Sapiosexual: When Intelligence is the Ultimate Turn-On

People Who Love Minds More Than Bodies

I’m going to define it right away, and avoid seeing you leave this wonderful blog to go to your favorite search engine: a sapiosexual person is someone who is sexually attracted to intelligence over… well, everything else.

A sapiosexual loves nerds, geeks, and any cultured and brilliant person whose brain is particularly developed.

This is regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Male sapiosexuals, hetero/homo/bi, are crazy for guys with glasses who have a Ph.D., artists, teachers, or researchers.

Sapio-hetero girls fall in love with their lecturer, or with an author of philosophy, even small, even bald.

I think you can see what we are talking about: intellect is the first or most important factor that draws them to another person.

Sapiosexual, A Growing Trend?

Marilyn Monroe, herself gifted with an IQ of over 150, was attracted to intelligent men, as evidenced by her love choices. And she was not the only one who prefers a well-made brain to a well-made body.

The term sapiosexual has been crafted in 1998 by Darren Stalder, an engineer in Seattle, to describe his own sexuality. “I don’t care too much about the plumbing,” he wrote in a post on the social network LiveJournal in 2002. “I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay.”

We go beyond the additional attraction for people with whom to have interesting discussions: we are really talking about physical attraction and sexual arousal for people with a high intelligence quotient, with a dense culture.

And for some, it works even if the person really has a thankless physique.

For a sapiosexual, age or physique is less important, if at all.

Sapiosexuals aroused interest when OKCupid, one of the most well-known dating sites in the USA (and now in the world), decided to offer the sapiosexual choice in its preference categories, just like pansexual (attraction to any sex or gender), or asexual (who has no sexual attraction to another or to herself).

OkCupid, a dating app where all bodies, genres, attractions, and personalities are welcome

Because indeed, it raises a new taboo and reveals a new arrival among these attractions that we considered shameful or perverse. Un-politically correct, out of the norm in any case, and that we chose to hide. Like attractions for round people, disabled or older. But yes, some women, and some men like big… heads. The sparklers bulb, the library rats.

On a verbal jousting, an average girl can instantly become beautiful and desirable in my eyes. It transforms her physically.


And sometimes it gives surprising discoveries, in the sense that precisely, they go out of the norm. Clichés, preconceived ideas.

This is how this humble writer found herself one day chatting with a thirty-year-old Canadian ice hockey player built like a demigod, magnificent on his chrome mount, and who only trips on… “older women with a Master’s degree – Ph.D. even better”.


Very quickly, I wondered if he actually had a special attraction to “baby-mom” games, where he wears a diaper while I give him the breast. You do you, I’m just not into that type of thing. My thing is guys who are churned up, with a brain and a motorcycle, and who know how to ride me as well as they ride it.

And it turned out that no, he wasn’t into a fetish. He told me that he could not be attracted by “decerebrated girls” (…), only by “real women who have lived (especially in bed) and who know what they want in life. And who knows a lot. It turns me on.”

And given the beauty of the beast and the amazing conversations, after a while, I stopped wondering if his sexual attraction had come from admiration for his math teacher when he was 6 years old.

Where Does It Come From?

Then after a second moment, since I have a brain that I can’t stop from working, I wondered, anyway.

Because at first glance, being sapiosexual does not seem at all consistent with what we know about human sexual attraction. We now know very well, because it has been studied at length since the famous first Kinsey report. We are animals, and our primary sexual attraction is totally based on physical appearance.

Broad shoulders, developed breasts, ideal proportions, a pleasant smell for the nostrils of the other … Nothing to do with the extent of our knowledge about religious beliefs in the Ptolemaic period of ancient Egypt (be careful, keep sapiosexuals away, under risk of massive erection!).

And that’s where it gets interesting.

Because if we think about it a little longer, all these studies about the choice of a partner for the reproduction of our species show that we seek above all to make strong babies, who will have a better chance of surviving the trials of life. Hence the ancestral attraction of men for “young fertile” women, and that of women for “strong” men.

