or ignore your accomplishments just to make himself feel better. That's manipulative behavior. It will only grow worse from there, until he has you as a shell of who you used to be, having forced you into a box and thrown away the key.
You deserve someone who not only appreciates your intelligence, but cherishes it! Someone who sees your victories as things to celebrate! Who loves you for all that you are without jealousy or intimidation.
It may take some time to find that person if you haven't yet, but the wait is worth it for someone who truly loves you.
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