People who have high IQ but low EQ usually display these 9 behaviors

There’s a striking difference between having a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and having a high EQ (Emotional Quotient).

High IQ folks are often brilliant problem solvers, with an uncanny ability to analyze situations, understand complexities, and come up with logical solutions. But a high IQ doesn’t always translate into emotional intelligence.

Now, step into the world of people with low EQ. These are individuals who, despite their brainpower, often struggle to understand and manage emotions – their own and others’.

People with high IQ but low EQ usually display certain behaviors. Let me share 9 tell-tale signs with you, so you can spot them and understand them better.

1) Difficulty in expressing emotions

One of the most common behaviors of individuals with a high IQ but a low EQ is their struggle with expressing their feelings.

These intellectual powerhouses can solve complex mathematical equations or explain the theory of relativity with ease, but when it comes to discussing feelings, they often hit a brick wall.

Emotions are not as straightforward as logical problems.

They’re abstract, subjective, and quite frankly, messy.

For someone who is used to dealing with concrete facts and figures, this can be incredibly challenging.

They might come across as aloof or detached, not because they don’t care, but simply because they don’t know how to express their emotions.

They might even avoid situations that require emotional expression altogether.

It’s not that they’re heartless – far from it.

They just process things differently. Understanding this can help us interact with them more effectively and empathetically.

2) Struggles with empathy

There was a time I worked with a person who was, without doubt, one of the smartest people I’ve ever encountered, John.

John could grasp complex concepts at lightning speed.

He could analyze data and identify trends that others missed.

However, it quickly became apparent that John struggled to grasp the emotional nuances of the team.

For instance, during team meetings, when someone shared a personal challenge they were facing, John would often respond with facts or solutions instead of empathy.

He seemed to have trouble understanding why someone would be upset over something he deemed as ‘illogical’.

Despite his high IQ, John’s low EQ made it challenging for him to connect on a deeper level with his colleagues.

It wasn’t that he didn’t care; he just found it hard to put himself in other people’s shoes emotionally. 

3) Preference for solitude

The world is filled with noise, emotions, and social interactions – a cacophony that can be overwhelming for individuals with high IQs and low EQs.

Many such individuals often prefer their own company over social gatherings.

They’re comfortable in their world of thoughts and ideas, and social interactions can sometimes feel draining or even unnecessary to them.

This doesn’t mean they’re antisocial or don’t value relationships.

It’s just that their need for solitude is often greater than their need for social engagement.

This preference for solitude can sometimes be mistaken for shyness or introversion.

But it’s more about finding satisfaction and contentment in one’s own company, rather than feeling uncomfortable around others.

So, if you know someone who prefers spending time alone despite being highly intelligent, remember it might not be shyness or introversion at play – it could very well be a case of high IQ, low EQ.

4) Misunderstanding social cues

Inconsiderate People who have high IQ but low EQ usually display these 9 behaviors


Another behavior often observed in people with high IQ but low EQ is misunderstanding or missing social cues.

Social cues are those subtle signals that we give and receive in our interactions with others, like facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.

They are crucial in understanding the context of a conversation and responding appropriately.

However, individuals with low EQ may struggle to pick up on these cues.

They might continue talking about a topic even when others show signs of discomfort or disinterest.

Or they might not notice when someone is trying to change the subject subtly.

This lack of awareness can lead to awkward interactions and misunderstandings.

The person isn’t being intentionally rude or dismissive; they just genuinely don’t recognize the signals that seem obvious to others.

5) Difficulty in forming deep relationships

Deep relationships require emotional connection and understanding, something that can be challenging for those with high IQs but low EQs.

While these individuals may have several acquaintances or casual friendships, they often struggle to form deep, meaningful relationships.

It’s not because they lack the desire for such connections, but rather because they struggle to navigate the emotional complexities these relationships often entail.

They might find it hard to understand why a friend is upset about a perceived slight, or struggle with providing the emotional support a partner may need during tough times.

This difficulty doesn’t mean they can’t form meaningful relationships; it just means they might need more effort and understanding to navigate them successfully.

6) Experiencing emotional outbursts

Imagine being unable to communicate your feelings effectively, or not understanding why people react the way they do.

Over time, this can lead to frustration and confusion – a volatile mix that can result in emotional outbursts.

Individuals with high IQs but low EQs may find themselves in this situation.

They may bottle up their emotions, not knowing how to express them appropriately, until they reach a tipping point and explode.

This isn’t a tantrum or a sign of immaturity, but rather an expression of their struggle to navigate the emotional landscape.

It’s heartbreaking to witness, because you know they’re trying their best in a world that doesn’t quite make sense to them.

It underscores the importance of emotional intelligence in our lives and reminds us of the challenges that those with low EQ face daily.

7) Overthinking and anxiety

There was a period in my life where I couldn’t understand why I was constantly anxious.

I would lie awake at night, mind racing, obsessing over interactions I had during the day, wondering if I said the right thing or reacted appropriately.

Eventually, I realized that my high IQ was working overtime, analyzing every situation in great depth.

But my lower EQ made it hard for me to process the emotions attached to these situations, leading to overthinking and anxiety.

People with a high IQ but low EQ often fall into this pattern.

Their analytical mind dissects every situation, but they struggle to manage the emotions that come along with it.

This can lead to chronic overthinking and anxiety, even about seemingly insignificant events.

8) Difficulty with change

Change is an inevitable part of life, but it can be particularly challenging for those with high IQs and low EQs.

Change often brings with it a wave of emotions – fear, excitement, anxiety, sadness – and navigating these emotions can be difficult for someone with low emotional intelligence.

They may prefer predictability and routine because it provides a sense of control in a world that can often feel emotionally confusing.

So, when changes occur – whether it’s a new job, moving to a new place, or even just a change in daily routine – they may struggle to adapt.

It’s important to understand this is not due to stubbornness or an unwillingness to grow, but rather a difficulty in managing the emotional upheaval that change often brings.

9) Strong desire to learn and improve

Despite the challenges they face, individuals with high IQs and low EQs often possess an insatiable thirst for knowledge and improvement.

They understand their struggles with emotional intelligence and are typically open to learning how to better navigate their emotions.

This willingness to learn and grow is perhaps their most admirable quality.

With patience, understanding, and the right tools and strategies, they can improve their emotional intelligence, creating a healthier balance between their IQ and EQ.

Embracing the complexity: It’s about understanding, not judgement

The interplay between high IQ and low EQ is a fascinating aspect of human behavior.

It’s a reminder of the complexity and diversity that exists within each of us.

While individuals with high IQs and low EQs may face unique challenges, it’s crucial to remember that this is not a deficiency or a flaw.

It’s simply a different way of experiencing the world.

The eminent psychologist Carl Jung once said, “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”

This statement holds true here.

Individuals with high IQ but low EQ aren’t lesser or flawed; they’re just different.

And in that difference lies their strength – their unique perspective, their deep thinking, their relentless quest for knowledge.

As we navigate our interactions with such individuals, let’s strive for understanding rather than judgement.

Because everyone, in their own way, is trying to make sense of this beautifully complex world we live in.

Picture of Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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