24 September, 2008

Does IQ Matter?

I grew up in a world in which I never felt that my mind or my intellect was discounted or undermined because I am female.  My dad, raised by a very strong woman, trained me to banter and joke.  Living with him, using one's mind and mental flexibility were crucial to growing up.  Perhaps my childhood experience gave me a bit more confidence that I needed though as I have yet to feel mentally intimidate or threatened by anyone - male or female.  At an early age I debated nuclear policy, politics, labor unions, and other news worthy topics with both my dad and my grandfather - though I admit now that I knew nothing about the topics really.  (And what patience they showed while fostering such confidence)  My aspirations and dreams were not limited by my intellect or my gender, but more by my physical limitations. 
But my experience was not shared by my friends.  A good friend wanted to be a doctor.  Her parents discouraged her because she was a girl, suggesting that she try nursing instead.  As a parent, I understand that there is a need to ensure that our children aim high and dream big, but there is also a need to ensure that those dreams are such that they can be achieved. 
After reading Kat's post on funny women, I started thinking about men and women, the things that attract us to one another, the characteristics that might pose a threat to that attraction, etc.  I never considered a sense of humor to be such a characteristic, but there are others that are notable, such as height, income, and intellect. 
When my daughter was 2, one of her teachers commented about how difficult it was for intelligent women to find husbands.  I found the statement interesting, but didn't spend much time thinking about it.  I know men that are perfectly content marrying and spending time with intelligent women.  But Kat's post left me considering the couples I know, the singles I know, and the factors that play into their relationships or their lack of relationships. 
My brother, for example, would not have married a woman more intelligent than himself.  He couldn't do it.  My sister-in-law is a wonderful person and more well rounded and grounded than is my brother, but were her IQ higher than his, that union would not have happened. 
I know other men who freely admit that their spouse is the brighter of the two - confident, well adjusted men for the most part.  (Ironically, several of them are the shorter of the two as well.)
Most of the couples I know are fairly evenly matched.  Where the man is more linear in his thinking, the woman is more rounded; where he is more black and white, she is more gray.  They complement one another while sharing a similar intellectual compatibility.  In these relationships though, does the man consider intellect to be a factor?  Does he consider himself to be the more intelligent of the two?  
My own experience is that intelligence is not an issue.  Attraction is something much more primal, if you will.  It is a chemistry and a connection that may not have anything to do with a person's IQ.  The men to whom I tend to be attracted, and who are attracted to me, share my passion for life and conversation.  They tend to be fit and enjoy exercising for its mental as well as physical properties.  They are well read, laugh easily, are fairly open to new experiences, creativity, and diverse ideas.  They are curious as to all that life offers.  And, believe it or not, they are conversationalists (which I love).  The question as to which of us is more intelligent never enters the picture, at least for me.  I wonder if it does for them? 
Kat notes that men may be threatened by funny women.  Are men threatened by intelligent women?  Does intellect, in the end, matter to either men or women?


Edgar said...

Ms. Exception - another intellectually stimulating post! Many of the traits that you note as attractive are on my list, too - but perhaps most fundamental are curiosity and passion. And it takes an intelligent person to be clever and witty, too, which are important components of the conversations that I love to share with my friends and loves.

My mother is at least as bright and opinionated and intellectually challenging as my father, which is perhaps the reason that I find intelligent women so captivating. And if they like to be above tree line or out on a mountain bike, I'm hopeless.

abrightfuture said...

The IQ number is not necessarily important, but intellect and the desire to learn is absolutely something that is a deal breaker for me.

I prefer being with someone smarter than myself, and (how does one say this without sounding obnoxious) that takes someone pretty smart. I am very well read, well traveled, well versed in all sorts of different things and I need someone who can at least match me in discussion and desire to learn.

I had a brief fling with a guy who I knew from the beginning was only ever going to be a friends with benefits kind of guy...he had no desire to learn, grow intellectually and wander outside the little world he knew. That is absolutely unattractive to me.

(But at the time he had different skills that I valued...)

Some people are naturally just smart people (high IQs) and others work hard to grow/learn. Either of those is fine with me -- but not having an innate desire for knowledge won't cut it.

Mike said...

What's that old saying, "You can attract from 1 point above or below you on the scale. Anymore than that and someone's slumming." I think it works here. As long as we're in the same ball park I'm okay with it. She wants to talk nuclear fission then she's going to lose me. Not that I mind, but she better be able to talk about something we both can.

mama llama said...

Ways of thinking, rather than IQ per se, might cause more strife. I am extremely quick on my feet, defensive and articulate. I can use that, and do use that, to my best advantage, which very much intimidates Him. I am also not afraid to expand and learn new things...a quality I need in a partner and one that intimidates the hell out of Him as well.

