How to think about a partner and what matters long term
July 8, 2016 1:43 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I have been dating for a bit over 2 years and are in our late twenties. She's ready for marriage, I'm not quite sure what factors matter. I'm a pretty intellectually motivated person, while she is much more care-free and day to day. I know she would be a reliable partner, but I'm afraid I'll always want more than she can give. More details inside!

She and I get along very well. She has shown herself to be very mature as issues have arisen in our relationship. Our day to day is very pleasant. I'm a big picture person, whereas she shines at the day to day. Where I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by big picture issues or long-term planning, she helps me focus on life as we need to live it now.

That said, she's just not an intellectual person. This isn't a huge issue for us day to day, but... I'm someone who really values things like reading interesting books, pondering interesting articles, thinking critically about my life and the world about me, and she just isn't. I'm not sure how to weigh our life together, perpetually forever if we were to get married, with this sort of unknown.

For what it is worth, I've never dated anyone terribly intellectual, though have dated people more into reading and whatnot than her. If we were to have a conversation about world events, for example, she would not have anything insightful to say. And she doesn't think terribly critically about the world -- he doesn't believe strongly in feminism, for example (nor does she strongly oppose it, she's more just indifferent).

On the plus side, I think she'd be a really good mother. She's very caring, and we have worked hard to balance our interests (she is into crafts, I am into board games and reading, and she even will play board games with me and my group).

I am confident that I can trust her completely... if I were to get super sick, I know she would stick by my side. If something terrible were to happen, I know that I could work through it with her. That said, I don't know how much to weight that... because if something terrible happens it becomes so all-consuming, but terrible stuff doesn't happen to you ALL the time.

I love her and care for her deeply, but sometimes I fear that I can't be with someone who isn't more intellectual. Right now it is fine -- I can scratch that itch from friends. But as life gets more hectic and it gets harder and harder to spend real time with others, I feel like I'll be relying on her more and more for holistic companionship and I'm afraid that I'll come to yearn for something else...

Somewhat complicating things is the fact that I make significantly more than her, and have a lucrative career while she does not. She talks about learning new skills to try and do something new, but she is really bad about teaching herself anything new. Which, to be fair, most people are! It's just a bit tricky to navigate. I mean, tons of people end up in shitty jobs and careers, an dI lucked into a good career, but it does bother me that she sort of half-heartedly does stuff or spends a lot of time watching TV, time that could be spent improving her skills.

I just don't know how to balance all the factors. Nobody is perfect. No partner will ever be able to be everything to me. And I do love her. She is such a genuine, kind person. But I'm just not sure if it will be enough... if our sort of day to day chemistry will be enough if I do not find her to be intellectually stimulating enough. Every once in a while it gets to me a little, and I will snap at her when she hasn't really done anything wrong... but the rest of the time I really appreciate how caring she is. But over the weekend, for example, we visited some friends that are more like me and while we all got along well, any time the conversation was "deep" or abstract, she didn't have much to add, or would add a sort of personal story that missed the point of what we were discussing... it can feel sad to see couples that do have more of that intellectual collection -- but then on the flip side, we fight WAY less than basically any couple we know, and have a much more harmonious home life.

Any advice on how to think through these tradeoffs is very much welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (73 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Blech, please break up with this person so she can find someone else. Everything about how you describe her is extremely off-putting. You need to have better reasons to marry someone than "they'd be a nice mom and take care of me when I'm sick."
posted by cakelite at 1:47 PM on July 8, 2016 [110 favorites]

On the one hand, I want to believe that if you love each other you can make it work. On the other hand, it sounds somewhat disrespectful to say that she wouldn't have "anything insightful to say" about world events, and you're already judging her for watching TV when she could be "improving her skills." It sounds like you think you're better than her and you sound resigned to the possibility that she could ever be your intellectual equal. This doesn't bode well for the long term.
posted by zeusianfog at 1:48 PM on July 8, 2016 [17 favorites]

I'm afraid that I'll come to yearn for something else...

Whether it's intellectual stimulation or something else, you are not committed to this person and you know it. There is no thinking through tradeoffs here. Don't marry her.
posted by headnsouth at 1:49 PM on July 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

I think you should add into her sterling qualities the ability to put up with your obvious condescension.
posted by corb at 1:49 PM on July 8, 2016 [141 favorites]

When you are with a person who is a great candidate for life partner, these will not be the kind of quibbles you will have. This is a pretty glaring personality mismatch, and both of you have much better matches out there somewhere.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:51 PM on July 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Don't marry her. Don't. A lot of people will say this sort of thing doesn't matter in a marriage, and certainly for some people, it really doesn't, but it is clear that it matters a lot to you. That's what's important.
posted by scantee at 1:51 PM on July 8, 2016 [15 favorites]

No two people are ever perfectly, 100% matched in every skill and capability. What you describe about where you mesh and where you differ is reasonable and typical. I think the things that matter more than specifics about where you match and where you differ are things like:

Do you respect her? I mean, really, truly respect her? If those concerns about her disinclination to be intellectual, or to not earn as much as you, are the first steps on the path to thinking that you're better than she is, then do her a favor and get lost ASAP. If on the other hand, you genuinely value her exactly as she is now, and in particular if you have a solid base of respect for how incredibly important it would be for her to do a great job raising your children if that's on your event horizon together, then you're in good shape.

Do you two deal when you disagree? I mean, really, seriously disagree. That's the thing that matters more for success in a long-term relationship. Anyone can stay in it when things are going well, it's the ability to hang together when things are hard and the two of you are at cross-purposes that really makes or breaks a couple. Note that whatever dynamics you use now to calm disagreements *will* be put to the test in the severest possible way in the course of a long life together.

Hope that helps.
posted by Sublimity at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

She's very caring, and we have worked hard to balance our interests (she is into crafts, I am into board games and reading, and she even will play board games with me and my group)

Wait, so you balance your interests by... her participating in your interests? Do you try doing crafts with her on occasion?

I don't want to go hard on you, though. I'm a woman who is fairly intellectual, and I don't think I would consider marrying someone who wasn't at least somewhat on my wavelength. I enjoy the company of many professed non-intellectuals, but I like to have a partner who stimulates that part of me. Nothing wrong with that. I would think about breaking it off, if you're sure you can't have satisfying conversations with her from day to day.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2016 [34 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you respect her at all. It's okay to have different interests, but without basic respect a relationship cannot work long term. I think maybe as you get older you'll start to feel pretty dumb about all this talk about wanting an "intellectual" partner and realize that someone can be intelligent and worthy of your respect without being a person who wants to debate world politics all the time. If you can get there sooner rather than later, give this a go, but otherwise you need to move on so she can be with someone who sees her as an equal.
posted by something something at 1:58 PM on July 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

Any advice on how to think through these tradeoffs is very much welcome.

Consider the following thought experiment:

Print off this question and ask your girlfriend to read it.

Please, please do not do this in practise. This would be cruel to your girlfriend. If it is not clear to you why this would be a cruel thing to do, that would be a whole new Ask.

The point that I am trying to make is this: this relationship is not yours alone but yours, your girlfriends, and both of yours jointly. Based on my experience (limited to participating in n = 1 marriages, plus the marriages and long-term relationships that I observe from various distances), if you were to print off your question, ask your girlfriend to read it, and then talk together about the meaning your question has for you, for her, and for your relationship, this would begin to approximate the level of vulnerability and emotional intimacy that a lifelong partnership demands in order for said partnership to be more worth than it is trouble.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 2:03 PM on July 8, 2016 [20 favorites]

Nthing those who say that it sounds like, down deep, you don't respect this woman. Whether an intellectually-inclined person can be happy in a marriage with someone who is not is a matter of each's character, but there still has to be mutual respect.

I also find it odd that you felt the need to bring up your higher salary in this context. It's one thing to be troubled that if a partner doesn't seem ambitious or interested in self-improvement; that may be a sign of a poor match. It's downright wrong, in the context of describing her personal qualities, to bring up salary disparities. What do they have to with what kind of person she is? You haven't suggested that she's only interested in your money, so why mention it at all, except to hint at how superior you feel to her?
posted by praemunire at 2:05 PM on July 8, 2016 [11 favorites]

Why do you think you've never dated anyone "terribly intellectual"? Why are you holding your partner up to a standard you admit to not actively seeking? Are you scared of being with someone you can't feel smarter than? You need to go deep and figure out what you're really looking for in a life partner, because right now you're kind of shooting yourself in the foot.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:09 PM on July 8, 2016 [81 favorites]

I think that there will always be things that your long-term/forever partner can't give you.

I'm really aesthetically oriented and love art, design, and beautiful things. I think a lot about what color to paint the kitchen, what exact cut of denim to buy next season, or whether to get garden roses or ranunculus for my wedding bouquet (never standard roses, ugh). I love going to museums and art openings. My partner does not have an aesthetic bone in his body. But I love literally everything else about my partner, so I understand that this is just something we don't have in common, and I'm going to be explaining why black formica is ugly for the rest of my life.

For me, this major difference of approach was a no-brainer. Never in a million years would I give up the love of my life because he wears puffy white sneakers and doesn't like museums that much.

So while I don't think it's a problem that your girlfriend is less intellectual than you are, the length of your post makes me think that you do think it's a problem. So that makes it a problem. Let her go so that she can find someone who really wants to be with her.
posted by Sara C. at 2:10 PM on July 8, 2016 [17 favorites]

"I think you should add into her sterling qualities the ability to put up with your obvious condescension."

