Dr. Christine Whelan Interview – Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women

“Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women”
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Dr. Christine Whelan

A few topics Dr. Christine Whelan addresses in this interview are:

  1. (2:05)     Men Want Smart Women
  2. (4:05)     Smart Women Marry Too!
  3. (9:23)     Bad Attitude Towards Dating?
  4. (11:02)    Be Honest While Dating
  5. (12:06)   Cinderella Complex: Ditch The Idea
  6. (14:03)   Brains Do Not Intimidate Men
  7. (15:29)   Perfect Partner Does Not Exist
  8. (17:54)   Take Control of Dating


Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She is the author of Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women.

Dr. Whelan is a senior fellow in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Director of the Relationships, Finance and Life Fulfillment Initiative. She earned a masters and doctorate from the University of Oxford and has held teaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Iowa and Princeton University.

She has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times, among other national outlets. She has appeared live on television programs and radio programs across the nation.


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Jasbina Ahluwalia

(00:48):  Hello everyone and welcome to Intersections Match’s Talk Radio, a monthly holistic lifestyle show focused on the continual evolution into the best versions of our authentic selves. We and our guests discuss relationships and health and wellness, each of which contributes to meaningful and fulfilling lives.

This is Jasbina, your host. I’m a former practicing lawyer and the Founder of Intersections Match, the only elite national personalized matchmaking company focused on singles of South Asian descent nationwide in the US.

I’m very excited to welcome Dr. Christine Whelan to our show tonight. Dr. Whelan is an author, professor and journalist. She holds both a masters and a doctorate from Oxford University and has taught sociology at Princeton and the University of Iowa.

Dr. Whelan has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Post and the New York Times. Tonight, we’ll be discussing Dr. Whelan’s books. The first is Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. The second is Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love. Welcome, Dr. Whelan.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(2:02): Thanks so much for having me on.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Men Want Smart Women

(2:05): We’re very excited to have you. As a professional matchmaker and dating coach, I’m fascinated by insights and perspectives regarding relationships.

Given that our clientele largely consists of highly educated and accomplished men and women, I’ve especially enjoyed reading both of your books. I’d love to explore some of the insights shared by you.

Dr. Whelan, before exploring those insights, why don’t you share with our listeners what prompted you to write these two books in the first place?


Dr. Christine Whelan

(2:34): Like many of your listeners, I was living in New York City. I had just finished my doctoral dissertation and I was very much single.

I read an article by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times that said that men were intimidated by smart, successful women. Men wouldn’t look for a woman like me.

I thought, “This is really a problem. I’ve somehow over-educated myself and I’m never going to get married. At least I should get a book out of it.”

Elaborating on Men Want Smart Women.


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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Smart Women Marry Too!

(4:05): I love that. That very much resonates what I hear from the men that I work with. In your book, you use the term “SWANS” as describing a historic shift.

It would be great to set the context for our listeners if you could explain this term and the historic shift that you mentioned in your book.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(4:34): For all the smart women out there, you’re sick of being labeled as all sorts of negative terms if you’re single and over the age of 25. That’s when it began in my life.

I was looking for a term of empowerment and a positive term to give to all of those smart, successful women out there.

Elaborating on Smart Women Marry Too!



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Bad Attitude Towards Dating?

(9:23): In your book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women, you provide four empowering tips to SWANS. I would love to read each of the four, one by one, and have you expound.

The first tip you share is that success isn’t what’s holding you back in your dating life, but your bad attitude might be. Tell us about that.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(9:49): Often times, women say to me, “down on my luck on dating on dating. It’s because men are intimidated by me. It’s because I’m just too smart for these guys.”

It’s a distraction. That’s not the reason.

Elaborating on Bad Attitude Towards Dating?


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Jasbina Ahluwalia

Be Honest While Dating

(11:02): It’s good to know that at the outset. The second of the tips that you share is to be honest about your achievements and who you are.

You had the example that you just shared. Whatever your profession is, it’s something that you should be proud to share.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(11:32): Exactly. There is a wonderful line, which is, “Before you can say ‘I love you,’ you must first learn how to say the ‘I.’” That’s the only way one can truly, honestly wish to be loved.

That’s such a beautiful way to think about it. You need to know who you are, what’s important to you and what your values are.

Elaborating on Be Honest While Dating



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Cinderella Complex: Ditch The Idea

(12:06): Absolutely. That’s another great screening mechanism. The third tip that you share is very interesting. That is to ditch your Cinderella complex. Tell us about that one.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(12:18): The Cinderella complex is a term that was coined well before I came onto the scene in the 1980s.

It was about accomplished women who were earning good money but who were still looking for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet and rescue them from their lives.

When I say to ditch your Cinderella complex, I am referring to how so many of the young women I interviewed said, “Yes, I make good money. Yes, I’m very well educated but I’m looking for a guy who makes more money than I do, who is more educated than I am, who is more of everything.”

Elaborating on Cinderella Complex: Ditch The Idea.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Brains Do Not Intimidate Men

(14:03): The fourth empowering tip that you share is something that we’re trying to do with this radio show today. That is to stop perpetuating this myth. Tell us about that.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(14:14): Again, it’s very easy to say, “The guy just didn’t like me because he’s intimidated by me.” We use that as a throw-away line.

In fact, that continues to perpetuate the myth that men are intimidated by smart women.

