What’s Sapiosexuality? Why You Get Hot for Intellect

Lots of us are drawn to smart people. They’re witty, confident, and successful. What is a sapiosexual? If my dating history is full of super-smart people… am I one?

Paper cut out brain on pink background with arrows pointing in

Sapiosexual vs Sapiophile

Sapiophile comes from Latin “sapient”, meaning “wise”, and Greek “phile”, meaning “lover of”. So what is a sapiophile? Today, the term is used to define someone who has a fetish for intelligence. “Sapiosexual” is basically synonymous with “sapiophile”.

The term first came into common use in the 21st century, so it’s a new phenomenon.

What does sapiosexual mean? Both sapiophiles and sapiosexuals are attracted to one thing: intelligence. Sapiosexual implies sexual attraction and sapiophile, emotional. For most people, of course, these types of attraction overlap.

What is sapiosexuality?

In 2014, Sapiosexual joined a list of sexual identities and orientations members could choose for their profile on the dating app OkCupid.

People have argued over whether sapiosexuality is a sexual orientation or a sexual identity. It’s arguably more like a sexual identity because it has nothing to do with being attracted to a certain gender - unlike orientations like gay, straight, bisexual, or pansexual.

A sapiosexual/sapiophile is someone who is attracted to highly intelligent people. Intelligence is, of course, subjective. Most of us see smart people as having quick minds, knowledge, insight, and understanding.

But other kinds of high intellect can be attractive to sapiophiles, like creativity, compassion, humility, and wit. Or someone with a skill, like being a talented musician.

It doesn’t matter if the person is highly educated or not. All that matters is that the sapiophile perceives that person as highly intelligent.

Couple chatting and drinking tea with legs out window

For sapiosexuals, intelligence alone is a huge turn-on

That’s what makes sapiosexuality different from just valuing intelligence as a trait. For sapiophiles, intelligence is more important than physical appearance, gender, and other personality traits. It doesn’t matter what the person looks like, if they’re highly intelligent, a sapiosexual will probably feel something for them.

For many sapiosexuals, intelligent conversation is like foreplay. They won’t be drawn in by routine flirting, touching, and definitely not by small talk. A challenging intellectual debate is what gets them hot for someone.

What is sapiosexuality? Like many kinks, sapiosexuality is a spectrum. Someone might find intelligence very attractive but still look for other traits. Or someone might be extremely attracted to only intelligence in a partner and value that over any other trait.

For some, intelligence will have a physical and sexual impact on them in terms of arousal, pleasure, and sexual attraction. For others, intellect will have a romantic draw only.

Woman reading and thinking on pink background

Why are sapiosexuals drawn to intelligence?

What’s sapiosexuality about and where does it come from? As with any kink or attraction, we can only ever speculate about the psychology behind it. We all have complex reasons we’re drawn to who we’re drawn to. What sapiosexuality means to an individual will be unique and personal.

However, if we go back to the basics, intelligence is useful from an evolutionary perspective. If we’re biologically programmed to find a successful mate, intelligence is a valued quality because an intelligent partner would care for us and produce more successful children.

For other sapiosexuals, the attraction is related to submission. They enjoy feeling mentally inferior and being challenged. In contrast, many sapiosexuals are intelligent themselves. They’re drawn to smart people because they enjoy furthering their own intellect with a suitable match.

There are many other reasons you’re drawn to smart people. You may want to be smart yourself, so you value that in a partner. Perhaps your first love was an intellect.

Happy couple laughing and chatting in bed

Perhaps your family value intelligence. Maybe you were put down by your family and crave intellectual validation by being surrounded by smart people. As we said - we can only speculate.

Characteristics of a sapiosexual

Looking for a sapiosexual or think you might be one? If you’re still wondering what a sapiophile is, look out for these traits:

  • Prefer deep conversations over small talk
  • Are keener to talk then get physical straight away on a date
  • Have a super-smart dating history - of course
  • Are highly intelligent themselves
  • Probably don’t fall in love at first sight
  • Are turned off by ignorance or a lack of intellectual curiosity
  • Intellectual conversations are like foreplay and physical touch in terms of arousal.

That’s what a sapiophile is, but what kinds of people are they likely to be? Interestingly, a survey by OkCupid found that people who identified as sapiosexual were mostly between 31 and 40, more likely to say religion was not important to them, and more likely to be liberal.

Woman holding big pile of books

Now you know what a sapiosexual is, are you wondering how to have a successful date with one? We’d recommend heading to the library and practicing your conversation skills. And if you don’t win their heart, you’ve learned something useful anyway.