Just yesterday, I sat with a friend waiting for a French movie to begin at one of those off-beat cinemas you find in some cities, theatres where the intelligentsia are seen and heard analyzing nuances that usually escape the masses. It is interesting to overhear such stuff; it touches your mind in ways you can’t imagine.
“Indian men generally are never seen here,” said my friend, a 40-year old single woman working with an ad agency in Singapore. “I wish I could meet a man who would enjoy such movies as much as I do.” I asked her if she preferred to date ONLY those who matched her enthusiasm for dark movies and intense conversation. “What if he disliked books, poetry and off-beat movies, but was good with investments and relationships?”
Who gets to decide what “intelligence” means? It could mean poetry to her, knowledge to me, practicality to someone else.
“I want someone interesting, someone who talks about things I may not have heard before, someone who can hold a conversation well,” she said. Are you a sapiosexual then? I asked. She had never heard of the word but seemed to identify with it at some level. It’s not as if she looks for ONLY those who can engage her mind, but it’s what she prefers. Like most of us. So wouldn’t it be simpler for her to identify herself as a heterosexual woman, who wants someone inclined towards a more interesting/romantic/artistic/adventurous life? It’s not so simple, she said, because there is no one definition of “adventurous”, “artistic”, or “romantic”. You have to be intelligently so!
“Maybe it’s a father fixation for me,” says a married mother in her 40s (let’s call her Rita), who believes being raised by a highly insightful father can influence your choice of a partner in life. “I have always wanted children who are perceptive and astute—like my father—and perhaps I look for these traits in men because of it.” Smart men are sought after because they are assumed to be better lovers, as they read cues and understand body language better, she says.
And what if we misjudge? “Oh, yes, we could!” she exclaims, describing how a rather impressive poet she met—full of wit and wisdom—eventually turned out to be an abusive father. “I had a hard time trying to digest both sides of him, but never could understand how a highly sensitive man could be callous towards his own child,” she says. Rita also points out that respected poets like Rumi and Omar Khayyam probably led rebellious and different lives, which is why they could write so well. It’s easy to fall in love with exceptional geniuses but to sustain that love could be tricky, she laughs.
It’s true that many people look for intelligence in others (some feel threatened by it too), but how could it be a sexual identity unless intelligence is the ONLY trait that turns them on?
In a recent story by Aaron Philip Clark in The Good Men Project, Clark urges other sapiosexuals to come forward and create a movement. He says that sapiosexuality could push intelligence to the forefront so our cultures appreciate it better. “I have always been a sucker for smart girls,” writes Clark. “I’m still attracted to passion and intelligence; to a woman who believes deeply in something and is well-versed enough to battle tooth and nail. It showcases strength and substance.” Not everyone shares Clark’s enthusiasm for the word though.
When dating site OKCupid added sapiosexual to its list of identities, The Daily Beast carried a story by Samantha Allen that mocked it for being pretentious. Intelligence already occupies a privileged place in our erotic economy, Allen writes, adding that scientific studies have repeatedly shown that men and women place a premium on intelligence when seeking a partner. Allen goes on to say that along with the metrosexual and the lumbersexual, “it is time to throw the sapiosexual in the bin”.
However, dating app Sapio (for sapiosexuals) contradicts Allen’s view as it continues to see increasing numbers of chats, matches and daters on it. Sapio’s founder Kelsey Libert explained in a 2016 story by Miranda Larbi in Metro that sapiosexuals are not people who are “simply attracted to the highly intelligent”. They look for someone “on the same level” with regard to a number of aspects, such as passion, drive, sense of humor, etc. She adds that they focus more on the mind and less on the physical.
Though dictionaries define a sapiosexual as someone who finds intelligence to be a sexually attractive quality in others (yes, it’s that simple), the debate continues on whether or not such a term ought to be introduced in a world that is already seeing a spate of new definitions and identities. Is there a real need for it?