Thursday, 1 March 2012

Dumb Smart Girls & Smart Smart Girls

Oooh la la. Never mind jumpers. Here is part of a letter touching on the most controversial topic known to this blog. Read and prepare to weep.

"It has occurred to me to write you about this for some time, and that is, the topic of intelligence and women's relationships with men...

I have observed amongst my friends that it seems as though women who are sharp, strong, and intelligent tend to be less sought after by men, taken on less dates, or tend to get into deep brainy conversations that may end in debate, but are less pursued romantically. On the other hand, my girl friends that play the 'ignorant" card, or the "damsel in distress" card, either because they actually are, or because they "dumb themselves down" around men, are strongly pursued and "a catch" with the men. I am wondering whether this has also been the case in your observation? If so, what can we learn from this?

I read an article somewhere months ago, which has been lingering in my mind about strong intelligent women feeling like they need to turn off their brains in a relationship with a man, so that he "doesn't get intimidated", "is attracted to her", "understands what he contributes to the relationship" (i.e. his mind?)

I am reminded of this humorous clip from British comedy, "Women Know Your Limits". If you haven't seen it, it is a scream. Do you think it's funny because it contains a kernel of truth to it?

I am writing not so you can publish the letter on your blog necessarily, but just to get your thoughts about women who are smart and how to navigate that. Of course, I would expect that smart men desire smart women (in theory), but when it's practically and concretely lived out, I see less of that happening. Perhaps it's also in the approach about how women are sharing their opinions and their brain; it can be done aggressively, brashly, and competitively, which could be a turn-off, or humbly, and from the heart. Just curious!!

Can't wait to hear what you think!"

What I think is that, among the general sisterhood of smart girls, there are Dumb Smart Girls and there are Smart Smart Girls.

Dumb Smart Girls use the same tactics they have always used to impress teachers and professors to impress potential suitors, even when these tactics have never worked on potential suitors before.

Smart Smart Girls understand that there is the world of the classroom and there is the world outside, that there is the law of the classroom and the law of the jungle. They adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Dumb Smart Girls talk too much. They talk and talk and talk and joke and banter and one-up men's jokes and get high on their own cleverness.

Smart Smart Girls watch, listen and ponder. They ask intelligent questions. They extend subtle flattery. They leave their interlocutors wanting more.

Dumb Smart Girls don't like other women because "women are boring and talk about dumb stuff like clothes and hair and recipes." At parties they talk only to men, even if all the other women are in the kitchen. It's like they're honorary men. How attractive!

Smart Smart Girls cultivate friendships with the kind of women men seem to be crazy about and learn from them. They ask them for advice on clothes and hair. They try out their recipes. Smart Smart Girls realize that whatever it is that makes men like these women might rub off on them.

Dumb Smart Girls show off how much they know.

Smart Smart Girls don't put all their intellectual goods in the shop window. Until there is a reason for a man to know that she is fluent in five European and one Asian language, a Smart Smart Girl keeps such information to herself.

Dumb Smart Girls prefer to believe that all attractive men prefer brains to looks and prefer to think of women as their intellectual equals, if not their intellectual superiors.

Smart Smart Girls see men for who they really are and not as who they might wish they were. Smart Smart Girls try to see men as naturalists see squirrels: as interesting beings quite unlike themselves, with predictable patterns of behaviour and curious mating rituals.

Dumb Smart Girls get drunk at parties and reveal what they know about men. For example, the last time I was drunk at a party, I revealed that my social life would have been a million times better if, from the age of six, I had said "Gosh, you're smart" at regular intervals to all the boys and men I knew.

Smart Smart Girls have more discipline and keep their mouths shut.

I do not believe women should "dumb down". But I do not believe women should "smart up". As awful as this sounds, and as much as men enjoy a good intellectual argument, many men connect intellectual argument with competition and masculinity. So if you argue like a man, gosh darn it, but the hottie you're arguing with might start thinking of you as a man. This is great at work, but not so great at the cocktail party.

I myself am a Dumb Smart Girl, and have been all my life. It took me a long time to learn not to talk so much. And I know that when I met my future husband, I didn't talk that much.

He knew me mostly from my "Still Seraphic" blog, and its perpetual cheery tone led him to dread, not that I was a formidable intellectual, but that I might have a squeaky voice.

