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Many Men ‘Feel Threatened by Intelligent Women’ – Here’s Why


This amazing article was written by Nicole, a holistic nutritionist with a strong belief that it is possible for everyone to discover how good their body is designed to feel. Nicole works in partnership with her clients to achieve a lifestyle that is both balanced, fulfilling and nourishing. Go check out her fantastic blog with healthy recipes, or follow her on Facebook!

Many of us have heard the adage that men are threatened by a women with very high intelligence. Is this just something that women say to defend and protect themselves from frustration and heartache? Or is there some underlying truth to this saying?

We’ve all experienced it. At first, he loves how you’re such a confident, motivated and independent woman. That is, until you threaten his ego and pride – with your audacity to question the direction of your relationship or share why your job is really exhausting – this trigger the ‘who works harder’ debate.

Should we just dumb-down our identities and transform into a palatable and convenient dose of our adept qualities?

“Once you’re completely devoid of all personality, then you will truly find a man!”. [1]

I can scornfully thank the influence of happily-ever-after Disney princess films for my slightly programmed tendency for the habit of ‘dating up’. It is common for us to seek a partner who is considered higher on the social ladder.

In reality many of us look for someone who is more than what we think we are. More intelligent, more attractive and more driven than our (already brilliant) self. But when a man states he is attracted to an ‘intelligent women’, research suggests we should question if he’s actually ever dated one.


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Here’s What The Research Says

Scholarly studies can be both fascinating and perplexing. Findings for a study in the Personality and Social Bulletin concluded in the case of men vs. intelligent women that; “rather than finding a smart women attractive, men are actively intimidated by the catch of a more intelligent partner.” [2]

Psychologists at the University of Buffalo, University of Austin Texas and California Lutheran University rounded up 105 men to perform a two part scenario. Initially researchers found that these men actually showed a greater interest, and formed ‘more favourable impressions’ in women who displayed more intelligence than in themselves.

However as the second scenario was presented, these findings were reversed. After these men were given an intelligence test, they were informed that they were about to meet a woman who had either performed better or worse than them on that same test. Researchers noted that the men who had been told they were about to meet a more intelligent woman had “distanced themselves more from her, tended to rate her as less attractive, and showed less desire to exchange contact information or plan a date with her.”

Cue collective eye roll.

In the presence of a smarter women, these particular men felt threatened with “feelings of diminished masculinity – which accounted for the men’s decreased attraction toward the women who outperformed them” [3].

Does This Mean All Men Are The Same?


I’m not here to bash men and put females on the pedestal. This particular study shouldn’t have all men feeling like they are being stamped with a label of being “incapable of pursuing a relationship with an intelligent women”.  Nor do these findings mean that all men, or even the majority of men are threatened by female brain-power – this is just a piece of literature that adds to the decades of findings for gender dynamics.

It take’s a special kind of gentleman to feel secure around a wise women. But it also takes a self-aware women to realize that the approach you take in relationship should be different than the steps you took to build your career and professional profile.

It’s safe to say that men aren’t afraid or threatened by intelligent or successful  women. What they may fear is the potential of a competitive and controlling experience. Typically men do not want to feel controlled and they don’t want to have to compete with their partner. Many of our strong, successful, and often A type personality women may have a tendency to be controlling, demanding and competitive romantically – which ends up being a turnoff for your man [4].

Diplomas, degrees and Goodreads book counts aside, being with someone is an investment in time  and a healthy relationship is one where you can grow together and constantly re-learn about each other as we change. You’re a team, and it’s necessary to equally support one another so that you can both become the best versions of yourself. We should never strive to make the others feel unworthy, discouraged or less intelligent.

If you are looking to create something long lasting and fulfilling, draw back the ego, look past the social status and simply connect. If you define yourself as a smart woman who keeps meeting the wrong guys, keep doing your thing, you just never know who’s got their eye on you.

Relationship Testing Worksheet [5]:


You don’t have to sit down and turn into a serious-question drill sergeant. These are just 10 Relationship Questions that are  worth discussing with your partner. You can casually bring up one of questions while spending some quality time together. Communication is essential and this quiz can help put things into perspective, it’s time to find out if you are on the same page as your partner!

  • Do you know what the other person wants out of life or what they are really interested in? 
  • How do your life values compare? 
  • Are you compatible or incompatible as people? 
  • Do you put yourself in your partner’s shoes to find their reasoning and understanding? 
  • Are feelings properly communicated? 
  • Are there controlling/control issues in the relationship? 
  • Do you know what the other person needs from you? 
  • Do you know what you need from the other person? 
  • Are you invested in each other’s goals? 
  • Can you disagree respectively?



[1] #MasculinitySoFragile: Here’s Why Men Are Intimidated By Smart Women

Niki McGloster –

[2] (Psychological) Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

[3] Men ‘feel threatened by intelligent women’

Telegraph Men –

[4] Are Men Threatened by Intelligent Women? – Iron Ladies – Medium

Kitten Holiday –

[5] 27 Signs of Superficial Relationships




Holistic Nutritionist at Holisticole
BE Vibrant. Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. On her holistic living blog: - you can find amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs. Become the BEST version of yourself and stay inspired by Nicole's passion - you can follow her on Facebook & Instagram (@holisticole).

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