Men say they want to meet smart women—until they actually meet them.

That’s the upshot of a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that has women everywhere sighing, “Jeez, what’s up with you guys?”

In the first part of the study, men either 1) read about women who’d scored higher or lower on a test than a random guy, or 2) took a (fake) IQ test, then were asked if they’d like to meet women who’d scored better or worse than they had. In both cases, most said they’d like to meet—even date—the smarter women. But later in the study, guys met the woman first, rated her on attractiveness, took a math test with her at the next desk—then learned her score.

Result: If she’d beat him, most guys showed signs of feeling threatened—distancing themselves (even moving their chairs away!), rating her suddenly less attractive, and losing interest in dating.

This would never happen to you, of course—but in case you’ve got an insecure buddy: “If a guy truly wants someone smart,” says the study’s Lora Park, Ph.D., “he can support her accomplishments and respond by being impressed rather than feeling threatened—it’s a win-win.” That’s if he—your buddy—is up to the challenge. 

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