As a matter of fact, I didn't have much of a voice at all because I had jet lag and mild culture shock and soon a very bad cold. B.A., who loves to talk, talked. I listened. And giggled. And the more I fell in love with B.A., the more I listened and giggled.

He fell in love with me when I was wearing a blue dress and white pearls, sitting on an IKEA couch in a Georgian townhouse, sipping a gin-and-tonic, tissue balled up in my other hand, listening intelligently to anecdotes about Oxford in the 1960s.

I was intelligent, presentable and looked like a younger version of Dame Emma Kirkby; compared to that--I firmly believe-- my M.A., my M.Div. and my Lonergan Studies diploma meant squat, interesting only in hindsight, because they belonged to me.

Men are who they are and not who you want them to be.

P.S. "Women Know Your Limits" is less funny after living in the UK for three years. That said, though, it is possibly the same spirit that keeps American traditionalist women in jumpers.


Sarah said...

This is good advice, though following it can require a constant balancing act if you're around educated men very often (especially if there are no other women around.)

I am an American in Germany and had to listen intently while 7 German men at the table loudly debated American politics. I certainly had much to say, but was also forced to be quiet fairly often because not only was I still jet-lagged myself, I couldn't always understand what they were saying. A blessing, I suppose. But I think I still inserted just the right amount of intelligent, but respectful and non-competitive input.

There was one other girl who was there only part of the time during my stay in this otherwise-all-boy house, because during these debates she and I could look at each other and roll our eyes when the men's voices got just a little too loud and assertive.

Seraphic said...

Yes. It is a constant balancing act. It can be exhausting. Thank heaven for other women.

Johannes Faber said...

I actually quite like dumb smart girls!

Nate said...

I have found that a girl who can joust with her mind is quite attractive...that's not to say argumentative. That's just exhausting. Of course, if the girl can't take banter about her intelligence (with the right balance of actually informing her that you respect her mind) then it's usually not worth romantically pursuing. We'll just both get frustrated.

Sarah said...

Nate and Johannes:

The thing I've noticed, is that men *say* they find a somewhat competitively intelligent girl, and it may be true that they find themselves drawn to girls who can verbally joust with them, but those girls do not seem to be the ones they go after. It seems like those are the girls boys might like to flirt with, but the girls who actually get pursued and asked on dates are the girls who can balance. Men (seem to) like a small dose of competitive sexual tension, but they get bored of it quickly.

Actually, I have proof of this straight from the guy's mouth, and I don't know why I didn't remember this when I posted my first comment. An ex-boyfriend, who was well educated (had much more formal education than I ever did) and whom I thought was brilliant told me he thought I was smarter than him, (I'm not saying I agree) but that he was grateful I didn't "take advantage of the fact" by trying to put him in his place, or make him or his opinions seem stupid.

Nate said...

There's a difference between intellectual banter and making my opinion look stupid. Of course I didn't mean that.

In my case, I actually DO go after the girls who can "intellectually joust" and get bored quite quickly if it doesn't take a pretty sophisticated wit to banter with a girl.

Maybe I'm an anomaly? I kind of doubt it...

Jam said...

Wellll....there's a difference between "banter" and "jousting" on the one hand, and actual intellectual showing off or shutting down on the other. (I mean, trying to "pin" someone or put them down on intellectual grounds.) There's also a difference between being academically/intellectually inclined and being a quick, witty thinker. I don't think it's mutually exclusive that men should like women they perceive as "smart", and that smart women should feel overlooked by men.

"Dumb smart" and "smart smart" makes a lot of sense to me. Regardless of whether your brainy qualities are attractive, you're not exempt from making an effort to be social and fun, which involves a certain amount of self-effacement.

I wonder if another pitfall for "smart" women is making their brains and their job the central point of their identity and conversation. Whereas more socially successful people are better at presenting themselves in a more rounded way, and aren't concerned whether people know about their many accomplishments. That's just a guess; I think it's something I fall down on myself. I have interests outside of academia, I swear, but I often come away from parties or meeting people realizing that all I did was talk shop.

healthily sanguine said...

I just have trouble finding someone who is as right as I am on all the issues!

Mark Scott Abeln said...

Let us not forget that us men have to walk the tightrope also, having the right balance between being a tough guy and showing feelings.

Every time I showed my feelings too early — every time — I failed big time. Even with intelligent, well-educated Catholic women of exceptional piety. I’ve found that there is no surer way to end a potential relationship.

