Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why men choose their dates.

Maureen Dowd, who is more accomplished than I and makes more money than I do, who I would ask on a date in a second, writes in her column (linkage - PDF) in the New York Times yesterday, entitled "Should Hillary pretend to be a flight attendant?" about a study conducted at Columbia University (just a stone's throw from my home, by the way) concerning speed-dating at a local bar (which I have no doubt been in at one time or another). Quoting a slate article about it:

“We found that men did put significantly more weight on their assessment of a partner’s beauty, when choosing, than women did. We also found that women got more dates when they won high marks for looks."

He continued: “By contrast, intelligence ratings were more than twice as important in predicting women’s choices as men’s. It isn’t exactly that smarts were a complete turnoff for men: They preferred women whom they rated as smarter — but only up to a point ... It turns out that men avoided women whom they perceived to be smarter than themselves. The same held true for measures of career ambition — a woman could be ambitious, just not more ambitious than the man considering her for a date.

“When women were the ones choosing, the more intelligence and ambition the men had, the better. So, yes, the stereotypes appear to be true: We males are a gender of fragile egos in search of a pretty face and are threatened by brains or success that exceeds our own.”

Present company excepted, of course.

No, the truth is, when I am sizing up a woman the way one would in a speed-dating situation I'm all about the looks. Intelligence and ambition are down-sides.

But, you know why intelligence and ambition are negative factors when considering my likelihood to ask them out? Not because I find those qualities unattractive, no, not al all, it is because I think it is less likely that they will accept my request for a date. I don't want to be rejected. That's where the fragile ego comes in for me. It's not that I don't want to be professionally one-upped by my date, I don't want to hear "It's not you, it's me. Let's be friends."

But that's speed-dating, and I don't speed-date. I don't ask anyone out that I don't already know pretty well. Who am I kidding? I don't ask anyone out at all.

But, I am well-aware of the operations on my mind and what I look for without really thinking about it is a visually attractive woman who will admire me and with whom I do not expect to compete. This is why it's good to know your mind. That is not actually the kind of woman I want as a partner. I'm only going to overcome this tendency in my perceptions if I am aware of it and I accept that it is there.

You can see the world clearly through rose-colored glasses if you know you're wearing them.

It's a wonder we ever find anyone at all.

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