Just repeating this because sometimes I need to hear this, too!

I think I know what you are getting at, FWIW. Culturally, I have much more in common with most other people, but my husband is a much nicer person than most other people.

There's no correct answer, just a choice to make. How lucky one of you has a great career! I think you are lucky to have a great teammate in life and you could spend less time worrying about what other people think and more time on being nicer to your partner and strengthening your working relationship with each other. Yes, you should try some crafts. I can't tell you how valuable interpersonal communication skills are in marriage. If you have that together, build on it.
posted by jbenben at 2:11 PM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

True deep respect is vital. It feels so nice.

On the other hand: there are so many ways to love someone and connect with them other than conversation or intellectual connection. Every time I've been in love, it has been different.

Just to brainstorm a partial list of interactions, how about: making art, rock climbing, religion, partner dancing, travel, home improvement, hot sex, sports, political activism, car repair, practicing musical instruments, taking care of children, cleaning, attending and/or performing plays, gardening, work, cooking... well, actually, pretty much anything you are into, any human endeavor.
posted by PlannedSpontaneity at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

My usual bellweather in these situations is that if you have to ask relative strangers on the Internet if you should get married, the answer is probably (and rightly) NO.

That being said, your question did prompt me to think about my own marriage. My husband is a really smart person, but not in the same areas that I am (he's an engineer, I'm trained as a lawyer). But the thing that keeps us together the most: we are best friends. There is literally no one else in the world I would want to spend time with than him. It's not an intellectual thing so much as a he is my cheerleader, my confidant and my person. It doesn't sound like you have this with her.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2016 [27 favorites]

On the surface, this doesn't sound like a good match, mainly because you are framing this so strongly as, "I don't think we're a good match. Here's why, from my point of view. Now, random people of the internet, please explain why I'm wrong?"

A marriage is a blending of two individuals' strengths and weaknesses, and I definitely appreciate the ways in which my spouse is different from me and thinks differently than I do. I respect her different talents and interests, and she respects mine.

If you don't have an overwhelming baseline level of respect for your partner, do not marry them! You will spend much of the marriage wondering if you made the right decision, and that's massively unfair to your partner. Marriage is for real and for keeps, and you should see your partner as your full peer, not some second class seat warmer whose best qualities are being good with the day-to-day stuff and taking care of the kids while you ponder The Big Picture. If you aren't all-in on this person being your *partner* for the rest of your life, please don't marry them.
posted by mosk at 2:18 PM on July 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

If I had been with someone for two years and I was thinking about marrying the person and I found out they wrote this question about me, I would be so hurt, and would question whether or not my partner actually respected me in my current state, or just liked having me there for the emotional labor and affection I give them, hoping that I would improve my career and act smarter and basically turn into someone else. This reads like "gosh I love her, but she's dumb."

There is nothing more inherently valuable about your high paying job than her crafts/pop culture interests/television watching. If she was in financial dire straits and should be trying to get out of them, or if she was mooching off of you somehow, then that would be a different conversation, but your question didn't indicate any of that. You two just have different priorities and interests. That's OK. Not everyone cares about a high paying job; there are several different kinds of intelligence, and not all of them have to do with the kind of conversations you are craving.

The danger here is that "she's not intellectual like I am" tends to "she says dumb stuff during our deep conversations" which tends to condescension, and contempt, and any amount of contempt at all will fuck up a partnership that is supposed to be two equals working together. You need to see her as your equal for it to work, and she should also feel that way about you.

Don't marry someone you wish would change, to be more like you or otherwise. Marry someone whose personality you like just how it is, right now, and whom you see as your peer and equal. Also consider ending it and giving her the opportunity to do so.
posted by zdravo at 2:26 PM on July 8, 2016 [42 favorites]

I think the need to feel understood in a relationship can't be overestimated. Sounds like neither of you are going to get that from each other. I'd break it off.

Second The Pink Superhero - investigate why you're drawn to people you feel are lesser than you in a domain you value hugely in yourself.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:28 PM on July 8, 2016 [12 favorites]

I think that the most critical characteristic of successful partnerships is a deep and genuine mutual respect. The way that you write about your girlfriend's qualities and your view of the relationship doesn't really demonstrate that you deeply respect her at all. Don't let the day to day pleasantries of being together prevent you from letting her go. She needs the chance to find someone who will respect her and treasure her and you need to find someone who better matches your own orientations.

If I had a boyfriend who wrote about me the way that you've written about your girlfriend, I would leave immediately.
posted by quince at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2016 [9 favorites]

It sounds like you're not ready to make that decision (and no one can make it for you) and you need to reevaluate the nature of your relationship, first. I'm sure there's a lot that didn't make it into this post, but I'd echo some other commentators in saying that the way you've written this question makes me wonder if you do respect her and love her.

Intelligence has a lot of different manifestations; do you feel like you can talk to each other? Do you have the same values? I tend to be an intellectual woman and have dated men who would not describe themselves as such, and those relationships have lasted briefly because I felt like we couldn't have conversations about the same things. I also had a relationship with a man who wouldn't call himself intellectual, but he was very intelligent, and the way we communicated just worked; he didn't need to agree or say everything the same way, and I didn't feel I needed to change either, but I felt like there was a real exchange when we had conversations and that we were both making a great effort to understand each other (but we were looking for different things in a relationship, in the end). My current partner is probably not as painfully verbose as me but smart and kind and understands me and what I need and value -- we don't land in the same place on everything but there's a deep amount of respect. Do you do that for her and she for you? I'd say you need to seriously evaluate what you value in each other and if that equates to true respect -- and decide whether you are giving her what she deserves and needs. I think the question of marriage is far down the road for you.

That said, I agree; I would be very hurt if I were your girlfriend. The line "the day to day chemistry would be enough if I do not find her intellectually stimulating enough" made my heart sink.
posted by mmmleaf at 2:34 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think I understand your dynamic here, and what your desires and needs are pretty well, and I figure I'd have similar reservations in your case. I do not think your hesitations are unfounded: ideological self-exploration, critical thinking towards self-betterment, how one spends their leisure time, and depth & level of involvement in conversation would all be characteristics I'd look for in a partner, too, and they're hard to discuss, to bring about, to instill in another. You don't change people like that. Insofar as you've described, it's clear as day to us that is of paramount importance to you. Fair.

However, I do also think you need to take a good, hard look at the critical reactions you're getting here in this thread. Is this lack of certain characteristics manifestly meant to be a dealbreaker to you? Are there not other modalities of connection? I don't think your reservations are necessarily preventing you from relating to her with care, but you need to challenge that reaction of snapping at her for no good reason. What is that–? Major red flag on your part, there, to me. That seems resentful, un-adjusted, and requires examination. It certainly relates to the reason why you're posting here. Take pause on this one a little for me.

In short, no; I agree that you don't quite seem to have the fundamental integrity of an 'unconditional positive regard' (to borrow a term from Carl Rogers) towards her that would be necessary to make this work in the very long-term. Mostly, feeling intuitively that marriage would be the right path to go down before making that decision is the way to go, in my mind; I'd say you shouldn't be needing to weigh things to come to a pragmatic decision. mosk's comment has it the best on this subject.

She deserves better than to have someone who does not approach her on the same level as she operates, honestly.
posted by a good beginning at 2:35 PM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Loving someone is the baseline, the absolute minimum for a serious relationship. What it's not is an anchor or a chain. If you simply don't have enough in common, and/or you feel ashamed or disappointed or unhappy that your friends are equals in a way that you and your partner are not, then break up. If I were your girlfriend, I'd want you to break up with me. I want my partner(s) to feel delighted and lucky to have me in their lives, not like they've settled. It's okay to want to feel like your partner is a peer in major ways. But it's also important work to figure out why you've never dated anyone terribly intellectual. If you have some kind of need to feel superior to your partner, that's a recipe for a lifetime of unhappiness and, if true, you need to fix that shit in a hurry.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

The way you describe your girlfriend reminds me a lot of... me. I'm not heavily invested in advancing my career, I half-ass a lot of things and finish very little, I'm not well-read or well-versed in current events, and I wouldn't characterize myself as a deep or intellectual thinker, compared to a lot of my friends.

The thing is, these are things I dwell on when I'm feeling bad about myself: I'm lazy, ditzy, intellectually empty. When I'm feeling good about myself, I think things like: I'm creative, I'm a quick thinker, I have a witty sense of humor, I learn things quickly at work, etc. With the right people, in the right environment, I probably pass for pretty smart, and when I feel like that I'm motivated to learn more and improve myself.

If I married someone who regularly saw me the way I see myself on my bad days... well, all my days would probably be bad days.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:40 PM on July 8, 2016 [85 favorites]

That said, I don't know how much to weight that... because if something terrible happens it becomes so all-consuming, but terrible stuff doesn't happen to you ALL the time.

In life, it is pretty much a guarantee that terrible stuff will happen to you at some point. When it does, you may wish you were with someone supportive.

But I agree that you don't sound terribly respectful of her, though that may just be a quirk of your writing.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2016

I don't favorite a lot of comments around here, but this one from kmennie (it was about platonic friends, not romantic relationships) really struck a chord with me and might do the same with you:

You need to stop thinking of intelligence as the most important thing. I did for years, and I had a number of completely terrible relationships with men with sky-high IQs and the mental illnesses and unfortunate personality traits that like to accompany that if nobody slaps any sense into them at any point. Some could be real assholes; I was young; it was, I told myself, better than dating somebody I might find a bit sub-par intellectually. How boring!

