She's "intimidated by my intelligence." Say what?

This isn’t a bragging thread; it’s a solicitation for advice.

I’ve been spending a good amount of time with a certain gal lately, and the possibility of dating is definitely in the future (we’re taking a road trip this weekend, which will involve me meeting her mom). I’m crazy about her, as she knows, and can really see making a bright future with her.

Then last night she tells me something I’ve heard before: she’s “intimidated by my intelligence.” Apparently she often feels I’m leaving her behind in conversation, and I “make her feel stupid.”

Now, it’s not as though I’m quoting Geulincx and drawing exquisite parallels to the work of Antonioni in casual conversation. Besides, she’s a sharp cookie herself, and often inspires me with the amazing things she knows about that I don’t. And she’s got an emotional intelligence and sensitivity that I can only admire from a distance, as I’ll never hope to get there myself.

So what do I tell her? What I said last night was something like “Please don’t say that; I grew up a ‘whiz kid’ and spent a lot of my life being shut out by others because of it.” Obviously this wasn’t the best thing to say, but I don’t know what to tell her to ease her unfounded insecurities; she apparently feels we’re talking on two different levels, which I’ve never felt at all. I can’t stand the idea that being able to do math in my head somehow sets me apart from others.

So c’mon, dopers: You’re a savvy bunch, and I’m sure some of you have encountered this situation before. What can I tell her that won’t sound condescending (which, I repeat, is not how I feel)?

Not so smart now, am I?

This may be her own insecurity showing through. But you should ask her why she feels left behind in the conversation. When you talk with her, do you give her a chance to speak her opinion, or do you prattle on endlessly about your own opinions? Do you let her know that her thoughts and feelings are just as valid as yours? You said that she inspires you with the things she knows about–have you told her that?

If you’re giving her a chance to demonstrate her intelligence and letting her know that she is just as intelligent as you are, then I think you have nothing to worry about. Talk to her about why she feels this way.

Let her win at Scrabble.

I would advise focusing on the areas where she’s the expert and you’re not. Give her your undivided, rapt attention. Let her know how much you appreciate learning new things from her and how great it is to be with someone who challenges you intellectually. I think you can bolster her self-esteem in this way, simply by trying to build her confidence around what she’s good at/knowledgeable about.

I’ve experienced that glazed over look in conversations with potential dates. I tend to change the subject to something more pedestrian and less ethereal, but that doesn’t help much when someone is really intimidated by the perception that I may be smarter. Note: I didn’t say I amsmarter than most of my dates; just that there’s sometimes a perception.

Eesh. Men. Do you have to analyze EVERYTHING???

To the OP: Tell her what you just told us. That she’s a smart cookie who inspires you with the amazing things she knows that you don’t. That you’re not trying to sound condescending, just share as much with her as she shares with you.

Have you told her this?

Just print your OP and hand it to her.

If that doesn’t do it, I’m all out of suggestions. Good Luck!

Well, I see you got this advice already, which just shows how good it is. Let her know YOU find her intelligent. And find ways to give her a chance to show that sharp mind off.

Thanks for the input, all.

Baby Fish Mouth: Yes, I absolutely listen to her when she’s talking; no problems there, and we often seem to think in very similar ways. We’ll be walking along talking, and both of us will simultaneously turn to shoot a picture of the same tree or truck or bridge or whatever. (We’re both avid shutterbugs; pausing conversation to shoot a picture is totally acceptable.)

Johnny Bravo: Not an issue. I am for some reason terrible at Scrabble.

I haven’t told her all this in so many words; heck, until last night I thought I was the one trying to keep up, and I was really caught off-guard by her statement. I’ll try to clear all this up this weekend (next time I’ll see her). I suspect it’ll be more complicated than “I think you’re really smart and I’m always fascinated by what you say” … “Oh, OK, well that’s settled then.” But that’s definitely the place to start.

Is it possible that she feels somewhat inadequate in the areas that are your strengths? You mentioned doing math in your head. And yeah, I know I don’t know either one of you, but I’m wondering if your strong points just happen to hit the spots where she’s always felt a little weak.

That’s entirely the case, thirdwarning; on the other hand, her strong points are my weak points, like artistic sensibility, emotional sensitivity, etc.

We seem to complement each other well; seems it’s time to compliment as well. :smiley:

I’ve been told this, also, and unfortunately, I have a somewhat different point of view than what others have suggested.

I think it’s probably a dodge, like any other. While I can’t say for certain this is true in your situation, there’s a good chance it may be translated as: “I’m not attracted to you, and I want to cut this short in a way that won’t make you feel bad; thus, I’ll attempt to establish our incompatibility in a way that sounds like I’m actually complimenting you, so you don’t walk away hating me.”

At least, that’s what it usually meant when it was said to me. :frowning:

It would be so refreshing to hear a girl tell me that she’s intimidated by my intelligence. I’m tired of girls always telling me that they’re intimidated by the size of my enormous wang.

Sigh . . .

That hadn’t occurred to me, Cervaise, but I don’t think that’s the issue here. She and I have a long backstory that I’m not going to get into here, but suffice it to say that we’re open enough with each other that she could easily tell me if that were the case. I do appreciate your mentioning it, though; other possibilities are welcome.

I’m pretty sure I know what to say when next I see her; the advice here has been extremely helpful.

I agree with CrankyAsAnOldMan and all who said something similar. One thing I’d like to add, though: If, for some reason, it doesn’t work, and her insecurity doesn’t magically disappear, try not to blame yourself. Some people have deep-seated feelings of inadequacy in certain areas and it’s not your responsibility to fix that. You just do the best you can and leave the rest up to the universe.

And alas, I also know the pain of sucking at Scrabble.

Alay her fears by telling her: “I’m really not that intelligent, it’s you who are stupid.”