March 20, 2022 |Gideon Hanekom

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This post will look at intelligence and relationships, specifically two forms of intelligence that are required to flourish in life and love.

To begin with, everyone has various skills and weaknesses, but some forms of intelligence can help you thrive in practically every area of life.

We may say that they will, in some ways, accelerate your results.

And whether you want to advance in your profession, relationships, or health, these three sorts of intelligence will give you an advantage.

Obviously, we’re more interested in relationships on this blog, so that’s what we’ll emphasise in this piece, but keep in mind that these principles could make a major difference in other areas of your life as well.

So, let us begin by briefly discussing the significance of intelligence in relationships.

The Importance of Intelligence in Relationships

When it comes to romantic relationships, intelligence is frequently regarded as a desirable characteristic.

After all, who doesn’t want to be around someone who can engage in stimulating conversation, intellectually challenge them, and help them develop as a person?

Indeed, there appears to be renewed interest in psychological research in the concept of Sapiosexuality, despite the fact that it has been in circulation for over a decade and has not been without criticism.

Sapiosexuality is a term that refers to individuals who are primarily drawn to intelligence or wisdom. A sapiosexual individual may be attracted to someone due to their quick wit, vast knowledge, or ability to hold meaningful conversations.

However, this presents a problem, as intelligence is a notoriously difficult concept to pin down in psychology, as there are numerous ways to define and quantify it.

For instance, some psychologists may place an emphasis on cognitive abilities, while others may place an emphasis on emotional intelligence or creative thinking.

Additionally, while intelligence is frequently assumed to be a fixed characteristic, some researchers believe it is more fluid and can change over time.

intelligence and relationships

This naturally raises the question of what type of intelligence a sapiosexual is attracted to.

Or are they attracted to something associated with intelligence, such as wit or wisdom, rather than a high IQ?

And what about other types of intelligence, particularly those that have been shown to be strongly associated with life success** and higher-quality relationships, such as emotional intelligence?

Firstly, let’s start with a simple question but not so simple answer.

How many types of intelligence are there?

Some experts claim there are two while others claim nine (see Gardeners nine types of intelligence, 1983).

For example,

  1. Linguistic intelligence: This type of intelligence refers to a person’s ability to use language to communicate effectively. It also includes the ability to understand and use language as a tool for learning.
  2. Logical-mathematical intelligence: This type of intelligence involves using one’s brain to reason, think abstractly, and understand patterns. It includes being able to think and learn in complex, multivariable ways.
  3. Visual-spatial intelligence: This type of intelligence is the ability to process information using images or pictures. It involves the ability to understand spatial relationships and use them to think, reason, and learn.
  4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence: This type of intelligence includes the abilities of body movement, coordination, and sensitivity to movement. It is the ability to control and direct one’s own body, and to understand and predict how it will respond to external forces.
  5. Musical intelligence: This type of intelligence involves appreciating, understanding, and creating music. It also involves the ability to perceive musical patterns or pitches and use this perception to communicate and learn more about music.
  6. Interpersonal intelligence: This type of intelligence involves the ability to work effectively in groups and collaborate with others. It also involves the ability to understand, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflicts.
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence: This type of intelligence involves self-monitoring, metacognition, reflective thinking, and mental autonomy. It involves the ability to understand one’s own psychological states and those of others.
  8. Naturalist intelligence: This type of intelligence involves the ability to identify patterns and trends, to notice things that are out of place or just not quite right, and to notice or imagine alternative explanations for what one observes.
  9. Existential intelligence: This type of intelligence involves the ability to be aware of and understand one’s own feelings and those of others. It also involves the ability to adopt a philosophical, existential stance and to think about the meaning of life.

However, there are some newer forms of intelligence being studied in psychology, including social intelligence and emotional intelligence.

Social intelligence is the capacity to comprehend and interact effectively with others.

Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity for perceiving, comprehending, and managing emotions.

The point is that the theories of multiple intelligences postulate the existence of numerous distinct types of intelligence, each with its own distinct set of strengths and weaknesses.

Without delving into a long academic debate, the critical question for this post is which personality types are associated with success and happiness.

What can we infer from the research on intelligence that we already know with a high degree of certainty, and more importantly, how can we use it to improve or enhance our own lives and relationships?

With that in mind, let me state upfront that it appears as though there are three major distinct types of intelligence that have a significant impact on your success, and the first one is largely irrelevant when it comes to intelligence and relationships.

Additionally, you can influence the other two critical types of intelligence.

Let us begin with the least critical type of intelligence required for success in life and love.

