CHAPTER 2 | Overqualified for Love Imagine, as newspapers and magazines recently have, the “plight of the high-status woman.” She is a well-educated young woman in her 30s, earns a good salary, and has a great social life — but she is single and is worried that her success might be the reason she has not met a man to marry.Any hint of bad news about the successful or talented has always made headlines, but media pessimism about the happiness and life balance of millions of young, career-oriented women has struck a chord nationwide.The purported “news” was never good: Smart women are less likely to marry.
And if a woman makes a lot of money, men will be intimidated.
Conservative and liberal pundits alike mythologized the failure of feminism and the “waste” of these talented women who were searching for soul mates.
For a generation of SWANS — Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse — these myths have become conventional wisdom.
If you attended a good school, have an impressive job, have career aspirations or dream of future success, men will find you less attractive.
“I’ve been told by well-meaning relatives: ‘Don’t talk about work on a date, dumb it down, and it’s bad to earn so much money because guys will be scared of you.’ And I got the word ‘intimidating’ a lot,” said Alexis, a 35-year-old lawyer in San Francisco. Nearly half of single women believe their professional success is intimidating to the men they meet.
Put another way, many high-achieving women think their success is not helping them find love.Some 66 percent of SWANS disagree with the statement “My career or educational success increases my chances of getting married.” Anne, a 30-year-old chief resident at a Boston hospital, said she doesn’t think of herself as intimidating or uber-intelligent, but men seem to get that impression.“I was out with two friends from residency recently and I asked one of the married guys if he had any single friends to set me up with.He said, ‘Oh, I get it, you’re one of those super-smart superachievers that scare the men off.'” “I didn’t really know how to respond,” Anne recalled of her colleague’s character assessment, but other women have a strategy in place.They instinctually “dumb it down” or pretend to be someone they’re not.When she was 35 and single, Julia, a lawyer in New York City, would play a game when she went to bars: “I told some guys I was an attorney and they ran away from me, and then other guys that I was a secretary at a law firm and at least for the short term they seemed more interested,” she said.