Are You A Sapiosexual? A Smart And Sexy Conversation About Sexuality. | Lioness

Are You A Sapiosexual? A Smart And Sexy Conversation About Sexuality.

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Are you attracted to intelligence? Does a deep conversation about Shakespeare or string theory make you turned on and want to get it on? Then you might be a sapiosexual. Sapiosexuality is a fairly recently defined sexual orientation that is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as other sexual identities that have become more commonly discussed in recent years such as heteroflexible, asexual, homoflexible, nonbinary, pansexual and others.

What makes sapiosexuality different than most others is that it is not defined based on gender but on intellect. Is sapiosexual a real sexuality, or is it a preference, a turn on, or merely another word for intelligent? Is it just a smarter way to say you like someone with a sharp wit and a keen sense of humor? And where did the term come from in the first place? We’ll talk more about what sapiosexuality is, where it came from, whether sapiosexuality is real, and much more.

What Is The Meaning Of Sapiosexual?

According to Merriam Webster, a sapiosexual is being “sexually attracted to highly intelligent people.” The word is based on the Latin word “sapiens” (wise)...and yes, if that word sounds familiar, you might have heard it from the word homo sapiens (that’s us! 😉). Basically, you’re a sapiosexual if you are sexually attracted to intelligence. Perhaps more than physical characteristics or physical attributes, you may be attracted to and aroused by deep conversation and interesting philosophical concepts.

Starting around late 2012, the word exploded onto the scene and has stayed pretty consistently popular since. More and more people are identifying as sapiosexual than ever before. OkCupid has recently even allowed users to identify as sapiosexual. There even was an app that launched in late 2016 called Sapio for fellow sapiosexuals to find each other (which, like many dating apps, is not being updated and has complaints of being buggy. Sorry sapios 😞).

Sapiosexual Google Trends 2004 To Present

Google search trends on the term “sapiosexual” from January 2004—October 2018


But in spite of this interest in finding intelligence sexy, where did the term come from in the first place? And is it real or a bunch of bull?

A Modern Sexuality Whose Origin Is On The Internet

The history of the term sapiosexuality is an interesting one — it’s origin and rise began on the internet. One of the earliest accounts of the word is from a user on LiveJournal (remember that place?). A user named wolfieboy wrote about the term back in 2002, mentioning that he had coined the term for himself back in 1998:

“The message was in response to "What gender do you prefer in sex and/or a relationship?"
Me? I don't care too much about the plumbing. I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. I want someone who sometimes makes me go ouch due to their wit and evil sense of humor. I want someone that I can reach out and touch randomly. I want someone I can cuddle with.”

Sapiosexual WolfieBoy LiveJournal Post

The LiveJournal post that started it all

In the comments, a number of people also proclaimed their sapiosexuality, and the term started its initial climb from just two people to nine, twelve, and onward, on LJ tags and beyond, but it mostly stayed dormant for an entire decade.

Sexuality In The 2010s And Beyond

What caused the term sapiosexual to go from unknown to viral?

To be honest...I’m not exactly sure how sapiosexuality climbed to popularity. That would require more thorough digging which, if people want it, I could do as a part two of this topic. What we can see is that discussing sexuality and gender has become more and more multifaceted over the years and has become more common in this decade. The rise of sapiosexuality goes hand in hand with the rise of the frequency of discussing other forms of sexuality beyond lesbian, gay, straight, and bisexuality:

Sapiosexual Bisexual Pansexual Asexual Google Trends 2004 To Present

Google Search Trends January 2004—October 2018

Is Sapiosexuality Real?

So people are talking about it more, but is sapiosexuality actually real? To some it may seem like kind of like a joke at first, since conversely, who would proclaim that they are specifically attracted to people who they’d think are stupid? What is intelligence, anyway? That’s an entire field of research and study that is also multifaceted and complex, as what makes an individual intelligent could be a number of factors.

Some argue that many sexual identities that are not mainstream have been stigmatized by societies and generally go against the grain of what is considered “normal” or acceptable. Saying that you’re a sapiosexual could minimize and demean other people’s real experiences of ostracization of their own sexual identity and expression.

