“I Would Never Marry Someone Smarter Than Me”

Ashley: So, I don’t really remember how this came up, but we were taking last week about marriage and I mentioned that I’ve had a friend or two declare that they’d never marry someone smarter. One male, a few females. I know I offered to start this debate–which usually means come out swinging with some sort of calculated opening statement meant to stun the other with my hammer of rhetoric–but… who the fuck would say that? Crazy people? Crazy people.

Jennifer: Did they actually just, like, drunkenly at a cocktail party loudly intone, between gulps of their champagne, “I’d never marry someone smarter than me!” slices of salmon and caviar spittle flying from their mouths? Also, is your friend say Norman Mailer, or some equivalent thereof?

Ashley: Huh. I could see sloshing your drink at a cocktail party, falling into the canapes, drunkenly declaring, “I’d never marry Norman Mailer,” but someone smarter? As in, anyone smarter? That you liked?

Jennifer: Well, I think we live in an interesting age, Ashley.

Ashley: I hate you for doing this but… “why,” Jen? Why?

Jennifer: Thank you, Ashley! I love spontaneous questions that allow me to share my wisdom! I think there was a period, sometime, 50 years ago, where if someone asked you “is Bob dumb?” you would have two options. You could say “yes” or you could say “no.” Now the correct answer is, say it for me..

Ashley: “There are different kinds of intellect.”

Jennifer: Exactly! But the thing is, there aren’t. It’s a subjective question, really. You have a perfectly formed opinion on whether you think Bob is smart or dumb by your standards. Even if you say some shit like “he is a genius at knowing how to love.”

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    • Porkchop

      There was this guy I knew in high school, and he was really stupid, but he was so nice, and I used to help him cheat because I was like, “You weren’t meant for this world” (of learning things). I didn’t date that guy, because I was unattractively hateful at that age. Still, it’s a treat to be with someone who has a quality you really admire. If someone is much smarter than you, or more talented, or nicer, the thrill of the chase never really goes away because there is that one quality of theirs that stays unattainable.

    • Renee

      Honest answer that makes me sound like an asshole? I’ve never met someone who was obviously, noticeably smarter than me. So you can infer what you will (I hang out with dumb people so I can feel smarter, I am too dumb to notice smarter people, ect.) but I just don’t know that if it would bother me or not. Sure some people are better at certain things, like math, or spacial reasoning, or grammar, but I don’t feel less intelligent than them.

      I guess I just want someone who matches up with my sense of morality, and who I can easily converse with. Someone who seems to understand me easily, and who I easily understand. Talking to some people is like talking to a brick wall. All blank stares and non-committal noises. But it is probably less that they are dumber than me, and more they are bored by me. So someone who finds me endlessly fascinating, and vice versa.

      • Brianna

        Your second paragraph – exactly. It took me a long time to figure out this is exactly what I needed from a partner.

    • Nancy

      First, I totally agree with Ashley about intellectual curiosity being most important to me!

      And especially this:
      “Well, what makes you happy can be really different from qualities you convince yourself you want.”

    • Kj

      #1. There are legitimately different kinds of intelligence. Case in point: My brother. He can’t have an intellectual debate and hates to read. He doesn’t like travel or exploration or learning and the like. But so far, he is the most successful, financially, of all my siblings, ‘cuz he knows how to make the most of opportunities that come his way. And for some reason, he is amazing at chess. So he’s not super intelligent, but he is smart.

      #2. My boyfriend readily admits that I am smarter than him, and he loves it. He’s pretty smart – one of the smartest people I know. Just not as smart as me. And he’s cool with that. So we’re cool.

      • Katie

        There are absolutely different kinds of intellect (I sincerely agree)! But I think when people start referring to those, often times they really mean that a person isn’t smart, but they scramble to identify he/she as having a separate intelligence, as opposed to just not being smart.

        It’s really marginalizing all those chess prodigies and musical geniuses out there, too…

      • Amanda Chatel

        Hey Kj! I just wanted to say hello… over and out.

    • Stephanie

      It would be interesting to explore how men view this.

      In my early twenties I had this lovely experience:
      Upon meeting my boyfriend at the time’s friends, and after they learned a bit about me, ie where I had gone to college and what my job was, they exclaimed “Dude, I would so never date a chick smarter than me or with a better job!” Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to reply, “Wow, how do you even find women to date then?” Needless to say, that relationship was short lived.

    • Sarah!

      Oh man, one of my close friends dated this guy during college, and he was cute and nice, and seemed reasonably smart. But then she met several of his high school friends and they all said it was great that they were dating and then they all at separate times said the phrase, “He has a good heart.” As in, “It’s so good you’re dating Bob, he has such a great heart.”

      Anyway, it turns out he was actually kind of dumb, and they aren’t dating anymore!

    • Jenniwren

      I think we might need more exact parameters on this before we can judge. How smarter? How MUCH smarter? I mean, are we saying “I could never date a PhD, I’ve only a BA!” or “dang, the IQ test I made us both take says you’re 3 IQ points smarter than me. Well, see you in another life!” I’m pretty sure lots of people without formal qualifications are smarter than me (I imagine they’re all working in really interesting industries, like boat building or something)- should they not date me because I’m an academic? Because I personally think that would be silly (if I didn’t have a boyfriend, I would love to date a boat builder. I could sit on the deck and read Dante to him, and then we’d make love out there on the water…).
      BUT if we’re saying “I could never date someone who I felt I couldn’t keep up with, and who made me self-conscious of my own intellectual inadequacies” than I’ll agree with that. Let’s face it, if a couple is really compatible it probably won’t occur to them to try to figure out who the smarter one is.
      Also, I’m pretty sure my boyfriend is smarter at maths and shit than me, but I’m much more knowledgeable about general culture and I’m probably a better parallel thinker than him. So, y’know, make of that what you will.