Dear New Shrink,

Why are so many smart women so dumb when it comes to men? I have a friend who is smart and successful and I think most people would agree, is also beautiful. But unfortunately, she seems out of touch when it comes to men. She doesn’t seem to be able to discern sincerity from bologna. And she seems to get hopeful when there is no good reason to.

For example, one evening a successful businessman but known player, made a sincere sounding declaration of his desire for her, adding in his desire to settle down, be married and have kids. It was one night when they were all celebrating a big success. Mind you, they had never been out before.

She had been attracted to him as well. They had a heavy “make out session,” if you want to call it that. He promised to call her as soon as he returned from his next business trip. However, it’s been three months, and you guessed it, no call!

While she understands that he probably will not be calling, there is a part of her that clings to the notion that they were meant to be together and is secretly waiting for him to call one day.

I don’t understand why an otherwise smart woman would believe this? Can you explain it to me or at least help me understand this? I don’t think she is alone. If there were something I can do to help, I would love to, please let me know. I hate seeing her suffer because I care about her deeply. But I am clueless on what to say, if anything. And truthfully, I do not understand it.


Maybe I’m dumb, too?

Dear Maybe,

First off, relationships can be difficult to understand and work out. Anyone who knows anything about relationships knows they are fraught with questions, concerns and difficulties. They definitely require a lot of work, but that is generally after a commitment has been made.

However, this is a different question here. Smart women, successful women, I assume you mean in their given career. They make money and can take care of themselves?

Your friend sounds as if she believes in magic. Maybe even the magic kingdom with the prince charming that one day finally comes along and makes everything so perfect and wonderful. All love, no more worries. Now the princess is protected and taken care of and he is hers, and it’s love and romance forever more.

This would be fantastic and while there are many good men as well as many good women, we all are, in the end, just people. Even those appointed with the titles of “prince” and “princess,” are just human beings with all the same frailties and failings as the rest of the human race.

About men: they are not all the same, but they do have one thing in common. They have a drug pumping through their veins, 24/7 and it’s not their fault. Testosterone makes them say and do things uncharacteristic of themselves. They mean it in the moment, or at least sort of, but it is forgotten the next day. They were under the influence.

If you or your friend wants to know what’ s real, take a little time to get to know your man. If he is truly interested in you as a person, then a few dinners together is not too long to wait to get intimate. He will wait. If he doesn’t or can’t, it probably was just testosterone talking.

As for women (or men) with sudden dumbness in a given area, this is what we call “neurotic stupidity.” It is a defense. We get all confused so that we cannot or will not have to face something we don’t want to think about or feel. It does sound like your otherwise smart woman friend may become neurotically stupid so that she doesn’t have to face, deal with or experience some issue she has with men.

Maybe she prefers to live in her magical fantasy world of “hope.” Hope is interesting. We certainly need it; it has a very important function in our psyches. But there is a dark side to it as well. Hope is a drug when we use it to deny reality, it may help us fight a disease but it can also cost us a lot of wasted time when we use it to dope ourselves up. We need to hope that we use hope in a realistic way and are able to tell ourselves how to read the signs and when to move on.

Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist with offices in Brentwood. Send your anonymous questions and replies to Got something on your mind. Let us help you with your Life Matters.

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