When it comes to better dating, we believe in exploring it all. Daphne Stanford talks multiple intelligences and improving your relationship IQ.
Ever since Howard Gardner defined the theory of multiple intelligences, we’ve recognized that there are other ways of being smart besides traditional IQ: visual, linguistic, logical, kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, natural, and existential.
Here are some thoughts on a few main types of intelligence relevant to relationships and how you can apply them to your unique experiences in dating—regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, or relationship goals.
I recently went on a date with a guy who called himself a scientist. It was going great until we started discussing the tense relationship between society and religion. Although not religious myself, I began perseverating on a point he couldn’t wrap his mind around: the idea of religious practice as cultural ritual, as opposed to interfering in people’s everyday life; for example, the Irish tradition of going to Catholic mass on Sunday, then heading to the pub weekdays with friends to tell stories and engage in spirited debates. I explained how, over the course of the last century—since the 1950s, in particular—spirituality shifted from being a weekend-morning ritual to permeating the way people interact with each other, culminating in evangelical youth group culture, for example, or attempts at conversion over coffee or on street corners.
As I tried to explain this concept to him, his brow began to furrow and he started to look visibly perturbed. Though I saw he wasn’t enjoying the topic of conversation, anymore, I kept driving home my point. My logical, mental intelligence had taken over, crowding out the emotional intelligence so crucial to understanding friends, colleagues, family members, and especially dates or potential partners.
Having a high emotional IQ affords the wherewithal to recognize others’ emotional states and read between the lines while engaging in conversation. Remember: it’s a date, not a debate. Think of it as a business meeting for finding your perfect partner; rather than allowing your rational brain to outsmart your intuition, pay attention to visual cues and body language, and remember to make eye contact! The stress of a first date can spur emotional reactions, but if you can sense each other’s cues, that’s a good sign!
Have you ever met someone so at home in their body that they radiated confidence and self-assurance? For some, this can be a bit off-putting. However, it is important to be comfortable with our bodies and ourselves, physically-speaking, in order to be ready to accept someone else’s physical attention. Part of emotional intelligence, in fact, is self-regulation: the ability to handle unexpected life changes and challenges and understand our own physical, emotional, and mental responses to the world around us. Related to emotional intelligence, self-regulation works in conjunction with understanding one’s own emotions, self-motivation, relationship management, and the ability to sense and comprehend others’ emotions.
An example of self-regulation is keeping track of emotional responses to certain events that may trigger you into a physiological reaction that sets off a specific, related chain of events: for example, you may have a fight-or-flight response to being ignored or flaked on. Part of physical intelligence is the ability to be mindful about self-regulation and self-care. If you know you have a certain reaction or pattern of behavior when this happens, take a moment to breathe and practice ‘stop-thought,’ a technique from neuro-counseling that encourages mindfulness and provides tools to stop negative self-talk before it starts. A few ways to do this include meditation, awareness of negative emotions or self-talk, and the ability to learn how to adapt to major life changes.
Howard Gardner originally included seven types of intelligence in his list of multiple intelligences. In 1999, however, he added two more types of thinkers to the list: naturalists and existentialists. Despite what many people think, Friedrich Nietzsche was a deeply thoughtful, ethical, and even spiritual person: he is regularly classified as a metaphysical philosopher. He was also considered part of the existentialist movement, commonly understood as a philosophy of living in the moment or the now, as opposed to the past or the future. However, many leave out the context of his famous quote from The Gay Science: “God is dead.” They fail to add the part shortly thereafter where he adds, “And we have killed him.”
His intention in saying this was to make a point of contention directed at his peers and colleagues at the university where he taught. He was a revolutionary and one of the greatest thinkers of his time who was not afraid to examine difficult questions—or “little truths,” as he called them. He strove to understand little truths, rather than adopt and accept the widely accepted philosophical and theological narratives of his day, because at the time, there was little to no philosophy not inherently theological in nature.
In this way, it’s important we avoid shying away from difficult conversations and questions. However, there is a way to engage in ‘difficult’ topics in a mindful and respectful way. Also, remember that it’s a date, not a job interview: looking directly into their eyes and allowing your gaze to linger a few times will help. It can be scary, at first, but it’s a good way to tell if someone reciprocates your interest. Spirituality is a big part of many people’s lives—whether they meditate, practice Buddhism, or consider forests their cathedrals—so try to gauge if you’re on the same page as your date, in regards to at least most things spiritual.
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What types of intelligence do you find most appealing in a partner, besides traditionally-measured IQ or logical/mathematical intelligence? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
About the Author
Daphne Stanford writes poetry & nonfiction, and she believes in the power of art, education, and community radio to change the world. Since 2012, she’s been the host of “The Poetry Show!” Sundays at 5 p.m. on Radio Boise. Follow her on Twitter @TPS_on_KRBX.