What Is A Sapiosexual & What Does It Mean?
By Nadia Khan
Updated May 09, 2019
Reviewer Laura Angers
Sexuality is a highly personal topic. Every person is different and will be attracted to different things in a partner. Even two people who identify with the same sexuality will find different specific traits most attractive to them, and may not be physically attracted to the same people.
Society at large is beginning to open up to the idea of alternative sexualities. Identifying with a sexuality that is viewed as different by society does not mean anything about one's moral character; it simply is what they are inherently attracted to.
Types Of Sexuality
There are many different designations of sexuality that one may identify as. Some of the most well-known sexuality types are:
Heterosexual: Many people view this as the "normal" sexuality, hence the slang term "straight.". The root word "hetero" means other or different, so someone who is heterosexual is attracted to people of the opposite sex. For example, a man who is attracted to only women is heterosexual.
Homosexual: On the other end of the spectrum is homosexual. "Homo" means same; thus people who are homosexual are attracted to others of the same sex as themselves. People who are homosexual may identify with the labels "gay" or "lesbian."
Bisexual: "Bi" means two. People who identify as bisexual are attracted to people of both genders. They may have romantic relationships with people of both genders or only engage in romantic relationships with one gender, but recognize that they are attracted to people of another gender.
Asexual: People who are asexual typically do not feel any sexual attraction, or very little sexual attraction, towards anyone. They choose not to engage sexually with any person, regardless of gender. However, this does not mean they do not have romantic feelings for other people. Someone who is asexual still may have romantic relationships, but sex is simply not part of those relationships.
Demisexual: The term "demisexual" means that someone falls halfway between sexual and asexual. They can feel sexual attraction, but only after they have already formed an emotional bond with someone. Thus, their primary motivation in romantic relationships is the emotional connection they may feel towards someone, and sexual feelings come later. However, an emotional bond does not always lead to sexual attraction and is not a guarantee that one will arise.
Pansexual: Like people who identify as bisexual, someone who is pansexual feels attraction to both men and women. But, it extends beyond the two binary genders. "Pan" means "all," so pansexual is an attraction to people of any sex or gender identity. For someone who is pansexual, gender is a non-factor when it comes to sexual attraction. Another term sometimes used to describe pansexual is "omnisexual."
Of course, each person is unique, and no written definition can encompass all of the experiences or qualities of all people who identify with a certain sexuality. Some people may identify with more than one of the sexualities on this list, while others may find that none of them resonate with them and they identify as something else.
Some people may struggle with their sexuality, feel like an outcast because of it, or have suffered abuse or bullying due to their sexuality. For people who identify as anything other than heterosexual, society can sometimes make it difficult to fully embrace and feel comfortable with their sexuality, although things are starting to shift towards acceptance. If you are struggling emotionally due to your sexuality or how other people treat you due to your sexuality, consider talking to a therapist or counselor. They can help you through the difficult emotions that may arise for reasons relating to your sexuality or how other people treat you based on your sexuality. And, those who identify as heterosexual are not immune to feeling emotionally distressed for sexuality-related reasons. Anyone can benefit from talking to a therapist.
What Does Sapiosexual Mean?
One other type of sexuality that you may not be familiar with is sapiosexual. Sapiosexual is a term used to describe people for whom intelligence is the biggest factor in their attraction to another person. While physical attraction may somewhat play a role in their feelings, what initially gets them excited about someone is their smarts.
Sapiosexuality is not one-sided, and intelligence is not the only thing about their partner that will excite them. Think about any relationship you have been in- there are probably many different things about your partner that you find, or in the past found, attractive, including their physical appearance and personality traits.
Though it may seem shallow, what initially attracts many non-sapiosexual people to someone at first is the way they look. Someone catches your eye based on physical appearance, and you make an effort to get to know them to see if your personalities are compatible. For someone who is sapiosexual, hearing a person speak intelligently about a topic may be the initial spark for their feelings, rather than spotting someone's smile from across the room, as is the more typical fashion.
