There were fifty or so at the party, milling about and muted beneath the amplified throb that passed for music. Dimmed lights, the faint odor of liberated alcohol left sitting, countless accidents waiting to happen, and he saw none of it. The front door hadn’t even swung its intended arc when there she sat, spotted, three steps up the curved staircase, a full head and shoulders above anyone else, and auburn ringlets snapping and rebounding each time she enlivened her delicate brow about the room in hopes that something spectacular was soon to happen.
One comely moon disappearing beyond a diminished fete and still the new couple sat entwined in words as if their magic stretched no further than that landing. They’d talked and connected deeply while the clocks had spun time away. He’d never given much importance to words, opting on the regular for a “thing” or a “whatever” to reach conversation’s end, but tonight was an endless vesper. Suddenly the less practiced notions of attraction spilt from his taut heart in perfect words that drew in all her pristine attention. Compliment rained down upon compliment, each one more examined than the last, as “beauty” turned to “dazzling” and as fleeting instances where he’d toss out a “cherish” or a “marvel” would set their stage for forever.
Romantic, first chance meetings are the stuff of personal legend and to try to bare down on them as a whole using common sense or logic is to squelch the very rare flickers of a dream world present on this more concrete Earth. By all means, give these moments their due in the human condition. Try hard to refrain from examining them away.
Still, I do find it rather curious that of all the “lines” and “words” carefully dropped into such seminal encounters, that attraction by means of intellect is now so often voiced and uniquely done so in the form of an untruth. Traditionally, these bulk expressions of attraction, be they keyed to potential love or momentary lust, almost always have to do with at least somewhat honest statements about why one person desires another person’s company. As a fly on the wall, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear mention made of a woman’s beauty, a man’s physique, a person’s tenderness, insight, point of view, choice of attire, listening skill, understanding, commonalities. If one truly observes these utterances, there is nearly always an element of truth to them. For the couples that last, those truths tend to last with them, in one form or another.
My generation has added “intellect” to that list. We are no strangers to sentences like, “Smart is sexy,” or, “I am really turned on by his mind.” Yes, there’s a gender bias frequently at work there, one group speaking it more than the other. Yes, at one time in the distant past, these were default utterances conjured to find a nice way to justify one’s attraction to a less than traditionally attractive individual. Nonetheless, flies looking in hear this more and more and along with it the evident desire for those sentences to be just as true as all the other attractors.
Sadly, I think it is not. Yes, intellect is a very powerful motivator toward coupling at the outset, especially if each person’s degree of intellect is on a similar par. But long term, the very intellect that supposedly attracted you in the first place cannot stand the test of couplehood without overcoming serious drawbacks. That is to say that the very noticeable intellect that once put a person into your “until death do us part” sites, will almost inexorably be the device through which you are frequently shown to be wrong, incorrect, silly, uninformed, lacking in wisdom, unexamined, unsure, unaware, less educated, or otherwise cerebrally wanting. No one wishes to choose a lifetime of provably, second best decisions.
Sure, no one person is going to be correct all of the time, but if you knew you were going to have to throw in the towel in debates, say, 80 percent of your life, would you choose that willingly? Of course not. Love might overcome all, but a perpetual back seat on the reason bus can make of that love a very uncomfortable predestined marginalization.
Your initial attraction to your potential partner’s “intellect” is likely a misnomer, an observation put in place of some other attractor that for some embarrassing or selfish reason you cannot bring yourself to admit. Sure, the presence of a practiced intellect does not mean that it will necessarily be lauded over one’s partner, used to pick arguments or create win-lose scenarios. A true intellect is one that cherishes the many varied facets of couplehood. Yet, if you are enlightened enough to be honestly “turned on” by mental prowess, a partner who’d then refrain from exercising it to keep the relationship peace is:
a) not the person you fell in love with
b) not a person you would be as attracted to
c) a lesser person than s/he can be
d) an individual who is forced to lie to you so that you can think you’ve gotten the upper hand
There are many ways for intellect to be repulsive. Some very heady figures have been the core causes of global atrocities throughout history. We all know someone who speaks as if they are presumed smarter than everyone around them. Logic to the exclusion of the human condition doesn’t sit well in most conversations. In my opinion, however, these are not true intellects. They are disgusting downward social spirals that masquerade under the label “intellect,” tarnishing the beauty of what they can never fully understand.
Instead, I think the greatest repulsiveness sourced from the presence of impressive thought is one that hammers true intellect with a baseline untruth. It is this well-meaning, yet ultimately unintuitive notion that one finds intellect attractive enough to mention. That’s a sound bite, a line, a feel good expression that fills an awkward pause when your own mind draws a blank. This observation, even if true in the moment, can be viewed as the epitome of false come-ons as both love-seekers struggle to put a best dating foot forward. To say so is to leave unexamined what that mentionable thinking differential means for your future, unwittingly revealing you as a person who values something that you must not have. So, the supposed intellectual that falls for it is more of an egotist than a thinker. The thinker who recognizes the phrase for what it is, on the other hand, has little choice but to conclude you to be a veritable slouch in the brains department. Would you desire a relationship with either of these types? Bring not upon yourself this falsehood that dooms relationships. Find ways to appreciate intellect that are truthful, ways that are certainly far afield from animal attraction.
Labels: cognition, compromise, coupling, intellect, repulsor, social, thinking