7 reasons why highly intelligent people have fewer friends

Have you noticed your social network dwindling, lately? Perhaps, your friend group has always been on the slim side. 

Well, don’t panic! Chances are, you’re a highly intelligent person.

At least, according to science.

That’s right. This isn’t a simple case of being a ‘Billy no-mates’ or a loner.

Research shows that if you have above-average smarts, you’re more likely to have fewer pals. 

In fact, the study found high IQ individuals thrived in smaller circles. The benefits included increased happiness and greater life satisfaction. 

On the flip side, frequent interaction with friends and family had a negative effect on their well-being.

So, in case you might be asking yourself, why? 

Here are seven reasons highly intelligent people have fewer friends.

Read on to see if any of these resonate with you (or someone you know).

1) They have big plans… 

Just not with you.

When someone says that they have “big plans” over the weekend. You probably envision a hot date, cheeky getaway, or drinks (and other shenanigans) with friends. 

Not this time. 

That’s simply not their style. 

Nope. They’re not interested in instant gratification, that’s merely a distraction. Instead, they have long-term goals and objectives to reach – and the clock is ticking.

It’s like they’re on a mission.

At least, when it comes to the things they consider worthwhile. 

It could be work, research, or a personal project.

Whatever it is, as you can imagine, this doesn’t leave much time or energy for socializing. 

2) They are too busy

When I say busy, I don’t just mean having a full calendar. 

Intelligent people are constantly thinking, analyzing, and problem-solving.

From the outside, it may look as though they’re sitting around daydreaming. But when the wheels are turning, great things are happening inside their closely guarded mind fortress. 

Needless to say, this can lead to a lack of mental space for maintaining a large circle of friends.

Let me put it this way.

When they’re immersed in deep thought, that leaves little time for leisure activities or social events.

So when they do let someone in…

3) They are VERY selective

In fact, they treat friendship like an exclusive members-only club.

And with good reason.

They’re not content with superficial chit-chat. In truth, they couldn’t care less about what Sarah got up to over the weekend or where Tom went on his vacation. 

Rather, they want deep and meaningful connections.

After all, what is a friend? If not, someone to confide in or discuss mutual interests with.

Not forgetting good chemistry.

This can make it harder for them to find people who meet their strict criteria for friendship.

Think about it.

Friendships are an investment. It takes time, resources, and attention to maintain. 

So, if you’re on a tight schedule, you want to make every second count. That’s why it’s important for them to choose their friends wisely. 

And when they do make friends, their existing relationships take priority over forging new ones. It’s not worth exerting valuable energy unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Let me put it this way.

They prefer quality over quantity

And according to experts, we’re all at it. Unconsciously (or not) we’re apparently keeping tabs on how many friends we have. 

At the end of the day, even social butterflies can only handle so many friends at one time.

It’s basic math.

4) They detest theatrics (and small talk)

if someone displays these behaviors they have low social intelligence 7 reasons why highly intelligent people have fewer friends

Look. They might be academically gifted, but drama has always been their least favorite subject.

And that goes for their personal life, too. 

Simply put, they don’t have the patience for petty squabbles and unnecessary antics. To them, it’s a waste of time.

They prefer to focus on more productive tasks that allow them to grow, learn, and develop. Activities such as reading, taking up a new hobby, understanding how things work, or simply contemplating the meaning of life.

Here’s the thing. 

Engaging in trivial small talk and gossip isn’t an efficient use of their incredible intellect. 

And just like solving any problem, there’s a simple solution. 

Less people (and friends) equals less drama!

It’s the logical thing to do.

5) They are awkward in social settings

Did you know, there’s more than one type of intelligence?

A whopping nine (and counting), according to Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences.

This includes interpersonal intelligence. 

What’s that?

Good question. 

Well, that’s the ability to recognize the desires, motivations, intentions, and emotions of others. 

In other words, emotional intelligence (EQ or EI). At least a part of it. But it’s not a skill everyone possesses. Not even if you have a high (academic) IQ. 

Oftentimes, it’s quite the opposite. 

Idle chatter, banter, and the ability to read the room or build rapport with others are just some of the things highly intelligent people may struggle with. 

On top of that, they hate beating around the bush. 

And ruled by logic, they may come across as blunt or brutally honest without considering how other people will take it. 

This intimidation factor can deter potential friendships.

Basically, they lack tact.

As a consequence…

6) They probably intimidate others

Highly intelligent individuals often value honesty. What’s more, they may have a low tolerance for insincerity.

So when they’re thrust into social situations, where small talk is a must, their unease can come across in all the wrong ways, leading to a series of faux pas. 

All thanks to their social awkwardness.

Part of that is because they overthink things (or get in their own head), which makes them seek the comfort of isolation.

A quick way out and by any means necessary.

As a result, their communication style can only be described as blunt, at best. Something that may make them appear brash, insensitive, and ultimately, unapproachable.

On the other hand, the issue might not be with them at all. 

Some people may feel insecure or uncomfortable around them, believing they can’t keep up the conversation.

Essentially, they have trouble finding common ground. 

Last but not least…

7) They prioritize “me time”

And they’re not alone. 

Some of the greatest thinkers of our time sought solitude. I’m talking about Einstein, Darwin, Newton, Aristotle… the list goes on

They were all said to prefer their own company.

And as the 2016 study suggests, it goes back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. 

But think about it.

Penciling in some “me time” is the perfect way to self-reflect, collect your thoughts, and plan for the future. 

Not to mention recharge your batteries and remove yourself from external distractions. 

In fact, experts agree that alone time benefits your mental health. What’s more, it helps boost productivity, increase creativity, and improve your ability to focus. 

Mostly, though.

Highly intelligent people simply enjoy solitary activities more than socializing. 

It gives them the freedom to pursue their interests independently without the hassle of outside commitments or worrying about basic etiquette.

Ultimately, they’re comfortable in their own skin and don’t require social validation to feel content.

Picture of Leila El-Dean

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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