real life

How high is your Life IQ?

But do you know how to register your car….?

One of my friends started dating a new guy this summer. And this post isn’t even about how much sex they’ve been having.  Ridiculous amounts but anyway. That’s to be expected. What’s been a surprise to her is the joy of dating someone with a high Life IQ.

You see, my friend is 27 and the boyfriends she’s had since her teens have had decidedly low Life IQs. Note: your Life IQ has nothing to do with your actual IQ. It’s not about the type of intelligence measured by university degrees or MENSA. It’s about being smart at life. Being capable of working things out and getting stuff done. Self-sufficiency and independence come into it. So do street smarts and common sense.

“You won’t believe this,” my friend announced breathlessly to me after their first date. “but he has his own car! And a job! And a wallet! With credit cards in it!”

Her excitement had nothing to do with gold digging. She has her own car and wallet with her own credit cards that she pays off with her own salary. It’s just that after years of dating guys who were hot but generally hopeless, guys whose most treasured possession was their bong or their Xbox and whose idea of nirvana was combining the two, it was a delightful shock to meet someone who had their, well, shit together.

Because not all adults do. Somehow, many men and women make it to their twenties or even thirties (and in some cases beyond) without two bits of sense to rub together. Hence, the low Life IQ. These are the people who struggle with the basic things that most of us do every day. Like work. Renew our drivers’ license. Remember to vote. Know what night the garbage goes out. COPE.

Your Life IQ is also not gender dependent. A couple of years ago, a male friend invited me out to dinner to meet his new girlfriend. Afterwards, he decided to go out for a drink with a mate so she and I agreed to share a cab. As the three of us stood on the street, The Girlfriend insisted, “You don’t have to wait with us, go have fun!” to which he replied “No, I want to put you in a cab and make sure you get home OK.” She smiled and said gently “Well, I’ve been getting home OK for 34 years….” He laughed and said, “I know. Then let me do it for my own benefit so I don’t feel bad.”

I loved that little exchange and it’s stayed with me. Until then I’d despaired about this guy’s choice in girlfriends, many of whom seemed to have alarmingly low Life IQs – birds with broken wings who have needed rescuing from situations as basic as forgetting to register their car for two years or not knowing how to claim on Medicare.


Perhaps some men like that whole distressed damsel thing because it allows them to be Superman. But I imagine the red cape would get old fast. When the Life IQ of two people in a relationship is dramatically different, resentment can gradually grow over it like mould.

It’s also true that long-term cohabitation itself can push your Life IQ down, down, down but invariably, you only realise this when you split up. Remarked one divorced friend: “It wasn’t until my marriage ended after 17 years and Dan moved out that I discovered I had no idea about money, home maintenance, my car…the list was embarrassingly long. I had a child and a great job and I am smart! But somehow I’d just let so much slide because he took care of it.” Until he didn’t. “It took at least a year to learn and re-learn all this stuff and I hated it at first. I cringe to admit this but I just wanted someone to sweep in and take care of it. I even called my Dad who was a huge help until I gained the confidence to do it myself.”

While writing this post, I’ve considered my own Life IQ. Before I met my husband it was very high. It had to be. By dating guys with woefully low Life IQs for years, I’d had to stay on top of my game – and theirs.

When we first began seeing each other, I remember battling over my wallet. Whenever we’d leave the house, I’d automatically grab it and he’d say “Don’t worry babe, I’ve got it covered” which was very gallant and totally new but for some reason really irritated me. Eventually, I burst out “Stop making me leave my wallet at home! I don’t want to become dependant on you! I like being independent!” Therapy anyone?

In the years since, I think my Life IQ has gone down. Or has it? Maybe it’s just what it’s like to be part of a team where you divide and conquer. For example, I know nothing about our cars, where they’re serviced or when their rego is due. Not even numberplates. But I know everything about our children’s medical histories and could name all their teachers since they began kindergarten.  And I still never leave home without my wallet.

How would you rate your Life IQ? Has it changed? What about the people you’ve dated? High? Low? Off the charts?

00:00 / ???