What Does It Mean to Be Sapiosexual?

Verywell / Laura Porter

Sapiosexuality is a type of sexuality that involves being more attracted by the contents of a person's mind than by the appearance of their body. In order to feel sexually attracted to another person, a sapiosexual person must first feel intellectually stimulated.

Sapiosexual Definition:

By definition, sapiosexual means that someone finds intelligence sexually attractive or arousing. It means that intelligence is often the first quality a person notices in a potential partner.

The word sapiosexual originated from the Latin root word 'sapien,' which means wise, and 'sexualis,' which means sexual. Sapiosexual is still a fairly new word, as Merriam-Webster's first known use of the word was in 2004.

Anyone can identify as sapiosexual, including both heterosexuals and LGBTQIA+ people. This means that people who identify as sapiosexual may be straight, gay, asexual, or another identity.

This article discusses what it means to be sapiosexual, how to determine if you are sapiosexual, and suggests ways to meet other sapiosexuals.

Understanding Sapiosexuality

For people who are sapiosexual, the way another person thinks is a highly appealing quality. It is the intellect that stimulates sexual attraction. Let's take a look at what it means to be sapiosexual.

It Starts With the Brain

Because attraction is centered on the intellect or how a person's mind works, people who are sapiosexual do not feel attraction until their mind feels stimulated by a potential partner. There is no lust, liking, wanting, or sexual gratification unless the brain has been stimulated on an intellectual level first.

Anyone Can Be Sapiosexual

Unlike gender-specific restrictions, sapiosexuality has no limitations. You can like men, women, trans people, bisexual people, or any person of any gender or sexual identity. You are free to be attracted to whomever you choose.

Sapiosexual people are attracted to and focus on the inner workings of a person's mind more so than the other person's exterior.

Sexuality Becomes Less of an Entity

When sapiosexuals are in search of a partner, they focus more on their potential mate's intelligence instead of their looks. This means that superficial qualities like body shape, size, or facial features take a backseat.

Because intelligence is valued more than looks, sapiosexuals people may be more likely to show their attraction for others in ways that aren't focused on appearance.

Criticisms

Sapiosexuality is a relatively new term and is not without some controversy.  Some have argued that it is not a legitimate orientation but a type of attraction. People who describe themselves as sapiosexual, however, suggest that intelligence is more than just a quality they appreciate in a partner—it's the primary factor driving their sexual attraction, just as some might be drawn to an attractive body or a beautiful face.

Others have suggested that sapiosexuality is both pretentious and discriminatory. The term has been criticized as being both ableist and Euro-centric. The focus on intelligence implies that people base their attraction on cognitive abilities and devalues those who may be disabled, neurodivergent, or have less access to formal education. It also focuses on Western-centric measures of intelligence without acknowledging other forms of intelligence and intellectual curiosity.

How Do You Know If You're Sapiosexual?

Let's take a look at some of the common attributes of sapiosexuality. If you find yourself agreeing with the majority of the following statements, there is a chance you are sapiosexual.

You Prefer Deep Conversations

You might be sapiosexual if there's nothing better to you than engaging in a complex, stimulating conversation. This often means that you will find yourself attracted to others who can effectively express themselves clearly and listen to you do the same.

You Believe Intelligence Is Sexier Than a Beach Bod

Sapiosexuals value an intelligent mind over a physically attractive body. So, if you're more interested in what a person's beliefs are, what they stand for, and you're excited to learn about their morals, values, interests, then you might be sapiosexual.

Your Ideal First Date Is a Cozy Bookstore

If you prefer quiet dates with no distractions or interruptions so you can engage in a compelling conversation with a potential mate—you're might be sapiosexual. Likewise, sapiosexual individuals will likely prefer a smaller intimate setting for a first date over a bar or lounge.

Best Places to Meet Sapiosexual People

While it's not hard to determine if you are sapiosexual, finding like-minded individuals is not always so easy.

For most, clubs, bars, lounges, concerts, and sporting events are key places to meet single people, but if you're interested in finding people who share your love of deep conversations, knowledge, and learning, keep reading for some location suggestions.

At the Library

There's no better place to meet an intellectually-stimulating person than at a library. You two can pick some books, find a nice little nook, and get to know one another. And the best part? It's free!

Online

The internet affords a multitude of opportunities for meeting people. For example, you can try online dating, connecting with new people on social media, or you can try taking online classes (creative writing, cooking, photography, etc.).

Also, there are meet-up groups to do activities with people with similar interests, and there are even forums created specifically for people with certain interests. The possibilities are endless online!

Through a Friend of a Friend

This old-school aspect can still work in your favor. Sapiosexual people usually have a hard time finding compatible matches, but friends can be great resources.

You may have a friend that knows a friend that is the perfect match for you. So don't count your friends out; having them assist in your love life may be a great idea.

At Your Favorite Restaurant

Have you ever taken yourself out on a date? If you haven't, here's why it's the best thing to do. First of all, there's no wait, and second of all, people gravitate towards others who are confident enough to take themselves out on a date.

If you go solo to one of your favorite restaurants, you might meet another single person who also loves that restaurant. Then, you can both sit down and talk about why you love it so much. It's always fun to connect over a shared love of food.

Doing Your Favorite Pasttime

Meeting people while pursuing your passions and favorite leisure-time activities is one of the best ways to meet like-minded people. Whatever makes the dopamine flow generously is where you should go to meet your ideal person.

People who identify as sapiosexual often like seclusion and pampering, so places like the spa, hair salons, nail shops, yoga studios, museums, art galleries, plays, and live music venues are great places to look for other singles if you're in the market for a new partner.

How Does Sapiosexual Differ From Demisexual?

So how does being sapiosexual differ from being demisexual? Where sapiosexuality is focused on intellectual attraction, demisexuality is about needing to form an emotional bond with someone before feeling sexually or romantically attracted to them. 

A person who is sapiosexual may feel attracted to a person immediately if they feel intellectually stimulated by that person's thoughts, ideas, or conversation. A person who is demisexual, on the other hand, needs to get to know the person better and form an emotional connection before they start to feel attracted.

How Does Being Sapiosexual Impact Relationships

If you or your partner are sapiosexual, you might notice some of the following effects on how you relate to one another in your relationship:

  • You might communicate differently: Because attraction is based on feeling intellectually stimulated, participating in mentally engaging activities will be an important part of your relationship.
  • It might pressure your partner: Research has found that people who identify as sapiosexual tend to be most attracted to people with above-average IQ scores. This can put pressure on the other person to live up to your expectations.

A Word From Verywell

If you've determined that you're sapiosexual, then you're another step closer to understanding yourself and identifying what you want in a potential partner. When you know who you are and what you want out of a relationship, you'll likely find more success in your dating life.

If you're struggling to come to terms with your identity, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. GLAAD. Explore the spectrum: Guide to finding your ace community.

  2. Gignac GE, Darbyshire J, Ooi M. Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence: A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality. Intelligence. 2018;66:98-111. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2017.11.009

By Candis McDow
Candis has been a mental health advocate since 2014. She has written several articles about mental illness, and her memoir Half the Battle (available on Amazon and candisymcdow.com) encompasses her journey of living with bipolar disorder.