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Why Are Highly Intelligent People Misunderstood?


Highly Rational and Highly Intelligent People- Who Are They? 

Highly intelligent people are usually highly rational, even when they are also emotionally intense. They enjoy finding solutions to big problems and are aware of their deep potentials. However, they are often misunderstood. Being different, they are often scapegoated. Others may assume they do not care or dismiss their approach.


“they were cerebral spirits (much like the owl…), with their enlarged eyes which gave them penetrating sight, their oversized forebrain which gave them powerful reasoning, their sensitive antennae which gave them vivid imagination, and their gossamer wings which gave them access to places otherwise impossible to explore.” (Kiersey and Bates, 1978; p. 215). 


Highly intelligent people are usually also highly rational. Here, we refer purely to intellectual and logical intelligence, rather than emotional intelligence. Highly intelligent people may be intellectually gifted and logical, though not necessarily emotionally gifted. Within the MBTI system, they might be the ‘NT’ types. The MBTI NTs include four types— INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, and ENTP. But one can also be an ‘F’ type (E.g. INFJ, ENFJ) but edging towards “T” on the spectrum. They are more likely to be an ‘N’ type though. Combining both males and females, Rationals is amongst the rarest type. NT types, sometimes known as the ‘Rationals’, have a temperament geared towards pragmatism, problem-solving, and finding one’s way in a complex system. They thrive on analyzing systems and improving things.

Being highly rational does not mean you are not emotional or intense. It can be an asset to both your personal and professional life if you can effectively manage your emotions and still maintain a level of reason. The ability to be rational and thoughtful while also being passionate and enthusiastic is something many people strive for, but it often takes practice and mindfulness to achieve.

It’s important to remember that feelings are natural; they don’t necessarily have to be suppressed in order for you to remain highly logical. In fact, allowing yourself the freedom to feel – both positively and negatively – can give you more insight into how best to solve problems logically. Being aware of your emotions can help inform decisions by giving context as well as providing motivation towards reaching goals or objectives; this kind of awareness is incredibly valuable in any situation.

For highly intelligent people, whilst they are most interested in finding solutions for real-life problems, they also enjoy pondering deep philosophical ideas and abstract concepts. From a young age, they have an insatiable curiosity about life; They thrive on learning.

Highly intelligent people are natural and pragmatic problem-solvers. Even when situations look like a dead-end to others, they are able to come up with a creative solution by synthesizing their wide knowledge base with extensive common sense.

They are fiercely independent— both in terms of their thinking and their way of being in the world. They are a seeker of truths and enjoy teasing out the fundamental principles that underlie phenomena.

Most rationals and highly intelligent people have a disdain for bureaucracy and rules without reason. Integrity is important to them, and they rarely bend their principles and standards.

They also do not blindly follow any doctrine; when something does not make sense, they can’t help but see it. Therefore they are sceptical about the most commonly held beliefs and conspiracies and will always try to find their own answers.

They can become hyper-focused and absorbed in a project, especially when seeking answers to a question or solving a particular problem.

They hold themselves to a high standard, and they cannot help but see it when others have sloppiness in their thinking; they may or may not point it out but witnessing un-intelligent and illogical behaviours annoy highly intelligent people.

They may not be blatantly expressive, but they always look at the big picture and care deeply about elevating the level at which everyone operates.

All in all, highly intelligent and rational people are intensely analytical, curious. They are a natural strategic and independent thinker. In addition, they have a highly complex inner world that not many people get.

Because of this, they may struggle with loneliness, relationship frustrations, and feeling misunderstood. The following  5 points are some of the life challenges faced by highly rational and highly intelligent people.


highly intelligent

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”  ― Abraham Lincoln

Highly Intelligent People Often Feel They Don’t Fit In

Being highly intelligent means you have a degree of overexcitabilities, especially intellectual overexcitability. Through life experience, you have learned that you must edit yourself and not express your innermost thoughts blatantly. When you say what is really on your mind, even to you, what you say is purely logical and well-intentioned, some people may perceive it as hurtful or offensive. On the other hand, whenever you try to act as your true self— not diluting your messages, not faking smiles, not initiating meaningless small talks, not entertaining faulty logic— you end up being seen as cold or even ‘mean’.

Highly intelligent people are often cast as the Black Sheep of the family because they are different. In your younger years, you might have tried to act like other people against your instinct. Especially during your teen years, you might have tried to mimic those around you, only to feel awkward, uncomfortable, and felt like you have somehow betrayed yourself.

You may find you are ‘always’ the one who adapts to the way the wider world is. However, rarely do others come your way to understand the way you are wired. This may have caused you to bottle up resentment.

