While some people find intelligence intimidating in a potential partner, others can't move forward in a relationship without it. These people are what's known, somewhat controversially, as sapiosexuals, or those who are sexually attracted to highly intelligent people.
Personally, I think smart is sexy. In fact, for me, it's much more important than physical appearance in a relationship. The more thoughtful and intelligent someone is, the more attractive I find them.
While the Daily Beast called sapiosexuals pretentious, it actually doesn't have anything to do with how well-educated a person is. There are plenty of people who graduate from elite schools but who have zero street smarts, life experience, and are just generally dim AF. When it comes to sexual identities like sapiosexuality, intelligence is subjective and education has little to do with it.
The term sapiosexual has much more to do with appreciation for self-awareness and curiosity about the world and is not meant to put anyone down. Plenty of people aren't curious or self-aware, and that's OK. Not everyone is sexually attracted to intelligence. There's a lid for every pot.
"Those who are sapiosexual are stimulated or challenged by the way another person thinks. They are basically in love with the mind. Sometimes, sapiosexual individuals have also been called 'nymphobrainiacs,' or individuals who find it arousing to engage with the intellectual perspective of another person," Dr. Diana Raab, Ph.D., wrote for Psychology Today.
The friendship between Lady Gaga and her A Star Is Born co-star Bradley Cooper could be on this spectrum. Yes, it can apply to friendships as well as romantic relationships. These two spent most of 2019 gushing over how much they love each other's brains and creativity in every interview and at dozens of red carpet events around the world. They clearly share a sense of humor and a passion for the arts.
Seriously, if it wasn't so adorable it would have been nauseating. Who among us didn't swoon when Cooper called her by her real name, Stefani? Personally, I think Lady Gaga is one of the most soulful and intelligent women to come along in decades, and that makes me admire her in a way I wouldn't if I didn't think she was smart. There is real thought and intention behind everything she does. If I thought she was just trying to get attention, I would feel otherwise. That's what this whole sapio thing is all about.
Anyone who, at age 22, can fearlessly make a statement about the dark side of fame during a performance at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards — which will go down in history as one of the most relevant social commentaries about the culture of celebrity — is someone with a brain I want to crawl inside of. (If you haven't seen Gaga's performance of "Paparazzi," watch it ASAP.)
Basically, whether you want to call yourself sapiosexual or you're just curious about why you might date differently, here are 12 signs intelligence is a mental and physical turn on for you in friendships and relationships alike.
Good Conversation Is A Bigger Turn-On Than Appearance
For sapiosexuals, beauty without brains is a dealbreaker. In fact, for anyone who identifies as sapiosexual, brains are beauty. Cynthia Meyer, a senior lecturer at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Social Science, told Rewire that being sapiosexual has more to do with preference than sexuality. Dr. Raab (mentioned above) said it can be traced back to childhood experiences. Basically, your formative years dictate your romantic and friendship preferences. For those who say they're sapiosexual, that means intelligence is more attractive than physical appearance.
Good Grammar Is A Turn-On
Among my writer friends, someone who doesn't know the difference between "their, there, and they're," or "it's and its," or "your and you're" is undateable. In addition, sapiosexuals are less likely to shorthand their texts — yes, we'll text you in complete sentences. If you reply with, "how r u," the relationship probably isn't going anywhere.
A Meeting Of The Minds Is Better Than Casual Sex
Sapiosexual people generally don't do casual sex or casual conversation. People who are turned on by intelligence want mates who can match wits with them, and they'd rather spend hours engaged in this dynamic than hooking up with someone after a bit of small talk.
You're A Good Listener And You Appreciate The Same
You know those people who never seem to remember anything about you even though you've known them for years? Sapiosexuals are not those kind of people. Sapiosexuals are fantastic listeners because they actually want to learn more about the person they're spending time with. They'll remember specific details about conversations they had years ago, and they appreciate someone who does the same.
Foolish Folks Turn You Off
Sapiosexuals don't suffer fools, and they have little patience for those who lack judgment, self-awareness or emotional intelligence. That's not to say sapiosexuals don't like to have fun or don't appreciate a good joke; they just don't have time for ignorance or people who don't have common sense.
You Love Learning
Sapiosexuals are attracted to other people's minds, are curious, and love learning. This doesn't mean they're always in school or sitting home memorizing words from the dictionary. For me, when I get interested in something, I go down a rabbit hole and learn everything I possibly can about it. When I meet someone who's equally passionate about my obsession, or who wants to get me interested in their obsession, I'm totally game. Sapiosexual people love to learn and they're attracted to people who are willing to expand their minds and consider new perspectives.
Sapiosexuals are often called snobs or egomaniacs, but that's not necessarily true. There's a difference between intelligence and accomplishments. Sapiosexuals aren't interested in being involved with someone who ticks off boxes or constantly reminds everyone that they went to Harvard. Sapiosexuals tend to be humble. Unless you ask, you likely won't know that your date did X, Y, or Z, and sapiosexuals are attracted to those who understand that curiosity and intelligence aren't the same thing as having an MBA.
You Appreciate Clever Texts
Forget about the sexts, sapiosexuals want someone who understands subtext and can compose clever text messages. This kind of digital back-and-forth is a much bigger turn-on for a sapiosexual than any sexy snap you can send. Being in a relationship with a sapiosexual is always stimulating, and they're after mates who appreciate witty banter as much as they appreciate good sex.
You're More Attracted To People After You Get To Know Them
Have you ever met someone you didn't think you were physically attracted to but, after you got to know them, those feelings developed? Then you might be a sapiosexual. Sapiosexuals tend to become more attracted to people over time as they learn more about them.
You Appreciate Someone Who Knows Who They Are And Owns It
Sapiosexuals appreciate people who know who they are and aren't afraid to own it. This means having ideas and strong opinions, a unique personal style, and perhaps even an appreciation for the obscure. The world is full of people who want to attend a country concert. A sapiosexual is looking for a partner who wants to spend an evening at a small jazz club or a dive bar with a good jukebox.
You Love To Debate
People who identify as sapiosexual aren't looking for others to agree with them. They want to be challenged to consider new perspectives, and sapiosexuals love to debate. They're looking for a partner who has their own ideas and opinions and isn't afraid to disagree with them. In fact, debate can serve as an intense form of foreplay.
You Hate Small Talk
Sapiosexuals are looking for substance and detest small talk. If you can't have a real conversation with them, there probably won't be a second date. In Latin, "sapiosexual" means wise or intelligent relating to the sexes. It's not actually a sexuality but a preference for friendships and partnerships that involve deep connections and mental stimulation.
Because this is all subjective — what's stimulating for one person is meh for another — there is no way to clearly define it. While it's sweeping the dating apps, it really just means you're looking for someone who values learning and curiosity and doesn't base their relationships on physical appearance.
(Psst... if you feel like you need an emotional connection to be attracted to someone, read about demisexuality here.)