Sapiosexuality: When Smarts Turn Us On

Published: JUNE 18, 2020 | Updated: SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
For some people, bigger brains can be more arousing than having bigger... well, anything else.

I wanted to open this article with a nice, pithy quote about intelligence, particularly how it might be considered attractive. However, I realized that I woefully lacked, shall we say, the smarts to not just locate a suitable quote, but also be well-informed enough about the person making it so as to avoid an inappropriate choice, and so totally invalidating what whatever comments on the subject that they may have made.


Okay, all that was a bit much, even for me, but silliness aside, the subject of sapiosexuality is still a fascinating subject to delve into. Sapiosexuality is when someone is emotionally or sexually aroused by another person’s intelligence.

The term itself stems from the Latin word sapio, meaning "to be wise." The term sapiosexual actually hasn’t been around for all that long, first popping up in popular culture after it appeared as an option on the dating site, OkCupid, back in 2014.

But what is sapiosexuality, beyond that simple definition above, and how can you tell if you happen to have this kind of sexual attraction—and if you do have it, how can you get your sexual itch for the intellectually brilliant scratched?


Being Smart About Being Smart

Right off the bat, there’s a bit of a problem in talking about sapiosexuality. Not as a form of erotic arousal, but rather as it deals with the tricky subject of intelligence. To be more precise: what exactly is it?

We human beings have been puzzling this very question for as long as we’ve had the little cells to do it and, so far, we really haven’t come up with a really good answer.

Some smarty-pants have tried linking it to things like having the ability to efficiently problem-solve. We've created elaborate tests to try and measure and then quantify how well it can be done, or not done. The problem is not just who designs the tests, as well as decides on what the results might mean, but that it still focuses only on that narrow definition of intelligence.


Besides, when you’re aroused by someone, it’s not going to be solely because of their test results. Rather, it would be how you feel about them and their results. Thus, sapiosexuality could be better described as being excited by a person’s perceived intelligence.

We are, after all, talking about arousal which, even for someone with those high test scores, rarely involves our higher brain functions.

Read: 8 Ways to Turn Yourself on for More Satisfying Sex


Is Sapiosexuality a Sexual Orientation or Something Else?

Another debate around sapiosexuality is if it is a sexual orientation. The argument for it not being a sexuality is based on the fact sapiosexuality is about attraction to intelligence and not particularly to bodies.

Going out on a limb here, this is actually pretty silly as the definition of sapiosexuality is far too rigid. Although, there are no doubt many for whom this definition works fine.

For others, though, they might be queer, bisexual, or straight and still have a pronounced sexual attraction to someone they consider to be intelligent. Thinking of it this way, it could be argued that while it may not be an orientation, sapiosexuality might be more accurate to describe it as a fetish: something that is needed for sexual arousal or that makes it much more pleasurable.


Yet another angle to sapiosexuality is that many use the term not as being intellectually attracted to someone, but instead that they find lovers who approach sexual activities in a conscientious and thoughtful manner. This can include being present and aware about always practicing safe sex, diligently being safe, sane, and consensual during BDSM play, or just being a thoughtful and giving lover.

If it is or isn’t an orientation aside, how can you tell if you might be on the sapiosexual scale?And, if you decide you are, what next?



Playing it Smart

As with many aspects of human sexuality making that decision is up to you and no one else. Unlike those intelligence exams, there’s no test with right or wrong answers set things in stone.

Rather, if you feel you might be on the sapiosexual scale take some time to personally explore that possibility. How, again, is up to you, but a suggestion might be to take time to ponder your own sexual response cycle. Look at how you respond to those you consider to be intelligent. Think about if you enjoy smart conversations before, during, or after sex, or if you have a preference for partners who approach erotic activities in a thoughtful manner.

After this pondering, if you decide that you actually are sapiosexual, or perhaps lean in that particular direction more often than not, you can go from there.

Read: How to Understand Your Sexual Accelerators for Better Sex

Looking for Sex in All the Intelligent Places

As with determining if you’re aroused by intelligence, what you do with this information is a personal choice. Perhaps, armed with this self-knowledge, you’ll tweak how you seek out partners in the future, like adding that it’s important to you in your dating profile, asking pertinent questions about subjects you find intellectually arousing when you’re getting to know someone, or even actively looking for places or events were you feel smart people might congregate.

No matter where you go, though, do please keep in mind that sapiosexuality is, again, about having increased sexual desire over how smart you feel someone might be. Not being turned on by someone doesn’t mean they are necessarily stupid, only that your libido doesn’t respond to them as it does for others.

Intellectually Exciting

Sapiosexuality may or may not be something you’ve thought of before, or maybe this brief introduction to it has piqued your curiosity, intellectually or perhaps even erotically, but you have to admit that it’s done something important.

Perhaps as a society, we might, eventually, end up as a place where sexual desire is linked to what kind of a person they are—intelligent, thoughtful, conscientious, empathetic, and giving—instead of just to what they happen to look like.

Even if that never comes to pass, sapiosexuality has still done something important, it’s given us something to think about... and maybe even gotten us hot and bothered while doing so.

M. Christian

M.Christian is an author who has been published in science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and even nonfiction, but it is in erotica that M.Christian has become an acknowledged master, with stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and in fact too many anthologies, magazines, and sites to name. M.Christian's short fiction has been collected in many bestselling books in a wide variety...

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