Social Question

Facade's avatar

If your spouse was less intelligent than you, would you be comfortable with it?

Asked by Facade (22902points) March 20th, 2011

Or uncomfortable? Somewhere in the middle?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

74 Answers

12Oaks's avatar

As a part of our prenuptial agreement, we both had a blood test and an IQ test. It showed we are likely to have good, healthy babies and both of our IQs are 186. That’s a good thing.

TexasDude's avatar

I would not be comfortable with it. At all.

I thrive on intellectual connections. I can’t be happy in any kind of romantic relationship unless my partner is as smart as me, or even smarter. This gets me in trouble sometimes.

Summum's avatar

Who is to say that either is more intellegent than the other. What if the other sees things that you cannot, does that make him wrong?

Summum's avatar

Smart of smarter is a judgement and cannot be used in seeing another because we have no idea which is the case.

Coloma's avatar


I think that less than balanced intellectual match is bound to lead to frustration.
I know it did in my marriage, and while not the only issue, it was part of a great amount of frustration on my behalf.

Opposites attract is almost always pathology at play,haha
We are much better suited to those that share core traits.

It’s not so much judging anothers intelligence as it is looking at being ’ equally yoked’ with someone for optimum success rate.

JmacOroni's avatar

This really depends.
My husband isn’t what most people would consider “book smart.” He doesn’t give a shit about current events, he never paid attention in school, and he wouldn’t read an actual book if you paid him.
However, street smarts? He blows me out of the water. He has more common sense and general street smarts than most people that I know, he teaches me new things all the time. I think it gives us a nice balance, and I don’t find it frustrating at all.
However, if I want to talk about science or the news or have a heated religious debate, I definitely go elsewhere. Like to Fluther, for example.

BarnacleBill's avatar

There are people with high IQs that are less intelligent than people with average IQs. Emotional intelligence is perhaps more important than intellectual intelligence in a relationship.

Summum's avatar

What is intellegence but a way to judge another in their efforts at life???

Randy's avatar

I would have a problem being with someone that I basically thought was stupid. Everyone has dumb moments but stupidity gets very annoying to me, personally.

Edit: I should point out that even though I’d be quick to jump ship with someone that I thought was less intelligent than myself, I’d fall harder for someone that I though was more intelligent. I’m basically a hypocrite in this department.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes, i’d be fine with it. I don’t judge people on any single factor – I’m not that stupid.

filmfann's avatar

My wife is much more intelligent than I am, but because she was born deaf, it has been harder for her.
I am smarter than she is, but only because it has been much easier for me to learn things.

janbb's avatar

I would have trouble being with someone I perceived to be intellectually my inferior.

Summum's avatar

Again I would say drop the judgements and love the person for who they are and not what they do.

Facade's avatar

@Summum Four posts and you have yet to answer the actual question…

Summum's avatar

Because honestly there is no answer… I am intelegent on things that I am intelegent on and my wife is intelegent on her things. We are not better than each other there is no judgement to be made.

Seelix's avatar

I wouldn’t be comfortable if the difference were such that it would be noticeable on a day-to-day basis. There are some things (academically) that I’m better at, like spelling and general grammar stuff. I edit Mr. Fiance’s papers for him, and there’s often a lot of correction to be made. But he’s better at memorizing facts and dates than I am, and at explaining concepts (he’s a history major and will make an excellent teacher).

I don’t think he’s less intelligent than I am, but he’s intelligent in a different way. His grades aren’t as good as mine, but I think that, in general, he knows more about more things than I do.

Anyway, I know my relationship would suffer if I were with someone with whom I couldn’t discuss current events, movies (or “films”, if you like) and books. I briefly dated a guy a million years ago who wasn’t all that intelligent, and although we got along well and were attracted to each other, we didn’t talk a whole lot about things that matter. I hope that makes sense :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, I wouldn’t be and I wasn’t and I left him.

downtide's avatar

No. It would be hard to get less intelligent than me without actually being clinically stupid.

stardust's avatar

I’d like to be with someone that I can discuss the things I’m passionate about with. I’d need that someone to get me so we’d need need to be on the same wavelength

jerv's avatar

That depends on the IQ gap. I am quite comfortable with my wife who, while still well above average, isn’t at my level intellectually. Then again, she has more common sense than me, so we’re more evenly matched than you’d think.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Less educated is not a problem with me as long as they are also emotionally mature, have a lot of common sense and practicality.

