Blogs Mar 17, 2011 at 9:03 am


Nope. SLLOTD writer's husband had a doctorate in neurobiology, not computer science. And she sounded bright enough; failing to understand the arcana of computer programming does not a 'dodo' make.
Nope. If I remember correctly, your letter writer has been married for 3 years. This shmuck has been married for one.
No way! Just because she doesn't understand, or care about, computer since doesn't mean she's unintelligent or boring. I think the dude has undiagnosed aspergers and he needs to see a professional. And it's up to her to figure out if she wants to DTMFA-- my brother is 27 and has aspergers and from growing up with him there's no way I'd ever be able to marry someone with aspergers like his.

No offense to anyone with aspergers, but talk about a freaking motormouth about shit I don't care about! Maybe if they had aspergers and were obsessed with bicycles, indie films, and traveling I'd be all in.
small irrelevant details- like exact number of years married (but not the general range 1=3, 14=17)) or specific doctoral field when you can simplify "neurobiolog and comp sci" to just "comp sci" are the sort of things that are frequently changed, yes?
@3 Oh GOD...just what we need. ANOTHER hipster aspie. ;-)

No, I don't think this is from the other side. But if they had had any sense they would have written YOU for advice.
I totally thought the EXACT same thing when I read it! I kind of hope it is...
I thought the EXACT same thing when I read Prudie's article this morning. I hope it is the other half of the couple. If so, I think they both need to DTMFA.
Echoing Despicable Me, Happy Canadian St. Patrick's Day! (that's all the beer and none of the guilt...)

And I was going to say old straight guys are so gullible, and easily swayed by a pretty, daft young thing, but then I thought of Calvin Klein...never mind.
The best part of that would be the hope that there's only one couple out there with this problem: he's a self-important nerdypants intellectual and she's gorgeous but rather dim. But come on, we all know at least one couple like that (and never want to invite them to our parties).
I know so, so many guys who are in various stages of relationships (dating, living together, married, divorced) that either could have written this letter or will be writing it in a few years if they don't walk away. You wonder the whole time what they're thinking - you know, to be a fly on the wall and understand what these people actually TALK about when they're alone together because you just can't imagine at least one isn't totally bored - and only after the divorce are they all "Christ, she was DUMB."

I'm not saying women are on average less intelligent.. It just seems like the really bright women I know either marry smart guys or stay single, while the guys seem to look for something else in a partner.
The letter writer from yesterday wasn't dumb. Complete sentences, themed paragraphs, coherent letter, relevent details. Not interested in programming, but very evidently not a dumb person.
There needs to be an immediate moratorium on advice columnists and commenters throwing around possible Asbergers diagnoses. I don't care if you're a doctor, married to someone with Asbergers or if you have Asbergers yourself. Just stop. In these letters you're not even getting half the story. You're not even getting a quarter. You have no basis to make, or even suggest a medical diagnosis.

On top of that, the chances are far, far greater that this dude is just an oblivious nerd rather than having Asbergers. I don't know what the demographic breakdown is on oblivious nerds, but I'm sure they are a far greater proportion of the population than people with Asbergers.

Since any responsible doctor wouldn't dream of making a diagnosis based on one of these letters, I propose that the medically ignorant and those who are largely uninformed about the individual situations (that includes all of us) stop making Asbergers the go-to excuse for every person who isn't 100% sunshiny, outgoing and perfectly adjusted. It's getting really old and makes you sound like an idiot, IMO.
I know plenty of smart women who date/fuck stupid but pretty men, though I doubt any of them would marry one. Still, when seeing these mis-matches, I also wonder what on earth people discuss, as I love long, complex conversations. On the other hand, it may be a matter of availability: intelligence levels in populations present as a bell curve, so the smarter one is (above the average), the fewer people around one's own intellectual level one will have to select as a partner (the same holds true for the dumber one is, below the average). Also, lots of smart women pretend to be dumb (and sometimes it stops being an act so much as it becomes a normal behavior pattern, even if they COULD be/act smarter) because many men, even intelligent men, find smart, capable women threatening/emasculating/something else stupid having to do with male dominance and the concurrent insecurity; this limits the number of women who come off as smart even further than the actual constraints of the intelligence curve.

My advice to the guy is to stick with the wife for the mutual affection and awesome sex, and to cultivate a group of close friends. There's no particularly good reason that married couple have to do all of the same activities, spend every waking minute together, etc. (in fact, that always strikes me as a highly dysfunctional set-up). Do the things with the wife in which they have a shared interest (working out? arts or crafts? discussing topics in which they DO share interests? she must be into SOMETHING other than The Bachelor, right?), and hang out with his friends, not with the wife, for his political or cultural or economic or technological or whatever conversations. The most stable marriages I know have a degree of private space and independence for each person; the persons involved don't expect their partners to be their everythings in bed nor out.

