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Marrying Intelligent Women Could Protect Men From Dementia


Research suggests that marrying an intelligent woman helps protect a man from dementia. But another study says that men are terrified of smart women.

By Roxanne Jones

Research suggests that marrying an intelligent woman helps protect a man from dementia. But another study says that men are terrified of smart women.

Talk about a dilemma.

Apparently, pairing up with a brainy broad gives men a buffer against dementia. According to published reports, Lawrence Whalley, professor emeritus of mental health at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, gave a talk on “Dementia: How Can We Protect Ourselves?” and said that men who marry an intelligent partner who provides interesting, mentally stimulating conversation could help prevent the disease. Whalley went on to liken a smart wife’s effect on a husband’s brain to writing, reading or visiting a museum.

Well, I can’t help but wonder: What about us women? Does marrying a smart guy confer the same neuroprotective benefits? And what about same-sex marriages? Oh, and what if a smart woman’s husband does get dementia — is that somehow her fault? But I digress.

Then there are other findings, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, that say men find intelligent women scary. What’s more, when a woman does something better than a man, his sense of masculinity diminishes.

A series of six studies by researchers at universities in New York, California and Texas revealed that when evaluating hypothetical women in the next room, men showed greater attraction toward women who displayed more (vs. less) intelligence than themselves. But when the female targets were actually sitting near them, men showed less attraction toward women who outsmarted them.

In other words, the researchers deduced that while men like the ideaof dating an intelligent woman, when it comes to actually doing it, they’re just not that into her. And when a woman is better at a task than they are, they feel like less of a man.

Science says men fear

smart women. Where in hell are

the test subjects from?

The pool of Darwin Awards winners, maybe? Or certain presidential rallies? Well, in fact, the participants in these studies were undergraduates at the institutions of higher learning conducting the research. Which is pretty disheartening.

I’d hoped we’d come further than this by now, and that the inability to accept women as smart, capable equals was confined largely to old white men. At the same time, I hope young women today don’t feel they have to hide their light under a bushel in order to attract a guy. As a baby boomer, I can remember when girls wouldn’t raise their hands in class for fear of appearing “too smart.” Please let those days be over.

But the good news is, when I look around at my married friends in their 50s, 60s and 70s, they’re all educated, intelligent, self-assured and insightful women — qualities which don’t seem to intimidate their husbands in the least. In fact, they seem to truly value these attributes in their wives.

If you believe the research, this bodes well for the husbands’ ongoing cognitive function. And it certainly reflects well on the men’s own healthy (versus overblown) egos (which I’d wager is one of the things their wives found attractive in the first place).

But for guys at any age who can’t get over their fear of smart women (and my single friends who are dating at midlife have, sadly, met more than a few of them), well, it’s the guys’ loss — of stimulating companionship, a true partnership and — if you believe the research — their memory.

Ain’t that a bitch?

So what do you think? If you’re a woman, have you experienced rejection because you’re “too smart?” And guys, what about a smart woman appeals to you (or turns you off)? Please share…

Roxanne Jones writes Boomer Haiku (, a blog that takes a mostly light-hearted and often irreverent look at life as a baby boomer as we move through midlife and beyond. She earns her living as a freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. Follow her on Twitter @RoxJonesWriter.

©Copyright 2015. BoomerHaiku, LLC. All rights reserved




2 Responses to “Marrying Intelligent Women Could Protect Men From Dementia”

  1. Barbara says:

    I love this! I’ve been around too many men who feel intimidated by smart women but, I married one who preferred that type. With all that’s going on in our insane world right now, this is a perfect post, Roxanne!

  2. Haralee says:

    Just told my husband how lucky he is again! He does have a brother who can not stand me because he thinks he is the smartest person in the room and he is far from that and I correct him when he pontificates about something incorrectly. Yes I am that bitch!


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