[Y]ou need to get it out of your mind that being smart is something that people should look up to you for, and that other people having minds different from your own is something to look down upon... It is the gifted kid's folly to think it makes them a superior person, just as it is the popular kid's folly to think that the pretty hair and plethora of party invites will hold any meaning when high school ends.
posted by jabes at 2:48 PM on July 8, 2016 [19 favorites]

I am not in a position to tell you to marry this woman or not. I don't think any of us are with this information. But, I do feel qualified to tell your gf to run before you ask her to marry you. So, if you are reading this anonymous gf, think twice, long and hard, before committing to a life with this man.
posted by AugustWest at 3:06 PM on July 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm afraid I'll always want more than she can give.

I'm reminded of a short story I read in high school - The gift of the magi: where the wife sold her hair to buy her husband a chain for his watch. The husband however sold his watch to buy her a comb.
To me - that's marriage : the selflessness and the willingness to sacrifice to make each other happy. "What can we give each other?" as opposed to "what can I get from her?" If you solely ask the second question, I'm afraid you'll always have the same doubt no matter who you're with.
posted by 7life at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2016 [20 favorites]

I'm a big picture person, whereas she shines at the day to day.

You come back to this a few times, but it sounds like she's focused on the big picture (she wants to be married to you and - I assume because you mention her being a mother someday - have children with you) and you're stuck on the day to day (dinner party conversation, hobbies.)

I agree with everything everyone has said about respect. Differing levels of intellectualism can be a dealbreaker for some, and not for others, and either preference is fine. But I kept thinking of how you would write about your differences if you actually respected her. For instance, instead of this:

If we were to have a conversation about world events, for example, she would not have anything insightful to say. And she doesn't think terribly critically about the world -- he doesn't believe strongly in feminism, for example (nor does she strongly oppose it, she's more just indifferent).

You might say this:

She doesn't know very much about world events, and it's not an interest of hers, but she's happy to listen to me talk about it anyway. She doesn't pretend to have beliefs just to appease me; if she doesn't know what she thinks about an issue, she admits she doesn't know.

Instead of this:

Somewhat complicating things is the fact that I make significantly more than her, and have a lucrative career while she does not. She talks about learning new skills to try and do something new, but she is really bad about teaching herself anything new. Which, to be fair, most people are! It's just a bit tricky to navigate. I mean, tons of people end up in shitty jobs and careers, an dI lucked into a good career, but it does bother me that she sort of half-heartedly does stuff or spends a lot of time watching TV, time that could be spent improving her skills.

You might say this:

I am more ambitious at work, and I make more money too. This will work out well long-term when we have children, because realistically one of us will have to take a pay cut and/or more time off work, and knowing that we are both glad it will be her means we'll never fight or resent each other about that.

Instead of:

(she is into crafts, I am into board games and reading, and she even will play board games with me and my group).

You might say:

She's not book-smart, but she's very clever about interpersonal relationships. She understands that sharing hobbies is important to me, so she plays board games with me even though she'd never do that on her own.

Instead of:

we visited some friends that are more like me and while we all got along well, any time the conversation was "deep" or abstract, she didn't have much to add, or would add a sort of personal story that missed the point of what we were discussing...

You might say:

When my friends and I have deep, abstract, and yes, probably a bit pretentious, conversations, she either lets us ramble on or adds something from a totally unexpected, more personal perspective. No, we'll probably never be able to have a truly intellectual conversation ourselves, but she's so different from me and she thinks so differently, that I always find her comments sweet and surprising.


Maybe she really is just a simple fool; hey, some people are. But you say she's a mature, good, kind person, so if you're not actively enthusiastic about the idea of marrying her, it doesn't seem right to keep stringing her along.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2016 [40 favorites]

Contempt is the best predictor of divorce. And it's as likely that she figures out your contempt for her and she leaves.

I second those above asking why, if you value intellectualism and intellectual pursuits so much, why you aren't intentionally seeking out partners that meet that criterion?

Until you can answer that question (and really answer that question, as opposed to just thinking the expectation of receiving tons of emotional labor is sufficient) you certainly aren't ready for marriage.
posted by susiswimmer at 3:53 PM on July 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

OP here (under a new account — hopefully you can see that I at least have a sense of humor around myself). I know it can kind of be poor form to come in and “argue” with people, and that is not at all what I want to do. I’ve found a lot of these comments to be very, very insightful. I just want to give some more context that may help people continue to make really great comments. That said, it’ll probably be long… I think that’s part of the difficulty of the original post, which is that giving all the nuance and whatnot just makes it really, really, long. I tend to be pretty verbose as is…

Of course, the picture of the relationship that I painted was fairly negative. Marriage is a big decision, and while a lot of people here are sort of saying “if you have any doubt of course you shouldn’t,” this doesn’t jibe with the people I know in person who are married. Talking to the people that I know that are married, there are always doubts. Always fears. And so this post was borne of me sort of… perhaps giving undue voice to mine.

I know I came across as terribly pretentious, and that’s because this post is very much about me grappling with what is probably one of the worst parts of myself.

“I think you should add into her sterling qualities the ability to put up with your obvious condescension.”

I realize that I put this out into the void, and am not one to police the responses. I hope you enjoy the yucks.

I do not think that any of us are perfect. I am certainly not. Neither is she. I also don’t feel like there will be a partner that will scratch every itch perfectly, and that is just how it is. I think the underlying question that I am mulling over is: what do _I_ need to get over, and what is just sort of an incontrovertible difference between two people that love each other? I agree that the mere act of asking the question does mean “I’m not ready,” but I also know multiple who are a bit older and alone and, while not unhappy, as they’ve matured over the years they looked back to the reasons they broke up with certain very-compatible partners and rue that they were overly harsh about something which, in the end, doesn’t really matter.

Because that is the hard thing to predict: what matters. I think that a common thread to a lot of the responses is that there has to be a fundamental respect (I actually quite liked the phrasing ‘unconditional positive regard’), and that this post shows that there is a part of me that does not respect a part of her. And I own that. I’m being a dick, really. At least, I am if I continue this relationship without fully respecting her. So what I’m working out is: given that there is this person I love, whom I get along with very well, and with whom together we have gotten better at enriching our relationship in constructive ways, is there something fundamentally flawed between us that will be irreconcilable (ie me wanting her to “get it” a bit more when it comes to a certain way of engaging the world), or is there a way for me to grow a lot personally and appreciate her many good qualities?

I want to make a side note about qualities… it is so easy to describe the things which annoy us, and difficult to describe the things we like. At least for me. Just to sort of highlight the things which are good, I will list some here:

- we have grown to have a constructive way to handle with things making us unhappy. it’s not perfect, but we fight very little, and work through things in what I believe is a happy way. this is a testament to her emotional intelligence and her grit, her desire to make things work and to make a life together that works for both of us

- we both enjoy each others company. though I highlighted an area of a little awkwardness (specifically if we are all together and talking about a book or something, and even that has not been _an issue_ in that my friends all think she is very sweet and fun to be around), we fundamentally do get along well. we’ve traveled to various places, visited friends, and it’s always been fine. she gets along very well with my friends, in that she is a very thoughtful and kind person and they appreciate that. she is the kind of person who will see something while walking down the street and buy it for a friend of mine because she knows it’s the sort of thing they would like — and she will be right! she is way better at buying gifts for people she barely knows and that I have known for 10 years, because she is just really good at reading people in that way. (and before you paint me as the dude who is awful at giving gifts, my friends struggle to get me gifts as well… giving good gifts is hard!)

- she is good at letting things go. if we fight, she doesn’t hold grudges. if we figure out some way to improve things between us, she’ll focus on making that improvement.

- she has helped me further a lifelong quest to be more charitable, less judgmental. this is something that I've made a lot of progress on over the course of my life (if you could only have met me in high school! I was pretty awful!), but she definitely helps round out my general edginess

And of course there are other things. I dunno, it’s hard to take someone and convey what it is, precisely, that makes you love them. It’s even harder to explain why things with them “work”

Here’s the bigger question: she has a lot of really great qualities. She has some qualities that are less great. That’s fine! So do I try and grow and appreciate her for the full human being she is (and thus flawed, like any of us?), or do I break up and try and find someone else who has their own rich set of stuff? Because I do love her and she is amazing in so many ways. I find it hard to believe that people do not go ‘unfulfilled’ in some ways in a long-term relationship, it seems inevitable, but maybe I am wrong? It just seems…impossible? to find someone who can fill EVERY need and desire. Isn’t that what having a broader community is for as well?

I just have to comment on the crafts thing… board games is a social thing, crafts less so. At least for her. She is into crafts that don’t naturally lend themselves to group activity but, more importantly, she doesn’t really care. She is perfectly content just to have me in the same space, reading, as we enjoy each others company and she does her crafting thing. And this is a pleasurable mode for both of us.

“I also find it odd that you felt the need to bring up your higher salary in this context. It's one thing to be troubled that if a partner doesn't seem ambitious or interested in self-improvement; that may be a sign of a poor match. It's downright wrong, in the context of describing her personal qualities, to bring up salary disparities. What do they have to with what kind of person she is? You haven't suggested that she's only interested in your money, so why mention it at all, except to hint at how superior you feel to her?”

