A sapiosexual is a person who finds intelligence in others sexually attractive and plays an important part in how they choose and connect with their sexual partners. It is not considered a valid sexual orientation but rather a statement of preference.
The word ‘sapiosexual’ comes from the Latin prefix sapio-, meaning to have taste or wisdom. The first known use of the word was in 1998 when a LiveJournal user known as ‘wolfieboy’ included it in a post describing the kind of partner he desired. The term reached mainstream use in 2014 when the dating website OkCupid included it as an option for queer identities for users to choose from in their profiles, a decision that was highly criticized and rife with controversy.
Who is Sapiosexual?
While it is not uncommon for people to deem a certain level of intelligence and intellectual connection important or necessary in their romantic and sexual partnerships, people who identify as sapiosexual tend to emphasize a need for a higher degree of intelligence. How “highly intelligent” is measured or discerned is highly subjective and based on the individual’s personal preferences and set of arbitrary standards.
A sapiosexual person may claim it is impossible for them to achieve sexual arousal without this particular need being met and that a potential partner’s intelligence is more important than any other factor, including any physical or emotional attributes or the attraction tendencies of their sexual orientation.
According to OkCupid’s user data, the people most like to identify as sapiosexual tended to be women between the ages of 31-40. However, sapiosexuality is not exclusive to any single group of people. Individuals of any gender or sexual orientation may self-identify as sapiosexual.
Controversy over Sapiosexuality
The reception to OkCupid’s addition of sapiosexual as a queer identity profile option was generally negative. In spite of this, the term gained further traction on other popular dating apps and websites.
However, publicly identifying as sapiosexual is considered by many to be elitist and pretentious. Arguments against it include that the term is ableist and discriminatory against neurodivergent individuals and that is undermines the experiences of genuinely marginalized LGBTQ+ communities. The option was removed from the OkCupid website in 2019.
That same year, artist and music producer Mark Ronson faced public backlash for “coming out” as sapiosexual in an interview on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain”. As a white cisgender heterosexual man, the notion of confessing this preference for intelligent partners and framing it as a courageous feat of overcoming adversity was not well received.
He claimed the quote was taken out of context and apologized for the misunderstanding in short order. “I do not consider myself part of any marginalized community, and I apologize if anybody misunderstood or took offence to it,” Ronson told Rolling Stone in his public apology a week after the initial coming-out incident took place.