The human fascination with knowledge has been evident since the dawn of time. Even before philosophers were bending our minds with narratives about existence, ethics, and purpose the need to learn new skills through imitation has clearly always been a core part of what makes us human.
Our evolution also seems to have endowed our nervous system with feelings of pleasure and delight upon learning something new, so not only do we get the actual advantage of knowing the new thing, but we get a little buzz, too.
Clearly, for this reason, the quest for knowledge is addictive, and the scale can range from those in cutting edge academia, plowing forward with paradigmatic and schismatic breakthroughs, to simply catching the next episode of a favorite TV show. We can all admit to a level of pleasure when learning new anythings.
I also think it’s true to say that most of us desire intelligence as a quality in our intimate partners. I’m sure dating websites would openly confess that intelligence is a highly desirous quality in potential mates. However, intelligence in this setting is a bit vague. Are people after somebody with a versatile and flexible mind? Are they after somebody who simply knows a lot? Do they want somebody who is more logical than emotional? And how do they think intelligence in their partner will benefit them?
These questions are difficult to answer, and even couples who have been together for many years might not be able to tell you specifically what it is about their partner that has helped the relationship endure; it somehow seems so simple and yet so complicated at the same time.
We clearly obsess a little about the quality of a potential partner’s mind, perhaps because we expect the prolonged sharing of our time to be mutually advantageous; benefitting from their intelligence makes for a good investment and satisfies our need to learn new things. Another reason we’re excited to be with this person.
Evolution also seems to have played on our need for intelligence by tricking us into believing that a potential partner is actually smarter than they really are. With our rose-tinted goggles, given to us free with our sappy, giddy, and euphoric feelings of falling in love, we are simply convinced that this person is the answer to our lives.
I guess it isn’t a stretch to say that we all view ourselves as question marks?
Do our partners remove the question mark from our lives? Do they answer us?
The need to question anything for the first few minutes after earth-shattering and question-mark-destroying sex all but vanishes – before calls from our pets, children, and phones remind us of all the ongoing questions that haven’t been answered.
Is sex just about being temporarily answered?
It was into this milieu that I was happy to find the term sapiosexual. I believe it’s a relatively new term that means somebody who is sexually attracted to intelligence in others. Not only did I get to learn a new thing, but I also got to learn a little bit about myself.
The first question I had, was how is this different from what I discussed earlier, simply desiring intelligence in a partner? Surely, we are all sapiosexuals?
The only exception I can see where intelligence is not desirous in a partner, is when somebody (probably a man), simply desires a servant and a baby making machine. However, I would argue that this person doesn’t really desire a partner.
I was almost ready to let this word go as a whacky ‘new age’ term where people are trying too hard to discuss sexual diversity. For full disclosure, I’m totally down with the full dynamic and 3D spectrum of human sexuality, and I do hope much is done to show and verify the legitimacy of sexual identity to John Q Public. But attraction to intelligence, just seemed liked the obvious had been rediscovered.
Then I realized that there have been times when listening to particularly intelligent and cognitively-acrobatic women, where my physiological response has included a noticeable guttural growl. Just listening to these brilliant women cut through arguments and propose new ideas and theories was stimulating, not just in all kinds of ways, but all the ways.
I don’t think that this is entirely independent from appearance, as I’m convinced that if you have led a life that has been steeped in deep thought, this will show in your mannerisms. You can tell from a smile at the right moment in a conversation (a magic moment), if somebody has a deep and profound understanding of irony. And then it only gets worse (better), because on go your rose tinted goggles, and the answer to your life suddenly seems within reach.
So, what’s the difference between a philosopher and a sapiosexual? Apparently, the philosopher loves knowledge, but the sapiosexual wants to roll in the hay with it.