Your Call: Is Intellectual Inequality a Deal Breaker?

photo via flickr

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

Submit Your Own Question to EMandLO.comTry Our New
*PRIVATE* Advice Service!



Dear Em & Lo,

I’ve been with X for a few years: she’s pretty, fun and genuinely nice. Our political values are totally in line. We both wants kids and I know she’d make a great mother. I love her. The only problem is: I think I’m smarter than she is. I always used to think that in the perfect loving relationship, each person would think the other one was smarter. So now I’m worried that down the road I might start to resent her lack of intellectual curiosity, that her occasional cringe-worthy comments might start to irk me. But then I think I’m just being shallow — that being a good, loving person is way better than reading The New Yorker cover to cover. It’s at the point where we have to decide whether we’re going to get married — if not, I should get out now, for both our sakes. But I’m just not sure. Thoughts?

— Torn

What should Torn do? Leave your advice in the comments section below.





  1. I’ve been married 14 years. I’ve always thought my non-college educated woman a bit “simple.” Recently though, she explained some things about the work she does in such an eloquent way that I realized that perhaps I was all along judging her on my experiences and priorities, not hers.

  2. My wife and I are “intellectual equals.” We both have many letters that follow our names. She will still occasionally make “cringe worthy comments” that cause me to raise my eyebrows. You can believe me when I say that I too have made my share of “cringe worthy comments.” Unless she has some type of disability, I’d be hesitant to question whether she is as “smart” as you. Maybe she has not acquired as many facts, or has not thought through issues/problems as much or as quickly as you, but that probably is not a question as to how smart she is. The real question is whether the differences in your intellectual curiosity (and possibly educational background) is a deal breaker. People of different backgrounds come together all of the time. You need to decide whether the differences between the two of you is enough to be a deal breaker.

  3. This is a question that ultimately only you can answer, because only you know your priorities. Is intelligence the most important thing to you? On the flip side, can you handle her mistakes with grace, rather than condescension? Also keep in mind that intelligence is not as quantifiable as we tend to think it is. What is she better than you at doing? I’m willing to bet that there are still a few things that she can teach you, even if she repeatedly uses the wrong “your/you’re.” The bottom line is, can you focus on those aspects of her, or will they be lost in your frustration? Keep in mind that you’re not perfect, either, and you might be able to be a great team. If you prioritize her ability to Sudoku in under a minute, however, then she deserves to be with someone who will appreciate her completely, not someone who will resent or even look down on her year after year.

Comments are closed.