Monday, 8 August 2011

In which intellect is an aphrodisiac

One of the great things about working from home (other than the fact it’s easier to keep on top of the laundry) is the possibility of listening to daytime Radio 4 – indubitably one of the best things about Britain, and for which alone I’d happily pay the license fee.

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?).

Tom, or Adam? A far trickier dilemma than 'Daddy or chips?' could ever be
It’s just one of those things – if it’s really important to you to be able to have a debate with your partner, then their inability to give you that is going to put a strain on things. Equally, might be more important for someone to make you double up with laughter. If there’s a characteristic that’s vital for your relationship, its absence is necessarily going to make things harder. You just have to work out what your priority is: that trait, or your partner.

One thing’s for sure though: show me someone’s aversion to Radio 4, and any relationship is going to feel the strain.


James said...

Intelligence in my numero preference in a partner. I like being able to learn off someone all the time. In that sense I'd rather them be more intelligent than me, which some might argue isn't that hard of a job. Though in recent months those with a brain seem to have vanished.

James said...

Of course I meant 'numero uno'... I swear I did write the uno too.

Amy said...

I know this sounds awful of me, and it quite possibly is awful of me, but I couldn't date someone I didn't class as intelligent. I like being able to share knowledge and opinions with someone, I like a good debate and I like being proven wrong occasionally. I can be an ill-informed brat, and I like/need someone to show me so.

I'm going to go and hang my head in shame, now.

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