12Oaks's avatar

@Neizvestnaya The question wondered about being less intelligent, not less educated. Two totally different things.

Jude's avatar

I don’t think that English is @Summum ‘s first language. Leave him/her alone.

My girl and I are equal, I would say. But, to answer your question, I would have to agree with @janbb .

incendiary_dan's avatar

I’d be really, really bored. I doubt I’d last that long with someone less intelligent than me. But of course, I’m an intellectual. Non-intellectually minded people probably wouldn’t care.

tinyfaery's avatar

During almost 10 years of marriage, I have noticed that very little of what makes me love my wife and what makes our relationship successful is based upon our individual intelligences. Actually, except during games and such, how intelligence she is (or I am) means nothing to me, nor does it affect our daily lives.

Anyhow, my wife is so much smarter than I am. I just hope her ego is strong enough to have a partner less intelligent than she. It is.

marinelife's avatar

They would not have become my spouse.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@12Oaks: See why I’m not worried about my spouse?~

KatawaGrey's avatar

I rarely have an opportunity to date someone less intelligent than I. I get bored very easily so I need someone who can keep up with me on many levels. That being said, intelligence on many levels is important to me. You can be a Nobel Prize winner but if you lack compassion, then I don’t have time for you. Similarly, if you are chock full of compassion but not smart enough to do anything about your compassion, I may be friends with you, but I probably have no interest in you romantically.

I think the most important thing as far as intelligence is concerned is the ability to learn and/or change, even if it is slowly. My current boyfriend is the kind of person who takes time to think things through and evaluate everything before making any sort of change in his life. This can infuriating, just because it takes so damn long but when he does make a major change, it is always for the better and it is almost always permanent. He’s also one of those who is smart enough to listen to a fresh perspective when it makes sense. I can’t tell you how many things he’s realized about his family just by talking them out with me.

nikipedia's avatar

I only want to be involved with people who expand me and improve me. If I married someone less intelligent that would be a huge problem.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My marriage is similar to @JmacOroni.‘s My husband is not book smart and can’t spell worth a damn. BUT, he can spout historical facts like nobody’s business, has an extensive mental collection of quirky trivia tidbits, passed an extremely difficult state board exam on his first try (which is damn near unheard of) to get his Master’s plumbing license and now succesfully co-owns/runs a plumbing company.

What he lacks in vocabulary, spelling, reading, etc…, he more than makes up for in other ways. He’s kind of like a non-genius genius. He’s also amazingly witty with one liners that have everyone laughing hysterically.

wundayatta's avatar

What is intelligence?

I want someone I can talk to and respect. I want creativity. I want someone who can lead me places I’ve never been. These things are very important to me. I don’t know if they measure these things on intelligence tests, but I would think not.

I don’t go looking for people who can score well on tests. I despise intelligence tests. I go looking for someone who I can have fun with and be interested in, forever.

AmWiser's avatar

Yes I could.
Individuals differ from one another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought. Although these individual differences can be substantial, they are never entirely consistent: a given person’s intellectual performance will vary on different occasions, in different domains, as judged by different criteria. Concepts of “intelligence” are attempts to clarify and organize this complex set of phenomena. Although considerable clarity has been achieved in some areas, no such conceptualization has yet answered all the important questions, and none commands universal assent. Indeed, when two dozen prominent theorists were recently asked to define intelligence, they gave two dozen, somewhat different, definitions

Judi's avatar

My hubby and I are smart in different areas. I can read him directions to put something together and not have a clue. He totally gets it. If he tries to read it himself he has a hard time.
He can look at a map and point to every spot from the sky or the ground. I need written directions.
I can write an eloquent letter, he can add things up in his head almost as fast as a calculator.
Together we compliment each other.
I may not be able to discuss literature with him, but he can build anything.
We are a great team and I would never want to be with someone just like me. I would be missing out on so much.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Judi: That is very true. Being smart in different ways may be frustrating at times but can ultimately be a great asset to a relationship. My boyfriend and I are similar in that he is freakishly observant of everything around him but has no idea what to do with the information once he has it when it comes to people. I am very good at figuring out what’s going with people based on information I have. More than once, he’ll come to me and tell me all about a new person he just met and I’ll say, “Oh, I bet that’s why she’s like this,” and he’ll have no idea how I came to that conclusion. We sort of pick up where the other leaves off. :)

YARNLADY's avatar

Intelligence is not a finite thing. Most people are more intelligent about some things, and less in other ways. No one should, or could, measure it.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

No. I’ve been with partners who were not intellectually stimulating, and it really didn’t work. I don’t put much stock in IQ tests, and I’m fine with them being better in other areas but not as good in other areas as I am. I’d rather they be in the same range as I am – same with EQ.