We, females, were looking for a solid dad who will stay a few years with his offspring and their mother to protect them from the hazards and dangers in the world around us.

And men, are attracted by women who would know how to feed their young and who are in full shape(s) to be able to help them survive and grow.

Do Smart People Have More Chances To Find A Partner?

I’ve always known that the one thing that gets me very excited and aroused is intelligence, and sometimes even the mystery around someone’s intelligence.


What if in today’s society, we no longer needed to be muscular, but know how to crack a computer code? Nor to be luscious, but rather well placed in the hierarchy of a company?

If, in fact, biological determinism had changed its target, and now favored people who will be able to survive and earn a lot of money, and power, in a technological, sophisticated world, where intellectual intelligence but also social intelligence is so important?

If those who could no longer keep up with the sophistication of our species were condemned to disappear?

What if we were becoming more attracted to whom will allow us to survive the collapses of the twenty-first century, and no longer the eras of caves and saber-toothed tigers?

The physical criteria should then become less important in the choice of our breeding partner. And so, maybe on our next one-night stand…

In addition, some studies have shown that intelligent men have better-quality sperm. Women would unconsciously detect this better “potential” and would therefore increasingly choose partners capable of ensuring their offspring.

So logically, we should broadly prefer intelligence over looks.

The thing is, the answer is… no. We don’t.

And yes. We do.

Intelligence And Romantic Relationships

First, we need to make the distinction between what we generally call “intelligence” (or IQ) and emotional intelligence (or EQ). General intelligence refers to the ability to reason, solve problems, and acquire new knowledge across different domains. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions in oneself and others.

Some studies have shown that a higher IQ is associated with lower relationship satisfaction and higher divorce rates. This may be because smarter people have higher expectations, more alternatives, or more difficulties in compromising with their partners. 

Bad news.

On the other hand, emotional intelligence seems to have a more consistent and positive impact on romantic relationships. Quite logical, because emotionally intelligent people are better at communicating, empathizing, resolving conflicts, and expressing affection in their relationships.

Moreover, emotional intelligence may also buffer against the negative effects of stress, insecurity, or personality differences on relationship quality.

Does Physical Attractiveness Hold Less Importance In Seduction Today? 

NO. We’re still, for the vast majority of us, primarily attracted by beautiful people.

But it depends on the sex of the person, their age, and the type of relationship.

Physical attractiveness is more important for men than for women when choosing a partner for a short-term relationship. Simply because men are more influenced by visual cues and evolutionary preferences for fertile, thus young, and healthy mates. And women still prefer physically attractive men, especially for short-term relationships – or when they are ovulating.

Studies also show that physical attractiveness is equally important for both sexes when choosing a partner for a long-term relationship.

Looks are more important for younger people than for older people when choosing a partner. This may be because younger people are more influenced by hormonal and social pressures to find attractive mates, whereas older people are more mature and realistic about their expectations and preferences. They also value other traits such as companionship, intimacy, and support – more than physical attractiveness.

And we all know that long-term relationships require more commitment and compatibility. That’s when other traits such as intelligence (especially emotional intelligence), personality, values, and communication skills become more valuable. Because hey, looks don’t last, but other qualities will remain stable or improve over time…


Today 0.5 percent of OkCupid users identify as sapiosexual. This means that being solely or mostly sexually attracted by intelligence is rare. Most people who identify themselves as sapiosexuals actually declare that physical appearance still has some importance, just sometimes, less than for other people.

What is for sure, is that for a sapiosexual, if you can’t have a decent and exciting conversation, you can be a Ford model, you won’t end up in their bed.

You have to have a sense of humor. If you don’t, I’ll be as attracted to you as I am to a Border collie.”



Research links intelligence to sperm quality

Sperm quality linked to cleverness

Intelligent ‘have better sperm’

The Hottest Body Part? For a Sapiosexual, It’s the Brain

Kanazawa S , Kovar JL . Why beautiful people are more intelligent.

The Hottest Body Part? For a Sapiosexual, It’s the Brain

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @TheGothicPsy

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Sophie Barbarella

Writer and Public Speaker

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