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20 Intellectual Conversation Topics that Ignite Meaningful Communication

Intellectual conversations seem to be few and far between these days. But here are some intellectual conversation topics to get you started.

intellectual conversation topics

Does it seem like having an intellectual conversation is a lost art these days? It sure does to me. It feels like every time I hang out with one of my friends, all they do is talk about their life… and their problems.

Sure, I want my friends to vent, but sometimes dream of having an intellectual conversation.

In fact, one time, I hung out with a guy friend for 4 hours straight. And do you know how much he talked about his life? Three hours and fifty minutes. Yup. And, I’m guilty of it too. But, unfortunately, we live in a world where we’ve lost touch with culture and stopped having real discussions about things other than ourselves.

So, if you’re as sick of this as I am, you can try to ignite some intellectual conversations with these topics.

[Read: 25 Great conversations starters for when you’re drawing a blank]

Why should we have intellectual conversations?

Having intellectual conversations isn’t about being smart. It isn’t about being pretentious. It is actually about happiness.

Intellectual conversations revolve around substantial topics. These things can be current events, philosophy, and more.

You don’t need to be a genius, on the honor roll, or even book smart to discuss these things. But, studies have shown that having these intellectual conversations actually makes you happier.

Most conversations are characterized as small talk or substantial. But on average, more than half of us are talking about TV shows or the weather over deeper topics. When we fill those talks with deeper topics like the character growth of a TV character, not the steamy make-out session, we tend to be happier. How about that? [Read: Psychology Today | Why we need to have deeper conversations]

Not only do we enjoy intellectual conversations for their depth, but they bring us overall happiness. So let’s get on it.

Intellectual conversation topics

Whether you’re like me and want to find deeper meanings in your conversations or want to dive deep into some exciting thoughts… here are some intellectual conversation topics you can use. [Read: The 15 highs and lows of dating someone smarter than you]

1. The existence of aliens

C’mon. Everyone loves this topic! I mean, the movie ET was a classic and popular for a reason, right? Okay, well, maybe not everyone loved the movie because of the alien concept. Maybe they just thought ET was cute.

But regardless, everyone seems to have an opinion about whether or not aliens exist. After stating your opinions, you should both give reasoning and arguments for why you think you’re right.

2. Alien abduction

While this is in the same generic category as the existence of aliens, it’s not exactly the same. But I suppose at least one of you would have to believe in aliens to even start this conversation.

There are people out there who claim to have been abducted by aliens. And quite frankly, their stories are pretty convincing. You might want to Google this one first so you have a lot of material to add to this intellectual conversation. [Read: Sex demons – Historical excuses for deviant sexual behavior]

3. Political affiliations

I know everyone says to stay away from talking about politics. But really, people, you can’t get away from it! It could be risky, but it can be super beneficial to you both, with the right person. Who knows? You may actually learn something if you keep an open mind.

But, in order to have an intellectual conversation about politics, both people have to be objective and empathetic… especially if they disagree. But it can be quite enlightening and interesting to talk about this topic.

4. Personality types

Are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs 16 Personality Types? If not, do some research on it and take the test yourself. For example, I’m sure you know what extroverts and introverts are, but there are also many different variations.

And some people are even both an introvert and extrovert at the same time. In fact, you’re listening to one right now. We’re called ambiverts. There are a lot of interesting aspects to personality traits that can be discussed in an intellectual conversation. [Read: INTJ relationship – 15 things you need to know to decode them]

5. Trivia

Okay, I’m terrible at trivia. I loathe Trivial Pursuit because I never know ANY of the answers. But I do love listening to people who know a lot of trivia. It’s really interesting to sit and talk about random pieces of information that are fascinating.

You could even get a trivia book to brush up on all the facts, sit with the other person, and go through it. That will spark some intellectual conversation for sure. If not a book, there are plenty of Buzzfeed lists filled with random yet fascinating facts.

6. The Afterlife

This intellectual conversation could be really fascinating. Now, if you’re talking to a devout Catholic *or devout person of a few other religions*, they won’t want to debate the possibility of whether it exists or what it looks like.

On the other hand, if you’re talking to an atheist or someone from a religion that believes in the afterlife, they might also be pretty firm in their convictions. But it can be a great intellectual conversation if both people are open-minded and want to explore other possible views. They are called beliefs for a reason, so even discussing others without believing them yourself is interesting. [Read: Tongue-tied? Here are 35 brilliant conversation topics]

7. Reincarnation

A subset of the “afterlife” conversation is the topic of reincarnation. I know the United States is a predominantly Christian country, so it is a controversial subject. But again, if both of you are open-minded and like to explore a lot of different ideas, this is a fun intellectual conversation to have.