On the contrary, if I kept on playing it cool, slightly aloof, and somewhat teasingly, I was able to further the relationship.

Of course, once I get to know a woman very well, I can reveal my positive feelings towards her with no problem, especially when the relationship starts getting comfortable. Feelings there are expected and appropriate.

I think that the current sexual difficulties of our culture betray a gnostic-like philosophy, putting too much emphasis on the intellect, while showing too much disrespect for the body.

healthily sanguine said...

Interesting analysis, Mark. Actually, what your comment about men showing feelings brings to mind is the fact that even though nowadays in the workplace and on a broad level, men are supposed to be as sensitive as women and women are supposed to be as smart/tough as men, when it comes to relationships we kind of revert back. On some sub-rational level, men don't want a scary-smart, ultra-capable woman and women don't want a bleeding-heart, overly-soft man. So, kind of like what Seraphic was pointing to in her insight about girls impressing their professors, you have to learn to wear different hats. Oh, but still be yourself. Of course! :P

Sarah said...

Nate: What you said is exactly what Seraphic and I were saying all along-- witty, intelligent banter can be fun, but once you turn it into a competition where one will be the winner and one will be the loser, it becomes unnatractive (in both sexes, I might add. I hate it when men try to talk down to me, too, or argue with me for the sake of asserting themselves). I also don't like it when men turn *every* conversation into a flirtatious debate. As I said, it can be an exhausting balancing act. You mentioned you get bored if a woman doesn't hold up her intellectual end of the conversation, but I hope you don't expect her to want to banter and debate all the time.

Nate said...

Sarah, you're right. I wouldn't expect constant banter and debate (esp. debate). In normal conversation, I enjoy listening to what a girl does and what she enjoys etc. If it happens to be something fascinating (and intellectual pursuits are fascinating to me) then all the better.

I'd feel even more like a conceited brat sharing my name. said...

This might sound horribly conceited, but here goes.
I've always spoken my mind (and just spoken a lot, period) engaged in banter, argued forcefully, and worn my opinions on my sleeve. I've also had more more men pursuing me than I know what to do with since age 13. Right now there are four different men in my life trying to convince me to be their girlfriend.

I've broken every role in the how-to-seem-feminine-and-get-a-man book, and it hasn't fazed the men. I'm not the most beautiful girl in the room either. I used to bite my nails and wring my hands, wishing I could remember to tone my personality down, or wishing I could be more like other girls, until I finally decided to listen to my mother and stop worrying and be myself.

And it's been great. And I think that even if the men did go away, it would be an easy price for the privilege of not constantly censoring how I'm presenting myself to men.

At a party, when I see an interesting woman, I talk to her. When I see an interesting man, I talk to him. I never try to compete with anyone or throw my weight around, but if I have something funny to say, I say it!

This extended song of myself is all to say that rules and conventions like these are fine...but I'm not sure they're all that important to anyone's happiness. And I say this out of a place very deeply rooted in reality, as experienced by me.

Johannes Faber said...

Yeah the last two girls I asked out were jousters! Though I wonder about the competition thing. What's the purpose to it I wonder? Is it that a Petruchio/Kate situation? Hmmmm!

sciencegirl said...

It's fun to joke about, but I don't really enjoy dealing with people who always want to discuss the latest scandal in politics. Parties that imitate the meaner sort of comboxes are no fun. I think when I was in college I would have said I would like a man who loved debating things, because I liked discussing things with my girlfriends, but then I had actual conversations with such men and found them tedious and pompous. After over an hour listening patiently to a man describing the wonders of how he discovered marijuana and the intellectual and spiritual scaffold he built up to justify not only his addiction but the ruined lives of his friends to whom he introduced the drug, the thrill was rather gone. I realized I didn't want to debate this man, I wanted him to shut up and leave my dorm room. When I encountered foreign men who wanted to tell me all the evils of American politics -- said evils being word for word what I could read in any American newspaper editorial -- I lost even more interest in debate, and quickly learned to inquire after the political situation in their home country. "Oh yes, that George W. Bush, such a character. My, my. And what do you think of [your country's leader]?" Then at least I would learn something new. Not feeding the troll applies in real life, too. The hardest time I have is when I encounter clearly intelligent men who start saying idiotic things. It catches me off guard. When actual stupid people say odd things, I let it slide because I am prepared for any eventuality. Sometimes the crumbs I'm holding accidentally fall in the troll's mouth, with disastrous results, only later to reflect that perhaps this man just wanted me to smile and nod at his absurd cliches.

