Should I act dumb to attract a man?

attraction dating intelligence womenover50 May 20, 2021

We’ve all come across women who pretend to have the intellect of a 4 year-old child and have men eating out of their hand.

Just think of Marilyn Monroe. She was a highly intelligent woman, but still decided to sing “happy birthday Mr President” in her 1964 Madison Square Gardens performance in a retarded goo-goo voice, presumably to appear delectable to the said president.

Do women have to dumb it down to appeal to men?

Well, to answer that question it would be worth thinking about what it is that attracts men to “dumb” women.

Research by Cari Goetz of California State University and her colleagues suggests that men’s liking for ditsy women may come down to the perception that such women are more sexually exploitable. In other words, men think they’re more likely to bed them.


Men are attracted to women who look more “sexually exploitable”


The research team showed pictures of women in various states to a selection of male participants. The women that the men found most attractive were the ones they perceived to look unintelligent, immature, drunk, promiscuous and young. Quite alarming really.

And the reason they found them attractive? They reckoned these women would be sexually exploitable, to be easy prey.

But of course, not all men are out to exploit a woman when she’s in a semi-comatose state. A follow up study by the same team showed that men, on the whole, are reassuringly, much more nuanced and complicated than this.


Only certain types of men are attracted to “exploitable” women


So the second study showed that the men who were accounting for the first result, the ones who were most attracted to women they thought looked sexually available or exploitable were those who were (a) not in relationships, (b) had personalities low in agreeableness, which basically means that they’re lacking in empathy, and (c) were mostly inclined to have casual sex – that bit’s not really surprising.

Men who are out for a quick fling or a one-night-stand – they’re the ones who find these signals of potential sexual exploitability attractive. Makes sense.

When men are on the lookout for a long-term partner though, they tend to be looking for something else entirely.

So the same piece of research suggests that being not exploitable is attractive in long-term mates – a man really doesn’t want his long term girlfriend or wife to come over as sexually exploitable and available, because she might be available to other men. So higher intelligence, less recklessness, less attention-seeking behaviour, being less promiscuous, were all associated with being perceived as more attractive.

Bottom line: men like intelligence in a long term partner.


Men like intelligence, as long as you’re not too smart!


That said, various other studies have suggested that men can’t handle being with women who totally outsmart them – not all men, but a lot of men.

I know - you’re probably thinking – aw poor them. But the thing is, many men see their role as providers and protectors and if their woman is smarter than they are and seems not to need them for anything, some men get left feeling like a spare part. It’s worth bearing in mind.

So if you’re a smart, hyper-independent woman, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for help occasionally – with something you could actually do with help with. It won’t hurt your feminist credentials, it just means getting the fact that everyone wants to feel needed and appreciated. We all do.

And if you’re used to being in charge in your workplace – maybe take some time to mellow out a bit after work before going on a date. I don’t mean changing into something you’re not, but you might want to get into the more chilled, friendly, relaxed version of yourself for meeting a new guy.


Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not to attract a man


But in the end, some men are attracted to highly capable, independent women, and some men run a mile. Clearly there’s no point in pretending you’re something you’re not, since you’ll end up with the wrong type of man!

When it comes to intelligence though, men tend to put a lot of value on it when they get together with someone long-term.

I mean, even George Clooney managed to work that one out when he ditched the cocktail waitress and the super models and got married to the supremely clever human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin.

So anybody thinking of acting dumb to attract a man, it may well work, but you might find you attract the type of man who is attracted to dumb women.

And perhaps you don’t really want that.

Mairi Macleod PhD