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Intellectual confidence


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My girlfriend of 17 months and I are both very serious about eachother; we spend most of our time together. We are university students, in the same program. That being said, we have many classes together, and study with eachother. However, she is from Taiwan, we're in school in Canada, and her ability to communicate her insightful ideas through English are needing improvement.


Also, I get fairly good grades, and thus, when we're studying together, I usually understand the details, but she often does not, I must explain it to her often. Also, when we're working on projects, I like to express my ideas to see what she thinks of them, but often she accuses me of being arrogant and egocentric, flaunting my intelligence.


Later she always says she really appreciates my helping her in school, but more often she says i 'crush her confidence'. I don't want to do this; I feel devastated that I do this to her! I just want her to be able to live up to her potential, but I don't know how to do this properly. I've thought about us spending more time apart, and studying separately, but then she does want help from me sometimes, and I really enjoy when I see her knowing smile when she knows what's going on. I sometimes think i'm conceited, and overconfident in my academic self...I just want her to be happy with her own brain! and not feel like I must be her crutch! any advice on how to go about this would be appreciated! or any advic at all!



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Let her be her ... don't expect her to change or become more intelligent for you ... if she asks for your help, give it to her. If she doesn't, don't.

If you do feel like you must help her acedemically, try and do it in a manner that won't insult her or make her feel inferior. It's all about tact.

Try complimenting her on what she is doing right and then suggesting whatever idea you may have to help her. Never, never, never tell her that she is all wrong ... that suggests that you think you know more than her and are better than her. An intelligent person can make their partner feel very insecure ... so just let her know how great you really think she is ... Once again, its all about tact.

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Welcome to ENA Zimmerman! Great to have you here...


This is a touchy situation and one I can see growing into a real problem for your relationship in general even when your classes are finished.


I think studying together is a good opportunity to spend time together, as you are both partaking in a common interest.


The most positive ground to be gained with this I think will come when you let go of or at least loosen up on your notion and desire to help her and push her to reach potential you see in her. You will also gain ground with this by being extra cognizant of your perceived arrogance in your studies.


Now how do you do this? You could be there but let her control the situation. Let her ask the questions of you and answer them professionally without straying off topic or deeper into the topic. Let her call the shots as to how much you can help her. This is the compromise: she manages her own studies and you support them in this way.


There is also an art to this, to teaching in some senses. You might not directly give her the answer but tell her where to look. Or focus on teaching a concept and let her answer the specific problems.


It will also help the synergy of this situation if you build an academic relationship where you ask of her as she asks of you, sort of a give and take. Are there areas where she excels that you might be able to understand yourself or find the answers but could ask her? Establish some way where she can feel like she is giving back to you and there is an exchange there.

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Thanks for your thoughtful and incredibly quick replies!


I've been trying not to help her unless she asks me for it. And yeah, I try to ask questions from her in areas she excels at; she's very good at creative stuff Adobe Illlustrator graphic design, so i try to get tips from her. But she seems to be overall happy with her grades, so I think I should let her control her own academic path, only intervene if she wants me to.


I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to my essays...we're both working on the same project right now, she saw that i was doing some additional research and got nervous because she wasn't doing that. Although I went to see her just a second ago and now she's done more research...however she also said i'm putting pressure on her. Working side by side on the same paper is a recipe for jealously and looking at the other's work constantly...its not healthy! That's why we're in different areas of the same place now


I sometimes feel ashamed of my academic brain because of her reactions...but then I'm lacking alot of common sense that she has...so we both have agreed that we balance eacother out. i help her with school, she helps me from doing stupid things like leaving the stove on (part of my problem is speaking without thinking of the consequences, which gets me into trouble when we're studying).


So I have these things to work on. She makes me want to be a better person! Can my common sense improve? I hope it can! Then i'll have more tact, hopefully, to study with her and let her grow by herself, with me on the sidelines as a supportive guy, but not guiding her. That's what I should be aiming for, I think.

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Hey Z-


It sounds like you have a good perspective on this and are heading in the right direction.


I would suggest you find methods to turn your perfectionism "off" relating to her. Remember that she is not an "assignment" or something to make perfect.


Also, don't forget to focus on your lives and relationship outside of school!


At any rate, I think support without initiative to do such is the key here.

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Could you two try studying in groups more often? Rather than just you two, you can get together with other classmates. I guarentee you will both find ppl in the classroom that aren't up to the speed you two are, and later when u study alone together it might help her confidence.


Sounds bad, making yourself feel better by hanging out with ppl less fortunate, but if I say it politically correct: You can see that others have several different academic viewpoints that you two may not have considered. Obvserving differences in skill level and personal location can help you grow in your own academic confidence.

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