I agree that I brought this up poorly. I meant the former, and I guess only mentioned the latter because it creates a bit of an awkward situation. The money thing is really ok, I’m ok with her not earning a lot, late stage capitalism is deeply unfair, it’s just hard to be in the position of paying for everything, AND feeling like they’re not making any efforts as self-improvement that could give her a feeling of more autonomy — something which she herself has expressed a desire for, though I’ve reassured her that it isn’t an issue and that I am happy to let her focus on developing skills that are meaningful instead of getting a crappy job just to have a crappy job, and it’s been fine. I think I see this part generally more like how someone else phrased it later:

“I am more ambitious at work, and I make more money too. This will work out well long-term when we have children, because realistically one of us will have to take a pay cut and/or more time off work, and knowing that we are both glad it will be her means we'll never fight or resent each other about that.”

Oh, and something that I’d like to mention…

“Why do you think you've never dated anyone "terribly intellectual"? Why are you holding your partner up to a standard you admit to not actively seeking? Are you scared of being with someone you can't feel smarter than? You need to go deep and figure out what you're really looking for in a life partner, because right now you're kind of shooting yourself in the foot.”

Ok, I was being a bit glib in that moment. I know some very, very smart people and had just spent a weekend with some of them (who found my GF to be lovely, by the way). I’ve been attracted to and involved with some people I find to have really inspiring intelligences. I’ve dated some others who read, but weren’t as into talking about it as I can be. I’ve dated others who didn’t care. My GF falls somewhere in between “doesn’t care” and “read but doesn’t talk about it.” She herself will tell you that she can be fairly literal, and she isn’t the sort to try and abstract and connect things and make broader claims. She will also tell you that she is not terribly logical — and she is not. If I wanted to be a jerk, I could find many ways that she contradicts herself regularly. Despite all appearances, this is not something I do (unless it’s actually important)

I’ve been madly in love a couple of times with some people who had really inspiring intelligences… one was a long time ago, and that went poorly because of a lack of attraction. I’ve been on plenty of dates with smart, attractive people that I would have been happy to spend more time with, but most of them weren’t romantically attracted to me (though in some cases, including the one above, we struck long-term friendships). So it just sort of didn’t work out, I guess. In the other case, there were some other factors involved, but she lacked a lot of the OTHER things that my gf DOES have… if not for that experience, I probably wouldn’t have the insight not to fetishize raw intelligence the way I did beforehand. That…involvement (wouldn’t call it a relationship for reasons I can’t really go into) was a trainwreck. But there was a very strong intellectual and sexual connection. But there were also a lot of issues…

So I have sought it out, I think what ends up happening is this: some people connect intensely on an intellectual level, some people connect intensely on an emotional level. Largely for circumstance, people in the latter category have found me more attractive or viable as a partner. But I have dated both.

So it’s just how the cards have fallen, I guess. I would also characterize myself as “intense.” I think people would say I have a genuine, but intense energy. It’s hard to describe myself that way because I’m sure people are going to read into this and tell me how awful I sound, but what I can say is that kmennie’s post was something very true of me in high school and early college, and I learned to interact charitably with all sorts of different people. These days I focus on a smaller number of deeper, very meaningful friendships (it’s easier to manage over distance and with the ever-increasing demands of life), and I think the people who get it (including my GF!) appreciate that my intensity, while exhausting at times, comes from the most genuine of places and as a result, we tend to have very honest, emotionally rich relationships.

Just trying to give more context. And I would entreat you to be charitable in your judgement. It’s hard to write this stuff down, to try and figure out how to capture the nuance of someone whom you love deeply, who has so many amazing things about them, who you just clicked through your albums together and started tearing up at the thought of not having them as a daily part of your life, but who has this one incompatibility… I’m trying my best. Of course, I do deeply appreciate the honesty, I welcome it, and I’ve read every single comment in this thread many times and think that they have been very insightful. So I do thank you for that.
posted by thatpretentiousasshole at 3:57 PM on July 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Something I tried to edit in but failed...

And when it comes to finding people, it's hard to know what to prioritize. My GF is real -- I could certainly leave her and try to really find someone more intellectual or whatever, but then the question would be the opposite... do they have that generosity of spirit? Do they have that beautiful soul? Do they see the good in people? Will they buy them a nice gift just to show that they are, in fact, thinking of them? I don't want to stay with someone out of insecurity, so that is not what I mean... all I'm saying is that my GF (who I met when I was quite young, by the way, so I didn't really "seek out a non-intellectual," we just only started dating in relatively recent history) is real and has a lot of great qualities. I do not want to take those things for granted and break up and try to find someone "better" and realize that I was just being a jerk all along because everyone has their pros and cons. But of course, not everyone is meant for everyone! That's why this thread. It's hard to know when to suck it up, and when to break it off. Obviously the bias should be towards "don't get married if you aren't absolutely certain," but I do not want to give up on someone with whom there is a deep love lightly, because we do get along very well and I do think we could build a harmonious life together.
posted by thatpretentiousasshole at 4:03 PM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think there are different cultures and expectations surrounding marriage, and that contemporary Western culture in particular happens to prioritize intellectual and emotional compatibility above practical and logistical things such as potential to be a good mother, responsibility in attending to everyday matters, being generally pleasant. Even something as unglamorous as familial harmony and approval from in-laws can sometimes matter a lot, depending on who you are, what your community and background are like. In other cultures, marriage isn't about finding your soulmate; it's about finding somebody reliable, who you can get along with just well enough so that you can adequately deal with the monumental task of raising a family. And those traits aren't to be taken for granted-- I would take an unintellectual, task-oriented, generous and warm parent over an intellectual, accomplished, self-absorbed parent any day. There is compromise in every marriage, nobody is perfect, and I can totally see why these traits in your girlfriend lead you to consider marriage a possibility.

So, contrary to the voices above, I don't think it's necessarily wrong to marry this person. I think it would be wrong to jump into a marriage while you're still not clear on what your own expectations are. Unhappiness in a marriage isn't about the degree or lack of intellectual compatibility or practical-issues compatibility; it's about a mismatch of expectations. It sounds like right now, you're not sure what you want. You're basically asking us what your priorities should be. The internet can't decide that for you.

I think you're getting a lot of backlash from posters above because it's unpalatable to be an intellectual snob. If your question read, "I've met my intellectual soulmate! The spark is real, guys, and I love her so much. The only thing is, she never does the dishes, doesn't know how to do laundry, and is allergic to being on time-- I can't imagine her being responsible for herself, let alone potential children, which I definitely want to have someday. Can a marriage still work?" ... you would get less judge-y responses.

THAT SAID: it sounds like you value intellectual ability to the point of seeing people who are less cerebral than you as somehow lesser beings. That's an uncomfortable way to live and I'd think about this a little more before you make any big decisions about marriage.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 4:12 PM on July 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

Contempt is the best predictor of divorce. And it's as likely that she figures out your contempt for her and she leaves.

Yeah... FWIW (just some jerk's opinion here, mind), these are the timelines I'm seeing: You getting bored, maybe having an affair with someone who "gets you". She, feeling subtly undermined the whole time, finding you unreachable, maybe seeking comfort and understanding elsewhere. Maybe you both try really hard to make it, and have a long and unsatisfying relationship characterized by just-under-the-surface contempt and distance, with painful crushes and might-have-been thoughts about others along the way. Maybe you just waste each others' time, but it takes a few years, and the whole thing from beginning to end takes you both to 35-36, whereupon she panics and either throws herself into more painful, uneven relationships, because her self esteem is shattered, or freezes in solitude, afraid of making another mistake.

I have a hard time seeing a line in which you stop caring about meeting at whatever level and appreciate her for who she is, and take her as an equal partner. Maybe it's just me (don't think so, though). Not giving you a hard time for that. If you need to connect that way, you just do.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:13 PM on July 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

My tastes and interests run largely towards what you'd probably consider "intellectual." And I have a hard time getting invested in most of what's on TV. This is hardly something to consider as a badge of superiority though and as I get older I have less and less patience for people who do.

"Intellectual" is a pretty empty and often self-serving description. An inflated sense of personal opinions and willingness to dismiss any perspective that lies outside of fairly narrow set of interests is hardly something to brag about. I'd rethink using it as a term around which to frame a personality.

Also, if you make decent money great! Good for you! Don't use that as an excuse to judge how other people choose to spend their time. If you want a partner that earns as much or more than you do, that's reasonable and fine. Don't hide that desire behind some remarks about watching too much TV instead of "improving her skills."

You should break up with this woman. You don't respect her. Your description of her personality oozes with condescension. "She's so genuine! And kind! I love her but she's dumb!" It's odd and telling that you use her lack of interest in feminism as some hallmark proof of her insufficient intellectualism; in contrast to your heightened sensibilities. Not all women need to engage with feminism as an intellectual exercise. It speaks to the blind spots in your intellect that you assume she must.

And, since this is a bit of a pile-on. You're probably a decent enough guy. Before getting into another relationship or pushing this one into more serious territory, I'd take some time to think about why you want the things you want. Figure out what parts of your personality might be harming your ability to find happy and fulfilling relationships.
posted by AtoBtoA at 4:15 PM on July 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

I sort of feel like you're missing the main point of what most people are saying here - it's not that your partner has to be a perfect match, but that you, at a root level, have to respect and admire your partner. It sort of seems like you don't, but you're trying to convince yourself that you do (though that's just my interpretation of what you've written, it could be wrong).