Furthermore, sapiosexuality is differently defined from other sexualities, which are often based on gender or sexual attraction (e.g. aromantic or asexuality). And saying that your sexual orientation (not just preference or turn on) is being attracted to intelligent people could make you sound conceited, snobby, or (ironically) ignorant, especially if you have a very narrow view of what makes someone intelligent or not.

However, sexuality does not need to be defined by groups that are stigmatized or not. People have started to express their sexual identity as more than just sexual orientation — they may include polyamory (being romantically involved with more than one person) or being part of the BDSM lifestyle as part of their own identity, two identities which do not take gender into account. And ideally, the hope is that people are not ostracized for loving or being attracted to a particular gender or preferring something that may not be considered mainstream to some...though knowing some of the context and history of it could be helpful in understanding where different people come from in the conversation.

So...is sapiosexuality a bunch of bull? It does seem like there might be evidence that some people may be particularly attracted to intelligence. A study that was published in the January/February 2018 Journal Intelligence (lol). Discover Magazine summarized the findings as such:

“Tallying the data revealed that for most people, intelligence isn’t a significant factor in deciding whether someone’s hot or not. While it wasn’t totally insignificant, it’s likely that other characteristics override brains for most people. For a select few, however, it appears that a prodigious intellect did indeed serve to stir desire. Eight percent of the participants scored a 4 out of 5 on Gignac’s test, meaning they responded strongly in the positive to most questions that asked whether they were turned on by intelligence. He interprets this as evidence of sapiosexuality among a small subset of people.”

Sapiosexual Or Sapiophile?

So it might be the case that some people genuinely find intelligence to be sexy. But does that make it a sexual orientation or identity? What makes being attracted to intelligence different than being attracted to a particular hair color or body type? How is it different than a fetish? Or...insert the blank -- anything under the sun?

Why do we care about it so much? Why can’t we just consensually love and fuck who we want to, how we want to, and call it a day?

Regardless of where you sit on this topic, I think looking at topics like sapiosexuality illustrate how complex our sexuality can be. Regardless of its existence or legitimacy, we know that people can have a wide variety of preferences that can change over time and be very different from one person to another. Trying to define things in an orientation or an identity can be extraordinarily difficult for some people, and we want simple ways of expressing what we’re trying to communicate and ways to find and get together with other people who share some of those same preferences and sentiments. It can be helpful for bringing people together and talking about things that can be difficult to talk about, but when we rely so much on having to bucket things in this way, it can do more harm than good to how we see our own identities, our self image, and the limits we place on ourselves.

I remember the struggle I had growing up, trying to figure out my identity. Nothing seemed to quite “fit” my experience. Making up a term could be nice...but when I decided to drop trying to label my sexuality and just live (and love), it was incredibly freeing. I’ve never felt better and more confident about my own sexuality, and that works for me. Maybe others have an easier time or want to make up their own terms, but I’d say find what works and enjoy it. Let others live and express themselves how they want, and don’t limit yourself to your own label if you find your affinities change. Sexual identity should help communicate your love—it shouldn’t restrain you.

Conclusion: Live And Let Live

Like it or not, sapiosexuality will continue to stay around, at least for a while. With different ways of thinking about our sexuality and who we love, are attracted to, and how, it may open up a whole plethora of options for more and more people in the future as we become more acclimated to these different forms of love and attraction.

Or, as wolfieboy later said:

“I'm glad that you like it [the definition of sapiosexual]. I'm trying to get it common enough so that it makes it into the dictionary. I've been told that with the next edition of the OED coming out in 2010, we can expect another edition in 2060. I'm aiming for the latter date…”
 
Congratulations, wolfieboy! It’s 2018 and it’s already in the OED—so you beat your target by over 42 years. You’ve gotten your goal. As for the rest of us, we’ll continue to think, struggle, live, and love through this complex thing called sexuality that seems to continue to defy all labels we try to use to constrain it.

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