As with all sexualities, there is not just one perfect sapiosexual definition. But, in general, someone who is most attracted to intelligence above all other qualities is sapiosexual. And, someone who is sapiosexual can also identify with another sexuality. Sapiosexuals may be interested in people of the opposite sex, same sex, both, or could be pansexual. Gender aside, most sapiosexuals tend to date other sapiosexuals, because they value the same things in their partners.
Sapiophile vs. Sapiosexual
Another term that can easily be confused with sapiosexual is sapiophile. Both have the same root "sapio," which in Latin means wise or discerning. And, both involve an attraction to another person based on their intelligence. The main difference is that sapiosexual implicitly implies a sexual attraction to the person based on their intelligence.
A sapiophile may feel sexual attraction, but not necessarily. Sapiophile means a romantic or emotional attraction based on intelligence. For example, someone could be a sapiophile and asexual, while someone who identifies as sapiosexual would not also identify as asexual.
Are You Sapiosexual?
Some people may be sapiosexual but never realized it because they had never heard the term. Others may be attracted to intelligent people, but still do not feel that they are sapiosexual. Here are some examples of traits that may resonate with you if you are sapiosexual:
Your Greatest Turn On Is Intelligence
Many people are at least somewhat attracted to others based on their smarts. But for someone who is sapiosexual, intelligence trumps all other qualities. That means they are more interested in someone's intelligence than their physical appearance, financial situation, the way they dress and present themselves, and even more than their kindness. Of course, just because someone is smart does not mean every sapiosexual will immediately be attracted to them. But, intelligence is usually the first thing that gets them interested in another person.
Your Favorite Activity Is Conversation
Many people, especially during the early stages of a relationship, are highly eager to get physical with their partner. New couples are notorious for spending many intimate hours between the sheets. But sapiosexuals? They would rather stay up late engaging in deep conversation with their partner than engage in anything physical.
This does not mean that sapiosexuals are not interested in sex, or even that they never have casual sexual encounters or one night stands. But, in general, they get more pleasure out of mental stimulation than physical.
You Love Knowledge In General
Someone who identifies as sapiosexual does not need to date the person with the highest IQ. Rather, what gets them excited is knowledge in general. They typically love learning themselves and are full of facts about a wide variety of topics. They will be interested in people who feel the same way and are knowledgeable about many different things. This leads to intelligent and interesting conversations, regardless of whether or not the person is a master of their field.
You Find People More Attractive After You Know Them
Sapiosexuals are not the kind of people to judge others at the surface level. While non-sapiosexuals may be highly attracted to someone based on their physical appearance, then feel that connection fizzle as they get to know their personality, sapiosexuals typically do not feel very strong connections to others right away. There may be somewhat of a connection, but they will have stronger feelings for the person the more they talk to them and get to know them.
When someone's mind is the most attractive thing about them, it takes a while to get to know the person and see the full potential of their mind. For that reason, someone who is sapiosexual will never feel an extremely strong attraction before actually getting to know someone and having interesting conversations with them.
Dating As A Sapiosexual
For most sapiosexuals, the modern dating scene may be a bit difficult. While others may meet someone out at a bar because the person catches their eye based on physical appearance, sapiosexuals will not find people they are attracted to in that manner. Additionally, popular "swiping' style dating apps are not ideal for sapiosexuals, because they rely on first impressions based mostly on appearance.
Many sapiosexuals end up forming romantic relationships that started as friendships because they grow more attracted to people as they get to know them better. If you are sapiosexual and have not met someone in person you have an interest in, try one of the more in-depth dating websites like Match or eHarmony. These websites may be a better bet for you because they match people based on interests and personality traits, and do not rely on physical appearance in the way that applications like Tinder and Bumble do.
Sexuality is very personal and can be confusing for some people. Sapiosexual or not, everyone has their unique preferences and certain qualities that get them excited about other people. If you ever feel the need to talk to someone about your sexuality but do not have someone already in your life with whom you feel comfortable, an online therapist is someone you can count on to be there for you.