Why do intelligent people have a hard time making friends?

Keshav Bagri
5 min readJul 12, 2022

Friends and family or in other words, social life is an integral part of our lives. From daily messaging/calls to weekend parties and vacations, we love spending time with other people with who we are comfortable. Most of us like meeting new people at social gatherings and making fruitful connections.

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This can be treated in a generic sense until you start to analyze individuals in an isolated fashion. That’s when you’ll realize how different people evaluate and respond to the same stimulus of social interaction. You might’ve observed that people who are intelligent have a totally different way of interacting with others around them.

Do note that intelligence, in the context of this blog, doesn’t necessarily correspond to socially accepted parameters like GPA, net annual income, qualifications, etc. Rather its more about how someone possesses the ability to learn/understand new things, deal with difficult situations and think profoundly about something meaningful.

The fact you decided to read this blog implies that either you relate to the title and/or want to find out the answer to this question. Before scrolling down, take a moment and ponder on what can be the possible reasons the intelligent ones behave differently in social scenarios.

Now let’s see how accurate you are. Below are some explanations based on behavioral facts associated with people having above-average intelligence.

They’re choosy!

Intelligent people implicitly follow this statement — “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend your time with”. They’re selective in terms of who they let into their lives since they can anticipate the impact of doing this. In general, the intelligent ones don’t allow those who, they believe, can hold them back in one way or the other. Once in a while, they might hang out with everyone, but this doesn’t go on for long.

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They prefer listening over talking

We’ve come across several posts on social media and Ted talks explaining the benefits of listening or how to become an active listener. People with above-average intelligence always look out for learning opportunities in order for them to grow. Now it's natural for someone to listen to things they’re interested in. Meaningless discussions and gossip are clear red flags for them. In fact, these individuals usually remain inactive in the initial phase of the conversation during which they try to observe others and understand their thought processes. At the end of this, they know what to do. ;)

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They lack FOMO!

One of the most interesting traits of this class of people is that they aren’t bothered by trending things every now and then. They don’t lack content with what they do and as a result, these individuals don’t feel the urge to go out of their way to catch up to the trend. This doesn't imply that they don’t keep themselves up-to-date with society. Rather they don’t let FOMO drive their actions.

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They have long-term goals

Smart individuals are driven by their desires to do something meaningful such as discovering their passion, creating their own business, exploring their hobbies, and more. They usually have a long-term goal associated with their plans and they orient their action vectors to help them in achieving the same. More often than not, they prefer to hang out with a couple of friends for ideation instead of heavy drinking followed by a hangover the next day.

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Let’s look at this from a scientific perspective.

In their paper published in the British Journal of Psychology, Norman Li and Satoshi K. demonstrated why highly intelligent people experience lower levels of satisfaction due to high-frequency social interactions. Their explanation is based on evolutionary biology indicating the development of intelligence in humans to solve the challenges they might encounter.

In order to solve problems, we need time and space to think about the solution which becomes easier in isolation. This behavior led to changes in the brain over time. The author’s findings have been explained by referring to the “savanna theory of happiness” which highlights that most of the evolution of the human brain occurred when they inhabited the savannas. This is where humans lived in small groups and it was rare to meet strangers. As a result, the tendency to think deeply about the issues of the day without much assistance grew stronger.

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Conclusion

In a nutshell, I’d say intelligent people subconsciously resonate with the proverb — “Birds of the same feather flock together.” It’s not that they don’t value friendship, they appreciate it profoundly. They don’t have a hankering for quick dopamine, which is usually the case with most humans out there. Logically, having a ton of friends doesn’t make sense to them until and unless they’re valuable to each other. They tend to optimize for quality over quantity!

Just to be clear, the mathematical rule of double implication isn’t applicable in this case. For instance, it’s a fact that intelligent people prefer solitude and tend to exhibit introvert-like characteristics. But the converse isn't necessarily true always.

If you believe you’re intelligent, I’m pretty sure you must have agreed to a lot of words I have written in this blog. And now you know why you might not enjoy partying every weekend and prefer serenity and solitude over the former.
If not, then at least, you might know someone who tends to express himself/herself in the above-mentioned ways.

Well, whichever it is, I really hope you enjoyed reading this. Your taps on “claps” and the follow button encourage me to continue writing. :)

Lastly, as always, I’m open to feedback and the comment section’s all yours!

Stay safe, and keep smiling!

My website: Keshav Bagri.

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Keshav Bagri

I’m here to resolve the “why’s” and “how’s” for myself and others, once and for all. | Website: keshavbagri.in