Pure IQ is the common type of intelligence we all know

This is the type of intelligence possessed by “smart” individuals.

Consider Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison as examples of this type of intelligence.

Individuals with high intelligence tend to:

  • Learn more quickly.
  • Possess a broader range of employment opportunities, as they are capable of dealing with a broader range of college majors. Not everyone has the potential to become a physician or an astronomer. However, having a high IQ does not automatically make you a better real estate agent than someone with average intelligence.
  • See how fields and concepts that don’t seem to go together are related or can be linked.

Having said that, a high IQ doesn’t always lead to success or happiness.

Numerous intelligent people are unemployed or unable to hold jobs that match their intellectual capacity.

Additionally, there are numerous extremely intelligent and “successful” individuals who have had failed relationships.

Elon Musk has been married three times, and Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have all been divorced.

Clearly, more than a high IQ (or a lot of money) is required to be successful in life AND love.

That is where other forms of intelligence seem to become more important, two of which are emotional intelligence and social intelligence.

Emotional intelligence can be more important than intellectual intelligence

You’re almost certain to have heard the term “emotional intelligence,” which was coined in 1990.

Emotional intelligence is frequently defined as the capacity to recognise, evaluate, and manage others’ and one’s own emotions.

Emotional intelligence is regarded as one of the most critical abilities a person can possess in order to achieve success in life and love.

Some experts believe EI is a more accurate predictor of success than an individual’s IQ, as well as the key to a long-lasting marriage.

Your capacity for self-and interpersonal management is fundamentally dependent on your emotional intelligence.

After all, it is through emotion that we are able to connect with others, and it is through the ability to manage our emotions effectively that we are able to maintain healthy relationships.

intelligence and relationships

Individuals who are emotionally intelligent are capable of comprehending and regulating their own emotions, as well as effectively reading and responding to the emotions of others.

This can result in increased professional and personal success.


Emotional intelligence (EI) is the bedrock of a prosperous and happy life.

It is the capacity to be aware of and understand one’s own and others’ emotions, as well as the capacity to regulate one’s own emotions, effectively respond to others’ emotions, and build positive relationships.

Let’s take a look at seven ways to improve your EI.

1. Accept responsibility for your emotions and actions

Recognize that external influences do not dictate your emotions or behaviour. You can view events differently and choose your response.

2. Work on your listening skills

If you make a conscious effort to focus entirely on the person with whom you are interacting, you will be better able to notice and evaluate their thoughts and feelings.

It is not easy to conceal one’s emotions, but one must still pay attention.

The more information you have, the more effective your response will be.

3. Develop self-awareness

We’re always keeping an eye on our bank accounts and the number on the bathroom scale.

Nevertheless, few of us are aware of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour.

Throughout the day, enquire as to how you are feeling.

Is your current state of mind impairing your decision-making?

Are you making intelligent choices about your behaviours or are you allowing others to push your buttons?

4. Learn to effectively deal with your impulses

Impulsiveness is a frequent source of personal distress.

We feel bad, so we order pizza despite the fact that we have already eaten dinner.

Alternatively, we reach for our credit cards and make unnecessary purchases.

This type of behaviour causes us to drift further away from our goals.

Recognize when you are acting in an ineffective manner and make an attempt to make a more effective choice.

Being successful and happy in and of itself can be difficult.

Avoid self-sabotage.

5. Volunteer with those less fortunate

Spending time with those in need will help you develop a greater sense of empathy for others.

After witnessing overt emotions, you’ll develop an increased ability to pick up on more subtle cues.

Additionally, you’re likely to develop a greater capacity for empathy.

6. Keep the focus on responding

People who don’t have a lot of emotional intelligence tend to react, not respond.

When you respond, you have to think about what you want to say and what you want to do.

By responding, you are making a choice.

Reactions are more akin to reflexes.

There is no thought involved; only an emotional response is elicited.

Have you ever regretted saying or doing something rashly?

How would you have handled the situation differently if you could go back in time?

What can you do to create mental space in the future to respond more effectively?

Avoid retaliating when someone offends your sensibilities.

Your response can either improve or exacerbate the situation.

7. Work at increasing your empathy

Individuals with a high level of emotional intelligence are adept at recognising and responding to others’ emotions.

Recognizing when someone is upset enables you to respond more effectively.

Consider how you wish to be treated if you were experiencing the same emotions.

You’re probably familiar with someone who is exceptionally adept at managing their emotions.

Their primary focus is on problem-solving.

intelligence and relationships

They avoid becoming enraged or defensive.

