Dear Prudence: I have now been with my lovely, wonderful and smart girlfriend for nearly three years, and I love her.
We started dating as we were nearing graduation at different colleges. She has settled successfully into fashion merchandising, her area of study, while I have struggled to find a footing in a creative field after studying liberal arts.
We enjoy each other’s company immensely, and I am mostly content. But there is one thing that undermines my full contentment: She is uninterested in pursuing intellectual hobbies and interests outside her work and social life, while I am committed to discovering and pursuing cultural and intellectual stimulation. She has a naturally high intellect, but it would seem she has a lazy mind. She rarely reads anything but online articles, displays no interest in developing an ideological or political viewpoint, and ignores most news.
I have encouraged her repeatedly to seek out books, hobbies and pursuits of more cultural relevancy rather than shopping and being social with friends, but this is met with a shrug.
Am I crazy for wanting to raise the bar of my intellectual entanglement as a necessary part of my romantic relationship with this girl? Or have my liberal arts studies and well-adjusted, progressive middle-class background made me a pretentious blowhard?
Her family background is one of economic hardship, divorce and no higher education.
Prudence says: The question you pose has an inherently paradoxical nature. It is perfectly reasonable to want a partner you feel shares your intellectual bent; you’re also a pretentious blowhard.
You say your girlfriend has a lazy mind, but your being unemployed (and apparently not having to worry about student debt) leaves you with many hours to devote to perfecting your intellect. She’s actually busy with her career, which must be as satisfying as it is necessary, since you say she comes from a family with no financial resources.
You put her down for enjoying shopping and hanging out with friends. But since she’s in the fashion industry, shopping is part of her continuing education and a professional necessity.
Maybe she also has more friends than you do; I’m liking her better than I like you.
However lazy you say her mind is, I bet your girlfriend understands that though you can transform someone’s fashion style, you can’t remake someone else’s mind. If you wish you could totally do over the way your beloved thinks, maybe you need to apply your own intellectual firepower to the question of whether you really love her.
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