11 Issues You Might Face Due To Having A Higher IQ

Intelligence is a trait that has earned its place among those most desirable to us. We seek it out in ourselves, friends, families, and coworkers, and it's often credited as the driving force that makes the world go round. Though having a high IQ comes with many incredible advantages — excellent grades in school, greater earning potential in the workforce, and the ability to contribute new ideas and products to the world that propel us into the future — it is not without downsides.

Mensa International, a secular society for the intellectually elite, defines IQ (intelligence quotient) as a standardized score that determines a person's mental ability among their peers. An average IQ is around 100, while a high IQ is defined as a score of 130 or above, which places a person in the top 2% of the world regarding intellectual prowess.

Research shows that amidst all of the sparkling accolades and advantages accompanying incredible intellect, very formidable mental, emotional, and social struggles may stand in the way of a person's happiness. Understanding the following issues faced by those with higher IQs can lead to discovering solutions to these problems and create more opportunities to overcome the hardships that stand in the way of achieving life satisfaction.

Social Isolation

Being around someone you believe to be much more intelligent than you can be intimidating. According to psychologist Leon Seltzer's article published in Psychology Today, people tend to shy away from individuals and situations that make them feel inferior. In some cases, the emotional distance between those with high IQs and those of more average intellect is not a direct consequence of a person's flaws; instead, it is an unfortunate reality of human nature. However, there are examples of people with high IQs exhibiting behavior that is damaging to their relationships.

Those with high IQs tend to be critical of others, making a point to correct those around them without considering the social repercussions. As Seltzer wrote, "Very smart people have difficulty avoiding the temptation to correct others' mistakes." This is, of course, not the best way to make and keep friends. If you've ever been around someone who points out all of your flaws or mishaps, you know how frustrating this can be.

Some brilliant people choose to cut their losses and avoid the social scene altogether, whether for fear of rejection or a lack of patience for their more average counterparts. However, many people with high IQs do desire the benefits that come with relationships with others, such as deep conversation and intimacy, according to The Business Standard. Still, they are often disappointed by their potential companions' lack of intellectual capacity and opt to remain in isolation.

Discouraged when learning doesn't come easily

As children, people with high IQs tend to go through school and succeed without having to put forth much work and effort into studying and paying attention. This may seem like a great deal and an easy ticket to graduation, but it comes with heavy consequences.

In these formative years, young people develop the traits of grit and perseverance, which help them overcome more difficult hardships in the future. Being that they were not challenged as children, those with high IQs assume that learning will always come quickly and that they will never be faced with a situation that pushes them to put forth very much effort, but when they are met with a challenge as adults, they lack the ability to overcome challenging problems.

Leon Seltzer cautioned in Psychology Today that being unable to exert effort in the face of obstacles can lead to debilitating procrastination or even the abandonment of the task entirely. This lack of grit and fortitude is frowned upon by employers, and it can lead to further complications professionally and personally, as effort is required in nearly all sectors of life if a person desires to be successful.

More prone to mental illness

The link between high intelligence and mental illness has been solidified by years of research. A 2018 study published in Elsevier explained that individuals with high IQs are more likely to suffer from higher responsiveness to stimuli, which makes them more prone to mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Being that people with high IQs live in a heightened state of awareness and are constantly taking in and considering the world around them, they have a more solid grasp of all potential dangers and worst-case scenarios that could occur. Living with this knowledge can cause high levels of stress and anxiety, which can prevent them from being able to experience peace of mind. "It's not that their worries were more profound, but they are just worrying more often about more things," Alexander Penney, a psychology professor at MacEwan University in Canada, explained to the BBC. "If something negative happened, they thought about it more."

Indeed, overthinking is a common side effect of high levels of intellect. Leon Seltzer argued in Psychology Today that this tendency makes them more liable to dwell on their past mistakes or misfortunes to pinpoint how and why things went wrong in the situation so that they can be avoided in the future. Though the intent behind this practice seems logical, delving too deeply into the adverse events in one's life can lead to the development of a dark outlook on the future.

