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A discussion below describes sapiosexuality in rather categorical terms but it would probably be better decribed as a matter of degree. But the article is nonetheless useful as a survey of the idea. Basically, a sapiosexual finds intelligence attractive, often attractive enough to cause the sapiosexual to overlook other failings in an intelligent person.

I suspect that most sapiosexuals are themelves pretty bright. That would make it just another instance of the general rule that people get on best with people like themselves.

But there is a particular case where sapiosexuality might emerge very strongly: in intelligent women. No woman wants her partner to be dumber than herself and, in the traditional order of things, may in fact prefer him to be MORE intelligent than herself.

Men, however, are different. There is something of a tendency for men to like less intelligent women. Many men don't like their women to be too smart. They feel better equipped to get their way if they can outsmart the woman.

And things other than intelligence can matter when an intelligent man makes a mate choice. A very common example of that is when a man chooses a partner on the basis of her good looks rather than on her general competence.

So the supply of intelligent men that intelligent women can latch onto will often be quite limited. Potential mates will have been spirited away by a set of D-cup boobs, for instance.

So when an intelligent woman DOES find herself a potential mate who is high in intelligence, she will be very glad of that. Having found such a rarity she will often pair up with him regardless of other inadequacies in him. She will be very forgiving of his faults.

I believe that I am a lifelong beneficiary of that phenomenon. I DO greatly appreciate and seek intelligence in a partner and am myself very bright so I have often been what intelligent women were seeking. My looks were never better than average and I have often been not at all considerate of the woman in my life but I have nonetheless had many much appreciated relationships with intelligent women. I have been forgiven much, rather to my embarrassment in retrospect.

How it seems to work is that on teaming up with me, women become aware of a much wider world about them and they very much want to hang onto that awareness. So they tolerate or work around my deficits in other respects

My present partner and I are a perhaps extreme example of sapiosexuality. We are wildly inappropriate for one another in a number of important ways but our shared high IQ has created a strong bond between us

What is sapiosexuality, and why is it so controversial?

Sapiosexuals are described as people who are physically, emotionally, romantically, and relationally attracted by intelligence. They find intelligence to be the most important and erotic trait, and value it more than a potential partner's physical appearance, status, emotional connection, and even personality.

It’s a relatively new term

Sapiosexuality is a relatively new addition to the sexuality lexicon, and though there were whispers of the word online prior, Merriam Webster reports that the first recorded use was in 2004.

The signs of being a sapiosexual

Before we get into the controversy of it, first let's look at what sapiosexuality is said to look like. The following are common traits typically associated with sapiosexuals in relationships.

Their relationships start slow

Oftentimes it's expected that sapiosexuals don't jump into romance right away. Rather, relationships tend to start out as friendships, giving them the time to really understand the person. In other words, it's not an immediate attraction based upon looks.

They might seem less sexual

Sapiosexuals tend to prefer discussing things like books and movies on first dates rather than trying to get into bed as fast as possible. Intellectual discussions can sometimes be more erotically rewarding than physical touch.

Intellectual discussion is necessary for sex

Most sapiosexuals reportedly can't feel comfortable enough to connect with someone sexually unless they've had an intellectual discussion. In other words, talking about politics could very well count as foreplay! Sex and relationship therapist Casey Tanner told MBG: "Intellectual connection may be considered far more effective foreplay than even physical touch."

They avoid small talk

Unchallenging, frivolous chatter does not bode well with sapiosexuals, and if the conversation starts to go that way they'll often ask harder questions to get people to think about things one might usually not. They supposedly prefer to unearth insights rather than merely pass the time.

They want to be challenged

As long as they are mentally aroused, sapiosexuals won't care so much about what you wear or how much money you earn.

They're also drawn to emotional intelligence

While intelligence is a focus of sapiosexuals, it also involves emotional intelligence. That means they can also be drawn to people who show compassion, empathy, and humility.

Not to be confused with demisexuality

Often, sapiosexuality is confused with demisexuality—an orientation characterized by only experiencing sexual attraction to someone after making an emotional connection with them. For sapiosexuals, intellectual spark is more important than emotional connection, and in fact the connection must be intellectual before they can begin to experience sexual attraction.

They are great at communication

Text or email conversations are especially great with sapiosexuals, who supposedly tend to be very articulate. Witty banter is considered a turn-on, and their feelings are typically always made clear.

They can lose romantic interest after a disagreement

While some couples can agree to disagree, many sapiosexuals will lose romantic interest in someone if they don't find their interlocutor's political, philosophical, or spiritual arguments valid.

They're attentive to thought processes

Sapiosexuals tend to analyze not only the information being shared, but the process of getting to that information—and the more sophisticated, the better.

They prefer deep, long-lasting friendships

Sapiosexuals are said to be great friends, as they value growing and learning with people over a fleeting good time.

The Mark Ronson drama

In 2019, famed music producer Mark Ronson said he identified as sapiosexual on 'Good Morning Britain,' and stirred quite a bit of controversy after the host declared, “So you're coming out as sapiosexual, congratulations!” The media interpreted the moment as Ronson's intentional coming out moment, as if he were staking claim to a marginalized community who needed to “come out.”

He apologized

In a subsequent interview with Rolling Stone, he clarified, “I do not consider myself part of any marginalized community. I apologize if anybody misunderstood or took offense to it." He continued: "It sounds like I went on a TV show to be like, 'Guys, I have some big news!' And the fact that I would go on and sort of declare myself—like as a heterosexual white male—part of any marginalized community was terrifying to me, or just embarrassing.

What really happened

Ronson was asked about sapiosexuality on 'Good Morning Britain' after an earlier segment had focused on it. He admitted that he didn't know much about it, and the hosts explained it as "when you're attracted to intelligence," leading Ronson to think, "That sounds great. Of course, who wouldn't be?" The hosts then capitalized on that to create his “coming out” moment.

How was Ronson's understanding wrong?

Gender and sexuality educator Eli A Scriver, founder of 'Pillowtalk,' a queer-inclusive column and radio show, clarified to InStyle that sapiosexuality is not just the attraction to intelligence, but rather it's being more attracted to intelligence than other traits, including sense of humor, family-orientedness, or empathy, for example.

Sapiosexuality is still quite common

Dating site OkCupid has allowed users to add sapiosexual to their dating profile since 2014, and reported in 2017 that 0.5% of their users identify as sapiosexual, though InStyle accurately notes that people actively trying to find mates cannot be representative of a general population. Still, self-identifying sapiosexuals are increasingly around us!


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