9 Subtle Signs You & Your Partner Are Not Intellectually Compatible

by Kristine Fellizar
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As you may know, compatibility in various aspects of your relationship is super important for couples to last long-term. For instance, having shared values and expectations for the future are two very basic things you and your partner need to see eye-to-eye on. Having great physical chemistry is another and some even make it a point to date people with compatible zodiac signs. But according to experts, there's one really important thing that tends to get overlooked. In case you might not have known, intellectual compatibility in relationships is just as important to have as anything else.

"Intellectual compatibility is when both people are mentally stimulated by the same conversations," relationship coach and expert, Jenna Ponaman, CPC, tells Bustle. This doesn't necessarily mean you both need to have the same IQ level. It simply means that you both have the capacity to indulge in deep conversations that become mutually interesting for the two of you.

According to Ponaman, this is important to have because it will shed a light on how compatible you are in other areas of your relationship. "For example one person may be sexually compatible with their partner, but if they don't find them interesting on a more intellectual level, the ability to make this a thriving lasting serious relationship is slim," she says. In other words, it's really hard to make a relationship last if you and your partner have nothing to talk about.

So here are some signs that you and your partner may not be as intellectually compatible, according to experts.


One Partner Always Feels Like The "Teacher"

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"If one partner feels intellectually superior and the other feels intellectually inferior, this can be a big problem in the relationship," licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, M.A., tells Bustle. This one may seem obvious, but sometimes you don't really notice it until you actually take a step back and reflect on your situation. Have you ever felt like your partner turns every little mistake you make into a "teachable moment"? Are they always right and you're always wrong? Do they interrupt you a lot? Do they feel the need to correct you or over explain things? As McBain says, "This can cause the relationship to be skewed where one partner has more of a teacher role and one has more of a student role." If this is your dynamic, it can cause resentment in the partner who has taken on the "student" role. If this is starting to bother you, having an open conversation about how your partner is making you feel is important. Sometimes, they may not even realize that they're doing it. If you're the one who's taken on the "teacher" role, be mindful of your partner's reactions to things you say or do. You may be hurting them unintentionally.


You Feel Bored

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Intellectual compatabilty is crucial for a long, rewarding relationship, dating and relationship coach, Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, tells Bustle. One major sign that this is a problem area in your relationship is boredom. "When you feel bored with what your partner says and topics they choose to talk about, this is usually a sign of intellectual incompatibility," she says. More often than not, boredom in your relationship is pretty easy to spot. According to Sedacca, bored partners will find themselves calling friends, family, and other people more often in order to get the stimulation they're lacking in their relationship.

If you know there's an intellectual difference in your relationship, always remember that you can't force your partner to change who they are. You can, however, find other factors that strengthen your relationship. "Look for other mutual interests you both can share," Sedacca says. "Physical activity, sports, music, cooking together and other facets of life that you enjoy together can create a bond that cements the relationship and gives you something of value to share."


You Feel Like You're Always Competing Against Each Other

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If your partner feels more like an adversary and less like an ally, then Life Coach, Nina Rubin, M.A., tells Bustle, you may be intellectually incompatible. Couples shouldn't feel the need to always one-up each other. Although being competitive can be a fun way to flirt with each other, if that's your thing, it shouldn't be happening all the time. If this is happening in your relationship, she says it's crucial for you to speak up early and let your partner know how you feel. "In a relationship, there is space for each member of a couple to succeed," Rubin says. "Having a scarcity mindset of competition makes it difficult to grow together."


Your Conversations Never Go Past Small Talk

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"If your conversations have never gone past the ‘small talk’ or superficial topics, this could indicate that you are still not comfortable with each other," Caleb Backe, a Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. This is perfectly common at the beginning of your relationship. However, if you've been together for a while and you aren't having longer, more stimulating, and meaningful conversations about topics you care about, Backe says you may not be intellectually compatible. If this is the case, ask yourself why. Are you holding back on certain conversations so you won't cause conflict? Or do you feel like you really can't talk to your partner about "deeper" things? If it's the latter, you may have a bigger relationship issue that needs to be addressed. If not, don't be afraid to test the waters on certain topics of conversation that interest you.


