People who are intellectually gifted but have low EQ usually struggle with these 8 things

There are many stereotypes about intellectually gifted people. They may be labeled troubled geniuses, nerds with no social life, or socially awkward geeks.

These stereotypes are strengthened in TV and films.

For example, in the popular sitcom “Young Sheldon,” Sheldon and his twin sister, Missy, undergo an IQ test.

While Sheldon rates exceptionally high in intellect, he fails the tests on emotional and interpersonal intelligence, which Missy passes with flying colors.

So is it true that gifted people lack emotional intelligence?

Well, science confirms there are various types of intelligence. 

And while inconclusive, some research has found that those who are intellectually gifted may have low EQ.

According to this research, gifted people with low EQ typically struggle with these eight things.

1) Regulating their emotions

It is well known that intellectually gifted people have complex thoughts. But another complex thing is their emotions.

According to Australian Psychologist Lesley Sword, people with high IQ suffer from emotional intensity.

To them, every feeling they experience, whether happiness, sadness, or anger, is intense. 

Along with the intensity, their emotions are so complex that they often experience multiple emotions simultaneously.

This can make them appear “full-on,” constantly up and down, and unable to control their feelings.

What’s more…

Because they feel everything more deeply than those with average IQs, Sword explains that this contributes to them feeling different, which brings us to the next point.

2) Fitting in

The complexity of intellectually gifted people’s thoughts and emotions can make them feel isolated from their peers. 

Many gifted people report feeling misunderstood or like something is wrong with them.

This is common in gifted children who are not reassured that their sensitivities and intensities are normal. As a result, they see them as weaknesses and develop a sense of inferiority to everyone else.

They will then struggle to fit in and relate to those around them, pushing them further and further into their complex inner world. Often, this will manifest as timidity and shyness.

This can lead to inner conflict, self-criticism, and anxiety, which relates to the following point.

3) Thinking positively 

Emotional reasoning is one of the four branches of emotional intelligence

The cognitive process helps us prioritize what we pay attention to and react to. 

Here’s an example.

Imagine you turn on the TV and instantly see a sad news story. 

Someone with high EQ has enough emotional reasoning to switch the channel and redirect their attention to something more positive.


Gifted people who lack EQ cannot redirect their attention to more positive things. Instead, they continue watching the sad news story.

In other words, they have the tendency to dwell on the negative.

Why is this so bad?

As research shows, over-focusing on the pain and suffering in the world adversely affects our mental health and creates a pessimistic mindset.

When we’re stuck in a loop of negative thinking, we cannot see the positive side of things or appreciate blessings.

As many gifted people struggle to redirect their thoughts and create better emotions, they are also more likely to struggle with the following thing…

4) Managing depression 

People who struggle to identify and manage their emotions have lower coping abilities. 

So, when a gifted person with low EQ feels sad, depressed, or hopeless, they will struggle to pull themselves out of the hole and turn their mood around.

Instead, they are more likely to use unhealthy behaviors to numb and distract them from their emotional pain and challenging thoughts.

What’s more, as children, gifted individuals were often put on a pedestal by their parents or teachers.

The adults in their lives had high expectations of them, so as they grew up, the gifted kids put high expectations on themselves, too.

The problem with this is that whenever a gifted individual feels like they are not meeting those expectations, they develop self-esteem issues.

And because of their emotional intensity, they start to overthink and overanalyze things. As a result, they may beat themselves up about not being good enough, leading to depression.

5) Handling life’s challenges

While being intellectually gifted may bring you more opportunities, research has found that emotional intelligence is crucial to success. 


It’s all about a lesser-known aspect of EQ – Internal motivation.

Internal motivation relates to the way we respond to challenges and handle failures.

People with high EQ can effectively regulate any negative emotions that arise from challenging situations. This allows them to seek the lessons from their failures and setbacks. 

As a result, they are good at persevering amidst adversity, AKA, they don’t give up.

However, gifted people with low EQ have a tough time persevering. 

Instead, they struggle to move past the negative emotions of shame and disappointment and, thus, are much more likely to quit or stall. 

This is due to a combination of three things:

  • High expectations of themselves
  • Perfectionism trait
  • Lack of emotional regulation

6) Accepting Other People’s Views

Many gifted people with low EQ are known to be argumentative. 

Simply put, they believe they are always right and refuse to listen to the opinions and perspectives of others.

They gain the reputation of being highly opinionated and unable to reason with, which further affects their ability to fit in and make friends. 

As children, gifted individuals are also known to challenge their superiors. 

Their report cards will typically mention their intelligence but include the description “difficult to deal with.”

So why do gifted people struggle to accept contrasting views and opinions?

Well, they are truth-seekers who have a strong desire to learn everything about a topic. So they spend hours and hours researching things.

As a result, they become a bit of a “know-it-all.” They know that no one else would have studied the subject as in-depth as they have.

Then, their low EQ means they lack empathy and, thus, come across as insensitive to others.

So, if someone were to offer an opinion that contrasts with their own, they lack the social skills to engage in a healthy debate.

Instead, they argue and try to shut the other person down, refusing to see their perspective. 

7) Focus & motivation

There is a lot of stigma around ADHD, which is typically associated with underachievers. 

However, more and more research is finding that many gifted individuals have ADHD, suggesting there could be a link between the two.

ADHD expert Marcy Caldwell refers to gifted people with ADHD as “Twice Exceptional Adults.”

This is because, although ADHD poses particular challenges, it also brings many gifts.

Marcy explains that “Twice Exceptional Adults” typically demonstrate exceptional strengths in these areas:

  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking

However, it can adversely affect:

Typically, people who have both giftedness and ADHD can hyperfocus on specific tasks. But they lose interest in things quickly, and once they are bored, they struggle to focus. 

8) Budgeting

One aspect of EQ is financial emotional intelligence, which means understanding your emotions around money and spending. 

People with high EQ can relate their spending to their emotions. 

For example, they will catch themselves online shopping and understand that they indulge in this behavior because they are anxious or stressed.

This then gives them the power of choice. Their self-awareness allows them to close the tab and direct their attention to something else.

This is not the case for someone with low EQ, even if they are intellectually gifted.

People with low EQ cannot regulate their emotions, so they make themselves feel better through unhealthy habits, one of which is comfort spending.

In other words, gifted people with low EQ might spend money to make themselves feel better.

This puts them at risk of spending money mindlessly and not sticking to their budget. 

Final thoughts

While intellectually gifted people might steal the spotlight in school and university, they are still imperfect.

Many gifted people fall short in other areas of intelligence – namely EQ.

Of course, this is only true for some geniuses out there. But if there’s a smart-minded person in your life who struggles with these eight things, they likely have low EQ. 

Gemma Clarke

I am a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher and an experienced content writer in the spirituality and personal growth space.
I’m passionate about sharing my expertise through the power of
words to inspire and guide others along the path of personal and spiritual development.

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