Like for instance, you say:

So do I try and grow and appreciate her for the full human being she is (and thus flawed, like any of us?), or do I break up and try and find someone else who has their own rich set of stuff?

But the things you have a problem with are not actually flaws - they are just ways that she is different from you. She's quiet in intellectual conversations. She prefers crafts to board games. She'd rather relax in front of the TV than "better herself." None of these things are actually flaws.

I could see a universe in which you two are perfectly matched. There are many, many couples in the world where one partner is the breadwinner and one is the emotional laborer; it's sort of the model of a traditional marriage, but I've seen it work well in same-sex couples, or with the traditional gender roles reversed. But it only works if both partners see the value in it, and not in a "I can live with the fact that my partner isn't X, because they make up for it by being Y" way.

But you are still very much in the mode of seeing her difference as being a weakness to be overcome. One thing I noticed is that you want her to be more like you, but while you appreciate her strengths, you don't seem to aspire to be more like her. That is really telling - you still fundamentally believe the things you value are more important than the things she values. That's not promising.
posted by lunasol at 4:19 PM on July 8, 2016 [51 favorites]

The OP said they do aspire to be more like her in some ways:

"she has helped me further a lifelong quest to be more charitable, less judgmental"

But yes, I think it's important to assess how much change is expected, and by whom, and whether that is lopsided.
posted by delight at 4:29 PM on July 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

FWIW, I do not expect her to change at all. I take her as she is. The question is really whether growth is possible on my end (or even should be a goal), vs making what would be an extremely painful breakup for both of us in the search of something different. The thing is, if the problem is with me, I don't want to break up with her, you know? Of course, maybe that will be a part of the path that is necessary for me to eventually mature into someone capable of real, long-term happiness with a partner. But if it's just something I want to work out, I'd like to do that before jeopardizing what has been a very good relationship. Because I don't want to break with her to then have a string of relationships that all end because of the common denominator: me.

I agree that I did not write about her pass-times charitably. I do think she has made me a better person. I haven't tried to change her, but I think that if I'm going to be with her, I need to grow to accept and love her full self and yes, not call it flaws (though by flaws I was trying to mean like...flaws in how we relate to each other, but I do think that my own wording is probably fairly telling).

I do appreciate all of your thoughts. cotton dress sock's timeline is the stuff of my nightmares...
posted by thatpretentiousasshole at 4:33 PM on July 8, 2016

OK, here's an idea to help you grow and see if understanding her better helps: several commenters including me have talked about the emotional labor she does. I wonder if you really fully understand and respect what emotional labor is (not because I think you're a jerk, but because men - I'm assuming you are a man, apologies if you're not - are not generally raised to understand and respect emotional labor).

Have you read the emotional labor megathread from last year? If not, I think that might really help you understand and respect the emotional and mental energy that go into emotional labor, and how it really is a talent/skill. Your girlfriend sounds like she is actually incredibly talented at emotional labor, and maybe it would help you understand her better to know more about what goes into it.

Read the whole thing. It's very long, but you're a reader, right? It's extremely illuminating.
posted by lunasol at 4:45 PM on July 8, 2016 [39 favorites]

There are lots of people who don't need to feel intellectually engaged with their wives. I just don't think you're one of them and I don't think you can change yourself that much. Changes we can make for our partners include things like... picking up our socks, watching our language, behavioral stuff like that. I don't think you can train yourself to not want to engage with a partner in the way you want to engage.

You're arguing hard to convince us that you do appreciate aspects of her, but honestly, if you were excited to marry her, would you have written this question?

I don't think you should marry someone you're not excited about.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:47 PM on July 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

> The question is really whether growth is possible on my end (or even should be a goal), vs making what would be an extremely painful breakup for both of us in the search of something different.

growth is only possible on your end if you choose to make growth a thing that you want. your girlfriend cannot force you to change or grow, nor can you see things from her perspective. so, you know, theoretically, growth is possible. but you have to want that growth, and do the work, for yourself. you have to want to be of a different mind than you currently hold. if you're only pushing that growth on yourself to please her, you're eventually going to resent her if you didn't want to change/grow in the first place.

i think you might need to sit down and take a hard look at the nasty bits of yourself. then you need to decide whether or not you want to change those for your own sake, or whether you're okay with them the way they are. then decide if said nasty bits are coloring how you see your girlfriend/potential spouse. if you've decided to keep the nasty bits, and they are coloring/souring your outlook on her, then you probably have your answer as to whether growth should be a goal.
posted by koroshiya at 4:56 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know some folks exactly like you two. They are broken up now, and have been for almost 4 years. People around them were shocked when they announced the break-up (no outward tension, everybody LOVED the gf). It was revealed later that she wasn't ambitious enough for him.

Fast forward to last year, he's gotten with someone who is perfect with him. They're almost like two versions of each other. I actually met him with his current gf first, but after meeting his ex I was pretty damn conflicted because I liked her a lot as well. A lot of his other friends are too, because she's just that awesome (not to say current gf isn't, she's great too in her way).

Anyway, I brought this up to say: Break-up gently, and keep going. There's someone else for you out there.

I've read questions with guys asking the same thing about their wife of 20 years with kids in tow. Don't be that guy. Just let her go. If she's as you describe, she deserves someone who can appreciate her fully and can accept the things she is not.
posted by ThatSox at 5:26 PM on July 8, 2016 [7 favorites]

Hmmm....I'm not gonna comment on her or your intellectualness, but the thing that struck me about this was that you don't sound like you are IN love with her. Sure, you may love her or at least care about her, but you do not sound besotted and delighted to get married. You sound like you're settling. "She has good qualities A-X, I'm just wondering about a lack of Y and Z." Or "It's gonna be time to settle down and have kids in 2 years, she'll do." You do not sound super enthusiastic about her as a person. Kinda...meh? It's reminding me of the beginning of this video about how Stephen Colbert met his wife. Note that at the beginning he's dating a woman that he says he loves, but he sounds about as enthusiastic about marrying her as you do.

I think people would rather marry someone that they're excited about marrying. You're not, so don't.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:30 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mod note: thatpretentiousasshole, commenting in your anon question with a sockpuppet account is fine, but you need to a) only provide necessary clarifications/updates and b) not piggyback questions, just like if this was your main account. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:33 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Gotcha, restless_nomad. I will bow out now, then. I will still be reading your comment and am sincere in appreciating them. I am just a stranger on the internet, of course. I think if you were to meet me, you would not hate me. But I am not being fair to this woman I love...

Thanks again, everyone.
posted by thatpretentiousasshole at 5:36 PM on July 8, 2016

You think that women can either be functional as "woman" (emotionally intelligent, kind, caring) OR they can be your intellectual equal. But you don't really believe that there are women who are both. So you want to stay with this person despite not finding her to be your equal.

I would try fix this belief, if I were you. And move on from this relationship.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 5:45 PM on July 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

Looking for flaws in partners is a common feature of Avoidant Attachment, and acts as a handy way to keep distance in relationships. Have you considered that you might be avoidant, and that it might be something to work on?
posted by clawsoon at 6:03 PM on July 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

I also recommend the emotional labor megathread as well as this followup AskMe.

Language choice seems to indicate your thoughts and opinions on her. It sounds like she does a lot of emotional labor to help connect you with your friends and to keep you grounded. It doesn't really sound like you appreciate what she does for you, instead it sounds like you kind of take it (and her) for granted. There seems to be a lot of "we discuss and then she works on it" - are you also working on these issues or is it her place to fix?

I think that while you love her and she loves you, that in the long run you would be better off with other people. I believe you can find another woman as well-fitting or better for you and same with her. I think you are looking at 40+ years of being a pretty-good-but-not-great fit for each other. I believe you could have a successful marriage, but also that you would be happier with someone with a slightly different set of attributes.

Realize that a relationship doesn't have to be bad for it to end - it can be pretty great but not quite there. I had a pretty good relationship with someone who matched up with me in a lot of ways. We talked marriage. We were extremely fond of each other and he is a great person. Still, I ended up breaking up with him and went on to find my now-husband, who is an even better match with me.

I think enlisting the aid of a therapist to talk through some of these issues in person may be a good first step in figuring out your own mind on this.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:12 PM on July 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

I think people are being a bit hard on you. I am an intellectual (woman). The best guy I ever dated had may be read three books in his life. He was a carpenter and made beautiful things but in the end it was a deal breaker for me (and I say this ten years later). I don’t regret it for a second. In the end if it matters for you it matters. Literature is my career and my passion and overtime it became increasingly important for to me to be able to share that, at least to some extent, with a partner.
posted by mossy_george at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2016 [6 favorites]

I think you are overly invested in finding "the right" answer. There's an enormous amount of uncertainty inherent in this level of decision making; there's also, by necessity, an enormous amount of compromise. It's entirely possible that the stuff everyone is picking up on in this thread is due to your own anxious/perfectionist traits, rather than something specific to your relationship with this woman.

To put it another way: do you get caught in a highly intellectual pro-vs-con debate over other decisions, like which college to go to or which job to accept? Can you list ten or fifteen things that make you wish you hadn't bought the car you drive now? There are times when relying on this particular skill can be counterproductive.
posted by SMPA at 7:17 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

So, I am a woman who was once in a similar position as the one you find yourself in now. I married my guy; we split up after two years and divorced two years later. When we married, I was actually glad that he came from a less intellectual background. My family was hyper-intellectual (with exceptions), and had furnished a few public intellectuals of local/ national standing. It was also ridiculously dysfunctional, laughably hypocritical, and utterly abusive. Intellectual prowess was one of the many things used as a cudgel in their abusive shenanigans. A non-intellectual with a vigorous mind was my dream man.

