Here’s an interesting article where the author defends her decision to break up with a man that did not go to college.
As we’ve discussed before, I think women place far more importance on the need for their partner to hold a college degree than men do.
My father took advantage of the GI Bill when he came home from serving in the second World War. He pursued not just one but two degrees thanks to the government and by working multiple jobs.
I think I’ve told the story before of how my father encouraged my step-mother to pursue her GED at 50. Not because he wanted an intellectually equal partner but because he knew she always felt inadequate because she never finished high school. My step-mother thought she was too old. My father dismissed that notion, saying that someone was never too old to get an education. He was always learning and reading, well into his eighties. He even got my step-mom to take a computer course in her sixties simply so she could learn a new skill. To my father, there was no excuse to not get any form of an education, be it a degree or certificate or trade program. He placed value not on the level of education achieved, but the desire to improve.
Personally, I place education high on my list. When I was in my twenties, education was important because – in my mind – it was indicative of status and intelligence. As I got older, I met many people that made it quite clear that some of the most stupid and ignorant people hold high degrees. I used to be so impressed by where someone went to school. I thought it was a sign of character. It’s not. I can remember meeting someone at the gym a while back who came from a fairly wealthy part of Massachusetts. He went to UMass undergrad and then Columbia Law School. Yet now he was working in the membership sales area of a gym. Something was a miss. He said he had worked in law for a couple years and then quit the field saying he hated it. Maybe that’s true. I never pushed for more info because that was all I needed to hear. To spend that kind of money (clearly not his) and time pursuing something so difficult just to turn around and quit spoke volumes to me about his character. He may have had an education. But he didn’t value it.
What I don’t agree with in the original article is this need to have intellectual conversations with your partner about abstract topics like art or literature. To me, that is elitist. I like to engage in intelligent discussions. But something I’ve learned by dating in NYC is that, despite having gone to a fairly prestigious school, I wasn’t much of an intellectual. The more people I meet, the more I’m reminded that I’m really not as smart or interesting as I think I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a barrel of laughs and can hold a conversation. But listening to some of my close friends talk to me about articles they’ve read and places they’ve seen, I realize just how sheltered and woefully lacking in knowledge I really am. Listen, I’m wicked smaht. (Sorry, Boston accent, y’all.) But I’m not an intellectual. I’m more perceptive and intuitive. But that doesn’t seem to hold as much value with some people. I can remember being on a date once several years ago with a college professor. His line of questioning made it abundantly clear that he was looking for someone with whom he could engage in intellectual discussions. He looked utterly bored at most of what I said until I mentioned a Philosophy group to which I belonged at the time. Then he was all ears.
The man I dated last fall/winter had his PhD is psychology and sociology. He’s, well, rather brilliant. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t one of the things I loved about him. To this day, he reviews pieces I write and offers insight and feedback, and praises me when he feels I’ve made a solid point. He encourages me. He doesn’t talk down to me. The disparity in our education level has never been an issue. I’ve never felt “dumb” around him. We rarely had talks about books or politics or social issues. If anything, it seemed like he wanted to turn off that side of his brain.
I tend to think that’s how most men feel. They don’t need to be with someone who shares their love of talking about the latest New Yorker article or Wall Street Journal piece. It’s a bonus, for sure. But it falls low on the list of must haves. It’s usually women who make that a requirement. I don’t believe it’s necessarily because they enjoy having such talks. I think it has more to do with their desire to demonstrate how intelligent and well-read they are because that’s something feel is important.I tend to believe that, as long as she’s not as dumb as a box of rocks, most men don’t really care what a woman’s IQ or education level is. Feel free to correct me if you disagree.
So, my dear readers, I will now ask you….do you need to be with a partner that is your intellectual equal? How important is education to you and why?