Maybe you have had past life memories or dreams. Or maybe it’s just fun to talk about which era of human history would have been the most fun to live in. There are a lot of different ways you can take this intellectual conversation. [Read: How to keep a conversation going with the opposite sex]

8. History

Just like the trivia topic, this could be a tricky one for some people. For me, I love history. I love hearing about it and watching TV or movies about it. But, my knowledge of it really stinks. You could watch a documentary and discuss it or just talk about a time in history that is so enthralling.

Perhaps you know that someone is a history buff, well, ask them to tell you about what they know. You can turn it into an intellectual conversation by talking about things like whether or not Hitler was mentally ill… or is in Hell right now. The possibilities are endless for how to talk about history.

9. Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories are always fun to talk about, mostly because there really is no answer to them. There’s only speculation. There are tons you can choose from. Sure, they have gone off the rails with YouTube, but some of those videos are actually pretty great.

For example, do they think 9/11 was an inside job? Did Lee Harvey Oswalt really kill JFK? Is the earth flat? I mean, some of these are obvious facts, but still. Even discussing why they have become conspiracy theories is exciting.  [Read: Shocking sex cults – Crazy facts that you need to know]

10. Analyzing deeper meanings of movies

Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day from the 1990s with Bill Murray? It seems like a silly, funny comedy, right? Well, if you look at it a lot deeper, it really follows the seven deadly sins like greed, lust, and gluttony.

If you don’t believe me, watch it again, and you’ll see. There are hidden and deeper messages in many movies, so why not sit back, pick apart some of your favorite movies, and analyze them in an intellectual conversation?

11. The news

Yeah, yeah, I know. The news is always negative. As the saying goes in journalism, “If it bleeds, it leads.” But regardless, the news is always an endless supply of interesting topics if you want to have an intellectual conversation. I don’t care if it’s a story about cyberbullying or a hurricane that’s about to hit somewhere. There’s always something you can do to analyze it.

Or just analyze news in general. Like, how biased is the media? Are they beholden to one particular power organization? Is there really free speech, or is our culture trying to squash it? There are many angles you can take when talking about the news or the media. [Read: How to be cultured in an age obsessed with social media]

12. Goals and dreams

It seems like after we grow up, not only do we lose sight of our goals and dreams, sometimes people have told us through the years that they are either dumb or unattainable. So, why not talk about your wildest dreams?

Did you want to be an actor? Or sail around the world? Did you do any of those things? If not, why not? There are many aspects of goals and dreams that are fun to talk about in an intellectual conversation.

13. Love languages

There are five love languages and not only are most people unaware of them, but they don’t understand them. Take the online quiz to see what yours are and discuss them.

Love languages are essentially how we communicate our love. Some people receive love through gifts, and some give it through words of affirmation. It is interesting not just to find out what yours are, but also why you think they are what they are. [Read: How to show someone you love them with their love language]

14. Current events

Are new policies restricting access to healthcare? Is there an oil spill causing unknowable damage to the oceans? Talking about any of these things would be an intellectual conversation topic.

Discussing the ins and outs of current events, apart from which celebrities got married or arrested, will be insightful and interesting.

15. Climate change

Talking about climate change is a bummer, but it is a necessary one we all have to deal with. So talking about how it was caused and what we can do about it is super insightful and helpful.

Not only can you learn about what big companies are doing, but also small things you can do every day. [Read: 10 ways to be more socially conscious]

16. The economy

This may seem like something only ECON majors can talk about, but if you’ve ever bought anything, you can talk about it. Discuss inflation. What did things cost when you were younger versus now? Are income averages the same as 30 years ago? What are housing costs like?

17. Culture

This is a general term, but it can mean so much. Culture can be how your family grew up or what it was like for your parents. It can be what your grandma described her life as in her home country.

Culture can even be how you and your siblings or cousins behave when you’re together versus how you are at work or with friends. Discussing this with someone gives you insights into other cultures and outside opinions on your take. [Read: Common issues in cross-cultural relationships]

18. The Patriarchy

Be prepared because this intellectual conversation could go on for ages. There is so much to say. But discussing this reminds people of how important it is to talk about it and how we shouldn’t forget it’s there.

We’ve lived within the confines of the patriarchy for so long we sometimes forget all the things that were caused by it. We need to unlearn what we have always accepted as the norm and question why things are the way they are. [Read: Marital traditions – Their not so sweet origins and our modern choices]

19. Mental health

Mental health can be a very personal thing to talk about, so if you want to keep it away from the personal, discuss the stigma around it. Talk about how many health insurance providers still don’t cover access to mental healthcare the same way they do physical health.

Discuss how people can get help or how it has impacted you. [Read: How to explain your anxiety to someone you love]

20. Creation

We’ve discussed the afterlife, but what about creation. Try to put religion aside and discuss all the theories that are out there. Was it the Big Bang or God?

This can get heated, but instead of a debate, discuss the possibilities that have already been argued thousands of times.

[Read: 17 ways to be a citizen of the world while living at home]

If you are craving an intellectual conversation, why not give these topics a try? When you do, trust me, you’ll feel somehow fuller and more satisfied.

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