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Why Being Smart Won't Get You Laid

Your impressive mental prowess won't necessarily get you a date, much less bring you lasting love and fulfillment.
 
 
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I have a mini-confession to make: I wrote the Tao of Dating books specifically for really smart people. The writing of the books was precipitated by the endemic dating woes on the Harvard campus, as I observed them as an advisor and earlier, indulged in them as a student.

Those kids graduate and pretty much continue to have the same dating woes -- only now with fewer single people around who happen to live in the same building and share meals with them every day. So if they had challenges then, it gets about 1,000 times worse once they're tossed from the warm womb of their alma mater.

From my observations, the following dating challenges seem to be common to most smart people. In fact, the smarter you are, the more clueless you will be, and the more problems you're going to have in your dating life. Once upon a day I used to be pretty smart, and believe me, I had a lock on clueless.

On the one hand, this makes no sense. Smart people can figure stuff out, right? And this stuff is simple!

On the other hand, it makes total sense. For simple things, it takes someone smart to really screw it up. So whether you went (or should have gone) to the likes of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, Swarthmore, Amherst, Dartmouth, Brown, Oxford, Cambridge, Berkeley, Penn, Caltech, Duke, read on:

1. Smart people spent more time on achievements than on relationships when growing up.

Smart kids usually come from smart families. And smart families are usually achievement-oriented. Bring me home those straight As, son. Get into those top colleges, daughter. Take piano, violin, tennis, swimming and Tibetan throat-singing lessons. Win every award there is in the book. Be 'well-rounded.'

Well, you're a talented little bugger. Of course you should develop those talents. At the same time, there's an opportunity cost associated with achievement. Time spent studying, doing homework, and practicing the violin is time not spent doing other things -- like chasing boys or girls, which turns out is fairly instrumental in making you a well-rounded human.

The upshot of all that achievement is that you get into a top college -- congratulations! -- and then continue doing even more of what you were doing before. Dating is at best another extracurricular, #6 or #7 down the list, somewhere between Model UN and intramural badminton.

I've been co-hosting young alumni events for name-brand schools for long enough to know that these kids come out a little lopsided (which sounds so much better than 'socially awkward', don't you think?). All they need is a little tune-up, or a little dating textbook like The Tao of Dating for Women or Men, to get them going -- plus a little practice.

Of course, as noted above, things only get worse once you graduate. And if you're frustrated with your love life, you just might try to compensate by working harder and achieving even more to fill that void. Left untreated, this condition can go on for decades. I know people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond who still haven't figured out how to create an intimate connection with another human being.

It's because they've been going at it the wrong way. Which brings us to ...

2. Smart people feel that they're entitled to love because of their achievements.

For most of their lives, smart people inhabit a seemingly meritocratic universe: if they work hard, they get good results (or, in the case of really smart folks, even if they don't work hard, they still get good results). Good results mean kudos, strokes, positive reinforcement, respect from peers, love from parents.

 
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