I am attracted to smart people, is that a problem?

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Many people find something exhilarating about dating someone particularly smart. They find it easier to respect the person and take them seriously. They find the conversation is more stimulating and engaging. Where it gets complicated is when people also want – or more likely need – other features in their spouse which do not necessarily go hand-in-glove with intellectual brilliance.

Highlights from the article

Attraction is a highly individual matter. If you find a particular feature attractive, so be it. Other people may not “get” what you attractive about that feature, but that is really no one’s business. If you find eyeglasses or redheads attractive, that is your prerogative. Some say that it is not possible to control what you are attracted to, which is only partially true. The real issue is that, for the most part, it does not matter. There are enough people who wear eyeglasses or who are redheads to ensure you will find someone to suit your preference.

If you have a rare preference, you may wish to consider what level of difficulty this may add to your goal of finding someone to marry. If you have more than one rare preference, this could reduce your statistical chances of finding someone suitable to a fraction of one percent. Reasonable people will soon realize that the goal of dating is to get enough of what you want, and in particular to ensure you get the features that truly matter to you. All this is pretty obvious.

What is your logic?

However, there are people who insist on looking for someone with a dominant feature that might be readily available but on a misguided basis. Lacking understanding about how relationships work, some people pursue a match that may seem appealing to them but is psychologically unsuitable. A classic example is when strong-willed people think they have to marry someone equally or stronger-willed than themselves. It rarely works. And is a pretty poor idea. Such a combination is likely to result in a rocky marriage and it increases the chances of children produced by this marriage having behavioral issues. The question is whether something similar applies when it comes to people wanting to only date highly intelligent people?

The answer is an unsatisfying “sometimes”. Many people find something exhilarating about dating someone particularly smart. They find it easier to respect the person and take them seriously. They find the conversation is more stimulating and engaging; they are less easily bored. In general, they find intelligence to be attractive. You may not have the same preference, but it should be possible for most people to understand how cleverness is something that may be viewed as appealing in a person.

So far, so good. Where it gets complicated is when people also want – or more likely need – other features in their spouse which do not necessarily go hand-in-glove with intellectual brilliance. Here is where the fixation with intelligence starts running into trouble.

If being smart is your main high-level demand, that should not pose too many problems. But if on top of that you have particular expectations for appearance, and you also are very particular about the person’s family background, and to top it off you have some very fixed ideas about their personality – this could all start to get rather complicated. This is especially true because certain personality traits are more commonly found in highly intelligent people and others less so. A preponderance of highly intelligent people are cerebral in nature – surely, this is not a shock – and this means often less warm and empathetic.

True, there are many exceptions to this rule, but it is still reasonable to consider that statistical probabilities matter. If your top priority is to find someone who is highly sociable, it is fair to note that people whose greatest strength is their mind are not noted for their sociability. Of course, it is possible that someone is high in both intelligence and sociability, but this is relatively uncommon. If on top of that, there a range of other particular demands, your dating “recipe” starts to look unworkable.

People need to understand that the art of dating is getting the very best “deal” that you can get, but not pursue so good a “deal” that puts the goal out of reach. Even if you regard yourself as a “major catch” (something studies show we often overestimate), the math still gets difficult when a wide variety of not particularly synergistic demands are put into the mix. It is easily possible to place one demand too many, and the plan collapses under the weight of its own absurdity. In short, there is nothing wrong with wanting someone smart if that truly matters to you. But it will run into trouble if there are a range of other expectations. Especially if those are not particularly common among that cohort.

Is intellectual brilliance an asset in relationships?

While everyone has a right to determine what they find attractive, there is something about the focus on intelligence that is sometimes misguided. Speaking to people for whom this is important, it is often apparent that they imagine that the kind of intelligence they are drawn to is going to play a much greater role in their marriage than is actually likely. Mostly, when people are looking for someone “smart,” they do not mean high IQ. Rather, then mean either intellectual or learned. They labor under a significant misapprehension about what their life is likely to be like once actually married. They are much less likely to have intellectual or learned interaction than their naïve imagination conjures up for them.

It is worth contemplating whether the importance you are placing on meeting something academically brilliant is grounded on a sound understanding of the kind of relationship you are seeking to have, or whether it is based on an unrealistic perception of what really matters in a relationship. Without trying to downplay the stimulating interactions that are possible within a marriage, it is worth being honest about the fact that the hustle and bustle of life typically involves more prosaic items of intra-couple communication. We can be very idealistic about what our marriage will be like, but scholarly pursuits typically rank very low in terms of marital conversations.

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