It is amazing to me what the mainstream media and supposed conventional wisdom of the day will try to convince women is true. Judging by the average relationship book, dating column or TV commercial, one might assume that men only like one type of woman and are only interested in one thing when it comes relationships. Unfortunately savvy marketing and patriarchal beliefs have some women practically killing themselves to live up to impossible standards all for the sake of companionship. The sad irony is that while women try to fashion themselves into something they are not, in reality they are doing for men who for all intents and purposes don’t really exist.

For example, many women have heard the phrase all to often that if they are talented enough to be professionally successful, their chances of getting married were smaller than their chances of being hit by a bus. One can easily see how hearing “wisdom” uttered from peers and influences might cause severe brain drain in among potentially great women. As a man living in the 20th century I have no idea why anyone would tell their daughter, mother, sister, etc this tripe. It simply isn’t true.

Certainly men are very driven by their more aesthetic senses (being attracted to a women’s looks) but in many cases we stay with said women for their brains and ambition. As one radio talk show host once said about dating, water rises to its own level. In most cases, a smart and successful man will want someone that compliments them in all facets. When you marry you (theoretically) share your most intimate thoughts, needs, wants, fears and dreams. Obviously you want the person whom is receiving your soul to be competent, sympathetic, and intelligent to simply get you.

You don’t have to take my word for it; Princeton University professor and prominent journalist for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the New York Post has written probably the best book on the subject of women and dating titled, “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.” She not only single-handedly obliterated the myth that smart successful women do in fact marry at the same rate as their not so successful sisters but also (for the purposes of this book) commissioned a Harris Interactive survey to conclusively prove this fact with hard data.

Whelan starts off by singularly identifying and labeling the women in question as SWANS (Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse). Whelan composes her book not only from data in the self-commissioned Harris Interactive survey but also from US Census data and most importantly from the aforementioned SWANS. Whelan conducted multiple in depths interviews with SWANS from cities all across the United States, which lends a personal tone to what would otherwise be a study bound up in hardcover. Hearing the various tales told from the mouths of these so-called SWANS paints a sympathetic picture of truly special and driven women who deserve all that the world has to offer and more. After hearing the trials, tribulations and confessionals of these great SWANS one wonders how anyone in their right mind would object to dating one.

And that is exactly the point of Whelan’s book. According to all of her data there are scores of men from across the spectrum that are lining to date women that are their mental and financial equals, if not their superiors. Whelan spends the bulk of the book looking at several examples of relationships where the men simply adore the women they are with because they are so successful and brilliant. The numbers don’t lie, as Whelan will show you.

She doesn’t just concentrate on dating and marriage. She also shatters many other myths that accompany the fallacy that smart women don’t marry. She rabidly attacks the notion that all women whom have blasted through the glass ceiling are also merciless wenches with a heart of stone. This is where the first person accounts really serve the author well in making the point that just like men, women are professional in the work place and multifaceted in their personal life. A SWAN will do her job to the best of her ability and make the hard choices and then be just as sweet as the proverbial girl next door during the off hours. To think that men are any different is ridiculous in the extreme so it should go without saying that women wouldn’t be any different. Whelan includes this information exactly because the misperception tends to outshine the truth.

Whelan also talks about how with the change in gender roles and expectations, not to mention differential in women with high salaries as opposed to men, there are lots of newly minted househusbands across the American landscape. These are men who are clearly not intimidated by their high earning wives and girlfriends (as it should be) and are perfectly comfortable being the more domestic partner, supporting their significant other as they do battle in the increasingly intense business world. Again, the truth of the matter is that most guys have no problem cooking and cleaning up the house if afforded the opportunity to stay home or be home more often to do so. In line with that, though there are plenty of women who don’t want a house husband or lesser earning boyfriend, many SWANS are comfortable enough with themselves to just be happy with a decent fellow who treats them accordingly rather than being preoccupied with their earning potential.

My only issue with the book is the part about SWANS having children. Whelan states that SWANS will have significantly more successful and fulfilling marriages because they tend to marry later in life and therefore have more maturity and life experience to guide through the prickly briar patch of marriage. This also means that these same SWANS are having children much later in life if at all. I don’t have a problem with that per se. Whelan takes a hard left though when she begins to talk about SWANS opting to forgo finding a partner and going straight to having a child. Whelan is free to believe and promote whatever her opinion of single motherhood is but she should not refer to having a raising a child by ones self in much the same way someone talks about achieving a promotion. As a social worker I found this part to be somewhat lacking in context. Many single mothers do just fine and certainly try their best but the ideal situation is to in fact have a mother and A FATHER. To say otherwise, as she does somewhat by omission is to be intellectually disingenuous. Children are not like pets are some award and they should not be linked to SWANS as if they are a personal achievement. Anyone that has tried to raise a child on their own will tell you that being a parent is not about you, it’s about the safety and sanctity of the child – not the mothers ego or perceived grandeur.

Debates about single motherhood aside, “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women,” is an absolutely excellent book. It is essential reading for teenage girls struggling with their own feelings and thoughts and the perception that they have to dumb themselves down in order to seek validation, attention and approval from guys. It is also essential reading for women in their 20’s and 30’s that need that extra boost that yes, they did the best thing for themselves and they will be rewarded with the best guys possible whom will treat them like the queens that they are. I highly recommend that anyone in the dating realm read, “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women,” by Christine B. Whelan.

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