Can you be attracted to someone’s intelligence and their way of thinking?

by Madonna Watts D'Souza

Can you be attracted to someone’s intelligence and their way of thinking?

April 8, 2021

There has been a sudden rise of people admitting that intelligence is an attractive trait. Understandably, someone can fall for physical appearances like a smile and physique, but what is it like to be attracted to something intangible?

People have preferences. Whether you’re a sucker for blonde hair and blue eyes or fall in love with a pretty set of eyes and a lovely smile, most people have a liking they wish to have in their ideal partner. But sometimes, people fall in love with the intangible. Some appreciate and fall for someone’s traits which can’t be seen but only heard and felt. The mind is one of them.

Sapiosexuals are people who are attracted to someone’s mind way more than their physical attributes. But what exactly does this mean? Some people fall in love with the way a person’s mind can process things, the way they may be a nerd for certain topics and have a high amount of knowledge in it, some people love it and are now embracing this trait of sapiosexuality.

But what does science say when it comes to being attracted to the intangible? Is Sapiosexualtiy a real thing or is it something with a completely different reason behind it? Can someone’s mind really be a turn on despite encountering their physical features first?

The Short Answer is yes, but wouldn't everyone love to have a partner with a diverse mind?

The term Sapiosexuality hasn’t been investigated much by the scientific community. But there is increasing evidence that it is a real thing. But why would anyone not want a smart partner? Studies show that intelligence was ranked as the second most desirable trait in a partner by most people after kindness and understanding. Contrary to popular belief, physical attributes weren’t as desirable as emotional and mental ones.

For some it may be good news that when it comes to having a partner, people aren’t as bothered about looks but more focused on personality, a person’s intelligence.

But, according to research, only about 10% of the population is sexually attracted to intelligence. Which means that intelligent actions can actually turn on some people rather than pillow talk and other sexual preferences. The study published in 2017 in the Journal Proceedings of Intelligence, explained that a certain percentage of the population is sexually turned on by intelligent talk

Some people attribute intelligence as a sexy quality

When it comes to having a long term partner, several people prefer intelligence as one of them. The average IQ level of intelligence which was most attractive was 120. The study had 383 participants who were questioned about the desirable traits in their partner and what levels of intelligence would they prefer the most in their beau.

Gilles Gignac, a senior lecturer at the University of Western Australia and one of the authors of the study explained to PsyPost: “We found that the association between the desirability of a prospective partner and IQ of the prospective partner is curvilinear: it peaks at an IQ of 120 (90th percentile) and drops a bit from 120 to 135 (99th percentile).

What do these numbers mean? These percentiles and results simply meant that people preferred to be with a potential partner who is at least smarter than 90% of the human population which is usually around an IQ of 120. Researchers then observed a threshold on the intelligence levels.

But what if someone’s IQ is higher than 120. What if they were more intelligent than 99% of the human population. Unfortunately, a slight drop in attractiveness was observed incredibly high levels of intelligence. However, super-intelligent people would still be way more attractive than someone who was 50% smarter than the global population. This also reveals an average threshold on the innate preferences of intelligence levels. In other words,

Gignac further evaluated: “We found that sapiosexuality can be measured psychometrically and that between 1% and 8% of relatively young people (18 to 35) may be sapiosexuals. However, interestingly, how intelligent a person is (measured with an actual IQ test) does not appear to predict the degree to which people identify themselves as a sapiosexual.”

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What intelligence means for different people

Researchers, failed to exactly measure what intelligence actually meant for everyone. “With respect to examining predictors of sapiosexuality, the study did not include people with below-average levels of intelligence (i.e., IQ < 100). Consequently, a relationship between actual IQ and degree to which people identify with being a sapiosexual may yet emerge,” said Gignac.

“Also, it remains to be determined whether intelligence is the only desirable mate characteristic that peaks at the 90th percentile. Perhaps all sorts of desirable mate characteristics (good looks, kindness, easygoingness, etc.) would show a drop in desirability at very elevated levels (i.e., from the 90th to 99th percentiles).”

So it seems like maybe every attractive trait could have a threshold for the majority of the human population. However, IQ is never the sole determiner of someone’s intelligence. Intelligence is a diverse term with people being intelligent in different aspects. Maybe people prefer partners with high emotional IQ which can enable empathy and understanding.

Signs of a Sapiosexual Person

A sapiosexual person would feel more attracted to someone if they can talk about their favourite books or have an intense discussion rather than admire what the person is wearing or how attractive their personality is.

Not to be confused with demisexuality, for a sexual attraction to begin, a sapiosexual person is seeking someone who is on the same intellectual level as them, whereas a demisexual person is seeking someone with the same EQ.

Sapiosexuals admire those who can rationalize their feelings, and do not explode or lose it, whenever things go wrong.

Sapiosexuality as a sexual orientation

Maybe people prefer a partner who is socially smart with the surrounding around them or maybe people love the stereotypical nerd. Whatever be the case, it is evident that people would love to have a partner who would engage in deep talk and be smart in some aspect, But how much is too much or too little and what intelligence is exactly preferred, remains a mystery to researchers.

However, what is certain is that the definition of sapiosexuality differs from people to people. As long as people can have deep and meaningful conversations with their partner, they’d potentially be happier than having a soppy and shallow talk. One thing is for sure though, love is completely unpredictable.


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