My marriage broke down for a number of reason (including abuse), but the one thing that is at the forefront of my mind when I think about that era is the fact that he kept ridiculing me for being too intellectual. In fact, the first instance of violence came because I was reading a book (it wasn’t even a great book or anything, just some trashy novel I’d picked up). What puzzled me though is that I had felt uneasy even before our marriage, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, since the explicit stuff started only after we were married. It was due to Metafilter that I became acquainted with Gotmann’s notion of bid for attention.

I realized that what really got me down even before marriage was a feeling of being isolated, alone, and not entirely respected. I am a person whose ‘bids’ come from a worldview and general way of operating in the world that could be described as intellectual. I don’t mean that I keep referencing Shakespeare in my bids, or that I keep hinting at current affairs or whatnot, rather that in general the things I say, the way I say them, as well as the things I hear from other people are incredibly coloured by particular ways of using the mind and of relating to the world. My ex routinely ignored my bids or, after we got married, he quite viciously and publicly rebuffed the few he actually ‘saw’.

The same thing happened a few more times, with other exes who were similarly non- or even anti-intellectual (see my first paragraph as to why I kept banging my head against the same wall). I couldn’t figure out why we kept failing on intellectual incompatibility despite the fact I hated intellectualism like that of my family and their ilk.

A few years back I had an insight which could have saved me some grief: as far as I am concerned, being intellectual can mean at least 3 different things:

- being erudite (in-depth, mostly discipline-related knowledge),

- being well-informed (current knowledge focus, can be fairly superficial), and

- having a supple, well-practiced mind (this is more about the mind as a well-trained organ, presupposes only as much knowledge as is necessary for mental operations to be performed, knowledge may seem relatively fleeting and/ or not easily retrieved for operation purposes, but is handled with sophistication if it is made available, maybe in the external world, say, during a conversation).

Whilst I can admire the former two, even be awed by them, the one that is essential for me in close relationships is the latter.

Experience has taught me that I can easily live without the knowledge-heavy parts of being an intellectual, but I’d never be able to have in my closest circle someone who is utterly unpracticed in using their mind. Age has only solidified this, having spent many years feeling completely dismissed. To me, that is a huge rift, and truly difficult to bridge, like a really big cultural divide. It isn’t so much that I need an answer in kind to my bids, or even a positive answer, but that at the very least my bids are recognized as such and are not met with aggression or derision.

If I were you, this is what I’d do:

1. Try to define the aspects of ‘intellectual’ that are truly important for you (meaning, separate the ‘nice to haves’ from the ‘I can’t live without this’). Would you prefer your gf to be more well-read in general? What about if she was, say, an Egyptologist with absolutely zero interest in anything else (but capable of talking at length about hieroglyphs and Ancient Egyptian literature)? Is she, maybe, in conversations with you, curious, open, and astute once she is offered information?

2. If she is neither well-read nor particularly interested in/ good at engaging with you intellectually, does she nonetheless manage to recognize your bids and engage with them? You describe her as particularly emotional intelligent – do you feel heard and turned towards, as it were, albeit maybe not in the exact way in which you’d prefer? And, equally importantly, do you feel like you can recognize her bids and turn towards her without feeling like this is a hardship for you?

3. Try to separate what is important to you in your intimacy vs. what is important to you in terms of your social standing. Do you feel sad and like there is something important lacking in your relationship? Or is it more that you fear judgement from others? Do you sometimes/ frequently feel unrecognized, dismissed, lonely, or do you fear that others will judge you as not up to par because of your girlfriend?

4. If you do feel unheard and unfulfilled and possibly that you are not able to hear her fully – do you think you could discuss this with your gf and approach things from this pov (so rather than ‘you should read more’ say something like ‘I feel lonely when I mention x and you don’t ask about it/ are uninterested in it).

5. Wrt her employment situation. I’d try to figure out if I can make my peace with things never changing much from where they are now. Some people are just unhappy in most workplaces (for example, me), are not particularly ambitious (again, me), don’t think that acquiring certain skills that happen to be lucrative is more virtuous than working on other things (you get the drift by now), or that making a lot of money is inherently good etc. Would you be happy to live with someone who is unemployed or under-employed, doesn’t have a lot of marketable skills and prioritizes hobbies and relaxation over ambition? Would you feel happy being the sole breadwinner?

Good luck. I think this isn’t an easy decision. Personally, I would break up with her, but then I have a lot of bad experiences with this kind of dynamic. Maybe the two of you are strong enough individually and together to pull this off.
posted by miorita at 7:41 PM on July 8, 2016 [18 favorites]

LOL, your sock puppet update spends A LOT of words detailing how much super hard work this woman does on your behalf. Holy Toledo!

She is carrying the relationship. Maybe you would feel more committed if you were putting in equal effort? Also, it is easy to be intellectual and have lofty hobbies when the other person is doing all the heavy emotional lifting.

You need to pick up the slack or move on. She deserves more effort from a partner.
posted by jbenben at 8:21 PM on July 8, 2016 [28 favorites]

it’s just hard to be in the position of paying for everything, AND feeling like they’re not making any efforts as self-improvement that could give her a feeling of more autonomy — something which she herself has expressed a desire for, though I’ve reassured her that it isn’t an issue and that I am happy to let her focus on developing skills that are meaningful instead of getting a crappy job just to have a crappy job, and it’s been fine.

What you say in the first half of this sentence fundamentally contradicts what you say in the second half. You don't like paying for everything, you think she should be trying to earn more money (in itself a weird thing to say unless she is genuinely failing to support herself, as opposed to not earning enough to live the lifestyle you would prefer), but, hey, it's fine for her not to chase higher-paid work!

I'm someone who lives very much in her head. Maybe the most shameful aspect of my character is the impatient reaction I sometimes have towards my mom, who is a far better person than I am but comes near to the "unintellectual, task-oriented, generous and warm parent" described above. But she's my mom. That relationship is permanent and the onus is absolutely on me to appreciate and respect her for what she is and what she has done for me. I would not marry someone for whom I had the kind of hiccups of respect I sometimes have for her. You shouldn't put yourself in enduring intimate personal relations that elicit the worse sides of you.
posted by praemunire at 9:04 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think you hit it on the head when you said something along the lines that there will never be a perfect match, that there will always be something that you wish you could be more compatible on. It is sort of like buying a house in that compromises need to be made. After reading your many updates, I have changed my mind. I think you should stick with the relationship. I think that while the issue of intellectual compatibility may become an issue later on, so might many other issues with her or with your next gf. I think there are a lot of deal breakers, but I do not think this is one of them. You can find intellectually curious people outside the marriage to be friends with. If you told me the sex drive was vastly different, I would say run.

I think if you are committed growth and change, accept that you still have some maturing to do, then I think trying to grow with her, together both as individuals and as a couple then go for it.
posted by AugustWest at 9:23 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the things that makes it difficult to answer your question with any confidence is that you are being abstract in your opening paragraphs, almost vague. I know you can't pop back in to specify what you mean by "big picture person", but if you asked 5 people reading the thread, you'd get 5 different interpretations. I understand that you don't want to share all your business in detail with internet strangers, but I hope that when you pace around and talk to yourself about the future of your relationship that you can pin down your feelings more completely. What you posted is pretty opaque. I hope you are not this opaque to yourself.

Going off in a weird direction -- are you maybe a competitive person? (Because of your boardgaming hobby and your concern about your girlfriend's lack of ambition.) I'm not wired that way, which slants my view, but a person who is competitive, and a little judgy about everyone else's score, may not actually enjoy being married to another competitive person. Because if both people are always striving to win, that can spark a lot of fighting. Your gf sounds very accomodating to your preferences.

Are you generally happy, except when visiting high status friends? (Was your reaction to that a blip?) Has your relationship been getting better and better? Do you connect well sexually? Don't type the answers here, but think about them. Your the one with the info and the emotions to evaluate your choice. We can all nudge you, but it's like tailoring pants for someone you have never seen or measured.

I think people who are lukewarm should break-up. Especially if timetables for having kids are different and the clock is ticking. BUT, I can easily imagine that girlfriend N+1, unless she is an utterly amazing statistical outlier, will lack features that girlfriend N has. And you will miss the good things that you have now and mentally kick yourself. Can I predict for you the amazingness of the partners in your future? No I cannot.
posted by puddledork at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm starting to think, at my wise old age of 35, that if, deep down, you already know what fundamental quality is missing in your relationship that might drive you to even consider an affair before you get to the altar, you should not get married to this person. The fact that cotton dress sock's timeline gives you pause is telling.
posted by umwhat at 10:47 PM on July 8, 2016 [11 favorites]

Reading over you agonizing about your relationship with her is painful. You sound like you're trying to convince yourself to do something that you really don't want to do, because she's too nice and people like her too much for you to break up with her. If the question is "SHOULD this be a deal breaker?" or "IS THIS, generally speaking, always a deal breaker for others?" then the answer is going to be no, but the question appears to be, and should be "is this a deal breaker for me?" Only you can answer but it really sounds like a yes.