Because of your ongoing frustration of being misunderstood, you may have resorted to being an observer or analyzer in social groups (especially if you are introverted). It is not unusual for highly intelligent people to have used their analytic and observation skills to figure out the unspoken rules or etiquette of how people work and use these ‘maps’ to travel in the social world. They may be able to ‘pass’ for being a part of a group but do not feel that their natural, authentic self is seen or heard.



“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine” ― Byron Katie


Friends and Family Reject Your Approach

When friends go to highly intelligent people for help, they usually feel compelled to do so. Usually, highly intelligent people would approach the problem with logic and explore possibilities from various angles to find the best reality solutions. It is their strength to help people gain clarity in other people’s thinking and change their perspective for the better. In fact, problem-solving may be highly intelligent people’s ‘love language’ and this is absolutely appreciated by the right people. However, for those who are not really looking for a solution to problems and just want to be empathized on a feeling level, highly intelligent people’s approach may be dissatisfactory to them. These friends and family members may even reject the highly intelligent person’s help and assume you are cold and indifferent.  

As a highly intelligent person, you also naturally see the big picture and may suggest the person you console to see other people’s perspectives, but if they are not ready to hear this, they may get frustrated at you and accuse you of not taking their side.

You are nurturing, caring, and loving— but in your own way. Just because you take a logical approach to problem-solving does not mean feelings don’t matter to you. Usually, after or as you offer an objective viewpoint, you can fully see and feel into the other person’s emotions. Your intention to help is always sincere, but it can be disheartening when others reject your help and criticize your approach. Despite your emotional steadiness and strength, your feelings can be hurt. Being misunderstood and un-appreciated is particularly hard for INTPs, as they have a genuine desire to feel like they are an ally to their close friends or loved ones. They care so deeply seeing the ones they care about struggle hurts them.

You may struggle to express your emotions directly, but you do need and want someone to understand you and consider your feelings. If you are an INTP or INTJ, you may have an unconscious expectation that your partner can read your subtle emotional signals. When you are upset, exhausted, etc., you hope that they pick that up and adjust their expectations of you accordingly. When they do not, you may feel hurt or even express your anger in a passive-aggressive way.


Some People Assume Highly Rational and Highly Intelligent People Don’t Care 

As a highly rational, highly intelligent person, when you are pondering a question or solving a problem, you can become hyper-focused and detach yourself from others. During these times, you may choose to isolate yourself, but that does not mean you don’t care about others. You still care about and love your loved ones as much as you always do, you may appear distant for a while.

Most highly intelligent people, unless they have psychopathic tendencies, are humanitarians at heart. They care deeply about people around them, and more so, more significant issues in the world.  Therefore, they always meticulously consider all angles and do what is best for all regardless of their selfish interest. The irony is the while the highly intelligent person is trying to solve the world’s or the community’s problems, people think of them as uncaring.

As a highly intelligent person, you are often misunderstood by those around you. Just because you don’t express sentimentality on the surface does not mean you are not intuitive and empathic. You may not have the typical vocabularies to express your love and warmth, but that does not mean you do not care.  

You keep your thoughts to yourself, but that does not mean you do not care. In conversations, you try to not waste words on the obvious or trivial. You don’t want to be competing for credits or stating the obvious, but your silence could be misinterpreted as arrogance. The truth is, behind your level-headedness, you have a complex inner world and incredible depth to your emotions. You are direct in expressing your opinions; sometimes, you don’t sugarcoat things. When others are not used to it, they may accuse you of being hurtful and insensitive, but that is not the truth. You have deep feelings, even big ups and downs on the inside, but it can be difficult for you to show it or share it.


highly intelligent
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful


Some Say Highly Intelligent People Are ‘Too Much’

As a highly rational person or an NT type, you are likely intellectually excitable. This means you have immense curiosity about things and are always in search of answers. You are deeply curious about the world and always wanting to learn. Your intellect may not be reflected in your academic achievement, but your mind is almost always busy, and you are always on a quest for understanding and truth-seeking. This means that even as a child, you ask deep and probing questions— about philosophies of life, the meaning of events. You may become preoccupied with particular subjects or moral issues. As a result, your parents and teachers might have accused you of asking too many questions, speaking back too much, and not just accept what was taught. When you were stating your opinion or asking logical questions, they may punish you for being confrontational.

Even as an adult, your intellectual excitability may be deemed as ‘too much’ for those who do not keep up with you. You enjoy pondering abstract theories and ideas and uncovering truths behind appearances.

Naturally, your mind challenge widely accepted conventions, and are naturally sceptical of ‘common sense.’ You can’t help but see flaws in logic that others seem to gloss over. Others may not get it and misunderstand you as being disagreeable, but you want to think through everything and gather sufficient information before agreeing to any statement.