Elaborating on Brains Do Not Intimidate Men.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Perfect Partner Does Not Exist

(15:29): It may feel better in the short term to label it that way, but in the long term it is not particularly helpful.

Your book, Marry Smart, has a section entitled Thinking Outside the Box. These are words that I use all the time with clients. I would love to hear what you mean by that phrase, thinking outside the box.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(16:03): Every woman that I’ve ever met, whether or not they will admit it, has the list. She has the list of what she wants in an ideal guy.

Sometimes we write down the things on the list. Sometimes we have the list in our heads. They’re usually pretty long and exhaustive.

That perfect guy, unfortunately, probably doesn’t exist. We ourselves are not perfect.

Elaborating on Perfect Partner Does Not Exist.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

Take Control of Dating

(17:54): I found an excerpt of a quote from one of the SWANS. What’s great about these books is, in addition to the extensive research, you have anecdotes from different women who have had different experiences, a lot of which are success stories. That is empowering and motivating.

I found one of the quotes from one of the SWANS that you mention in your book Marry Smart particularly compelling. It’s on the lengthier side even though it’s an excerpt but I’d still like to share it with our listeners and have you expand with any insights.

You wrote, “Lindsay, a 38 year-old college professor reminds herself that she has agency over her life. She’s in charge, which for her, means that ‘I haven’t met the right person’ line is nonsense. ‘I wasn’t looking. I’ve met him five times. There were so many right people along the way but I didn’t choose them. Saying I haven’t met the right person shifts the blame away from me, when really, I have agency.

Every morning, you wake up and have the opportunity to write the novel. There are only two things you have to do. You have to write the novel and you have to be the star. You choose it. I’m writing a really great story and I don’t have a co-star. Why? Because I didn’t choose to write one in.’” Tell us about that. Tell us about self-awareness. 


Dr. Christine Whelan

(19:29): As you were reading that passage, I remember sitting in her living room as she was telling me that. I’m glad you chose that section. It’s such an empowering and wonderful way to put it.

I love this analogy of being the star of your own movie. It’s the movie of your own life. You have to be the star. You have to take ownership of the story. If you have a co-star and you’ve written one in, wonderful. If you haven’t yet, why not?

Elaborating on Take Control of Dating.



Jasbina Ahluwalia

(22:20): I love that. If something is just happening to you, there are limited things you can do about that. If it’s your choice then you take control again. Your books are filled with some great SWANS success stories. Can you share one of your favorites with our listeners?


Dr. Christine Whelan

(22:40): I think my favorite is a woman who I met in Arizona. She called herself the Diva Dentist. I think I called her Adriana in the book. I changed women’s names in the book to protect their privacy.

When I first met Adriana, she was about 40 years old. She was a very successful dentist. She called herself the Diva Dentist.

As an African-American successful woman, she said that she was having a really difficult time meeting the right guy.

When I first met her, she was so down in the dumps. She really thought it was going to be impossible to meet a man and get married.

I talked to her about my research and about all of the good news data. I mentioned that when she met the right guy, he was going to be interested in her for her success. She said, “Okay, I’ll look at your data. I’ll look at your numbers.”

She’s a very smart woman. I wrote my first book, Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women. I included her in the book. It wasn’t quite a success story because she was still searching. She was quite down. She wrote me after she read the book and said, “I’m going to take a different attitude now. I feel like I am among the SWANS. I do feel more empowered.

She and I started keeping in touch. Would you believe, a couple years later, she reunited with a guy she had known in high school?

He courted her in the most old-fashioned and beautiful way. On 07-07-07, they were married.

They were featured in a magazine with their whole life story. It was so much fun to be able to keep in touch with her and see this beautiful SWANS success story in action. I included that story in Marry Smart.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(24:48): I love that. Dr. Whelan, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us. They’ve been very insightful and interesting. Is there any last thought or take-home message that you’d like to leave our listeners with?


Dr. Christine Whelan

(25:01): There is good news. Smart, successful women marry at the same rates as all other women. Ninety percent of the men that I interviewed said that they wanted to be with a woman who is as or more intelligent than they are. It’s really time to shatter this myth.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(25:23): I just wanted to repeat that you said 90%.


Dr. Christine Whelan

(25:25): Yes, 90% of the men that I interviewed said that they were looking for a woman who is as or more educated. This data is from really large-scale data.

I’m sure in your client base you know this to be true as well. When you talk to the guys, this is what they say that they want.

We have to stop perpetuating this myth and have SWANS really stand proud. They should square their shoulders and be proud of who they are. Don’t downplay your accomplishments.

As I said, swans do swim alone for the first third of their lives, but when they mate, they mate for life. There is good news for all the SWANS out there.


Jasbina Ahluwalia

(26:08): You are absolutely correct. That 90% does not surprise me based on what I hear every day from the men that I speak with.

I’d like to thank Dr. Whelan for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure. If you’d like to learn more about the insights that Dr. Whelan has been sharing with us today, her books are entitled Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women and Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love.

In case you joined us late or would like to share this show with people in your life, I’d like to remind you that today’s radio show will be archived and available as a podcast on Intersections Match’s website, which is www.IntersectionsMatch.com. I can be reached at jasbina@intersectionsmatch.com. I appreciate you hanging out with us. Do email me with topics you’d like discussed in future shows. Make sure to join us for next month’s show.


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The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Dr. Christine Whelan

The entire interview transcript is at: Dr. Christine Whelan Interview – Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women

Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show

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