Or, if that's not a possibility, he needs to decide whether the intellectual mis-match is a price of admission he's willing to pay; if it is, suck it up, if not, get divorced. If he actually doesn't care for the wife or straight-up can't stand to be around her, as Prudence seems to be reading, then he should do the kind thing and let her go so she can find someone who DOES actually like her, as opposed to just liking to fuck her.
@11: There is some evidence that men have a higher standard deviation on IQ than women do, though they share a common average. That means there are a lot more really dumb men, as well as a lot more really smart men, and a lot more average women. So if we're looking at the 140 IQ bracket, we're looking at a sausage fest, which may explain part of the reasoning behind under-marrying.
@13 Deep breaths. Most people on the internet take thirdhand diagnoses with a block of salt. I don't think it's necessary to ban all mention of potential behavioral medicine issues with regards to advice columns and their comments. The letter writers are asking about a problem behavior or social conundrum. It behooves use to be aware of possible organic reasons for problem behaviors. No one should be saying "based on these three paragraphs, your described partner has Asperger's", I'm with you there. It is, however, totally fine for advisers to say, "Your hubbie sounds like a douche, but your description could also describe an Aspie who may be erring out of a combination of social ignorance and atypical brain function. Perhaps consider biological causes before deciding he's just a grade-A asshole."

The upshot is that many people who are part of the neurodiverse community don't respond to non-verbal communications well (this is my "OMG-so-bored face") but can learn how to function in the context of a relationship as long as everybody knows what's going on and is making a reasonable effort.

It's also reasonable, when evidence supports, to suggest stress, depression, or bipolar disorder, etc. as considerations/rule-outs for behavioral problems. They are, in the medical lingo, differentials. If they are possible causes of the described situation, it's not wrong to acknowledge mental health as a potential contributing factor in these situations.
@15: A "sausage fest" at 140 IQ? Hardly. 140 is smart, but hardly unicorn smart. (Full disclosure: I am female and my IQ was 138 when tested as a child. I am sure I know lots of people, male and female, who are "as smart" as me.) For real data (not my anecdotal data), check out Dykiert et al 2008, "Are apparent sex differences in mean IQ scores created in part by sample restriction and increased male variance?" In the IQ bands she examined (which only go up to >135), there are only 10-20% more men in the highest band. Six men to every five women does not "a sausage fest" make (although I admit the picture may look very different for IQs above 170).
@13: Neither Dan nor 'Prudie' brought up Asperger's. And if you'd take the time, you'd find that none of 'Prudie's' commenters mentioned it, either. (Although they did bring up the SLLOTD.)
@16: Go back and look at the comment thread for the original post. A full quarter of the comments were saying Asbergers, and most of those weren't saying it was a possibility, but that it was probable or definite. That is 1/4 of the comments just straight up spewing BS.

If Aspergers was brought up sparingly and thoughtfully that would be one thing, but it's almost like it's become a badge of honor for columnists (I'm talking about Prudie here) and commenters to go straight to Asbergers like it's some kind of mark about how knowledgeable they are by dispensing this information. It just comes off as incredibly shallow and boring to me.
@18: I never said Dan or Prudie or Prudie's commenters brought up Aspergers. I was talking about commenters in Dan's original post yesterday.

But if you want to see one BS Asperger "diagnosis" after another, all you have to do is read through Prudie's archives. There was a period where it was hard to go a single column without one, which ended after she was called on it by her readers.
Oh, look. Another guy with a computer science degree who holds forth on economics. It's always economics, never horticulture or surfing or Sumerian history. Usually Austrian economics.

Maybe CS leads to economics because they're both dismal sciences. I dunno.
@9 Don't forget Mr. "Toupee with ponytail, sunglasses to hide the eye bags and crows feet, ridiculously-high-collar-to-hide-the-turkey-neck and driving gloves to hide the arthritic hands" Lagerfeld and his 'muse'. No more ridiculous a fool than an old (horny) fool.
It's a bit ridiculous to assume that because the SLLOTD writer's husband is a gifted computer programmer, the non-programmer wife must be a hot but dumb younger woman who only likes reality TV (as described in the Prudence letter). We don't know anything about the previous letter writer's age, appearance or specific interests. There are many intermediate points between "math genius" and "idiot bimbo." & there are many ways of being intelligent that don't involve math, computers or economics (although some computer programmers don't seem to realize this).