Relationship difficulties

Everyone likes to focus on what they do best. For people with high IQs, their brain is the feature in which they take the most pride; therefore, they tend to value intelligence, logic, and knowledge above all else, and they find these to be attractive features in their romantic partners. Just as a person who values physical fitness seeks a partner who shares their interest and hobbies by going to the gym, people with high IQs want to be romantically involved with someone who finds pleasure and fulfillment in the same ways they do.

In the case of those with very high IQs, this can sometimes be problematic. "Because they're prone to live in their heads, they may be largely cut off from their emotions," psychologist Leon Seltzer detailed in his article for Psychology Today. It is generally accepted that emotions play a critical role in the success of romance. If both parties don't see value in emotional intelligence and rely only on logic to make their relationship work, then it can be complicated to find a connection with one another.

However, clinical psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne revealed in Psychology Today that a high IQ is not the antithesis of a loving relationship. Many of these individuals are also very sensitive. Though they might be prone to feeling threatened where their intelligence is called into question and their conflict resolution styles lean more toward avoidance than communication and compromise, they are no less likely to experience satisfaction in relationships once they find suitable partners.

Sensitive to criticism

As highlighted, people with high IQs are subject to higher sensitivity to sensory stimuli. As people with high levels of intellect process sensory data in a deeper way than their more average counterparts, criticism has the potential to cut them more deeply and can have more lasting effects. The negative consequences of high sensitivity can take even deeper roots in a person who hinges their identity on their intellect. As these individuals seek acceptance within society through the display of their skills, to have those skills rejected can make them feel as though they are being rejected as people.

To add insult to injury, those with high IQs also feel as though they are often misunderstood, as the majority of people do not perceive the world with the same level of keenness as they do, which makes them unwilling to accept criticism from sources who they do not believe to be their intellectual equals. Imagine being an artist who is having their elaborate painting critiqued by a person who can only draw stick figures — you would not feel inclined to accept the critiques of someone who does not have the same training or education on the subject.

Although many individuals with high IQs benefit from "intellectual humility," which is the ability to admit that they do not know everything, it is still challenging to employ that skill in a situation where you believe yourself to be intellectually superior.

Difficulty making decisions

Contrary to popular belief, individuals who boast a high IQ are not necessarily better decision-makers or information-gatherers. Research shows that people with high IQs are likely to make some of the same mistakes as people of average intellect. In fact, people with higher IQs are more likely to ignore their personal biases.

In an article for BBC Future, psychological science writer David Robson noted that the highly intelligent are more likely to have a "bias blind spot." He continued, explaining, "That is, they are less able to see their own flaws, even when though they are quite capable of criticising the foibles of others."

People who exhibit higher IQs also tend to overanalyze their options in an attempt to make the best choice. They toggle with their prospects, seeking a perfect answer to their problems and questions. However, in most real-life scenarios, there is no such thing as a decision without any drawbacks. Coupling this tendency to overthink with the likely presence of anxiety can leave them with analysis paralysis.

Lower emotional intelligence

Since they are most comfortable using their brains, people with high IQs often neglect the sometimes illogical but no less critical emotional aspects of relationships, work, and life as a whole.

This is not entirely their fault, as society places a great deal of worth upon intelligence and has historically frowned upon expressing or considering emotions in professional spheres. This has led to the belief that pure intellect was the only viable route to success. It has only been in relatively recent years that emotional intelligence has been labeled as an essential skill deserving of consideration and practice in many workplaces. Though emotional intelligence still does not receive the same level of recognition and respect as mental intelligence, its prevalence is growing. 

