A slot on a recent edition of Women’s Hour focussed on the topic of intellectual equality in relationships, and whether relationships are harder to make work if the woman is the intellectual better of her male partner.
(As an aside: if you’ve not heard WH before, you should listen to a programme – an audio version of a WI meeting, it ain’t. There are probably few other broadcasters in the world who’d be happy to hold a debate on female masturbation at 10am on a Tuesday.)
It was an interesting discussion, and the hypothesis was one that the majority of the women interviewed agreed with. The reasons behind it, though, weren’t – as ten-minute slots dictate – fully explored.
It’s easy to posit a couple of theories. I imagine being noticeably less intelligent than one’s partner would be hard, whichever way round the situation occurred. And for men, I imagine that would be tied up with feeling emasculated. It might, for some men, go deeper than that and tap into issues of being in control. I don’t know – I’m not the psycho- or sociologist, or even some hybrid of the two (is psychosociology a thing?).
For me, it’s a moot point. In the intellectual sphere, The Writer is wholeheartedly my equal – frankly, I think it’d probably be more honest to say that he’s my better. Watching him argue a point with an ideological opponent (or even just some chap in the pub) is something to behold – especially if that opponent (or chap in the pub) isn’t well-equipped with the facts. A mutual love of, and ability to, debate is, I think, one of the things that attracted us to each other in the first place.
If things were different, though, I think being with someone of a noticeably different intellect – in either direction – would be quite hard.
Something I enjoy in all relationships – with my friends, colleagues, family, as well as TW – is the ability to have a good debate. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, and it doesn’t need to be high-brow. Sure, it could be a discussion with the boss about whether it’s appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to weigh in on party politics (which, just for the record, it’s not); it could be a debate about hunting with the new office graduate whilst in the pub. Or, more often than not, it could be whether anyone will ever be a hotter Spooks front man than Rupert Penry-Jones whilst on the phone to Best Mate (seriously, has any man ever looked better in Belstaff? Ever?).
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One thing’s for sure though: show me someone’s aversion to Radio 4, and any relationship is going to feel the strain.