Gifted adults have trouble finding friends and romantic partners who have similar depth, complexity, sensitivity, and interests because these individuals are hard to find.
Being gifted puts you in the top 2.5% of the population based on intelligence test scores. This means that only 1 in 40 people are gifted, so you may have to meet a lot of people to find others with a similar IQ to your own if you are gifted. If you are highly gifted, the number of people with an IQ similar to yours diminishes even further, making it even more difficult to locate potential friends and romantic partners in the general population.
When gifted adults do find people with a similar IQ to their own, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these people are similar in age, of the desired gender, or that they possess other characteristics that would make them a good match. When you factor in these additional variables, then the people gifted adults are looking for to form friendships or romantic relationships with become even harder to find.
What can you do to meet more potential friends and romantic partners if you are gifted? One concrete thing you can do is loosen up the constraints you have in place regarding who can be your friend or who you can have a romantic relationship with. Gifted adults need to seek out intellectual peers everywhere, and will benefit if they are more open to less traditional types of friendships and relationships, where age and other limiting demographics are not so important.
When you loosen up the constraints, you can find friends and romantic partners in many non-traditional places. Look through a wider swath of the population than you have considered previously. Pay less attention to the gender of potential friends. Do not discriminate on their level of education or occupation as much.
Details in the following story have been changed to protect privacy.
I remember a lovely story that illustrates these ideas. It is about a teenager who needed to find a social community to belong to. The gist of the story is appropriate to the topic at hand because the young man’s search parallel’s the search that gifted adults need to make to enlarge their own social worlds, even though his age is on the low side.
The parents of an 18-year-old, named Stuart, understood that their son needed intellectual peers. They anticipated that he would be more successful at finding friends if he looked outside of his immediate environment, so they encouraged him to get involved in the wider community.
It helped that Stuart’s parents were both professors that understood, because of their own experiences, that gifted youth are able to interact successfully with older adults. Stuart had a strong interest in astronomy so his parents encouraged him to connect with the city’s astronomy club, and paid for the supplies to build a telescope.
Members of the astronomy club tended to buy their own telescopes rather than building them from scratch. They were intrigued by Stuart’s commitment to building his own telescope and found his enthusiasm for the project engaging. More, they interacted with Stuart as a peer once they discovered he was capable of conversing with them and exploring novel concepts at the level of an adult.
One possible take away from this story, if you are gifted, is that you can look for intellectual peers in non-traditional places where gifted adults are likely to congregate. Maybe attend public lectures at a university as a first step. Another idea might be to join a book club. A statistic I heard is that over 50% of the population reads one book or less a year. In contrast, gifted adults tend to be heavy readers because they can find the intellectual stimulation that they seek so easily in books.
When you look for a book club (or any club), and you are gifted, don’t constrain yourself to clubs that are composed of your own demographics. Instead, look widely for a group of like-minded people. Stretch yourself. Perhaps try attending a retired persons’ book club because retirees have more time to read. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that all retired people are in the process of slowing down. Gifted adults who are retired not only read more than those who are still in the work force, they are also frequently more informed about world events, and can be fascinating to talk to.
While exploring a new group, identify gifted adults that you are drawn to and want to spend time with. Don’t worry that they aren’t working or that they may travel six months of the year. Focus on whether you have found someone who you enjoy interacting with and explore the relationship each time this happens.
I remember meeting an incredibly interesting woman at work when I was 28-years-old. We worked at a research centre. She was the receptionist and was in her early sixties. She was a political activist with a focus on effecting societal change. I didn’t realize at the time that she and I had the potential to develop a wonderful friendship. Today, I wish I had met her more often for coffee.
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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