Emotional intelligence does not only have its place in the professional world but in our private lives as well. People who lack emotional intelligence often suffer socially, as they can display a lack of consideration for the feelings of those around them. This harkens back to how many people with high IQs suffer from social isolation. A more comprehensive understanding and application of emotional intelligence can have enriching and positive effects. Furthermore, working past their weaknesses can help people with high IQs enjoy more advantages in life, including more fulfilling relationships and greater chances of moving up in their careers.

Easily bored

People with high IQs tend to have quickly moving minds – they are always seeking new experiences and information to increase their knowledge. This can be a great advantage since it lends itself to creativity and untraditional solutions; however, when they are faced with situations or circumstances that don't provide intellectual variety, they can very quickly become bored and disinterested in what is going on around them. While high-IQ dreamers may have no issues developing great strategies and concepts, they tend to give up when the time comes to meet the drudgery and execute their elaborate plans.

This boredom also prevents them from finishing projects and seeing commitments through to the end. This can cause damage to their professional and personal lives, as the ability to follow through with plans is essential to building trust and confidence with your peers.

Only having a mind for the big picture can also prevent the highly intelligent from following the rules and being detail-oriented, according to Eggshell Therapy and Coaching. They may find some tasks as a waste of time that infringes on their great ideas. However, these often mundane guidelines exist for a reason: They allow the general population to better understand the content of what they are trying to convey. By failing to present their ideas in a way that others can easily understand, those with high IQs experience frustration with those around them because they feel misunderstood and underappreciated.

Reduced satisfaction in life

In an article for Psychology Today, psychologist Leon Seltzer mentions that life satisfaction is broken up into three main components: "having meaningful, rewarding social relationships, being competent in whatever they focus their energy on, and possessing the freedom to make independent life decisions."

However, some of these needs can be challenging for those with high IQs. As highlighted, highly intelligent people tend to struggle with maintaining their social relationships. Without a solid support system and a community of people to whom they connect, they are prone to loneliness. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. People with high IQs can be content without many social relationships; however, as a general rule, human beings are innately social creatures who require connection with others to be happy.

Others tend to place higher expectations on people with high IQs. They may also burden themselves with the task of constantly having to prove their intellectual prowess, which can be exhausting. On the occasions when they fail to conform to the mold society has made for them, they can face identity crises as they are forced to question how valuable their skills are to the people around them.

More likely to set unrealistic goals

When you exist in a world that claims a high IQ will make all of your dreams come true, it is easy for people with said high IQs to believe they can make anything happen so long as they dedicate enough brainpower to it. However, many other factors play into success, and it often requires the effort and dedication of multiple people to accomplish what those with high IQs expect to be able to achieve on their own.

The knowledge of their intellect drives them to set lofty and often unattainable goals for themselves, psychologist Leon Seltzer revealed in Psychology Today. They aspire to work to their fullest potential but are liable to hold themselves to an impossible standard. This can be a tricky situation since they are sometimes unaware or uncaring of valid limitations. With the expectation of accomplishing the nearly impossible, they are often faced with disappointment. They are prone to feeling that their level of achievement is far below their capabilities.

Having grand ambitions is healthy when you allow yourself grace and account for human error, but with the perfectionist tendencies commonly exhibited by people with high IQs, they can neglect to recognize that failure is an essential precursor to future success.

Trouble communicating

Individuals with high IQs tend to think outside the box when considering answers to questions and solutions to problems. Since they are able to look at the world from multiple different angles, their thought processes can be incredibly intricate and complex, therefore making it difficult can for people of more average intellect to follow along. Others often have trouble understanding and accepting the products of their careful thinking.

In addition to this issue, many people with very high IQs have trouble communicating their ideas to those around them. Either they find it impossible to simply their thoughts and reasonings to a degree that can be easily consumed by the majority, or they simply lack the social skills to communicate in a way that makes others want to listen.

People with high IQs tend to lose patience when attempting to explain their fast-paced thought processes to people who take more time to understand new material, according to Psychology Today. The miscommunication, or the loss of their idea's integrity, prevents those with high IQs from getting others on the same page as them.