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How do intelligent people manage romantic relationships?


People who stand out for their intelligence have their own way of living love, and it is effective.

Intelligence is one of the most important psychological characteristics since it has a great impact on our lives. And this, naturally, also includes the effective and loving facet of each one. Now, curiously, and although statistically smarter people tend to be physically more attractive and be in better shape than the rest of the population, that does not mean that they are always more likely to find a partner.

For example, evidence has been found that women with more and better training and possibilities to opt for more qualified jobs, a population group with many more people with high IQ, show a tendency to remain single. On the other hand, regardless of their sex, people who are gifted or close to intellectual giftedness are more sensitive to criticism and have more difficulty finding someone to fit in, as they prefer to be with people from whom they can learn and whose company is intellectually stimulating.

Now … once a couple has been found, what is the degree of health of those relationships? Are they of the same quality as the rest of the population? As it has been proven, in the courtships and marriages formed by highly intelligent people there are interesting singularities.


Conflict management styles in love

A recent investigation led by the Dutch psychologist Pieternel Dijkstra has proposed to study the way in which high intelligence and love are related.

For this, they started from the referential framework of attachment theory, according to which attachment bonds formed during childhood (usually with fathers and mothers) define the way in which in adult life we manage our relationships with others. For example, in cases where parents mistreat their children, they tend to adopt a relational style based on avoidance, fear and distrust, while those who have had a lot of space to express their emotions and preferences have a much more open attitude.

These relational styles are also expressed in the way we manage conflicts. Thus, 5 ways of dealing with problems with others have been defined, taking into account the degree to which one’s own preferences and conflicts are valued and the way in which those of others are valued:


  • Integrating style: high dedication to your own needs and those of others.
  • Dominant style: high dedication to one’s own needs and low to those of others.
  • Helpful style: low dedication to one’s own needs and high to those of others.
  • Avoidance style: low dedication to one’s own needs and those of others.
  • Commitment style: moderate dedication to your own needs and those of others.

It is clear that in principle the best management styles for the clashes of interests are the integrator and the commitment. The rest of them can cause problems to get entangled and generate even more negative consequences. What kinds of relationships do the smartest people use in their love lives, and why?


Intelligence: the ingredient of mature relationships?

To carry out the research, Dijkstra and his team counted on the collaboration of 196 heterosexual people from the organization Mensa de Holanda. Mensa is an entity that brings together gifted people from all over the world, people who have obtained a score of at least 140 points on intelligence tests and who represent less than 3% of the population.

To detect the particularities of these volunteers, the scientists collected data from these gifted people, and also from another group made up of 146 adults not belonging to Mensa.

The results show something curious: although the most intelligent individuals did not say they were especially dissatisfied with their effective relationships as if they were characterized by being of poor quality, they showed a greater tendency to adopt the avoidance style when managing conflicts with the other person…


A possible explanation

Pieternel Dijkstra and his team hypothesize that the reason why the most intelligent people tend to use avoidance of conflicts in their love life without suffering the negative consequences that this has is that, on the one hand, they maintain romantic relationships with people with a level of similar intelligence and personality type, and on the other they experience life from a more rational perspective.

This is something that corresponds to many things we know, like for example that the idea that the opposites are brought is just a myth and the opposite actually happens, and that less intelligent people are more impulsive and their disorganization and problems for controlling oneself makes conflicts more frequent.

This can contribute to the fact that their conflicts rarely occur and that they can be resolved by distancing themselves from the situation; since the intelligence makes it learn quickly and better, these people would be able to do this without obsessing with the fear of abandonment on the part of their partner or sentimental partner.

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