One of your major internal talking points seems to be the fact that you're not going to find someone perfect, or who can "scratch every itch" or "fulfill every need". Of course not, but the needs that go unfulfilled and the itches that go unscratched have to be things you're comfortable with, and shouldn't be things you need to spend eons contemplating and internally debating about. For example, I'm not a gamer, and my husband spends a lot of time playing computer games, whereas I prefer to have hobbies directed towards self-improvement or making the world a better place (learning languages, gardening/permaculture, humanitarian pursuits, exercise). Sometimes that mismatch in our interests makes me irritable. It sounds similar to what you experience in your relationship. But unlike your situation, my husband is super intellectual like I am, loves to read and learn about history, politics, and current events, doesn't mind yammering on about those topics, and is an ambitious person with a very lucrative and high intensity career - he just likes to play video games when he gets home for stress relief. I see your problem with your girlfriend as being more than just one single unfulfilled need, it's several - you want someone with certain types of hobbies, yes, but you also wish she were more ambitious, wish that she could be more of a financially equal partner, and wish that she would carry on intellectual or abstract conversations with you. Each one of these four issues is actually a pretty big deal, and I do think it's likely you could find someone who will align better with your needs.

For example, an intellectual who has an ambitious career as a lawyer, doctor, or engineer probably wouldn't bug you as much even if her hobbies also included television watching, because you wouldn't be sweating so much the fact that she needed to "improve her skills" in her spare time to make more money. Or someone who loves to debate politics and current events with you and always has something insightful to say about those topics, who has hobbies you think are really amazing, but has a job where she's just a pencil pusher. It seems to me you're looking at this as "if I could only get past this one thing, we'd be perfect together" whereas a more realistic view is "if I could only make her a profoundly different person than who she is or make myself a profoundly different person than I am, we'd be perfect together."
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:24 AM on July 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

2nd praemunire, yikes, yes.

But I'm just not sure if it will be enough... if our sort of day to day chemistry will be enough if I do not find her to be intellectually stimulating enough. Every once in a while it gets to me a little, and I will snap at her when she hasn't really done anything wrong... but the rest of the time I really appreciate how caring she is.

You're snapping at her because she irritates you. Because she isn't seeing what you see, through your filter. Maybe she really can't. It's frustrating you. Just a little bit now, because she makes things smooth and pleasant. It will happen more often, when the honeymoon wears off. You're already embarrassed of her.

If you're competitive, dominant, intense, etc., and she's easygoing, service-minded, wants to please - and especially given the imbalance in income and status, and her own confusion around career and maybe purpose - there's an even darker possible timeline than just cheating or being miserable... An awful and sadly common tendency is for people to use the power they have, and, to take power that's given to them, by a person, or through a situation or dynamic. Can happen to the best people, to anyone, despite their best intentions. (Cf all forms of privilege, cf the Stanford prison experiment.) We just naturally exploit power, especially when it's presented to us, sometimes, especially, in love.

This is going to sound extreme, and I'm in no way saying you're abusive now, but I think that if you stay with someone you don't respect, who already frustrates and (kind of, you admit) embarrasses you, any latent domineering tendencies are going to have an opportunity to flourish, if they're not checked. (Will your partner check them?) What's keeping you from expressing irritation now? The pleasure you get from her loveliness, her acquiescence. Without mutual respect, a spontaneous sense of equality, and a situation that promotes it - you will get used to her acquiescence. She may feel compelled to give (in) even more, with time. She might sense your criticisms, and feel diminished by them, behave accordingly; maybe she'll seem weaker in your eyes; maybe this will irritate you further, maybe you'll struggle to hold it back.

People are saying you need to work on valuing her qualities, I agree; but I don't think you can force yourself respect someone.

2nd Rock 'em Sock 'em, also. I don't know, maybe there's a bit of truth to your idea that many intellectual, driven women aren't always or primarily keen on making life sweet for others, or somewhat resent that work when they do. But it's not either "crazy, smart, and hot" or "sweet, caring, and boring" - there are balanced people out there. Many intellectual women do get pleasure from the making-life-pleasant side of things. They're looking for partners who'll return the favour. People pointing you to the emotional labour thread are bang on...

I think that if you continue to develop the skills and qualities you're currently seeking from your partner, you'll be better placed to have a good life with someone who both stimulates and cares for you. I don't think you should be looking for balance in the kind of starkly divided complementarity characterizing this relationship; your insight that you should continue to try build those emotional and practical capacities within yourself is right. I don't think you should use this partner for that purpose, though.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:39 AM on July 9, 2016 [13 favorites]

I know I came across as terribly pretentious, and that’s because this post is very much about me grappling with what is probably one of the worst parts of myself.

You nailed it. Your original post and your update are entirely about you grappling with yourself. Your girlfriend is a bit player; a mirror you use to look at yourself; and when you find yourself lacking, you say it's an issue with the mirror apart from some cosmetic issues with yourself that are brushed aside with deprecatory jokes.

Then when people here mention that relationships need respect and mutual appreciation, you interpret it as needing to think the mirror is nice and practical, and oh by the way it's just a mirror, it doesn't care if I don't reciprocate.

Commenters here are approaching your relationship in a fundamentally different way than you are: they are telling you to see it as a relationship between two people. Meaning, your girlfriend is an individual who has the very same needs you do. Have you tried crafting? On your own. To see what you like about it, so that you can then have a place of reference to empathize with your girlfriend's interest. Or have you even made a connection between the fact that reading and intellectualizing is as much a craft as physical crafting is? I'll spell out what I just did there: I used my own personal experience as an intellectual and a crafter to draw a parallel between the creativity of intellectual analysis and making something from nothing, to empathize.

There's a reason Athena was the goddess of weaving and wisdom.

Paraphrased yet another way, to hopefully spark comprehension on your part: you're able to say what's valuable about her when it's useful to you, but are you able to say anything valuable about her, genuinely valuable, that's in relation to her and her alone? Not in relation to, for instance, your friends (we still haven't heard about hers, do you know any of them?), but in relation to HER, and HER ALONE. In detail, not just an all-encompassing "she does crafts". That's like saying "you have a job." Are you able to talk about her, in relation to herself? With as much care and attention as you would give to a book, except more because she's a person, not words on dead trees. (I'm saying that as someone with a Masters degree in comparative literature, okay. Books would not exist without living, breathing human relationships.)

Finally. For another example. I lived through this too, and I was "the non-intellectual girlfriend" who "didn't make an effort." I was great with my boyfriend's friends, they thought my stories were fun but my boyfriend thought they were pointless, I was constantly given grief about not improving myself but "hey honey it's great you want to improve yourself it's just I feel I'm not getting what I want from this relationship I'd really like someone more ambitious"... I left him. If you want to go by external markers of success, I now have a well-paid, high-flying job with more responsibility and recognition than he has ever had, and we work in the same line of business. And I achieved that in spite of not holding a degree in the area. How? Why? Because once I no longer had to haul all the emotional weight of that relationship, I was able to be ambitious.

You have a lot to think about here. If you genuinely want her to do more, then do some more heavy lifting yourself. Use that powerful brain of yours to treat her like the individual she is, richer than any book that will ever be written (this is true for every person on the planet). If you don't think it's worth the effort, because (metaphorically) she's not the type of book you want to read, break up.
posted by fraula at 2:59 AM on July 9, 2016 [32 favorites]

OP, as an "intellectual" person it seems that you enjoy analyzing things until they're raw. Which is fine; not everyone is like that, but you can be that way if you want.

But the amount of analysis you're applying to your relationship -- with the help of internet strangers, no less! -- is way, way overboard. Your followup comment made me cringe so hard I couldn't finish reading it. If you want to make a life with someone, then it should be so incredibly clear to you that you don't have to analyze things to this extent. They should be a comfort to you, not a compatibility puzzle that you try to find a solution to. Every partner you will ever have will have flaws, but a flawed someone can still be so obviously perfect for you that the flaws don't matter because you take them as part of the whole of the person they are. And it's normal to reflect on a relationship and wonder if it's right for you, that's fine too. But to apply so much analysis to your partner that it reduces them to a list of emotionless pros and cons? You're not even thinking about her as a person, and that makes me so sad for her.

When the question of "should I stay or should I go?" inspires you to go through such extensive mental gymnastics, then it's already too late to save things. Let this girl go so she can find someone who can love her unconditionally, and next time don't poison your side of the relationship by letting this deep analysis crap go on like this.
posted by phatkitten at 5:40 AM on July 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

You'e asking a very common question that is asked about once a fortnight here: do I settle for what I have, which is safe and predictable, or risk being alone because I won't find anyone "better"? You frame it in a thousand or more words and hide behind multiple rationalizations and clarifications and oh-just-one-more-thing but it's the same question. And it's always asked out of fear, not out of love. You fear settling, and you fear being alone. Your question is essentially: which of these two things I fear is worse?

As said myriad times upthread, your girlfriend deserves to be cherished, not to be settled for.
posted by headnsouth at 5:55 AM on July 9, 2016 [25 favorites]

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. If you feel too angry about the question to not insult the OP in your answer, please just pass this one by, or wait until you have a cooler head. Giving straightforward advice, even if it might be fairly blunt, is usually fine, but we ask that people try to be helpful and productive and avoid insulting and/or venting type answers.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:53 AM on July 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

The thing is, if the problem is with me, I don't want to break up with her, you know?