You see, it turns out I never really wanted to go out with a man who'd need or want to debate and argue all the time. I wanted to have fun chats about books I'd read, movies I'd seen, thoughts I'd had, and I wanted to have those chats with someone who would have interesting insights. I did not want someone who would have the complete opposite point of view. I doubt men do either. Does a nerdy guy really want a girl who would take as her debating point that "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" was Lucas' finest film and a masterpiece of cinema? Or would he rather her spend a couple hours mocking it with him and laughing at all his cutting jokes about how dumb it was? The NCB who distrusts the Church hierarchy doesn't REALLY want an NCG who has a shrine to Blessed JPII in her home and all of B16's books on her Kindle; he wants a girl who also distrusts Church hierarchy and will chime in with the classic, "What do a bunch of old celibates know, anyway? The Church is misogynist!" The NCB who loves B16 doesn't really want a girl who would argue that he is a Nazi who wants to trample her ovaries (while somehow preserving said ovaries from harm); he wants a girl who has lots to say about the pitfalls of Relativism. None of that is "debate," it's commiseration.

If you really love debate, I recommend brothers, cousins, and even parents.

Marcus said...

I'd feel even more like a conceited brat sharing my name. said...

Ahhh but are these pursuers men you're actually interested in? That's what counts, not just numbers.

Ms. Conceit said...

At this particular point in my life there really aren't any men that I'm interested in, to be honest.

In the past I have been pursued by ones I have been interested, had relationships, etc. And honestly it all became such a bore that I don't see any point in committing to a man unless I'm head over heels in love enough to marry him.

But anyway, since we're talking about not scaring off men/making them lose interest in us, I don't think my level of interest is that relevant to to point I was making.

Marcus said...

Ms. Conceit, it's very relevant indeed.

Your post was a claim of you throwing the "rules" out the window and having things work for you splendidly regardless.

However, other than the initial flattery, you're really left in the same bind as your "dumb smart" sisters.

Ms. Conceit said...

Not point was that
A) Men don't necessarily run away from you for breaking the "rules"
B) Even if they did, for me at least it would be worth it.

I don't see me not being into any particular man right now invalidates either of those points.

If by "bind" you mean that I have not yet fallen in love a man and gotten married, then sure. I just wouldn't call that a bind, I'd call that life. That might never even happen, and if it doesn't, yeah, I'd still say things are going pretty splendidly.

Ms. Conceit said...

Also--I wouldn't necessarily call myself dumb smart. I have lots of close female friends, I don't put women down, I don't put men down. I don't really think putting anyone down is a good idea. I would never try to beat a man in an argument in order to win his heart--mostly because I don't think winning a man's heart is something I should be putting time and effort into.

It's mostly the habit of viewing everything about one's self and one's social life, even one's friendships with women, through the lens of increasing male interest that I would caution against. It's not a bad lens, it's just awfully small. Be kind, be courteous, and be yourself (in that order)-- these are the only social rules that have ever actually made me happy. And all my evidence suggests that it makes quite a few men happy too.

KimP said...

Navigation is tricky; when I first met my husband I made a conscious effort to let him do most of the talking. When I did speak, I limited my topics to my family and friends. I found out later that he liked that; most women he met would spend the date complaining about how much they hated their jobs.

He is a carpenter and I am a lawyer. He never went to college; I have a graduate degree. By making sure I spoke less during our initial dates, I found out that he was enormously intelligent and well informed, and loved learning. He has a particular passion for politics.

I also discovered that he had such a generous heart that I felt no need to try to "compete" or show off how smart I was. So listening is good. You learn way more from listening than talking . . .

Charming Disarray said...

I LOVE to argue with men. But being a good listener is an important quality in a woman, I think. Besides you learn a lot about a man by just letting him talk and talk and talk...probably a lot more than he realizes.

Seraphic Spouse said...

I've been thinking about Ms Conceit's popularity, and about other girls I know who are real balls of fire and everyone gets a kick out of them.

Usually I don't think of them in terms of readers because the reader I have in my head is usually the reader who doesn't enjoy being Single and would love to be pursued. (These I call Searching Singles; women who would prefer to remain Single I call Serious Singles.)

I receive a lot of emails from readers, and occasionally I meet readers. And for whatever reason--possibly that my readers are mostly under 30, possibly that it is the nature of internet use--a lot of my readers are graduate students, often in the Sciences. Some are professors.