Shegrin's avatar

I’m naturally talented in Language Arts and he’s really talented with a table saw and a drill. He’s as smart as I am, but has to occasionally ask how to spell something. Also, he has a 10% Rule, which absolutely makes sense but is difficult for me to remember when I need it most. The rule, you ask?

You must be at least 10% smarter than whatever you’re working with to get a positive result.

So, yeah, intelligence is relative to the situation or task at hand.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@12Oaks Oh, wow. What percentile were you guys in?

Haleth's avatar

People have different ways of showing their intelligence. I’m bookish and artsy and my S.O. is very people-smart and socially savvy. It works for us because we can both learn things from each other that enrich the relationship.

On the other hand, I had an ex who was very right-brained and not much of a people person. His greatest area of intelligence was engineering and he played a lot of tactical video games. He was obviously very smart, but I didn’t think he was creative enough and he didn’t think I was logical enough. In the end we didn’t have much common ground.

Electra's avatar

I’m smarter than he is, but both of us are Mensa level material and I’m a member and we both have the same educational standing (well almost—he has doctorate and I’m about to receive mine).

So, I think the level of the disparity is what’s important; if she’s a doctor and he’s a construction worker, it’s probably not going to work out.

augustlan's avatar

I’d have to be with someone who is at least in the same ballpark. We don’t have to be smart in the same ways, but there should be some overlap.

12Oaks's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Seeing we’re still married and going on 20 years, would say the top, oh, 2% or so.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@12Oaks Lol, no – IQ percentile.

SuperMouse's avatar

I’m with @wundayatta in that it really isn’t about IQ, it is about how we relate to one another.on an intellectual level. It really didn’t matter how smart my ex was, we had no place to meet when it came to conversation, banter, or debate. I need to be with someone with whom I can relate comfortably on every level.

I would not consider having someone with whom I planned to have children take on IQ test mostly because I am sure that their attractiveness to me is based in large part on our intellectual connection. Also because I would be marrying an grown up and it is a fact that IQ tests are most reliable when administered to children and are skewed heavily toward folks who learn in a very traditional linguistic/logical manner.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Hey, @SuperMouse , why are you here instead of yelling and throwing things at people because of nerves? BTW, I think Fluthering is a much more constructive use of your time! ;-)

SuperMouse's avatar

@JilltheTooth Mr. Mouse is plannning the entire thing and according to his son he is turning into Groomzilla. That’s my man!

JilltheTooth's avatar

I love him for that! Have the loveliest wedding ever!

OpryLeigh's avatar

I love the fact that my boyfriend (who is quite a lot older than me so has more life experience) is intelligent but we are both equally intelligent in different areas. He’s the science and maths geek, neither of which I am any good at. However, I am more knowledgable when it comes to things like history and the arts. He doesn’t enjoy reading (I believe he may be dyslexic from what he tells me about his reading troubles but he hasn’t been diagnosed) so, by default, I am more knowledgable about litrature too.

I think we have the perfect balance. I would probably be irritated by someone who was less intelligent than me, I’m much happier with someone who is equally or more intelligent.

Supacase's avatar

The match needs to be reasonably close, but compatibility is the key. The most intelligent man I dated was a perfect match for me intellectually and he was impressed by that. He would often say I was the smartest person he knew other than himself. Yes, he was so humble. It was also the most emotionally volatile relationship of my life. The degree of stimulation and emotional attachment was more than either of us could bear. He retreated, I moved closer; I retreated, he moved closer. To this day, he is the one I immediately want to discuss any major events with because I know it will be a fascinating conversation.

My husband frustrates me. I used to think it was because he wasn’t as smart, but one day he said something profound and it stunned me. I unintentionally insulted him by spouting out, “You do think about things!” God, how I wish he would engage in a real conversation. I bring up topics I see in the news and he is typically unresponsive. I crave intellectual debate and discussion and feel so unfulfilled in that area.

On the other hand, he can look at some things that I don’t know jack about and would probably take me years to fully grasp and just get it immediately. He just thinks differently than I do and is interested in different things.

