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Sheldon

When you’re a Geek, Nerd, or some other version of Intellectual Badass (IB), you’re going to date people who aren’t as smart as you. You may out-brain them in your specific area of expertise; or, in some cases, your may outsmart them in many areas. Whether or not this is a problem in terms of compatibility, only time will tell. However, if you want to succeed at dating (and – down the road – at a relationship), there are certain guidelines any IB must consider:

Avoid being a know-it-all. Some IBs are like human encyclopedias. You can be sitting at dinner, drinking wine, and this person will go on and on about the science behind winemaking. Or, no matter what topic you bring up, this person knows more about it and wants to make sure you know that. So how do you share your knowledge, which the right person will find fascinating, without boring or annoying them? Start small – make a comment about why hot days and cool evenings make for better wine. If they’re really into it, they’ll ask for more. But even then, don’t go on and on.

Avoid talking down to your date. Yes, at some point you will date someone who says something you disagree with or, even more challenging, something that’s just plain wrong. But there’s a fine line between standing by your beliefs and talking down to someone. It’s perfectly okay to make your stance known or to offer your brief argument – but the moment you descend into criticizing their beliefs (no matter how ignorant) or behaving like you’re the wise one, you’re finished. Don’t be a Sheldon Cooper – he’s hilarious on TV, but in real life he’d be an intolerable jerk.

Avoid correcting others. Perhaps she says she feels “nauseous” after eating so much, when she should have said “nauseated.” Yes, that’s wrong. But I recommend you let it go. Why? Cost-benefit: the benefit of showing her the correct word will always fall short of the cost of having made her feel self-conscious. You never want to make someone feel stupid. Smart IBs do the opposite – make their date feel special. It’s okay to use the correct term when you ask her if she’s still feeling nauseated, but avoid correcting. Once you correct someone, you cease being their date and become their teacher or parent. Game over.

Avoid trying to be right. Another temptation when you’re an IB is the desire to be right. Smart people often feel they’ve earned their knowledge through diligent hard work, and it’s annoying to have someone – especially someone who doesn’t know as much – tout a misinformed opinion. What can start as a fun intellectual debate can turn into an irritating argument. Here’s the deal – people who think they’re right aren’t always right. Even if they are, trying to convince someone else you’re right is a total waste of time and only makes them more resistant. Instead, make your point, but respectfully let them have their opinion. Believe me – if you do, they may still be around to eventually realize you’re right (if you actually are!).

Remember, your intellect is one of your most powerful assets. Don’t let it become a liability. The smarter you are, the more you need to make dates feel comfortable in your presence.