>Welcome to the next installment of "What Would CUSS Readers Do?," except that this is more "What Do CUSS Readers Think of..." Lately, I've had a few depressing conversations with single female friends about their problems with dating. All of my friends are smart, they are attractive to varying degrees (none are hideous or even merely ugly), and each one is talented. According to one friend, this means that she is at a disadvantage because men do not want to date smart women. Her proof is that a friend of hers (a guy) very sadly told her that he is the only one from his circle of guy friends who found intelligence to be a desirable quality in potential female partners. I was horrified to hear this, and immediately used my anecdotal evidence to counter his anecdotal evidence - all of my friends who are married are married to their equal, or even to women who are smarter than they are. My friend shrugged. I silently thanked my lucky stars that I found Husband.

Yesterday's New York Times had a column by Maureen Dowd (who usually annoys the crap out of me) that stopped me dead in my tracks. It opens with the story of a woman who is a doctor married to an econ professor at Columbia. When they met, the woman's granny told her not to let him know how smart she was. The couple found that advice anachronistically adorable, and got married after she proposed to him. The prof went on to conduct a two-year study with another econ professor and two psychologists of Columbia students' dating preferences. Here's what he found:

“We found that men did put significantly more weight on their assessment of a partner’s beauty, when choosing, than women did. We also found that women got more dates when they won high marks for looks.”

He continued: “By contrast, intelligence ratings were more than twice as important in predicting women’s choices as men’s. It isn’t exactly that smarts were a complete turnoff for men: They preferred women whom they rated as smarter — but only up to a point ... It turns out that men avoided women whom they perceived to be smarter than themselves. The same held true for measures of career ambition — a woman could be ambitious, just not more ambitious than the man considering her for a date.

“When women were the ones choosing, the more intelligence and ambition the men had, the better. So, yes, the stereotypes appear to be true: We males are a gender of fragile egos in search of a pretty face and are threatened by brains or success that exceeds our own.”

Cry. So it seems that because I choose my friends and my friends choose their partners based on better qualities than the average asshole, my anecdotal evidence is smashed to pieces of loneliness and broken dreams on the cruel rocks of male stupidity. As CUSS readers, you are clearly intelligent people. I'm curious what your experience has been in selecting a partner of the opposite sex and your friends' experiences.

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