Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends shared an interesting article called Dating While Smart from Clutch Magazine. If you haven’t read the article, you can check it out here. In the article, the author Kalisha Buckhanon laments about the trouble she has experienced in finding a man who could appreciate her intellect and her interesting life experiences. In addition to being a novelist, she is an avid reader who enjoys world travel and fine food. In the end, I decided that the gap that she described between her and potential suitors was not the result of her heightened intellect, but was a clear case of basic incompatibility.
Since Kalisha Buckhanon did not quite get to issues that occur from dating while smart, I figured I would come up of a list of five of my own.
1. We overthink everything.
It’s true. We analyze everything. Things are often a lot more simple than we like to make them. Case in point, Kalisha Buckhanon’s article. As many of the commentators pointed out, her lifestyle as a writer whose favorite hobbies include watching Jeopardy, conversing about obscure literary references, and eating exotic international food may not be all that appealing to some men. However, Buckhanon immediately attempted to tie these issues in with her intelligence. I have plenty of friends who regularly overthink routine issues from outfits for parties to facial expressions from friends. It’s just a part of life I guess, but it does not make dating any easier. Thankfully, I have people in my life who will let me know when I am going too far with my constant analysis.
2. We are often not as well-rounded as we think we are, but we place the blame on others.
People who are perceived as intelligent often pursue higher levels of education. With those higher levels of education come higher levels of specialization. As a result, our favorite conversations are often key issues that only people in our field of specialty would understand. Kalisha Buckhanon described how she has a group of female writer friends who understand her. That’s great, but the reality is that they only understand her because they are writers like like she is. Sometimes we forget that we are not all that well-rounded because we surround ourselves with people with similar interests. Then when we meet people whose interests are legitimately different from our own, we write them off instead of embracing the opportunity to try to understand someone new. I should know. In a lot of ways, that’s the story of my life. I’m often the guy with distinct interests (from common mainstays like partying and picking up women without the desire to build a relationship) who gets labeled negatively (like Buckhanon labeled her potential suitors) because my efforts to understand others just aren’t perceived as good enough.
3. We can be judgmental.
This is related to #2. We are quick to put people down who are not like us. It is not always intentional, but it happens a lot. That is why we are often likely to be picky daters. We tend to have trouble finding people who meet our often high standards. Sure those high standards are likely responsible for any success we have attained. They have also kept us out of a lot of trouble. At the same time, we seem to forget that our relationship paths are just not as straightforward as our career paths because people are complicated.
4. Our life decisions are often misunderstood.
Those of you who read this blog last year remember the story of my brief relationship. Long story short, I ended up dating someone who didn’t quite understand my career path. She accused me of having low faith and pretty much called me lazy because I was supplementing my graduate school income with student loans. It wasn’t purely a matter of intelligence. After all, she had a master’s degree. She just could not understand why my money was always tight in spite of the amount of education I had obtained. Therefore, she figured that I must have been secretly irresponsible in some way. Yes, this is related to #3. Because we tend to be judgmental, we always think we know better even when the facts suggest otherwise. If you doubt me, just check out the amount of shade Kalicka Buckhanon threw when describing her ex’s use of social networking in order to advance his music career.
Judgmental exes aside, I often find people do not understand why I am in pursuit of this PhD when I could already have a job that pays a decent salary with my current level of education–especially considering my student loan debt. I have observed the same phenomenon with some of my friends who have chosen to return to school to change careers in spite of their current successes. The answer is that it takes a lot of effort to reach the necessary level of education for me to live one’s dreams.
5. We often have trouble admitting when we’re wrong.
A big part of #3 is that once we make up our minds about someone or something, it is difficult for us to change them. As I mentioned in the previous section, my ex-girlfriend made up her mind that I was irresponsible and still probably thinks she’s right. Kalicka Buckhanon made up her mind that the guy she was dating was intimidated by her intelligence and still thinks she’s right. I’ll admit that I regularly have to check myself to make sure that I’m not unfairly pigeonholing someone in part because I have been there and I know how frustrating that can be.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. What would you add? I know that this list focused primarily on negative aspects of dating while smart. What are some positives?