You have high standards— most of the time, you apply that to yourself. You may not be ambitious or driven by how society defines it, but you certainly have your own definition of what ‘good enough’ means. At work, because of your natural competence and high level of integrity, your colleagues may feel intimidated and exposed. Those junior to you feel pressured to keep up with you, or they feel exposed when you expose their laziness lack of effort. Those senior to you may dislike being challenged, even when they can benefit and learn from what you say.


“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
Lao Tzu


The Difficulties in Finding a Partner

At their core, highly intelligent people are also highly autonomous people. They still enjoy people’s company, especially if it involves an exciting intellectual exchange or connection. However, they may not subscribe to the normative notion of what relationships need to look like. For example, they do not feel they need to do everything with a company. They need a lot of alone time to recharge and appreciate uninterrupted thinking time. They prefer to come together to have an exchange while growing together as people. They can quickly feel suffocated by a demanding, engulfing partnership. Many conventionally accepted ways of coupling, such as frequent texting or daily phone calls, do not work for them.

Highly intelligent people want to have a real, organic relationship, not one made from society’s cookie-cutter format. Generally, it is not easy for them to be particularly attracted to someone. It can be challenging for them to find someone who is compatible physically, sexually, and intellectually. They might be initially attracted to someone on a physical level, but if they later find that the person cannot hold stimulating conversations, lack common sense or worldly vision, they may be put off.

After experiencing many frustrating in the dating scene, you may feel some degree of despair and aloneness, but that does not mean finding a suitable partner is not possible for you.


highly intelligent

“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone – and finding that that’s ok with them.” 

― Alain de Botton

Highly Intelligent Women

Despite waves of feminist movements and rising awareness about diversities, our culture, by and large, have particular stereotypical ideas about how a woman should think, feel, and behave.  The ‘feminine ideal’ includes friendliness, warmth, the desire to nurture, and a high degree of emotional expressiveness. On the other hand, rationality, assertiveness in thinking, confidence in composure, drivenness are not what one expects to see in a woman. Women are socialized to develop their feeling function from an early age; whereas men are encouraged to have their thinking function as the dominant one. This makes you an outlier as a highly intelligent and rational female.

According to statistics, most females are the Sensing Feeling (SF) type in the population, after that are Sensing Thinking (ST) females, followed by Intuitive Feelings (NF) females and finally Intuitive Thinking (NT) females. Altogether, NTs only make up about 6 percent of the female population. However, because their personality tends to counter stereotypical cultural expectations, highly rational NT females face various struggles in the world.

As a highly intelligent woman, your natural way of being does not fit into the gender stereotype. You don’t play games, bubble wrap things, speak in a roundabout manner, or act compliantly just because it is socially expected to do so. You do not need anyone to rescue you, but you enjoy having an intellectual equal with whom you could have a meeting of the minds. Those who enjoy being with you love the fact that when they are with you, ‘what you see is what you get.’

Many highly intelligent people who are females have expressed the feeling that things would be easier if they had been male.  It is not that they do not feel feminine or do not like being women; In fact, they do possess ‘feminine qualities’ such as empathy, sensitivity, and intuitiveness; but it can be humiliating and frustrating to constantly be put in a ‘mold’, or be seen as less competent than they are just because of their gender.

Sadly, sometimes society would advise competent and independent women to dilute their true selves or even ‘dumb it down’ to comply with societal expectations. People around you may encourage you to pretend to be what you are not, just to not appear threatening or intimidating.

If you are a highly intelligent woman, please know that the problem is not in the way you are, but in society’s dogmatic idea of femininity. Just because you don’t fit into the typical notion of femininity does not mean you are not feminine.


highly intelligent

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures.”

― Jane Austen, Persuasion

What You Truly Deserve

All your life, you have tried to find ways to adapt yourself, work out how you come across to others, and make other people feel more at ease with you. You are highly aware and care deeply, even most around you may assume otherwise. But just because you are not explicitly warm or forward does not mean you don’t care. The last thing you need from others is more misjudgment.

Dear highly intelligent people, please know that even the world misunderstands you sometimes, your unique qualities— your intelligence, kindness, and passion for the truth— remain untethered. Your intellect, ability to think profoundly and debate persuasively are natural gifts. And so are your sensitivity and kindness. You deserve to be seen for who you are, be loved for what you offer and how you offer them. With some time and self-awareness, you can surround yourself with people who get you and love you and would not demand you to be anything but who you are.


“I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead, they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. “― Marilyn Monroe



Consultant and Author at Eggshell Therapy and Coaching | Website

Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive experience in mental health and psychotherapy across diverse international settings. She specializes in working with highly sensitive, intense and gifted adults. Her books, 'Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity' and 'The Gift of Intensity,' are internationally acclaimed and available in multiple languages. She integrates psychological understanding with both Eastern and Western philosophies, such as Buddhism and Stoicism.