The thing that pisses me the most is that he takes the long way to do everything. I can see a shorter, more efficient way of doing things and he won’t even consider it, especially if it is anything remotely “manly.” I have to research proof to show him that I know what I am talking about – it pisses me off no end! I think it is because it makes me feel like he thinks I am not smart enough… We were talking about concrete the other day and he made me list, step by step, exactly what I did when I said I helped my dad lay a slab when I was younger. Okay, I’m off topic. Sorry.

MissAnthrope's avatar

As has been mentioned.. 1) ‘Intelligence’ is many-faceted and 2) If the intelligence gap was too great, we would never make it out of the dating stage.

I am supersupersuper attracted to smart and witty women and my girlfriends have pretty much all been above average in intelligence. I’d say the best matches were the girls in the same intelligence ballpark, though—and I don’t know how to say this without sounding as if I’m full of myself—if pressed, I would have to say most of them were not my intellectual equal. My own IQ is well above average, but honestly, I don’t feel unusually intelligent most of the time. I also am very willing to admit there are many areas in which I suck badly, such as having terrible short-term memory, having negligible visualization and spatial skills, math is a challenge, etc. I don’t at all mind if my SO is better at some things than I am, either, and I welcome the opportunity to admire them for their skills. :)

Intelligence is important because my brain is always going, going and I need and enjoy intellectual stimulation. I especially enjoy sharing that kind of activity, through things like games or conversation, with my girlfriends. Witnessing them be brainy and clever is a kind of foreplay to me. :]

lonelydragon's avatar

I would prefer for us to be equal in intelligence, but gifted in different areas so that our strengths would complement each other’s weaknesses.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

This whole thread is kind of funny to me (being of average intelligence and all) because if most of the people feel they want someone of equal or greater intelligence than themselves then how on earth are they to find partners? I wonder if this expectation of partners has a hand in the dismal percentage of divorces citing “irreconcilable differences”?

I want to say to most people, farking get over yourselves but I also believe this is ingrained in most Americans of the past 50 years, that we must accept and respect no less than we think of our own selves. Is this a bit selfish and short sighted?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Well, the people who want someone less intelligent than they are probably wouldn’t enjoy being on Fluther, so the results may be a bit skewed.

janbb's avatar

I think there are different kinds of intelligences as many have pointed out and I was certainly not saying that we had to be exactly the same. My husband is a very rational engineer type; I am artsy and emotional. But just as I would not want a mate who wasn’t kind and humane, I wouldn’t want someone with whom I couldn’t converse and solve problems. It’s not snobbishness; it’s compatibility.

Summum's avatar

For many intellegence might be the factor they look for to be attracted but there are many that is not the case. I would say that we do tend to be attracted to that which stimulates not only our bodies but our minds and that is not to say one or the other is more intellegent. That is making a judgement about someone. There are different types and forms of Intellegence and who’s to say which is better than another?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs: I think it’s not anyone wants someone they think is less intelligent than they are, I think it’s some people don’t have an attitude they are more than their spouse/partner.

If my partner expects me to be more intelligent than he and I expect him to be more intelligent than me then neither of us will ever have any terms of understanding or acceptance because we’ll always see the other as lacking.

augustlan's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I don’t think most of us are saying that one or the other partner must be more intelligent. Just that the partners should be equals, and around the same level of intelligence.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I find it really interesting that talking openly and frankly about one’s intelligence is often not well-received. If I was a tennis expert, there would be no judgment if I openly discussed my abilities. Yet, if I’m good at brain stuff, it seems that I am not supposed to talk about it.

JmacOroni's avatar

@MissAnthrope I agree. I think I might have even asked a question about that on my old username.

Electra's avatar

@MissAnthrope: I get exactly where you’re coming from—if you tell the honest truth about your abilities upstairs, so to speak, you tend to get a lot of hostility for it on the Internet and even IRL—ESPECIALLY if you are a woman.

higherground's avatar

If I think that my spouse is less intelligent , then I am definitely not any better because I ought to be more loving and understanding when it comes to the person I love , even if it requires more effort .

wundayatta's avatar

Talking about your intelligence is foolish, boorish, and ill-advised. If you don’t know why, then that’s one reason why.

It is not at all clear what “intelligence” means, other than you can do well on tests. My son is the leader in his class in just about every subject and in terms of social leadership. Yet he scores below average on national standardized tests. Here’s a kid who has been thinking about cosmological concepts for years (he’s in fifth grade), and yet he can’t multiply or add, except on his fingers.

