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How important is intellectual compatibility in a relationship?
The answer is: it certainly benefits a relationship, but it’s not 100% essential.
There are countless examples of couples who are mismatched intellectually who nevertheless maintain a happy, healthy, and more importantly, sustainable partnership.
This is because compatibility functions in so many areas across relationships (emotional, spiritual, physical, social, etc.) that an exceptional bond in one area can easily outweigh a mismatch in another.
As a relationship develops, there are so many factors at play and different combinations of personality types need different stimulation to produce a fully-functioning relationship.
And then there’s the effect of good old-fashioned chemistry to add to mix!
However, the fact that you’ve clicked on this article suggests that you may be a person who instinctively feels that functioning on the same intellectual wavelength as your partner is important for you.
Perhaps you’re in a relationship now with someone who is outwardly a perfect fit, who treats you well, but there’s just something you can’t put your finger on which is keeping things superficial.
There’s no depth and no true connection.
This happens often enough when you’re navigating your way through the dating pool.
Trying to work out why your relationship lacks that ‘certain something’ may give you some peace of mind.
Making yourself aware of some of the signs of intellectual compatibility in a relationship, therefore, makes a lot of sense.
The more of these signs you see in your relationship, the more well-matched you and your partner actually are on an intellectual level.
1. You learn from each other.
Having different yet complementary knowledge and skills and being willing to learn from each other is a great indicator of intellectual compatibility.
If there’s no willingness either to teach or to learn from one another, then the gap in knowledge becomes a barrier between you rather than a facilitator of understanding.
The result is that one partner feels intellectually inferior or superior to the other which creates a stumbling block in any relationship.
Ultimately, the partnership becomes divided by one partner playing the role of ‘teacher’ and the other becoming the ‘student.’
Intellectual harmony depends on a better balance where both partners are open to learning from each other, allowing each to grow as the relationship matures.
2. Conversation can be challenging – but in a good way.
Communication at every level is a fundamental requirement of a fulfilling relationship.
Therefore, it’s essential that your conversations be inspiring and you don’t get stuck in an endless round of small talk or keep to superficial topics.
When you’re just starting out in a relationship, this is perfectly normal – conversations have to start somewhere, right?
Once you’ve been around the block a few times together, you’ll find that your conversations cover a wider range of topics and become more stimulating and meaningful.
The lucky few will find that they leapfrog over the superficial stage altogether and get stuck right in to the nitty gritty topics, exploring deeper and more satisfying subjects from day one.
Conversations between intellectually compatible couples are inspiring and sometimes challenging as you probe more deeply into each other’s beliefs and value systems and thereby develop a greater understanding of what makes you both tick.
Rather than causing friction, the verbal sparring that can arise from such conversations serves to consolidate your connection.
Don’t underestimate the value of substantive conversations in terms of overall happiness. One study suggests a link between well-being and meaningful verbal exchanges.
It seems that’s why a life full of small talk is so deeply unsatisfying.
3. You respect each other’s right to have a different point of view.
In an intellectually mismatched couple, clear differences of opinion soon expose fault lines in the relationship.
However, if both parties are confident in their own standpoint, but also accept and even encourage their partner’s opposing views, this becomes a strength.
This goes back to the previous point about the importance of meaningful conversation for an intellectually connected couple.
The act of exploring every angle of a challenging subject, where both parties are confident in their right to hold a different point of view, leads to a deeper and more satisfying cerebral connection and a happier relationship.
A couple with true intellectual affinity understands that one person’s views are not better than the other, and sharing differing views allows growth and mutual learning and adds vibrancy to a relationship.
4. You’re never bored with your partner.
If the time you spend with your partner is intellectually rewarding and you are genuinely interested in what they say, the topics they choose to discuss, and their chosen hobbies, you’re unlikely to be bored in your relationship.
If, on the other hand, you find yourself reaching out to friends, family, and other people for such stimulation, that would raise a red flag as something is clearly missing in your relationship.
All is not lost if that’s the case, however.
