Mind Over Matter: Why You’re Attracted To Intelligence
Updated November 08, 2019
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
What is the first thing you're attracted to when you meet someone?
Some people are interested in physical features, like beautiful eyes or a toned, muscular body.
Others are attracted to power, wealth or influence.
But what about someone who can engage in a lively discussion about literature or history? What about that bespectacled guy in the bookstore reading George Orwell? Or the nerdy girl who can do calculus in her head?
It turns out that experiencing an initial sexual attraction to intelligence is not that all that unusual.
Read more to find out what's behind this phenomenon.
It turns out that being attracted to intelligence is so common that there is a name for it.
The term "sapiosexual" (which comes from the Latin root "sapio," meaning wise) has become a common way to describe one's sexual identity on dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid. The term is used similarly as other identifiers such as "pansexual" or "demisexual."
A recent study found that close to 1 in 10 of people aged 18-35 are primarily attracted to intelligence in a potential romantic partner. They rank intelligence as more sexually attractive than other qualities like humor, kindness, and even physical appearance.
The rising trend of the sapiosexual label seems to be most rampant among younger daters, those who are referred to as Millennials or Generation Y. This is surprising when we take into consideration common perceptions of this generation, who are often seen as shallow and self-absorbed. It seems ironic that an age group known for its love of Instagram and selfies would also be the ones to redefine sexual attraction regarding inner qualities rather than outer appearance.
But this label (along with other sexual identities listed above) is one of the many ways we see a silent revolution against a culture that on the surface, seems increasingly absorbed by outward appearance.
And it turns out that there are very good reasons behind this attraction to the brainiacs of this world.
And here they are.
The reasons for attraction to intelligence are highly scientific and have their roots in the theory of evolution and natural selection.
If you recall your high school Biology class, this is the idea that those with the most desirable genetic traits tend to reproduce more, ensuring the long-term survival of the species.
For example, gray treefrogs tend to survive longer than other kinds, because their color makes them difficult to see at night. Because they survive longer, they also reproduce more. This means that over time, there will naturally be more gray treefrogs than other kinds. In this case, gray coloring is a desirable genetic trait, which helps the species hang on longer.
As humans, we consider ourselves too sophisticated for this kind of primal survival mechanism. But natural selection still affects us, in ways that we're not even aware of.
The proof? A study conducted by the University of Mexico in 2009 found that men with higher IQs also had healthier sperm. And the professors who interpreted these results did not think the connection was mere coincidence.
They think that sexually attractive traits developed alongside the healthy sperm, to signal to potential partners that these men are the most viable regarding fathering healthy babies.
It seems that women's ovaries can sense when a potential partner has genetically desirable traits that can allow her to produce healthy babies.
Another study conducted by a UK sex toy retailer found that students attending elite universities also have a higher sex drive than others. That seems to indicate that high intelligence corresponds to high libido…yet another reason why you may subconsciously feel attracted to men or women who are very brainy.
These are some examples of how sapiosexuality may have a genetic basis.
But there's more to it than simple biology and primal urges.
There are also some solid, rational reasons for finding intelligence so attractive.
Why Intelligence Is Always a Good Choice
Your friends may laugh at you when they see that you lust for that frumpy, bespectacled girl who happens to be a sparkling conversationalist.
But as it turns out…you're the one who should be laughing.
Because intelligence is one of the most important things to look for a potential romantic partner.
Intelligence Lasts Longer Than Looks
The tall guy with a full head of hair and a six-pack isn't going to look that way ten, or even five, years from now.
But until we reach a very old age when dementia might come in, our brains remain the same, and may even get sharper.
So as a long-term investment, a person with intelligence makes a lot more sense than a person with good looks.
You Will Never Get Bored
An intelligent partner always has something interesting to talk about! Whereas other people may seldom get beyond the level of small talk, those with a high intellect are ready to engage in discussions about literature, politics, history, religion…or even just muse about why your favorite ice cream place no longer serves Rocky Road. When you take life's journey with an intellectually gifted companion, the road will be full of adventure.
Your Partner Is a Good Problem Solver
Those with above-average intelligence are typically very creative and good at solving problems. They can think outside the box and see different possible solutions to a problem. Having someone like that in your corner will help you navigate some of life's difficulties much more easily.
Your Partner Is Likely To Have a Higher Income
Statistically, men and women with high IQs are also the highest earners, probably because they were able to achieve a university degree that opened up more career prospects.
If you seek someone who will be a good provider or at least hold his own when it comes to a comfortable lifestyle, intelligence is a very valuable commodity.
There has been a lot of backlash against sapiosexuality. Some believe that it represents a kind of elitism, a form of discrimination against the working class.
Some people criticize the idea of sapiosexuality because (like other identifications such as asexual, pansexual, etc.) they believe it's yet another way of making sexuality divisive, narrowing the parameters of who we're attracted to.
But despite these reasonable criticisms, you can see from this list that there are many good reasons why dating someone with above-average intelligence may be a great idea.
So are you attracted to intelligence? Here's how to tell.
Are You A Sapiosexual?
If you can check off all or most of these boxes, the chances are good that you may be a sapiosexual.
You Get Turned On By Witty Conversation
To you, a lively, intellectual conversation is just like foreplay. You feel sexually attracted to someone who can engage with you on a deep level. You especially enjoy someone who can test or challenge you, expanding your mind and your understanding.
You Don't Care About Other Credentials
It's not important to you how much money someone makes or what they look like. The surface qualities that others find important simply don't matter. You're concerned with the inner workings of a person's mind and heart.
You Can't Stand Small Talk
It's not even that you don't like it. You get uncomfortable and feel trapped when someone forces you to talk about the trivial, mundane things that make up most conversations. You would rather sit in silence and not talk at all. You yearn for deep conversations that truly get to the heart of what life is all about.
Your Attraction Grows As You Know Someone Longer
You move slowly when it comes to relationships. You enjoy getting to know someone gradually, uncovering the hidden workings of their mind as if you were slowly unwrapping a present. Whereas most people may feel a strong initial attraction which fades over time, you are exactly the opposite.
You Believe Emotional Intelligence Is Just As Important
Sapiosexuals know that "book smarts" are not the only thing that matters. They seek someone who is agile in handling emotions, their own as well as those of others. An emotionally intelligent can weather the ups and downs of life far more easily. He or she also has a lot more empathy…meaning better relationships.
You Value Someone Who Has Good Taste
You enjoy a partner who has definite taste, rather than just following whatever is trendy. It doesn't even matter if his taste differs from your own…just that he has a strong sense of what he likes. Whether it's music, fashion or food, you enjoy the company of someone who doesn't mind expressing interests that make her stand out from the crowd
You Can't Stand People Who React To Situations In A Graceless Or Irrational Way
Few things turn you off as much as an impulsive, over-the-top reaction to a difficult situation. You are attracted to people who keep their cool, maintaining an aura of grace and poise when confronted with trying situations.
An attraction to intelligence may be difficult for others to understand, but go ahead and embrace it! It's all about appreciating inner strengths…and that's an attraction that can last the test of time.
If you are struggling to find the right partner or have other questions, don't hesitate to contact the trained counselors at BetterHelp. We will be happy to work through issues with you.