Day 11: Dating When You’re Smart: Intellectually Gifted… or Intellectually Superior?2
So you’re single. And smart. You have a solid intellect, a collection of knowledge, and perhaps you even have an area of specialized knowledge, where you know more about human physiology, the guts of a computer, or the inner workings of the gas turbine engine than the vast majority of other humans. In other words, you have badass knowledge.
Does this badass knowledge help you attract people? Sure. People are impressed by education, by expertise. Who doesn’t like someone smart, knowledgeable, even erudite? I know I do. When watched the show Friends, I wanted to hear everything Ross had to say about paleontology, while some of his friends rolled their eyes. But there were times when Ross was more dogmatic than educational, and it annoyed people. And like I talked about on Day 10, people care more about how you make them feel than what you know.
When you’re smart, and/or you’ve spent years – even decades – collecting a body of knowledge and immersing yourself in it, it’s easy to begin to think that what you know is the Indisputable Truth.
I once knew a guy who decided he was going to go to med school, took his first biology class, and learned what all biology students must learn: the Krebs cycle. After years of bio classes in college, I knew about the number of ATPs the cycle generated. High on his new knowledge, this guy argued with me, insisting on the ATP number he’d learned in class. He would barely listen to me explain that the number is an estimate. He was too busy being a know-it-all.
Did you ever see the episode of Big Bang Theory where Leonard, a scientist, got in an argument with Penny because she believed in astrology and he thought it was stupid? To him, there were only 2 options: he was right, or she was.
I’ve run across a few articles, written by single scientists, on how to date a scientist. Most of the advice was good; however, several of them went askew by warning that they, as scientists with PhDs, would exercise their right to be arrogant know-it-alls. Some used those words; others called it “being honest” or “being themselves.” They made it clear that if you dated a scientist, you must accept that they’ll tell you outright that alternative medicine is crap or that only “idiots” believe in God.
Apparently, some scientists are so immersed in science that they cannot fathom any other way of thinking. They’ve forgotten how to differentiate ”truth” from “empirical evidence.”
It’s not just scientists. How many of you IBs have strong ideas about religion, about the role of government, about whether humans are intended to eat meat or intended to be monogamous? The problem is, no matter what you believe, there are others – including other smart people – who disagree.
“So, What… Compromise What I Believe In??”
Am I suggesting that you compromise you beliefs? No. Am I suggesting that you hide your knowledge or pretend to agree when your date says something you disagree with? No, no, no. Like I talked about on Day 3, you must own your unique awesomeness, and that includes your knowledge and beliefs. But there’s a difference between standing by your beliefs and looking down on others for theirs.
If you’re an Intellectual Badass and you want to succeed at dating, you must keep an eye on your social skills. And part of social skills is knowing how to be smart, even brilliant, without coming off like a condescending ass-munch. Many IBs have no problem with this; but others struggle.
How to Avoid Turning People Off
- Don’t criticize. If your date loves astrology, don’t say you think it’s stupid. That’s effectively saying, “You’re stupid.” Even if you think the person is stupid, what possible gain comes from conveying that, from feeling superior at someone else’s expense?
- Let people be who they are. You can stand by your beliefs, but let others do the same. What Leonard should have said is, “Hey, Penny… I don’t believe in astrology. If you want to know why, I’ll tell you. But if you believe in it, that’s fine.” Stand by your beliefs, but let others have theirs. They’ll love you for it; moreover, they’ll be more open to hearing your point of view.
- Don’t try to be right. If your date insists acupuncture is the shiznet and you think it’s holistic hooey, you can offer your point of view, but avoid trying to prove you’re right or otherwise convince them. This is a date, not a courtroom. A confident person doesn’t need to convince others.
- Avoid debates. Once you’ve engaged in debate on a date, you’ve made the decision that you don’t plan to continue seeing this person. Debating says, “I care more about being right than I do about getting to know you.” Yeah, good luck with that.
Remember, dating is about connecting with someone. To do this, you want to be yourself and show who you are, but you also want to make others feel comfortable and valued in your presence. Sure, people whose beliefs differ too much from yours aren’t going to be good matches for you anyway. But you don’t want to ruin a potentially good match by arguing with someone over some trivial point.
Remember, whether IB or not, a truly confident person doesn’t have to prove anything or convince anyone.
What say you? Have you ever met someone who cared more about being right than hearing your point of view?
Also, here’s a recap of 30 Days of Dating Advice for Intellectual Badasses…