Natalie at Baggage Reclaim writes about the hazards of letting an intelligent person dazzle you into thinking they are capable or even healthy enough, emotionally, to be a sound relationship partner, The Trouble With Being Blinded By Intelligence in Dating.
Reading this article, the word that comes to mind is fealty. Fealty, swearing loyalty, service, and devotion to one who is your social and governmental superior, doesn’t make for a take-home-to-mother relationship.
Yet devoting yourself (as opposed to taking a partner with) to someone because they are accomplished in business, in government, in looks or media exposure, in science or intelligence or a great reputation as a sex partner for lots and lots of people(?This would be a good thing, if you wanted a keeper??) — this smacks of fealty, of a gift of your devotion and service that the ‘superior’ will use you with respect.
Just as with many other relationship errors, choosing an intelligent partner because they are intelligent (and not because they are interested in making a family and home with you, that they have many good and healthy emotional ties in their lives, that the are honest, respectful, that they are respected and trusted in their community, and that they live the difference between humor and joy in their lives, and increase your joy, comfort, and security, etc.) — the intelligent person that is aware of their intelligence may well pick and choose who they will learn from. They may have settled on ‘must have an advanced college degree’ to be worth hearing, they may only hear what people say if it agrees with their own understanding — or only learn from books or the internet. And that could well blind them to problems with their lives, or with whoever they are with. By relying on ‘references’ instead of their own experiences, they may even be unable to learn from their mistakes, outside of their chosen field (and sometimes within their field as well — bringing the spectre of deep-seated anger to their relationships).
As for ‘avoid intelligent people’, that is horrible as well. By picking someone that is lacking in so-called normal attributes or abilities, you display a degree of disrespect, of arrogant “I will care for you, poor thing” superiority that you poison the relationship before you start. That is also something that shouldn’t happen to someone that is emotionally available, because you start out throwing up barriers, excuses why you never get close to the (inferior?) one, nor let them get close to you.
I recall an Ann Landers column from several decades ago. A woman wrote that her husband, and engineer, was so intelligent that she didn’t understand much of what he said. The advice to this lady was that only the speaker can improve communication — there is nothing the one hearing can do to make the words or delivery more understandable. And the advice stated something about, “If he is so intelligent, he should be able to talk so she could understand.” Which sounds nice, and defensive. And frees the lady with the problem from feeling guilty. She might take this advice, and confront her husband with “There is a problem. What can we do about it?” Of course, she could also note the words and topics she doesn’t understand, and look them up in the expectation she might improve her worth to her husband as a partner. At the same time, if she isn’t understanding him — has he given up communicating to her? Are there values and goals she has failed to communicate to him, that he is content to leave her out of so much of his thinking and his life?
The time when ‘too intelligent to talk to’ was an accepted part of home life should be well in the past, but it isn’t. Inviting refusals and inabilities to communicate and barriers to respect into a relationship should be well understood today. Maybe we can teach today’s children better, and help our friends to find more satisfaction and joy in relationships.
Thanks for a great post, Natalie.