Their letters are intensely literate. Many are quite clearly a lot more intelligent than I am. They meet many men in their academic lives, and they are good people, and yet they just don't seem to have much luck when it comes to courtship.

Not being able to sit down with them each individually, I have to make intelligent guesses, based on what I have seen in the lives of other academic women I have met, including myself (when I was still in the academy, of course). Certain patterns keep cropping up, and so I present them.

I realize that many women scoff at the whole notion of "rules" and unified theories of male behaviour and even at giving a damn about when men think. But actually many women, women with friends, hobbies and interesting careers, realize that they DO give a damn about what men think, and wish they could meet men who thought about THEM.

It would certainly be limiting to see one's whole life through the lens of male interest. However, this has never been what this blog is about. This blog is primarily about thriving in the Single life.

This post is one of the several thousand I have written, and it is directly addressing concerns brought up in one of the dozen dozen emails readers have sent me.

Is it putting women down to call them "Dumb Smart Girls"? It is certainly provocative. And I am trying to provoke some intellectual humility in women who might never have considered for a second that modesty about one's intellect might be good, kind and prudent.

Thank you very much, Kim P, for your testimony. I know other intensely bright women in intellectual fields who are happily married to men in blue collar trades.

Ms. Conceit said...

Seraphic, I certainly don't think you encourage or expect anyone to live their entire life through the lens of male interest. I do, however, think that that is a real danger for women, who are told almost from birth that the most important thing they will ever do is attract male attention. And yes, I do think this is a danger of thinking a lot about the rules.

I don't disagree with you about most of the substance of the post--it is not kind to brag in man or woman, it is not kind to flaunt a an entirely unmerited gift from God or to use it as your social brass knuckles, in man or woman. It is a good trait to be a good listener. But where I veer off is when it becomes less about being a happy and decent human being and more about getting a man.

This is because I, from my own experience, have found my life better, richer, fuller, when I stopped telling myself there was a right way for girls to behave unconnected with decency or morality--that I was less of a woman if I had strong opinions, that when men at cocktail parties argued about political issues I am informed and passionate about, I should keep my mouth shut and listen.

I am not faulting anyone who finds these conventions a useful strategy for incentivizing virtue, negotiating romance and social life, etc. I only want to remind that these patterns are not monolithic, that there is room in male desire for a lot of differences among women, that there are a lot of possibilities. All I'm saying that if one of these conventions is really, really not you, relax. You won't necessarily end up alone for being a little different. Do what you should do, and what you really want to do, and be aware of both of these realities when making trade-offs to please men.

Ashley said...

Thanks for your really thought-provoking post, Seraphic! I'm wondering in all of these comments whether another angle to consider would be the role of intimacy in all of this. It seems that of one is interested in a man, or he in her, then building intimacy should be what they are exploring.

Intimacy can be thwarted by intellectual "power play". Now, intimacy should also be a meeting of the minds, but when "banter" or "jousting" becomes competition for the sake of power (or pride), this stifles intimacy. Maybe that is why it's a turn-off?

Am I the only one who has experienced this?? I think probably both men and women, judging by the comments.

Also Conceited said...

In my experience there's plenty of guys who find intelligence very attractive. The number one quality my bf likes? My intelligence, not my looks or other qualities. The same holds true for my friend. She had multiple guys after her all through college and grad school. (We're pretty, it just didn't rank #1 on our bf/husband's list.)

I think what the "dumb smart" girl described above really shows is insecurity, and that makes many men head for the hills. "She sounds needy... I'm out!" Women that know they are smart and are secure don't need to shout their degrees or opinions from the top of the roof, but there's no reason for a confident woman to hide or tone down an opinion either.

Another thing that many guys have told me is a turnoff is the Debate Queen. Strong opinions are fine, but the Debate Queen doesn't listen to the guy's opinion, she's formulating her next argument. The message she gives the guy is "Your opinion is neither wanted nor required." What person would want to be in a relationship like that? Listening lets the other person know they are valued.

Little Mary said...

I think the "smart girl's" problem isn't her intelligence, but that she thinks that nobody would be interested in her, and projects that to men...

Sarah said...

It occurs to me that Smart Smart Girls and Dumb Smart Girls, while both being smart, probably are not well read on ALL the subjects their dates/potential suitors are.

