Today I’m writing about the sapiosexual and their sexuality. I’m not going to include references because, to be honest, the definition is somewhat fluid, the science is new, and the term itself can be loaded with negative connotation. Instead I’m going to discuss it with a working definition and real world understanding from one point of view: my own.
“Sapiosexual” is a relatively new term that refers to those whose sexual attraction is rooted in their partner’s intellect. It can be said that the sapiosexual is only attracted to intelligent partners, but that might be taking the definition a bit too far because it isn’t about raw intelligence (i.e. IQ) but about how one may behave as an intellect. In other words, the intellectual attraction could be just as much based on the person’s knowledge of science as their knowledge of pop music. Separating intellect and intelligence is important.
There is a related term that is important here as well: demisexual. Sapiosexual and demisexual are closely related and for the purposes of this post, let’s make a simple distinction between them:
- Sapiosexual: sexual attraction to partners is significantly enhanced based on their intellectual connection.
- Demisexual: sexual attraction to partners only exists based on emotional connection.
The demisexual is arguably asexual (or graysexual) until they meet a partner that stimulates their intellect. Then their sexual nature becomes active. Whereas the sapiosexual is unarguably a sexual person, but needs the intellectual stimulation to enhance or drive their sexuality. One thing they have in common – neither is first stimulated by the partner’s appearance. Physical attraction is very secondary here.
Jeannie and Viktor
For the most part, that’s as far as I’m going with definitions and logic. Well, logic will return because that is part of the intellectual discussion of this topic! But, now, what does this mean for Jeannie and Viktor?
I’ll start with Jeannie, because for her, this is somewhat straightforward. Jeannie is attracted to a physical being first. Jeannie can pretty accurately judge a potential partner on a dating app from just their photos. There have been many examples of Jeannie going on a first date with a match because their profile was awesome even if the photos weren’t. But in the cases where the physical attraction wasn’t there, those dates didn’t go anywhere. She craves intellectual and emotional connection as well, but the sexual attraction is primarily physical.
For me it’s more complicated (not that Jeannie is simple – trust me, she is not.). There’s no doubt that I see physical beauty, but aside from “they look awesome” the physical observation isn’t what turns me on. And while I can imagine myself being sexual with a person solely because they are beautiful, the realities of my sexual being don’t respond that way. I’ve never really had a one night stand. I kinda want to, just to see how I feel about it. Yet I probably haven’t had this because I can’t get to the point of sex unless we’ve connected intellectually.
A New Connection
Most recently I met someone in an online meetup. We connected over a few calls after the meetup and had some really nice conversations. This ultimately culminated in a two hour call where the concept of sapiosexuals was a common thread that entire time.
While engaged in an hours long conversation ostensibly about being sapiosexual we effectively defined ourselves as sapiosexuals in the most meta way possible.
It was a really stimulating conversation – we shared experiences and learned a lot about different perspectives. This is something that I’ve struggled with in poly-land, finding others to share stories with and get truly unique perspectives. I’ve personally found that a subset of the poly world has a very narrow perspective of how it’s supposed to work, and I often don’t subscribe to that same perspective. So to have an deep conversation about these topics with less judgment was refreshing. It also felt like we got closer and opened up more quickly that most previous connections. Perhaps this is the nature of new connections in isolation – we’re going to either discard them or escalate them more quickly. 🤷🏻♂️
And here’s where the sapiosexual in me is so very confused. I’m having this video chat with a person that is attractive, very attractive; there’s no doubt that I see her beauty. Yet during the meetup and the video calls, her beauty was nothing more than a backdrop to our conversations. I was drawn into her eyes and her smile as she talked. (Side note – another hint that I’m sapiosexual? The things I notice first in a possible partner are eyes and smile. Not tits and ass.) The conversation was my stimulation. She was truly stroking my most important sex organ – my brain.
So why is this confusing? Well, this example isn’t so confusing. We met during a meetup that is at least somewhat geared towards sex positive people finding new partners. We could become play partners, or we could become friends. And, honestly, I’m happy either way because it is the meaningful connection that I crave over anything sexual. But what is terribly confusing for me is that I see nearly every meaningful friend in my life as a possible “partner” and that is confusing.
See, one example of sapiosexual behavior is to become friends first and lovers later. Why? Because when the friendship is meaningful and deep, it becomes arousing for the sapiosexual. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully capable of remaining friends with people I’m attracted to, but I often want to explore the possibility while not risking the friendship. Thankfully, I’ve only once notable broached the subject with a friend in a way that became awkward. In most cases we’ve either become closer friends, or we have played, or we are pondering ways to explore the sexual side carefully. That exploration can be fun, even just as conversation, because, intellectuals, remember?!?
The “friend” thing is a constant factor to consider and it can be fun, but can also be very draining. My core peer group is a very emotionally open group, so we get to know each other very deeply. This fuels me, but also fuels my confusion when those deep connections become attractions.
Are sapiosexuals actually nymphobrainiacs?
There’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek term used for sapiosexuals: nymphobrainiacs. I can really, really, relate to this term. I feel very hypersexual around my peer group as mentioned above. Yet both the nymphobrainiac and hypersexual terminology are conflicted. Both imply that there is a compulsive and dysfunctional desire for sex. And the latter is clinically defined towards casual sex, which is also conflicted. Yes, my desire is for casual sexual partners, but the sex can only be so casual if we’ve formed an intellectual and/or emotional bond, right? I also don’t think that I’m suffering from something pathological that needs to be corrected. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Lastly, there is a negative connotation that can be associated to sapiosexuals – that they are only attracted to intelligence. I already separated intelligence and intellect above, but imagine for a moment that the attraction is only to intelligence. Naysayers will tie intelligence to socioeconomic class and to things like white privilege. Obviously, that would be bad. It also isn’t really true. I’m sure this is true for some small subset of the population, just as with many other bad behaviors within a larger group. But generally speaking, it is not.
After the conversation above, I followed up with Justina. Justina – the partner with whom I texted for weeks before going on a date and with whom we bonded intellectually for months before ever having sex. The conversation with her was as intellectual as ever, and in a sense she was chuckling playfully, saying, “duh, of course you are sapiosexual you brainiac fool!” Yet she also took this thing full circle in her typically intellectual way saying (and I am paraphrasing) “what difference does it make how you define it if you can connect, grow, and bond with the people that matter most?”
Well played and very true, but that takes all the fun out of over-analyzing all of this as a matter of intellectual sexual stimulation! 😜