However, I find myself incredibly intimidated when I feel my voice has been taken from me (i.e. I am not being 'heard').

Apart from that, experience (life experience) more than IQ has been another great intimidation factor. I have lived a rich, full life with very few regrets--if I am with someone who feels intimidated by my presence or my experiences while I still consider myself very down-to-earth, I can't deal with it--friendships or lovers.

I find myself intimidated here more by financial "status", big homes, rich lifestyles and pushy parents that I just can't and don't really want to keep up with. That can play into self-esteem if I let it--which would then hurt me in other aspects of my life--so I have to watch it.

Interesting post, so relative to so many different parts of our lives. Thank you.

Be well, TE.

T said...

Very interesting thoughts here...

I have never thought about IQ but I do tend to be attracted to conversationalists as well. I love a man who is articulate and well read. If a man has good grammar and spelling skills, it instantly makes me smile. I do enjoy a slight intimidation factor...not someone who is "smarter" than me per se (not that it matters to me) but I enjoy learning about topics I know nothing about. So, if I'm with someone who knows quite a bit about a topic that interests me, I can be hooked on his every word for hours.

I am also drawn to confidence and someone who is good at what they do. I giggle at myself when I get turned on by seeing someone troubleshoot a technical problem with complete focus and knowledge... or when my soldier talks about his experience and achievements in the Army. I don't know what the hell he's talking about but all the tech speak sounds absolutely scrumptious to me for some reason.

I too love an open mind. I appreciate when the man I'm with will admit that he is willing to learn or try something new. Just because I know something doesn't make me more intelligent than them.

Still, I do attract men with my intellect and strength so I can't say that it deters them. Those are some of the compliments I hear most often actually. If they're threatened or intimidated by me, I probably won't be attracted to them anyway. Confidence is sexy.

TAG said...

Intelligence is definitely important. Of course I'm only speaking for myself.

We've all heard the old saying about beauty being skin deep. That is so true. I see a couple of different levels of "beauty". There is what most see, outer beauty. Then there is what can't be seen with a glance, inner beauty.

A big part of this inner beauty is intelligence. You add confidence and well roundedness to your list. Rightfully so. But in the end a huge factor in inner beauty is intelligence.

The really good thing is if one chooses a partner with lots of inner beauty, it is the sort that never fades with age. In fact it grows.


dadshouse said...

I can vouch for The Exception's intellect - she kicks my ass in WordTwist over in the Single Parents Connection Facebook group all the time!

My mom has a Berkeley grad degree, and I definitely like smart women. Dating-wise, though, I never meet them! It seems the woman available to me in my part of the world and at my life stage are women who are less educated. Do I notice? Sometimes our conversations can be a little one sided. But for the most part, I am attracted to and embrace other qualities in them - compassion, adventurous spirit, kindness, sexiness.

The dream woman from my blog posts who I'm supposed to meet in a week or two is highly educated, btw...

TAG said...

Let me clarify what I've said above. (I got interrupted while doing that post and didn't make a key point I originally intended to make.)

We shouldn't confuse intelligence with IQ or education.

IQ is just one way to measure intelligence. It can be useful for certain purposes; but not nearly as much as often thought.

Also, Educated does not necessarily equal Intelligent.

I have an Aunt who is by all measures brilliant. She graduated from a very prestigious university with highest honors with an undergrad and graduate degrees in mathematics. She is now over 80 years old and still does her own taxes in her head. (Awhile back at a family gathering she said her favorite subject in college was differential calculus. She just loved those differential equations.)

Much as we love her, that lady has not one lick of sense. ZERO. Plus her mind is not cluttered with unsaid thoughts. She is a fabulous example of intelligent and educated, with a high IQ. But she does lack common sense or any form of a sense of humor.

My point of all this being, there are many ways to measure intelligence. Academic learning being only one of many.


WonderMom said...

Very interesting post! At the risk of sounding arrogant, I am a very intellectual person and my ex was definitely a few steps below me in that area. I loved him and never considered it an issue. Looking back, I realize that it probably was an issue to him. Over time, he became more and more verbally and psychologically abusive and I believe that this was (at least in part) his way of taking control when he felt threatened. By cutting me down, he made himself feel better. Even aside from that, I realized too late in the relationship that we had different priorities and different goals and dreams in life. Unfortunately, I didn't recognize those warning signs soon enough. I know now that I want...maybe even need...someone who can challenge me and stimulate me intellectually as well as in other areas. I'm competitive enough that I don't think I would be happy with someone who is clearly out of my league intellectually but I do need someone who can at least keep me on my toes so to speak. Sadly, at this stage in my life, that is becoming increasingly difficult to find...

The Exception said...

Thanks for all your comments. I love all the different perspectives. I have a feeling that there is more blog fodder here! I love all your input!