They Talk Excessively About Themselves

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"People who are not intellectually compatible but want to try to make the relationship work, will attempt to stimulate conversation by talking about themselves in relation, or as close to relation, to the topic at hand," Ponaman says. For instance, one partner may come to the other looking for advice about a work situation they're involved in. But instead of continuing the conversation or offering up solid advice, the partner will divert the conversation and talk about their own issues that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. It's a frustrating situation to be in, especially if you really want to include your partner in your life. If you feel this is the case for your relationship, let your partner know by kindly telling them that listening without interjecting is sometimes all you need to feel heard.


You Lose Confidence In Yourself Around Them

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If you're starting to feel resentment, jealousy, nervousness, or a lack of confidence around them, Relationship Coach, Andi LaBrune, tells Bustle, those are signs you may not be intellectually compatible. "You tend to agree with them even though your gut says otherwise because you doubt yourself to really know any better," she says. This tends to happen when one partner has a habit of interrupting, over-explaining, or sometimes even putting their partner down. If this is the case, just know that your partner putting you down has nothing to do with you or your intelligence level. Maybe you're just not that compatible.

"Intellectual compatibility may be on the same playing field as having the same interests," LaBrune says. "When you're intellectually compatible, you’ll have similar levels of vocabulary, knowledge on certain subjects you can converse about without getting ‘bored’ per se. This can be very important in the long-term as one may feel belittled by their partner." If you feel like your partner is talking down to you, speak up — they may not even realize they're doing it.


Your Relationship Is More Focused On The Physical Aspect

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While it is perfectly OK for a relationship to be purely physical, take note if you or your partner is trying to connect on a more emotional level, but instead things get diverted to the physical. For example, if your partner tries to entice you with physical acts when you want to have a deep conversation, relationship coach and expert, Jenna Ponaman, CPC, tells Bustle, that's a sign to look out for. "Rather than having conversation, they seem to be more excited about physical touching, flirtation, and foreplay," she says. According to her, this happens because they may not know how to be engaging with you on an intellectual level, so they'll rely on their strengths instead. If this is the case, ask them upfront about what they are looking for from the relationship to see if you are on the same page.


You Have Very Different Tastes In Music

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"Music is something that connects to a deeper emotional level. Usually people that are intellectually compatible tend to like the same things on an emotional basis," Ponaman says. So if you like country pop but your partner really enjoys heavy metal, chances are you have different opinions on intellectual matters, she says. This may not apply to everyone. Some couples can work really well if their tastes in music are totally different. They just know how to respect each other's differences. As LaBrune says, in healthy relationships, no one should feel "belittled" by their partner in any way.


You Don't View Your Differences As A Strength

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If you and your partner are intellectually incompatible, does that mean your relationship won't work out long-term? Not necessarily. For the most part, every couple will have their differences. It's what you do with those differences that really determines whether or not your relationship will be successful. "Couples need to see these differences as a strength not a weakness, providing the couple complements each other in different ways," relationship coaches, Todd and Diana Mitchem, tell Bustle. If not, this can lead to arguments and resentment. But if you embrace your partner's different viewpoints or the way they think, you can easily overcome this. "One person's views are not better than the other, as the world needs all types of people to make it work," the Mitchems says. "If you are blaming in a relationship, you are shaming." So be mindful of that.

Instead, embrace your partner's differences. As McBain says, think of it as a way to grow as a person. "It’s important to be able to learn from other people, especially your partner, and to be able to have intelligent conversations about the things that you both care about in the world," she says. "This should be two-sided in that both partners are bringing interesting topics into their relationship."

If you both understand the world at the same level and can discuss it together in similar way, she says, that means you are in an intellectually compatible relationship.