Actually, it's the not wanting to break up with her that is the problem, you know? You're really self centered; you like all the nice soft sweet girly things she brings to your life (bet she probably even has sex with you!) but you don't really respect her; and all 2000 words you've spilled about this have been about what she is or does for you, and not one whit about what you want to give to or build with her.

It's pretty common for guys to float along in this state--not wanting to give up the goodies, able to sweep their dissatisfactions under the rug, not wanting to give up the rare and wonderful access to a sex partner. And then a few years down the road you're married, and the shit typically hits the fan when the baby arrives and, surprise, the whole world expects you to serve her and them, and not the other way around.

I bet you won't break up with her. It'd be awesome if you grew up a little from all this feedback. Just sayin'.
posted by Sublimity at 10:57 AM on July 9, 2016 [19 favorites]

Here is what I think. You have been together for 2 years and now you are bored and want something new. These are just excuses you are making to yourself to convince yourself that there is a good reason to leave her and you want validation from us. If she was not that intellectually interesting, how did you stay for 2 years-if intellectual stimulation was all that interesting to you, let's say on a scale of 1 to 10, a 9 or even an 8, the fact that she is not, would have been a deal breaker in a few months. BUT you stayed together so I don't think that is the reason now. Things are the same, you have changed.
posted by metajim at 4:06 PM on July 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Setting aside all judgment, I have a friend who is married to the world's nicest woman, who is just not an intellectual. She doesn't read books, and she doesn't engage with movies, say, at the level of thinking about what their subtextual statements about sex, race, or so on might be. My friend does. This kind of thinking about things is my friend's bread and butter. Her wife is thoughtful, kind, loyal, attractive, warm, hard-working, domestically-inclined, supportive and loving—her good qualities would take a very long time to list. But it has been a constant issue in their relationship that this kind of intellectual engagement with art, media, and literature is not something my friend can have with her. My friend is very clear that this isn't some kind of flaw in her wife, and she neither blames nor criticizes her for it. But intellectual engagement, three-hour discussions about two-hour movies, endless conversations about books, history, art, theology, are a major way that my friend connects to people, and it has never gotten entirely OK that she can't have it with her wife.

I don't know that this is specific to intellectual/not-intellectual, but a broader question about whether a relationship can work where one partner can't engage with something that is very central to the other partner. Having different hobbies isn't a big deal—if one person likes hiking and the other prefers knitting, say. Unless the person who likes hiking wants going on hikes together to be part of their romantic relationship. This is why I want to be clear I'm not being judgmental because your specific issue is about intellect. But if your vision of a relationship in which you can be happy includes certain kinds of intellectual engagement, you should pay attention to that.
posted by not that girl at 5:36 PM on July 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm about a decade older than you, and none of my romantic partners have been as intellectually driven as I am. Depending on how far out of the bell curve distribution you are, you may never find that either. For myself, well, I haven't minded. I've got other people and my career for that. Then again, I've also got many interests that aren't intellectual, and I've never been married, so there is that...
posted by PlannedSpontaneity at 9:04 PM on July 9, 2016

Jesus, some of the answers are so focused on picking apart your every flaw that I urge you to seek out a therapist to work through doubts you have about your relationship. Remember that it's easy for us to judge you and it feels good to rip apart someone that you think deserves to be taken down a peg or two, to the point where it's not even about you anymore. Answers given are not always fair, not always wise, and sometimes harmful. I say this not to argue with other posters but because I hope that you know that you're not an asshole for asking this question and that it is good that you're asking it. FWIW, I didn't hear any contempt for your girlfriend in what you wrote.

I am in a similar relationship to yours in some ways, and therapy has helped me work through it. My GF is kind, patient, considerate, sexy and smart in ways that I am not but that I admire, but she has never and will never be able to fulfill me when it comes to things like reading/discussing books and longform articles or talking about feminism, design, fashion, food politics blah blah blah. She likes watching sports, playing video games and watching the sort of TV shows that I find deeply troubling in terms of sexism/fatphobia. I also make a lot more money than she does and am building a career while she is still unsure of what she wants to do and has job-hopped quite a bit, so I think I understand why you mentioned it — it can be hard to carry the responsibility of saving for an emergency, buying a house, buying major appliances, etc, even if you recognize that it's privilege/luck that got you a higher paying job, not moral superiority.

Through therapy, I have been able to feel comfortable in my relationship right now, but I know that it is unlikely this relationship will last the rest of my life. I do think that being more matched in terms of what I find valuable is important and reading your question, I am not sure if you would be fulfilled long-term. What has worked for me is being as open and honest with my girlfriend about how I worry that our mismatched hobbies/interests means that I will be lonely or unfulfilled in our relationship but to articulate all the things that I value about her and why I want to be with her. Talking about it has brought us closer together; I learned that she shared my anxiety, and also that she wanted to try even so, both of us aware that it might end up being a dealbreaker. I realize that if you're wanting to get married and have kids that "wait and see" might not the right solution for you. But we're not wasting time being together, we enrich each other's lives and care for each other.

It took me awhile to be able to untangle that what I find valuable shouldn't be a judgement about other people's interests. Therapy made me realize—and I wonder if this is true for you—that my fear was of other people judging me for dating someone that had such different tastes than I did. I was preemptively viewing my girlfriend from the unkind lens that I assumed other people viewed her through and ended up basically being defensive about dating her, which is fucked up in all kinds of ways. I've worked to dispel the belief that I need my partner to make me look smart/attractive/successful. Whatever my friends think about my girlfriend doesn't matter (unless she's abusive/racist/an asshole and harming myself/others) and I had to stop giving my insecurities a voice when it came to my relationship.

Please be kind to yourself and to your girlfriend while you work through this!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:27 PM on July 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm going to steal a line from Stephen Colbert's story of how he met his now wife (although I highly recommend finding the video and watching it in its entirety). If you are thinking about marrying someone, "I don't know" isn't a good enough answer. You should be with someone you are sure about.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 10:42 PM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

OP, does your gf want kids?

I don't think you're a jerk either, fwiw. But snapping for apparently (to your gf) random and opaque reasons, with any regularity, is the beginning of a slippery slope that (I believe) very often is there for situational reasons. Like being with someone who just isn't a match, in crucial ways.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:34 AM on July 10, 2016

I think many of the responses you received are unduly harsh. If intellectual connection is important to you, it's important to you, you can't reason yourself out of it or pretend that those preferences don't exist. Continued introspection into how important this quality is to you in a relationship will be really important. We all have a list of qualities we'd like in an ideal partner and every person makes compromises on some of those qualities so that they can be with an actual human being rather than a fantasy object . The trick is figure out which of these qualities you can compromise on and which ones are dealbreakers. My reading is that intellectual connection is a dealbreaker for you and this relationship will be an unhappy one (for you) if you end up married.

I'm about ten years older than you and most of the people I interact with are married couples with kids, so I've had the chance to see how partnering decisions like the ones you're currently making play out further down the line. I know a few relationships like yours where one person discounted the importance of intellectual connection to them, went ahead and got married, and had kids. These relationships are pretty unhappy. Not the kind of unhappiness that stems from relational toxicity or real dysfunction, but the unhappiness that comes from not being able to connect with your lifelong partner in the way that is most important to you. I think the people in them would describe them as "fine" and there isn't animosity there, but they'd also say that they feel pretty empty and lacking in the closeness they desire. From a point of remove, they certainly recognize their partners' many good qualities, but being able to objectively say nice things about the person you're with doesn't mean that you will feel connected to them if there is some essential ingredient missing that you really value. So, if I was in your situation, the questions I would be asking myself are: am I okay with a lifelong relationship that is "fine"? One where the person I'm with forever doesn't quite get or understand me? Where there is no expectation that we'll be best friends because we can't really be best friends?

Memail me if you'd like to talk more about this.
posted by scantee at 10:02 AM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

You are unfulfilled in this relationship. And if you never meet a woman with whom there is an intellectual spark that makes you swoon, you will probably be relatively content.

It's when you stumble across that person you didn't know existed, and you suddenly realize what you've been missing, that trouble will happen.

It's inevitable that it will happen. Smart people run in the same circles.

It's better to be alone than to have that kind of trouble happen. Especially when you're married and even more so when you have kids.

Don't marry your current girlfriend.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 12:45 PM on July 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

For the longest time I revered abstract intelligence and was far too dismissive of the other kinds, and there are many, notably emotional and social. The trick is to find an intellectual who is equal parts abstract, emotional and social, and that just is not easy because being occupied with abstract thinking can leave a lot less time to develop the other two. So I loved a lot of very brilliant, very self-absorbed men (this is, I think the gist of all the sad young literary men). It may be because I was self-absorbed, too, and like attracts like.

The best mothers are those that have emotional and social intelligence in spades. This is coming from someone who grew up with a very smart, very depressed mom who had no idea how to form an attachment with her child.

I would break up with her because you're wasting her time. You're too immature right now to appreciate the kind of intelligence she has because you only know about the value of the bright light given off by intellectuals who can quote Proust and Wittgenstein, or whomever makes you feel less insecure about your own intelligence. Find your intellectual girl and she may well drop you for someone with a better book collection. Though if this happens enough you'll probably grow up, only to look back fondly at your trustworthy ex :)
posted by kewpiesockpuppetdoll at 5:20 PM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

marry that girl!
posted by Izzi at 3:31 PM on July 15, 2016

« Older Are there downsides to not eating organ meats?   |   What to ask a consultant about Primary Progressive... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.