These individuals make rational choices and have an objective view of themselves.

At the end of the day, emotional intelligence is critical for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships at home and at work.

Your life will be more successful if you can effectively manage your own and others’ emotions.

It is a valuable skill to be able to avoid or de-escalate interpersonal conflicts.

Now, social intelligence appears to be another type of intelligence that is important for a successful life and happiness in relationships.

Let’s turn our focus to that.

Social intelligence is the ability to act appropriately in social situations

Social intelligence is a new field of study that examines and explains a variety of phenomena, ranging from how we connect with others, make friends, and influence others.

As with EI, social intelligence is more valuable in many ways than pure intelligence.

Those with a high level of social intelligence, even those with an average IQ, tend to be extremely successful.

So, how do we develop and increase our levels of social intelligence?

Here are,


It goes without saying that social intelligence is essential for success in life and relationships.

Humans are, after all, social creatures, and our ability to interact with others is what allows us to function in society.

I’ve compiled a list of seven tips to help you improve your social intelligence.

1. Smile

Smiling is natural human behaviour.

Few things are odder or more unsettling than a person who never smiles.

Smiling puts others at ease and makes you feel better.

So, remember to smile frequently.

2. Be sensitive to others

It’s critical to be able to identify emotions in others.

The simplest way to accomplish this is to observe people.

Their actions, words, and facial expressions will reveal how they are feeling.

Consider how you would react if you were in a similar situation. Each person is unique, but we share more than we don’t.

Focusing on the emotional states of others is a welcome diversion from your own.

3. Listen

Do you listen when others speak, or are you simply waiting for your turn to speak?

Others value an attentive listener.

When we have someone’s undivided attention, we feel more important and validated.

Maintain eye contact with others while they are speaking.

Avoid fidgeting or looking around the room.

Wait until the other person has finished speaking before opening your mouth.

Wait for the right time.

4. Eye contact is key

It’s much more difficult to read other people if you don’t look at them.

You also send the message that you are shy or weak if you don’t make good eye contact.

People who make more eye contact show that they are more serious or have more power.

The way you look at something can also change its meaning.

intelligence and relationships

If you’re looking at someone at eye level or higher, the way you communicate is seen as more formal whereas looking at the area around the nose or mouth is less formal.

5. Learn about body language

If you want to talk to someone, scientists think you should use your body more than you should use words.

Faking your body language is much more difficult than saying something untrue.

Watch people and pay attention to their gestures, eye contact, and body positioning.

What do you notice?

Observe how others interact, but keep a safe distance.

Then, think about what happened.

If you want to learn more about this, there are a lot of books and a lot of information about body language on the internet.

6. Be assertive without being aggressive

We admire and respect self-assured individuals.

It’s aggravating when others skirt the issue or attempt to be evasive.

However, there is a distinction between assertiveness and aggression.

Assertiveness is the truthful and rational expression of one’s beliefs, needs, and emotions.

“I’d rather have dinner tonight at home” is an assertive statement.

Aggression demonstrates a lack of regard for the rights of others.

“We’re going out for dinner to McDonald’s tonight” could be an aggressive statement, as it disregards the other person’s right to an opinion or input

7. Actively manage your relationships

Relationships are in constant flux and evolution and maintaining and prioritising your relationships is necessary if they are to flourish. This is an area of life in which assertiveness is required. Being overly passive will eventually result in difficulties.

Consequently, the question to consider now is what level of social intelligence you possess.

As you may have noticed, social intelligence is comprised of communication and social skills, and it is becoming more difficult to develop and maintain as our reliance on electronic communication increases.

You should keep this in mind, especially if you want to achieve greater success in your career and love life.

If you’re as sharp as a tack but have difficulty navigating daily life or personal relationships, consider investing time in developing your social intelligence.

What can you do to enhance these two types of intelligence?

It is widely believed that your IQ cannot be changed.

You can, however, always learn more.

You can easily expand your knowledge base.

You can improve your public speaking abilities, your geometry skills, or your ability to communicate in French.

However, emotional and social intelligence can also be quickly improved.

You can improve your social and emotional skills and learn how to behave better in a variety of situations which would hopefully lead to better outcomes.

There have been a lot of books written about intelligence and relationships, especially emotional and social intelligence, and many people have read them, why not you? 

But, to truly master these skills, you must put them into practice in a real-world setting, not just in the comfort of your own home (although that’s a great place to start).

Consider improving these forms of intelligence since a deficiency in either of these two types of intelligence can have a detrimental effect on the outcomes you achieve in life and love.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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