9 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who is intimidated by your intelligence

In an ideal world, our partner would support us unconditionally. 

Think power-couple, partner-in-crime, Bonnie and Clyde.

Unfortunately, you might run into partner’s who aren’t quite so supportive of your brainpower. 

Spending all your time with someone of notably higher intelligence can lead one of two ways; 1. you either support them, learn from them, and appreciate having found such an intelligent match, or 2. you grow frustrated, feel your own intelligence dwarfed in comparison, and begin to grow resentful.

Having a bitter and unsupportive partner or feeling like you’re having to walk on eggshells around them sucks, but it’s not as uncommon as you might think.

Ready to find out whether your partner is intimidated by your intelligence and wits?

Let’s get started:

1) They constantly try to one-up you

Best way to combat intimidation?

Face it head on! Fight it!

I jest. Not a great approach, but one that the intimidated will often defect to, nonetheless.

You know how when being chased by a wolf or a bear or some other huge monster, you’re supposed to puff up your chest and growl back at it to show it who’s boss?

(Disclaimer – not sure if this is actually the safest approach for dealing with wildlife).

Still, intimidated and insecure people will try and compete when they feel riled up by your intelligence.

They might know, deep down, that they’re not on the same level as you, but they will do their utmost to appear more intelligent.

And you can be sure that if you ever do say something incorrectly, they’re holding that to you for dear life.

2) They avoid talking about your career & professional lives

If your intelligence has secured you a prosperous job, and in particular if you’re the higher earner in your relationship, you might find yourself running into some issues with easily intimidated partners.

Particularly, and quite stereotypically, if you’re a woman. Men can have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that their girlfriend earns more than they do.

But this can work both ways. 

Having an incredibly high-earning male partner can also leave women feeling insecure of her own intelligence and reliant upon someone else’s finances. 

(Always strive to be financially independent, ladies and gents!)

What generally results from being intimidated by your partner’s intellect or success is an unwillingness to engage on the subject. 

You might find them shutting you down when you try to talk about your day at work or a project you’re proud of, which can be quite disheartening.

3) Or they’re out of touch with how they talk about their own success

Conversely, your partner might seem competitive when it comes to discussing your professional lives. 

This superiority complex can also lead them to try and pretend like they’re the top dog in your relationship – even if you didn’t know it was a competition.

They’ll boast and brag about how well they’re doing at work and how much they’re earning in a manner that seems a bit delusional and quite arrogant.

4) They overcompensate in other areas of your relationship

Another approach that intimidated partner’s take is to win over, rather than to tear down.

If they worry about not being or your level, they might try and overcompensate in other areas.

This might look like showering you with expensive gifts or constant affection.

Initially, you might be warmed by these gestures.

However, beware of overzealous gift-giving as an attempt to prove love and worthiness.

5) They’re incredibly jealous and insecure

Even worse than constant gift-giving (which in itself can start to make you feel uncomfortable) is a partner who is constantly on your back.

Being intimidated by someone’s intelligence can lead people to start feeling insecure and jealous

They start to worry that they’re not intelligent enough or not good enough, and that you’ll find someone more intelligent with whom you can play chess marathons and debate topics that go way over their head.

This worry bleeds out into your relationship, causing them to start conflict over little things. 

Who you’re with at work, what you’re up to, where you’re going.

You find yourself constantly getting grilled and trusting one another is definitely not on the cards.

6) They try to control you

signs youre in a relationship with a covert narcissist 1 9 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who is intimidated by your intelligence

On top of that jealousy comes a desire to control.

If your partner hounds you for your whereabouts when you’re not together, chances are they feel pretty insecure as to where they stand in your relationship.

This one’s a strange branch of power play as your partner gets a kick out of dominating someone who they consider more intelligent than themselves.

Nonetheless, be wary of a partner who seems overbearing and tries to control what you do like a puppet master.

7) They belittle you

The best way to make sure someone who is more intelligent than you never leaves you?

Make them feel insecure about themselves!

I’m kidding. Please don’t try this at home.

Most of these signs can be remedied with honest communication and self-reflection if your partner is willing to work on their feelings.

However, if you’re on the receiving end of snide comments and petty jabs, I’d take a long hard look at whether this relationship is good for you.

Feeling insecure about your partner’s intellect and choosing to demean them through name calling, accusations, or otherwise using their insecurities is a form of emotional manipulation.

If you feel like your partner does seem to enjoy making fun of you or regularly criticizes you without warrant, ask yourself why they might be doing this. Ask them as well.

Relationships should be built on mutual trust and support. 

Sustaining a relationship with someone so intimidated by you that they actually try to undervalue and make you feel insecure will likely lead to tears, for everyone. 

8) They try to prevent you from progressing

Rather than support and encourage you to embrace new opportunities and continue growing, a partner who is intimidated by your intelligence might try and shut down any signs of growth.

Forget Miranda Priestly being the real villain; let’s take Nate, Andy’s boyfriend in The Devil Wears Prada

He constantly belittles Andy’s professional success and tells her to quit her job when she starts excelling.

Sound familiar?

Worried that they’ll be even more intimidated if you get a promotion, unsupportive and intimidated partners will try and prevent that from happening.

Obviously moving countries for a job is a big decision for the both of you which requires factoring in lots of elements, but new prospects such as these will be met with an immediate “no”.

They don’t want you levelling up. They’re intimidated by you enough as it is.

Even small opportunities like attending a seminar or networking events will be met with disdain and discouragement.

9) They ask you constant and pointless questions

…because you’re just so intelligent, you’ll have all the answers.


What better way to feel less intimidated by someone’s intelligence than to catch them slipping up.

If you feel like your partner is waving a net around when you’re alone and throwing all sorts of bizarre questions your way, consider why they might be doing this.

Maybe they do just want to learn some facts about the Black Death or nuclear reactors.

Maybe they also just want to catch you in an area where you don’t know anything.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they start asking you questions about a certain topic, wait for you to admit that it’s not something you’re familiar with, then start spouting facts they learned off of Google an hour earlier.

Final words

Navigating a relationship where you feel like your partner doesn’t seem to support you is tricky.

It’s even a difficult topic to bring up and talk about because let’s be honest, asking your partner if your intelligence intimidates them makes you sound incredibly big-headed.

Still, remember that partners are supposed to be supportive and encouraging. 

In relationships, we should come to admire and herald the qualities in our partner that we do not share. Ideally, your partner should respect and appreciate your intelligence. 

They likely have their own unique characteristics that they bring to the table in which you don’t share.

But, not everyone can hold such an objective and impartial view of their relationship with others. 

If you have noticed your partner acting out in the above ways, try to flag this and communicate with them in a calm and cordial manner.

But if you find that they’re still trying to beat you down around your intelligence, consider how much you’re benefiting from being in a relationship with someone who isn’t proud of you and comforted by your intelligence.

Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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