The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch — or several.
Hi Dating Nerd,
I have been noticing a recent trend in the dating world. Why are women attracted to such unintelligent men? Do they get a sense of power out of it or is it a lark? I have a few friends who are not the sharpest tool in the shed but yet manage to get laid every night. The women, however are intelligent. I have spoken to many different women about this issue, and they think dating dumb men is really a turn-on. The women I have asked have such careers as doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, etc. My point is these women are not stupid. So what the hell is going on with this current dating trend? Please shine some light on it for me, because I refuse to dumb myself down for any person.
– Unappreciated Genius
Hi Unappreciated Genius,
I get why you’re confused. After all, intelligent men are inherently superior, right? Why would a woman want to date some dumb jock when she could date a guy who quotes Proust and understands the motion of molecules? Wouldn’t she miss the scintillating debates? Wouldn’t she get frustrated that she couldn’t talk about her dissertation?
Well, not necessarily. See, there’s a shaky assumption at the heart of your question, which is that smart men are inherently superior. And this is incorrect, for two reasons.
First reason: Women don’t need men to provide intellectual stimulation. They can get that on their own. Look around you. If you hadn’t noticed, women are now lawyers, doctors, marketing sharks, insurance executives, and captains, so to speak, of industry. Many, many smart women are occupying demanding roles in the information economy. Increasingly, women spend long workdays absorbing avalanches of data and issuing complicated recommendations.
And nobody — well, almost nobody — wants to keep their brain turned on all the time. If you’re a smart woman with a high-powered job, it’s perfectly reasonable that you’d want to hook up with an intellectually relaxing dude-bro, rather than an intellectually demanding guy like you.
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If this seems implausible, that’s only because it runs counter to some of the most hoary old relationship stereotypes. Y’know, like the one about the 1950s husband figure who does a complicated job and comes home to a simple, loving wife. Or the one about the private equity fund genius who dates a slew of European models. Dating someone who’s felicitous but a bit dim is not a new trend. It just seems more novel when the gender roles are switched up.
And if this doesn’t seem fair, well — reader, look inside yourself for a second. Aren’t you attracted to the girl you met at the gym who isn’t necessarily exceptional at trigonometry, but probably looks great on a dance floor, or, more to the point, a bedroom floor? Don’t you find a certain kind of giggly, un-snobby femininity attractive? Don’t lie to me, now. All nerds nurse crushes on cheerleaders. It doesn’t seem right to judge women for having similar attractions.
The second, more important reason is this: A lot of smart guys really suck with women. As we all know, intelligence doesn’t necessarily translate to emotional skills. Especially because a lot of intellectual dudes didn’t necessarily get a positive social experience growing up. Many dorky, sweet men are just unpracticed in terms of how to flirt, or date. And then there are straight-up terrible smart dudes: condescending pseudo-intellectuals and bitter PhDs.
Surely, you’ve heard of the term ‘mansplaining.’ Y’know, the thing where men pepper their co-ed conversations with explanations of extremely basic phenomena, as if the women they were talking to had never left their houses. Whatever you think of the word itself — whether or not you think it unfairly categorizes the male gender — it is a very real phenomenon. Lots of women are tired of having men lecture at them about whatever.
And usually I don’t think it comes from a bad place. Men want to impress women. We’re under the impression that knowledge itself is impressive. And it is often said to be a quality women want in men. So we get the unhelpful impulse to brandish it at random. Also, a main genre of dude conversation is the hours-long exchange of minutiae and trivia. It’s not like mansplainers think, “Well, it’s time to be sexist now…” and then launch into their thing.
But those good (or at least benign) intentions don’t change a thing. Mansplaining is still, at best, tiring. Every woman I know well is fed up with being on the receiving end of male rambling. They’ve all practiced the pained but polite facial expression required when some software engineer goes on a monologue about how Radiohead’s last few albums were unappreciated. And maybe you’ve never done such a thing, ever. Maybe it isn’t you. But you can’t blame women for being wary of self-styled intellectuals.
After all, compare that to your friendly gym-rat type of guy. He’s chill, easygoing, and doesn’t feel the need to speak in paragraphs about his existential crises. If he has a philosophy, it’s probably along the lines of “stay hungry,” or “be nice to people.” Also, he was probably popular in high school, and is thus comfortable in conversation, self-assured, fond of making compliments, and pretty good in bed. His reflex isn’t to tell women all about seismology. He just says dumb sh*t to get a laugh. And it works.
Everything I’ve said so far has been a condemnation of smart dudes. Even if you agree with me, I still haven’t given you any usable advice. But now I will do that. You might not like it, though. My advice is this: Learn from the dumb dudes.
By that I don’t mean suppress your intellect, or act stupid. What I mean is, change up your game a little. Upon meeting a lovely woman, is your first instinct to say something profound about a giant novel you just read? Well, maybe don’t do that. Instead, ask her some questions about herself. Say something silly. Keep it light. Don’t make the interaction laborious.
Rather than being worried about displaying your intelligence, try hard to find a common connection with the woman you’re talking to. Look for shared interests, or opinions, or just something you can both laugh about. Be warm and genuine first, and verbose later. And, crucially, on your online dating profile, don’t write six paragraphs about all the smart stuff you think because you’re so smart. That’s just tedious. (I have done the same thing in the past, for what it's worth.)
Also? Those dudes of mediocre brainpower who are landing all those chicks probably have good style, and they’re probably in good shape. All the grey matter in the world won’t make up for a horrific outfit, a ridiculous haircut, or being in hideous physical shape. Get that stuff locked down. It’s as important as anything intellectual. Maybe much more.
There’s a larger lesson here. When you see women being interested in men who aren’t like you, don’t just scratch your head, and assume that they should want what you’ve got instead. Instead of judging, observe. You’re being given important information about women’s needs. A man of your intellect should know how valuable that is.