Making an effort to find other mutual interests – sports, travel, food, for example, can improve your connection and give you something of real value to share.
It can also lessen any sense of boredom caused by your intellectual mismatching.
If your preferred pastimes are matched, the chances of being bored or dissatisfied in your relationship are minimized.
For example, if you share a love of reading or both enjoy contemporary theatre, then you’ll not only have plenty to discuss, but also a deep intellectual connection.
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5. There’s no sense of competition between you.
A couple who is intellectually compatible will not feel like they need to score points off each other.
By contrast, the couple who spar constantly and often appear more like adversaries than allies are less likely to be on the same intellectual wavelength.
Yes, it can sometimes be fun and even flirtatious to be a little competitive, but it can also be wearing if it’s the default setting for your relationship.
There’s no need to exercise one another’s brains non-stop to prove your intellectual equality.
A good indicator of intellect is the ability to communicate honestly, openly and respectfully.
That doesn’t call for an exhausting round of verbal jousting – unless, of course, both of you think that’s fun.
6. Your partner enhances your self-confidence.
Self-confidence is a fragile thing and a good indicator of intellectual harmony is just how self-assured you feel in your partner’s company.
You should feel able to air your opinions without fear of having them corrected or judged.
There should be no resentment, jealousy, or nervousness between you, and you shouldn’t feel as if your integrity is being undermined or questioned.
Your intellectual equal won’t feel the need to constantly interrupt, over-explain, or put you down.
If, on the other hand, there’s just too much man- or woman-splaining going on – making you feel patronized or belittled – you may need to ask whether you are mentally well-matched.
7. You share the same, or similar, taste in music.
There’s something about music that connects with the deeper emotional level of the human psyche.
More often than not, people who are intellectually compatible tend to enjoy similar styles of music, as it resonates with them both equally on an emotional basis.
If you’re more country, therefore, and your partner is all about head-banging heavy metal, there’s a good chance that you’re adrift intellectually.
This may not be universally true, though, as many couples thrive in spite of an apparent gulf in their musical tastes. The key to success in such cases is that they respect each other’s differences.
Each party is given the space and time to enjoy their favored musical genre without judgement.
OK, they may need to indulge themselves in private, or with fellow fans (since no one should be forced to listen to music that sets their nerves on edge or makes their ears bleed), but that’s happily accepted between them.
8. You share the same level of curiosity to learn new things (or not).
Some people are more curious about learning or experiencing new things than others.
Perhaps you have a sponge-like need to acquire knowledge, or maybe you’re constantly seeking the next culture hit.
On the other hand, you may be quite content just to ‘be,’ without a thirst for anything in particular.
It doesn’t matter which applies to you, because neither one nor the other is the ‘right’ way to live.
It’s not hard to see that a thrill-seeker is probably not the ideal intellectual partner for someone who’s never happier than when at home with their feet up in front of the TV.
Similarly, an avid reader of factual books isn’t going to be perfectly mentally in tune with someone who consumes daytime TV talk shows and reality TV.
Once again, neither is wrong, but for that all important intellectual zing it’s helpful for both partners to have similar appetites.
The important thing when it comes to intellectual compatibility is that you’re both the same way inclined.
9. Your relationship isn’t all about the physical.
Flirtation and foreplay is undeniably fun and a mutually exciting sexual relationship is, for most people, one of the fundamental keys to a sustainable relationship.
That said, a relationship between intellectual equals doesn’t begin and end in the bedroom.
It’s about all the factors mentioned above and more.
If one partner tries to connect on an emotional level, while the other is more centered on the physical, it could spell trouble.
It could be an indicator that sex is being used to compensate for a lack of intellectual connection.
One partner isn’t able to engage on a more cerebral level and therefore reverts to tried and tested physical communication instead.
That, per se, isn’t a problem, but it could indicate a need to explore some of the other areas of compatibility to make sure your relationship is truly mutually satisfying on some other level.
Still not sure whether you and your partner are intellectually compatible? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.