I would agree that it's foolish for a commenter to be certain they have diagnosed someone via letter. But fetishistically insisting on a ban on mentioning psychological diagnoses is equally foolish. Disorders do have warning signs and telltale hints that someone may have them. If a letter writer said her boyfriend had lost all joy in life, was barely eating and staying in bed 14 hours a day, many commenters would conclude he's suffering from depression & should seek psychological help. For that matter, if we heard someone was suffering from fever, nausea, headache and malaise, we'd conclude they might have the flu. This, even though we are "not doctors" and "aren't getting all the facts." Yes, internet commenters might be wrong. Since comments sections don't have the power to stop someone from seeing a real doctor (and for that matter, might encourage them to do so), I don't think that's a big deal.
@22 This guy?…
I've never seen him in anything but hotpants...
@23: It's one thing to think of depression when you have a description of a textbook case, it's another to read a letter that says "My husband talks too much and doesn't stop when I get bored" and scream ASBERGERS!!!!!!

And I never "fetishistically insisted" (WTF does that even mean?) on a ban of discussing psychological disorders . I said we need a moratorium on people jumping to the Asbergers conclusion anytime someone even slightly socially awkward is described. The Dear Prudence column got much more readable once the answer to every other letter stopped being "He probably has Asbergers, go see a doctor."

The fact of the matter is that Asbergers affects a vanishingly small proportion of the population. To constantly propose it as the answer when symptoms point to nothing more than normal social awkwardness both cheapens the diagnosis of those with the syndrome and makes people in forums such as this seem intellectually lazy (while thinking they're Clara fucking Barton or something).
@13-Calm one was diagnosing (at least in the comments I recall). Just bringing up legit possibility that might be worth exploring with professional help before jumping to "he's an asshole...DTMFA!"


Re: marrying hot and stupid. I guess a lot of men do this, but I'll never understand it. In my day I dated hot and crazy, hot and mean, hot and manipulative, hot and still "technically" married to the husband she neglected to mention until after we'd been sleeping together for a month...but I could never even stand date 1 with hot and stupid. But I guess I'm somewhat exceptional there...
There were certainly points of similarity, but Dan's couple come across as close to John and Gerda Christow, the brilliant doctor married to the self-effacing chump, while Prudie's pair seem more similar to Mr and Mrs Bennet:

"To his wife he was very little otherwise indebted, than as her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement. This is not the sort of happiness which a man would in general wish to owe to his wife; but where other powers of entertainment are wanting, the true philosopher will derive benefit from such as are given."

My father and stepmother have been in a smart guy/idiot bimbo marriage for 25 years. I cannot imagine how he's managed to sit across the breakfast table from her for so long; the stupid makes me crazy in less than five minutes.
@24 Yep, that's our man and his 'muse'. Hot pants? Mon dieu! Maybe he has had to switch to long pants to cover up the wrinkly old man legs. I think he will soon be wearing a burka. I really don't know how anyone at his age could have sex with someone young enough to be their great-grandson without some sense of mortification, class, compassion, shame, acting like a taser on that gnarled claw before it touches him. But maybe the sunglasses block out more than sunlight.
Oops, sorry, photo didn't load properly and I only got the heads. That's a relief that you meant the 'muse', the idea of Karl in hot pants makes my brain curdle. Karl often poses his 'muse' nude except for 9" stilettos. If I had calves like that, I would stick to pants.
@30 Hah, yeah, Karl in hotpants would be a crime against nature... Sweet avatar, btw.
Scotsmen: Keeping kids in therapy since 1329.
Erm, we have no way of knowing that the woman in the letter to Prudence is actually stupid or dumb. We only have his side of the story, and he describes her as being someone for whom "[he has] not an iota of intellectual respect." That's at least as likely to mean that he's an intellectual snob as that that she's actually dumb.

As for Asperger's, I think the behaviour of the guy in the letter to Dan screams it (I either have Asperger's myself or something so similar that it makes no difference), while there's nothing about the guy in the letter to Prudence that suggests it to me.
@ people who "can't imagine what they talk about"
I'm a fairly smart academic-type guy married to a non-academic woman. I don't think she's dumb, but her school performance was significantly weaker than mine, and she is not interested in the philosophy/politics/economics/linguistics that I'm interested in. What do we talk about? We gossip. We spend hours dissecting our respective families and friends, and snarkily congratulating each other on being so much more together than everyone around us. Occasionally we even manage to laugh at our own smugness.
I think when it comes to understanding people, no-one is any smarter than anyone else. I'm certainly no smarter in this respect than Ann. So we capitalise on what we have in common.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, spell the fucking word correctly: it's Asperger's. Not Asberger's. Now go munch on an ass burger and give it a fucking rest for a while.
Except for the tech references, I see this as being the exact letter Salman Rushdie would have written one year into his marriage with Padma Lakshmi.

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