A great way to have a good conversation with someone is to find a topic they know something about, that you know nothing about, and ask them questions. You'll learn something new, it will be hard to dominate the conversation with your opinion, AND you won't feel like you're dumbing yourself down, since you really are ignorant on the subject.

Seraphic said...

Little Mary, the problem is never that the "Dumb Smart Girl" is intelligent; it is that she is not intelligent ENOUGH. Of course, being intelligent in the first place, she has a good shot at getting there. All she needs to do is learn the difference between "school smart" and "people smart".

Sarah, that sounds like a great idea.

Anonymous said...

OK, coming late to this one, but I can't resist ...

It seems to me, based on two rather unfortunate personal experiences, that being a "Smart Smart Girl" does not necessarily help in forming/sustaining romantic relationships than being a "Dumb Smart Girl." I'm not advocating rudeness or one-upmanship, mind you; and I'm all for subtle flattery. The problem is, one can only conceal one's five European and one Asian languages for so long. If a man is truly afraid of women who are smarter, or as smart as, or close to as smart as he, or women who have opinions that differ from his own, then (1) he will figure out sooner or later that the girl he is interested in is such a girl and (2) cease being interested in her.

Of course, it would be unfair (and discouraging!) to extrapolate based on a sample of two; but I do think it's worth noting that, for some men at least, even being "smart smart" is not enough.

Seraphic said...

Yeah, but in THAT case---good riddance!

(I allowed this totally anonymous comment just so I could say that.)

Anna said...

Last night I met up with someone that I've known on the internet for 3 years but hadn't met until then. He was very intelligent and told me point-blank that he found smart girls attractive.

We are Orthodox and he goes to seminary. He said that many of the men there are looking for a NOG; smarts are not a priority. But because *he* is very intelligent, he knows he needs to have a girlfriend/wife that is smart.

That being said, when he started hitting on me it was because he thought I was hot, not smart :P

Seraphic said...

Colour me so not surprised. First of all, in my experience, men usually say they want to marry a woman who is smart. But most of the time men hit on only those women they think are hot. Of course, they usually hope the hot girl is also kind of smart, and not an airhead, if they are thinking serious relationship.

On the other hand, quite a few men have no idea what they really want and just say dumb stuff like, "I don't like make-up; I think girls should look natural" shortly before falling for an an exquisitely made-up girl with dyed blonde hair.

I don't have a problem with men finding women attractive because of our looks, and only then finding out who we really are. If that's the way they're made, that's the way they're made. And I'd rather be with the guy who thinks fuzzy ginger hair is fantastic than the guy who gets whiplash every time a shiny curtain of straight blond hair whisks by.

I read some study somewhere (how authoritative does that sound?) that men (which ones, eh? the ones over 40 or...?) unconsciously seek women on their own level, which makes you ponder the whole Shrek/Fiona-turns-into-Mrs-Shrek incident anew.

Jane said...

The man who is now my husband liked my debating skills and even had a bit of a crush on me before he ever knew what I looked like (we met online, and no pictures were exchanged for some weeks).

He still deliberately prods me into arguments sometimes by playing devil's advocate. I, of course, fall for it every time and never realize what he's doing until he leans in and whispers, "You're beautiful when you're angry." I'm not sure he actually prizes my debating skills in those instances--he just thinks it's fun to get me riled up--but he does tell me frequently that I'm smarter than he is. It's not true, but he won't be dissuaded. He also enjoys watching me debate with other people, in which instances he DOES appreciate my competitiveness.

Incidentally, my dad and grandfather both do the same thing to me and my grandmother (mom prefers to stay out of it), inciting arguments about politics or aesthetics just for fun. So, some men do enjoy what I'd refer to as recreational debating (as opposed to serious disagreement) with the women they love. Not all, certainly, and they wouldn't like it if we weren't also good listeners sometimes.

Rachel said...

I'm not sure what I would call myself. I met my husband online so we talked about everything. I do have more formal education than him but he is a very intelligent fella so it equalizes. What I wanted the most out of a relationship was the ability to talk about issues related to our Catholic Faith, politics, hisotry, etc one moment and in the next laugh about a Monty Python skit we have seen or talk about 70's rock bands. This is exactly what we do. The key is really being yourself. Humor, in particular, goes a long way too. My husband says I am very smart. Honestly, I don't see myself as uber intelligent but then again, I tend to be my worst critic.