Meanness is a form of “mate retention,” according to study.
We’ve all known her—the brilliant, successful go-getter that falls time and again for Mr. Loser. Maybe you even are or have been her. So, what’s the deal? How can so many smart women fall for so many jerks? A recently released study claims to have the answer.
The study, titled Why do Men Insult their Intimate Partners?, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences says when it comes to women with high IQs, a form of meanness is actually programmed into male behavior. That’s because meanness acts as a form of “mate retention” in many males, explains Dr. Stewart-Williams, one of the psychologists behind the study.
Typically, men desire women of lower status because they feel they can be controlled. The thought that his partner is more valued by society and desirable to others than he is doesn’t sit well with him.
A 2004 study by psychologists at the University of Michigan backs up this theory. The study found that high status men preferred to marry their secretaries rather than colleagues.
So, a man is threatened by a partner with a higher IQ because she makes him feel insecure.
But when a man does end up in a relationship with an intellectual superior, he is likely to be unfaithful or aggressive as a means of asserting control over her, Dr. Steward-Williams says.
“If a man demeans a woman, it makes her feel low, neglected and disrespected,” he adds. “And if a woman feels humiliated, she will eventually come to believe she can’t do any better and stick around with that man.”
But, that doesn’t explain why smart women go for the bums in the first place.
In The Daily Mail, commentator, Helen Kirwan-Taylor, delves into the characteristics that make clever women fall for jerks on the prowl.
For one thing, they are perfectionists who are programmed to succeed. So, it’s highly possible that as opposed to walking away at the first signs of trouble with a man, they are more willing to stick around and try harder. For another, super-smart women may have little experience with men as they were preoccupied with their studies while less clever girls were learning to master the field. So, they really are a bit naïve when it comes to dealing with men.
So, for example, while more experienced women might see right through a man’s flirtatiousness. A less experienced woman might mistake it for true sincerity and charm. And by the time she sees his true colors, she’s already hooked and in “make it work” mode.
“Self-awareness” is the solution Kirwan-Taylor offers up as the “main ticket out of this emotional mire.” “Learning that the kind of powerful man who makes you laugh, but also tells you you’re five pounds too fat and you can’t cook is really not the man for you.”
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA