Is being smart ever not a smart idea?

smart womenSo I have been dipping my toe into the torrid and still slightly socially unacceptable waters of internet dating lately – and that will probably warrant a blog of its own at some point. But today I want to seek the opinions of you – the people of the blogosphere – on a couple of issues that have already come up by virtue of this endeavour. The first came up during a conversation with a ‘friend’ – who will remain nameless – about this internet dating thing, and about going on dates with guys I meet via this medium, and she had this advice for me (note, I am about to shamelessly and will full transparency put words in her mouth, but this is the gist of what she said, honest): ‘I would strongly suggest that, when you meet guys for the first time, maybe you play down your intelligence and opinions a little. I mean, I don’t think you should lie about your qualifications or not give opinions – but maybe just tone it down a little’. And why did she say this? ‘Look, at the end of the day guys are easily intimidated, and you don’t want to scare them off’.

Ok, so I reacted pretty damn vocally to this advice. My first objection? Isn’t the whole thing about dating to ‘be yourself’? If they don’t like you for you, then what is the point? If they like a watered down version of you, then eventually the real you comes out, won’t they be disappointed, upset and potentially feeling a little duped? My second objection? I am really not that smart! It isn’t like I spend dates quoting Aristotle and giving informed opinions on genetic engineering. Sure, I have a Masters degree, I hold a reasonably informed opinion on most topics of the day and I am more likely to quote from The West Wing than from The Block. But I don’t think I give off this amazingly smart vibe (and one of my friends kindly informed me that I DEFINITELY don’t come across as intelligent ;-)). But my third objection is the really meaty one – are guys SERIOUSLY still intimidated by women who might be a little smarter than they are? And, if some of them are, then are they the kind of guys I want to be with? I am going with probably not in response to the second bit.

I can’t believe that in 2013 guys are still on the hunt for someone who makes them feel intellectually superior. Isn’t it enough that they can run faster, reach higher and earn more money than we can? Do they really need to be smarter too? Surely it makes more sense to look for someone who complements you – someone who maybe brings skills or interests to the table that you don’t have, to broaden your horizons and make you a more well rounded person? And if that person happens to be a little bit smarter than you – on a purely subjective assessment, we aren’t signing up for IQ tests here – then surely that can be no bad thing? I really genuinely hope that my ‘friend’ is wrong about her assertion that this is still something than intimidates some men. And I say some as I know for a fact that there are guys I know who are seeking out someone who is at least at the same level as them intellectually. But are there really others out there who have ‘knows more stuff and thinks more quickly than me’ as a deal breaker?

I have discussed this with a few people this week and had a few different opinions. Quite a few agreeing with me – especially when it comes to the ‘be yourself’ aspect of things (seriously, you have enough to worry about on a first date as it is without throwing in ‘be a slightly toned down version of yourself’).  A few suggested that it depends what you are looking for – if you are super keen to find someone – anyone – to settle down with and have kids, then maybe it could be a good idea to not scare off potential suitors because, after all, your biological clock is ticking and sometimes compromises need to be made.  As discussed previously, I am not in that camp. I want to find THE right guy not a guy for right now. And the right guy for me won’t be scared off by the fact that I once published a paper on non-refoulement of refugees and get a little het up about climate change on occasion.

But, this issue can also be looked at from the reverse angle. I have been accused this week of being way too picky for immediately dismissing people (based on their internet dating profile) for poor grammar and spelling. Apparently that makes me elitist and snobby and way too high maintenance. Let me be clear though, I am not talking about the odd typo here and there – I am talking about multiple and repeated grammatical and spelling infringements. Needless to say people who use text speak to write their profile need not apply. So aren’t I dismissing people based on a rather arbitrary intelligence test? Yeah, I guess I am. But I am ok with that. It’s not that I think people who can’t spell/can’t use grammar are bad people that I won’t get on with – I just think my Mr Right probably knows i before e except after c and which version of their/there to use. I don’t have many deal breakers – grammar and smoking are probably my only two (aside from the obvious age, axe murderer, member of the Religious Right exclusions). And, remember people, it is an internet dating profile – it is your effort to put yourself out there and tell people who you are. And if who you are is too lazy to use spellcheck, then move on, buddy.

So, two questions for you – my friends of the blog. 1. Is is true that guys are still intimidated by smart women and that, as a result, I should tone it down? And 2. is dismissing people on consistently terrible grammar and spelling a bad idea? I would welcome your input in the comments field below. Thanks!

PS. I took extra care to spell check this blog post and learned that spelling gist with a J is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

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6 thoughts on “Is being smart ever not a smart idea?

  1. I had similar criteria when I tried online dating. Your intelligence will only scare off the insecure, and your requirement of literacy will exclude the ones you can’t have a conversation with. Win, win, win 🙂

  2. Michael used to tell women that he was a trashy romance novelist so that they would talk to him. When he said physicist, they’d walk away. BUT that was in L.A. Not really real people. 🙂 I would say it’s only the guys you shouldn’t be (and don’t want to be) wasting your time with that get scared away by your intelligence.

    • Agree, I think the idea of hiding your intelligence so some silly boy with bad grammar will like you is archaic. Love finds you in the oddest of places and will find you no matter how picky you are, keep on with the grammar patrol, h8ing txt spk – FML!!! (I feel like there should have been a # in there somewhere but haven’t quite deciphered that rubbish yet)

  3. Jessica the odd typo here and there is not a deal breaker. Strange things can happen with iPads etc. But if the man has to use text speak and/or can’t string a few words together it will never work out. Just as Rebecca says win win win

  4. I agree with you – I judge people that have consistently bad grammar and can’t spell. It would put me off! And text speak – blah. (Even in a text message). You shouldn’t have to hide your intelligence – just be yourself. If it scares anyone off, more fool them!

  5. Can’t tell you about men being intimidated, but I can tell you that ability to spell is not linked with intelligence, just ability to process language. Working with whip smart architects and engineers who cannot spell for love nor money was a good lesson in that. I also corrected two typos on a letter yesterday written by an associate professor whose research into fertility is groundbreaking. My husband can’t spell – and doesn’t have anything more than a certificate in agriculture – but he can look at a systems problem and figure it out where others have failed, which is why he’s second only to the boss. So throw the misspellers a bone – but I’m so with everyone else on the text speak. No excuse.

    I don’t think it’s possible to hide intelligence anyway, unless your top is particularly low 😉

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