8 non-obvious signs that a man is highly intelligent

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Believe it or not, not all of us men are dimwitted, over-testosteroned geezers. 

A few of us are actually quite intelligent. 

But sometimes, being able to differentiate the intelligent man from everyone else takes nuance and attention to detail.

If you value smarts, then having a thinking man in your life can go a long way, romantically, platonically, or otherwise. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the non-so-obvious signs that a man has a big brain. 

That oddball quirk they might have? Yeah, that may just be their intelligence speaking. 

Let’s get to it!

1) He’s adaptable 

Intelligent men don’t live in a bubble, mentally or physically. 

They tend to be able to adapt to situations and people with relative ease and finesse. 

You can take a smart man anywhere, as he can adjust to varying scenarios and environments, instead of simply acting and looking like a deer in the headlights. 

He’s able to grasp new concepts, temperaments, moods, etc. 

An intelligent man will typically have an inherent worldliness about him, and it shows in the way he deals with new, changing circumstances. 

2) He has a sense of humor 

I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy (and, well, comedy in general.) 

One parallel I’ve noticed among the world’s top comedians, from the late George Carlin to Richard Pryor to Robin Williams, is that if you take away their comic facade, deep down, they were incredibly perceptive and smart people.

It may sound counterintuitive to some but being funny and absurdist takes brain power. 

A sophisticated sense of humor, characterized by wit, clever wordplay, and an ability to craft complex jokes is no walk in the park. 

Smart men tend to see the world through a different lens than the rest of us, one where there are idiosyncrasies and opportunities for a well-crafted joke everywhere. 

And some of their “jokes” regularly go over most people’s heads, as they’re too subtle and understated, and too clever, for them to grasp immediately. 

3) He’s constantly curious  

Many men are content with having a limited knowledge of the world. 

They have a few basic needs–and as long as those needs are fulfilled, they’ll sleep soundly. 

Intelligent men tend to have a genuinely curious outlook on life; they have a constant desire to learn and explore new, stimulating topics. 

They understand that the universe is infinite and there’s no cap for knowledge, so their thirst for it remains strong. 

An intelligent man tends to enjoy reading books and articles, asking open-ended questions, attending seminars and lectures–anything to satisfy their never-ending quest for knowledge and intellectual engagement. 

4) He keeps an open mind

As you might have guessed, highly intelligent men aren’t closed off to the rest of the world. 

They don’t tend to be xenophobic, prejudiced, or bigoted. They don’t cast off things or people who are “different” as wrong, unethical, or scary. 

They keep an open mind, and stay receptive to fresh perspectives, diverse viewpoints, and are willing to change their minds based on the surfacing of new evidence. 

You see, many men (and people in general) will maintain their views no matter what, perhaps out of stubbornness or pride. 

The latter is not typical of intelligent men, who will always remain open and accepting–something that takes a high degree of intellectual humility. 

In other words, they have a willingness to acknowledge gaps in knowledge, and the ability to learn from others. 

After all, according to Albert Einstein: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” 

5) He’s an effective communicator 

Although some highly intelligent men are introverted, they are still generally able to communicate complex ideas in an incredibly fluid and concise manner, whether it’s verbally or through the written word. 

They can speak to diverse audiences and get through to them on particular subjects, which is reflective of their deep understanding of them. 

The best male writers and orators of history? 

Not dummies by any means. 

6) He has empathy 

Intelligence doesn’t just mean being academically or book smart; intelligence is not solely about cognitive potential. 

Emotional intelligence plays a big part in your overall smarts. 

Many of the intelligent men I’ve come across in life, for instance, are in favor of views that benefit marginalized segments of the population: the poor, the needy, and the people who have to resort to drastic measures to feed their families. 

They understand that everyone is born into different circumstances, whether economic, geographic, or genetic. 

Therefore, the intelligent man tends to show a keen understanding of many emotions and perspectives, demonstrating empathy and compassion to those whom others might ignore or condemn. 

This brings to mind a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” 

I tend to agree. 

7) He engages in addictive behaviors 

Well, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, sometimes, a certain category of intelligent men is liable to fall into some pretty damaging behaviors–like substance abuse. 

This isn’t just an opinion. The link between intelligence and self-destructive hedonism is real. It’s science, based on extensive studies. 

According to Hanleycenter.org:  “Several studies in the US and UK have found that children with an IQ above 110 are significantly more likely than children of average or below average intelligence to use psychoactive drugs as adults. People with higher IQs are more likely to use drugs at a younger age too.” 

Meanwhile, Bigthink.com notes: “Even accounting for religion, social class, parental education, and satisfaction with life, intelligence is the second-greatest predictor of alcohol consumption, the first being gender.”

Since intelligent men are on a heightened mental plane compared to the general population, they tend to get bored or jaded with life. 

And to escape the monotony of it all, they might turn to escapist behaviors. 

Maybe Hemingway was right: “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”

8) He’s interested in a variety of topics

My dad is among the smartest men I know. 

He doesn’t just have a high IQ, his intellectual curiosity extends across multiple domains; one might even call him a renaissance man of sorts. 

He speaks multiple languages, he’s a skilled musician, he cooks as well as any chef, he is a great writer, and he can carry a conversation about a broad range of topics from geopolitics to the weather. 

Like my old man, most intelligent men tend to have a diverse range of interests and an equally comprehensive range of knowledge–knowledge that extends way past their specific fields of expertise or college degrees or what have you. 

Final words 

It’s always a pleasure to have highly intelligent men in your life. 

They can refreshingly provide you with intellectual stimulation, making your days more interesting and less mundane in the process. 

Though this article lists common signs, it isn’t definitive. 

So be careful about making generalizations. 

Trust me, not all funny people or drunks are highly intelligent; and not all people who have trouble communicating are witless. 

However, if you suspect a man to be intelligent and he shares a handful of the above traits, chances are, he has some brains. 

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Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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