“Dating Down” Do You Need Your Partner To Be As Smart As You?

I’ve come to the belief that the “soul mate” model isn’t realistic or even necessary when looking for a partner. If you believe you’ve found one, I’m very happy for you, but I’m not seeking someone “perfect,” because I think that goal sets people up for a world of disappointment.

I don’t expect my boyfriends to be my everything. Not only do I think it’s unhealthy to depend on one person to fulfill your every need, but I think it’s unrealistic.

I have enough friends that, when I want to have intellectually engaging conversations, or conversations about very personal things, or if I want to talk about feminism, I have options.

There are certain things I will get from an intimate relationship that I won’t get from other relationships in my life and vice versa. I value my partners for particular reasons, my friends and family for others. I think, honestly, that this is what will lead us to have fulfilling lives -– a variety of different relationships that provide us with different insights and experiences.

I was having a drink with a friend the other night and we were talking about how, naturally, if you’re an intelligent woman, the pool of men who are your intellectual equals is small. Does this mean women must resort to “dating down,” in an intellectual sense? And does that really even matter?

I don’t think I’m a genius, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m dumb, either. Especially when it comes to the topic of feminism, I have no real expectation that the men I date be able to engage with the ideology or topics I study and write about on the level I do. To be honest, at the end of the day, often the last thing I want to do is to talk about the thing that I’ve been talking about all day. Puppies and movies and gossiping about friends are exactly good enough.

I don’t know everything about everything when it comes to relationships (true facts!) but I’m pretty sure that what I’m looking for in a partner is kind of simple: someone I’m attracted to, who is supportive, who loves me, and who I have fun with. And I don’t feel like I need these guys to be interested in the same things, intellectually, as I am, in order for to have a solid relationship.

It might sound like settling, but the fact of the matter is that chemistry controls so much in terms of those we date and sleep with that, though I may know some men who are perhaps more intellectually compatible with me, I’m sad to say that I don’t want to have sex with them.

In truth, I have a lot of decidedly unintellectual interests, such as “Real Housewives” and eyeliner, and I don’t want some smarty-pants getting all judgy on my personal fun. Love me for me and my terrible habits!

I’m not talking about choosing someone who you can feel intellectually superior to in order to boost your ego, I’m talking about choosing men for different reasons than intellectual compatibility. Not only that, but it has to be said that men who are “book smart” aren’t necessarily emotionally intelligent people. I’m unconvinced that most brainy men are humble enough to partner with intelligent women, lest their egos take a back seat.

Women don’t have to play dumb anymore. We don’t have to back down in order to let our boyfriends or husbands shine. Women are more educated and independent than ever before. If we don’t need to rely on men to play the starring role in our lives, does that mean we can simplify in terms of what we look for in an intimate partner?

We all know there are many more ways to connect beyond having read the same books; and qualities like honesty and a generous heart (never mind physical chemistry which, while may not be the most important quality in the long run, is necessary to even get the fire going in the first place) may outweigh the need for a man who can talk feminist theory with you.

Do you “settle” for men who aren’t on par with you, intellectually? Is that even a bad thing?