9 signs you’re pretending to be less intelligent than you are to fit in

Smart people get a bad rep in the movies. And in real life!

They’re normally the bad guy or the showboat – always bragging about how much “better” they are compared to everyone else.

Which is why a ton of genuinely smart people hide their intelligence to fit in with others.

But have you ever heard the saying, “The smarter you feel, the dumber you are”?

That’s because most truly intelligent people don’t think they’re very smart at all.

Think this might be you – and you’re pretending to be less intelligent to fit in with the people around you?

Here are 9 signs that might be the case!

1) You stay quiet in most social situations

What do you do when you’re in a group of people? Do you do most of the talking – spilling the beans about various things you’ve been up to?

Or do you stay relatively quiet – only asking a couple of people questions and offering information when you’re asked for it?

If so, you might be hiding your intelligence to fit in!

Why? Quieter people tend to be more intelligent compared to the loudest people in the room. They prefer to observe and listen, rather than do all the talking.

They also know how showing their intelligence can come across. I.e., it can make people think they’re arrogant or a know-it-all (plus a little unlikable).

Which is why you might choose to be quiet, rather than speak too much. Because when you do that, you’re guaranteed to fit in!

2) You never disagree with anyone

Another sign you’re hiding your intelligence to fit in is if you never disagree with anyone.

You can’t think of a single time that you disagreed with your friend, partner, teacher, or someone at work.

When most people talk, you go along with what they say. Even when you don’t agree with things, you rarely (OK, never!) speak up.

This might be because you don’t like confrontation. Or you’re worried about what people will think of you if you don’t agree with them.

But it might also be because you’re trying to fit in with people, and you know that they won’t understand your point if you try to explain it.

3) You feel like your friends don’t really “get” you

How do you feel about the friends you have? Or even the relationship you’re in?

Do you feel like these people really understand you? Like they truly know who you are and what you like?

If you’re hiding your intelligence to fit in, I’m guessing the answer to the above questions is “no”.

You don’t always have to have the same hobbies as your friends to get along (although shared interests do help in forming stronger bonds!). But you should at least feel like your friends really know who you are.

Be honest and ask yourself: Are you only friends with these people because they don’t know who you really are?

If the answer is yes, I think you already know what’s going on here…

4) You don’t feel like you have any true friends

Similar to the above, another sign you’re hiding yourself to fit in is if you don’t feel like you have any real friendships with people.

Even if you have lots of friends, you don’t feel like they’re really your friends. Sadly, this is partially your own doing if you’re hiding your intelligence to fit in.

Because you don’t share enough of yourself (for fear of standing out), you don’t feel like your friends know you at all (which they probably don’t!).

So it makes you feel like few people are actually your friends. Instead, they’re just acquaintances that you chat to about certain things you know they like…

5) You worry about being different

If you’re hiding your intelligence to fit in, you probably worry all the time about being “different” from everyone else.

Which, of course, you are! Everyone is different and that’s what makes us all human and special and (if you’re a good person) great to be around.

When you’re being true to yourself, you don’t worry so much about being different.

You know you’re different already, and you know that the people in your life actually like you despite (or because of!) your individualities.

But if you’re hiding yourself and your intelligence to fit in, you won’t feel relaxed like this at all. You’ll worry all the time about what you say, what you do, and whether people still like you for how you’re coming across…

6) You think very carefully before you speak

reasons why highly intelligent people have fewer friends 9 signs you're pretending to be less intelligent than you are to fit in

We should all do this in some way. I had a new carpet fitted recently and the fitter had his son with him. His dad told him off multiple times for not thinking before speaking.

I thought it was pretty funny, but the older you get, the less funny it is when someone criticizes the color of your walls or the shape of your sofa.

But when you’re hiding your true intelligence, it isn’t just your intrusive thoughts that you stop in their tracks. It’s all your thoughts!

You think very, very carefully before you say anything at all – and you’re always one step ahead; thinking about what to say next.

Like when you’re texting someone, you’ll think about how they will respond to your message and how the conversation can continue after each text you send.

You’ll do the same thing in face-to-face conversations, talks on the phone, and even comments on social media!

You’ll also think carefully before you speak because…

7) You feel like you have different personas for everyone

When you’re hiding your true intelligence, you probably “slip up” more than you’d like to.

“I didn’t know you liked that” or “I didn’t know you were interested in that” – someone might say to you in response to something you said.

And you kind of hate it when this happens!

Because you feel like you’ve crafted different personas for everyone you know. Each friend of yours knows a different version of you.

And I hate to break it to you, but this could be a sign that you’re hiding your intelligence to fit in with different people.

8) You hide your true hobbies

I used to do this all the time when I was younger. I loved to read but I never dared tell my friends that. I knew they didn’t like reading, so I thought, what was the point in telling them?

I knew they probably wouldn’t agree with me or want to talk to me about any books I’d read recently, so I didn’t bother.

Looking back, I can see that the above wasn’t the only reason why I hid my true interests. I did it because I knew it would make me look smart if I admitted that I was a bookworm.

And I knew I wouldn’t fit in with them anywhere near as much if I admitted it!

If you do the same thing with your hobbies, not telling your friends about them for fear of looking “too smart”, you might be hiding your intelligence to fit in.

9) You ask questions you know the answers to

Some people do this to catch you out on a lie. I know I’ve definitely done it with people I suspected were twisting the truth with me!

But it’s also a behavior of yours when you’re hiding your true intelligence.

Say you’re out on a date. A guy starts telling you about his job and explaining something. You know all about this topic.

But instead of sharing what you know, you ask him questions about it. You think if you told him you already knew about it, it would come across as arrogant or rude.

The only problem is that you’re hiding your intelligence by doing this. And if you did this on a date (like the above example) you might not bond with people as much. You might even miss out on meeting your soulmate because of it!

Final thoughts

If you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself, I completely get it.

I understand why you might want to hide your intelligence to fit in with everyone else. I even understand how you might do it without realizing it!

I’ve hidden my real self like this many times before in my life. And while it’s sometimes a good thing (it’s definitely benefited me in the office once or twice), it isn’t good to make a habit out of it.

“Dumbing yourself down” to stay friends with people or in relationships isn’t going to make you happy long-term. It also isn’t going to make you feel valued and accepted for who you are.

So maybe it’s time to do what needs to be done: embrace your true self, and start being who you really are with people you love and trust!

Picture of Amy Reed

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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