There is no test that measures intelligence that is any better. That’s mostly because whatever people are measuring when they measure intelligence leaves out too many people who are smarter than any of us. I wouldn’t brag.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I like to talk about language,science, physics and DINOSAURS; my wife couldn’t give a fuck. I’m an academic, and very much so oriented.

My wife makes money in a virtual world. I struggle to make enough in the one I was born in!

Am I smarter than her?


Electra's avatar

People who make defensive comments that amount to “IQ” tests don’t “really” matter in actuality have a real problem with a loved one or personally that we should all sympathize with. IJS. ;)

downtide's avatar

@the100thmonkey does your wife play Second Life?

augustlan's avatar

@wundayatta I wonder why people think it’s boorish to talk about your intelligence, but false modesty if you downplay it. It really does seem like you can’t win. Why is it any different than admitting that you are good at any other thing?

Also, just for the record, I don’t think most of us were actually copping to a particular level of intelligence… just saying we’d like to be with a mate of a similar level. That could mean my husband and I are both blithering idiots. :p

wundayatta's avatar

Why? Because it’s bragging. It’s asserting something for which there is no evidence. The evidence comes in the interaction, not in any test score. And it’s not up to an individual to decide where he or she is intelligent or not. It’s up to the person or people they are interacting with.

So that works both upwise and downwise. We have no business talking about ourselves or assessing ourselves. Of course, we have to do it for job interviews, but it seems to me that’s the only place it is appropriate. And even then…

The proof of intelligence is in the work you do, and until a person sees what work you can do, there’s no way to assess. Well, there could be documented history. That’s much better than what a person says about themselves. It’s also a much better predictor of success than “intelligence” is. I’ve met a lot of “intelligent” people who seem like assholes to me. No way would I consider them smart.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I don’t see it as bragging if it’s merely a statement of fact. ‘Bragging’ implies intent and a host of other things, including insecurity and self-aggrandizement. If it’s a general consensus from people I’ve met in my life that I’m great at languages, you wouldn’t say I was a braggart if I told you I was good at languages (or fixing things or playing soccer or singing or acting or swimming or knitting or….). You would accept my statement of fact. Why should general intelligence be any different? It’s a silly double standard.

wundayatta's avatar

I wouldn’t accept your word on any of that. I’d ask you to support it with evidence. I don’t expect anyone to believe anything I say about myself. I expect them to look at the evidence and make their own decisions.

Maybe there is a consensus about your linguistic abilities, but I don’t know about it. If you’re good at languages, you have to prove it. Either that, or someone independent of you has to lay that claim for you. Why do you think things like Angie’s List are so popular? It’s a way that people can get independent evidence about the qualities someone else possesses.

Now if it’s something like soccer or swimming or knitting that doesn’t affect my life, you can say what you want. But if I’m an opponent or on a team with you, you have to prove it. I’m not going to take your say-so when I don’t know you from Adam.

It’s not a fact. And the fact that you think it’s a fact is very worrisome to me. But fortunately, we’re on fluther, so no one can prove or disprove these facts. The only think I have evidence for is your writing. I can say you’re a good writer, or persuasive because I’ve seen what you write. Other than that, I don’t know anything about you. And that holds true for the vast majority of jellies as well.

esh_esha's avatar

There will be times I would be comfortable with it, and then there will also be times I would be uncomfortable with it – it ALL depends on the level of comfort I have with my own self. Intelligence is the innate ability we possess to make sense of the world around us, of life, of the reason we exist, of the purpose we have. Provided we are not born with or develop physiological and psychiatric impairments, we are all intelligent, and potentially greatly so. If I were more intelligent than my partner, I would work hard on helping him improve himself, and if I were to have days when I would have a problem with it, that would be because I myself would not feel in balance, and that would definitely be a temporary issue. The bottom line is that if your partner happened to be less intelligent than you, it is something workable because it was your choice and you need to take responsibility for it. But more importantly, a relationship is not a sparring intellectual debate, but a dynamic that is based on mutual agreement, interdependence and compassion, and of course LOVE.

the100thmonkey's avatar

@downtide – yes. Yes, she does.

downtide's avatar

@the100thmonkey cool. I’ve been on SL for about five years. Never made any money at it though. It was always too much like hard work.

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