What Does It Mean to be Intellectually Compatible? Plus, How to Foster It
List off the three things you look for in a partner.
If you are compatible with someone who is smart, bright, orwitty, you will probably look for them.
Intellectual compatibility may not be as important if you said that you were tall, dark, and handsome.
Intellectual compatibility is something that is unclear. How do you know if you have it with someone or not? We break it down.
It is the spark between people who have the same brain chemistry.
“It exists between people who can connect and engage over similar topics, values, intellectual pursuits, interests, and philosophies in communication together,” explains Shannon Chavez Qureshi, licensed psychologist, and AASECT-certified sex therapist.
People with intellectual compatibility have read similar books, watched similar documentaries, and consume similar news outlets.
People who are similar to one another have similar upbringings.
“Usually, when we talk about intellect in the capacity of compatibility, we’re describing a similarity in the way we see the world,” says Zoe Kors, sex and intimacy coach for sexual wellness app Coral and author of “Radical Intimacy: Cultivate the Deeply Connected Relationships You Desire and Deserve.”
Intellectual compatibility is often used interchangeably with intellectual chemistry.
To be clear: Intellectual chemistry is not inherently sexual or romantic!
“Intellectual chemistry can exist between friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who don’t have any other forms of chemistry.”
“Intellectual chemistry isn’t necessarily sexual or romantic.”
Chavez-Qureshi says that the desire to engage in conversation with this person may be driven by the fulfillment of good conversation and intellectual stimulation alone.
It makes sense that you would want to share your interests with your partner.
But it’s important to note that what you might think is a desire for intellectual compatibility could be masking certain racist, classist, and ableist dating preferences.
Depending on how narrowly you define intellectual compatibility, the concept can be used to exclude people with learning disorders or people who are neurodiverse.
The concept can allow a specific kind of intellectualism.
It is only accessible to higher-income people if you have a type of intellectualism cultivated in higher education spaces.
The discourse around intellectual compatibility is often similar to the discourse around sapiosexuality.
Are you looking for proof that you and your partner are compatible? There are five signs that you have intellectual chemistry with someone.
1. Your conversations feel easy
Are you constantly digging around for your next question or are you lost in your conversations? You may be compatible if it is the former.
“People who are intellectually compatible can talk with each other and not at each other,” says Chavez-Qureshi. “They are also able to leave room for reflection, different perspectives, deeper questions, and more.”
2. You’re not worried about disagreeing
“Do you ever hide your point of view because you fear it will be different from your friend’s? You may not be compatible with the material world.”
According to Chavez-Qureshi, the ability to have different viewpoints and still talk about the topic is a sign of intellectual compatibility.
“The presence of empathy, curiosity, validation, and respect around different viewpoints and perspectives is a common sign,” she says.
3. You’re excited to hear their POV
If you want to talk with someone when your feed is blowing up, you should probably be compatible with them.
Chavez-Qureshi says that if you want to talk to someone or are excited about future topics with someone, that suggests that you two are intellectually compatible.
4. You learn something every time you talk
Intellectual chemistry is not only between people who know all of the same things. It can happen between people who are learning from each other.
If you can answer yes to any of the questions, you may be compatible with someone.
- Does this person challenge me?
- Does this person make me think about things in a new way?
- Does this person teach me?
5. You have a shared sense of humor
A sense of humor is indicative of intellectual compatibility.
It means there is an intellectual common ground from which things like irony or absurdity can push against when you laugh at the same things as someone.
Some people who are compatible with that way are not required to do much. Intellectual alignment is easy.
“Intellectual compatibility can be fostered by people who don’t have it at first meet.”
How? Simply, by consuming — and then conversing about — the same media. After all, intellectual compatibility is all about having similar cultural touchstones to connect through.
Intellectual compatibility is something you want to foster, especially if you are already romantically, emotionally, spiritually, or sexually compatible with someone.
The answer, according to Chavez-Qureshi, comes down to the fact that increasing intellectual intimacy with someone will increase the overall intimacy between you. In other words, you’ll feel closer to them.
She says that engaging in intellectual conversations can build feelings of closeness and bonding, so when you actively spend time connecting intellectually, you will notice that it improves other areas of intimacy.
“Chavez-Qureshi says that it can increase trust and motivation to explore other aspects of the relationship when we relate to someone’s interests, values, and viewpoints of the world.”
Increasing intellectual chemistry can have some benefits.
- Better sex.
- Dinner conversations are deeper.
- More jokes about being inside.
It’s OK if intellectual compatibility isn’t important to you!
“If you and your partner don’t have that kind of compatibility.”
Just as sexual compatibility isn’t important to some people, intellectual compatibility isn’t important to everyone.
It should go without saying, but intellectual compatibility isn’t the only form of compatibility, says Kors.
There are more fundamental compatibilities in a relationship than we think, and they are more important than the ideas we hold.
Want some specific tips for growing intellectual compatibility within your relationship? Keep reading!
1. Read or watch things together
“Chavez-Qureshi says that if you want to foster intellectual chemistry with someone, you should read books together. Don’t just watch and read the same things.”
You could structure that in a way that would make it seem like it was happening. You could grab dinner after watching a documentary or get a pedicure after you finish your book.
“You don’t have to be very formal about it. You can say something.”
- I have been wanting to read this book. I would like to read it at the same time as me so we can discuss it.
- There is a film playing a few miles from here next Thursday that I would love to see. Want to join me?
- I was thinking it would be fun to join a book club with someone. Does that interest you?
2. Go to events together
The best way to expand your topic? You can expand the events you attend.
Chavez-Qureshi suggests going to events where you can have a conversation about topics.
- There are events at a nearby science museum.
- There are free music or dance lessons at the park.
- Comedy or quiz night at a bar.
3. Learn something new together
“Chavez-Qureshi says that it’s important to keep learning and exploring different subjects together if you want to grow your intellectual compatibility.”
She says that it will allow you to foster intimacy, connect creatively, and spark a new passion at different stages of learning.
“Learning a new skill or researching a new topic will benefit you in the long run, even if you don’t know it yet.”
She says that learning about new things is good for mental health. Fostering your own intellectual pursuits can be rewarding.
“She says that even if your partner doesn’t want to join you on your new pursuit, you might experience carryover in your relationship.”
She says that if you bring positive energy into your relationship, you can harness it to spark a deeper connection.
|Skills you might learn together||Topics you might research together|
– squat snatching
– playing an instrument
– writing poetry
– speaking a new language
|– LGBT+ history
– different religions
– amusement parks
– world music
Being innately intellectually compatible with someone can feel pretty darn good.
But it can be cultivated through intentionally co-experiencing and co-consuming books, movies, museums, historic events, and more — if you want to increase your intellectual compatibility, that is.
Intellectual compatibility is only one type of compatibility.
“Even though you don’t have intellectual chemistry, that doesn’t mean you don’t have sexual, romantic, or emotional chemistry.”
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.