There is no denying it, when you walk into a bar and scan the room for a potential mate, initially, looks draw you in. But for the long haul, it’s what’s between your ears, not between your legs, that will seal the deal.
Is it any wonder, then, that we are all, to some extent, attracted to intelligence?
Books Over Looks
First, let’s start with Sapiosexuals. That’s the term used for individuals who are aroused by intelligence. The word comes from the Latin (let’s face it, everything does), sapiens, meaning ‘wise’.
They’re turned on by the way the mind works, with good looks being secondary to an intense intellectual connection. For foreplay, Sapiosexuals prefer to mentally spar with their lovers. A quick wit, sharp insights, and clever banter are more likely to get them turned on and into bed than nice biceps, and canned pick-up lines.
The term ‘Sapiosexual’ has even experienced somewhat of a renaissance recently, with people using it to describe their sexual orientation on dating sites. There are even dating apps that cater to the intellectually inclined, playing on their distaste for the usual vapid hook up culture so prevalent in online dating.
These people want you to know that in addition to long walks on the beach, and a love of Italian food, ‘Hey, I’m here for brains, not beauty.’ However, sapiosexuality has also sparked a bit of a backlash for being elitist, and for trying to make a personal preference a definitive sexual orientation.
But this is the far end of the spectrum. What about the average Joe not trying to make a statement about the abysmal nature of online dating? For a regular person, the attraction to intellect still holds true for evolutionary reasons. That’s right…
Because A Scientist Said So…
Science has backed up our attraction to intelligent people. As it turns out, it’s evolutionary. According to a University of New Mexico study, men who have higher IQs are more virile and have healthier sperm than their duller counterparts.
So this is no mere coincidence: intelligence + good sperm signal healthy genes to prospective partners. In terms of evolution, this means that women who select men with higher levels of intelligence are in some ways guaranteeing themselves a better chance of reproducing.
So there you have it, science says there is a reason that smart people appear sexy. The survival of the species depends on their big brains and uh…”big hearts.”
Another study by a UK sex toy retailer found that students from top universities had an above average sex drive. Horny students? No surprise there, but the clincher wasn’t that just going to college increased their libido, it was specific to students from prestigious universities (presumably with higher IQs). They had higher sex drives than their counterparts.
This isn’t to say these students were having all this fantastic sex compared to the rest of us; actually, it turns out to be quite the opposite: people with high IQs tend to have less sex than the majority of the population and they start later in life, too.
Perhaps they’re focused on other things, like building the next rocket into space, or discovering a cure for some heinous disease. They might just choose to spend their time elsewhere instead of between the sheets. Their less intelligent school mates have more partners because studying for finals isn’t exactly their top priority (ok, that’s a huge generalization, but you get the idea).
While this might sound a bit dismal, in the long run, it works out for them, because high intelligence has been shown to produce more long term satisfaction in relationships. Intelligence makes the nerdy set choosier when it comes to partners, selecting them for traits other than just looks – traits that have longevity.
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The Morning After…
Another reason for our attraction to intelligence lies in fantasy vs reality. We all want the fantasy, but once the illusion is over, we give ourselves a reality check.
When the cold light of day hits, and we realize we’ve gone to bed with a 10, but woken up with a 2, we know there has to be more to keep the fire going.
People certainly don’t hit on your brain in a bar. We’re all shallow to some degree – wired to look first, and ask questions later, but after the alcohol or lust wears off, we all long for more: commonalities, humor, and conversation. It’s in that last bit, conversation, where intellect pulls ahead in the race.
Few people stay with arm candy long term, because at the end of the day, dumb isn’t “cute.” Dumb is a lure and works for about five minutes. It’s cute on screen in a frat house movie, but even in gag-inducing rom-coms, the smart nerdy guy (or gal) always wins in the end. Hollywood knows what we’re really there for – to see the smart person take home the prize.
Looks Are Like Flowers, Eventually They Fade
Last but not least, something we all know, but secretly dread: looks fade.
Gentlemen, you can look like Ryan Gosling now, but thirty years on, unless you’re being coached by a celebrity trainer, chances are those 6 pack abs will look more like a pack of crisps. Your sexy bits will inevitably sag, and your luscious locks may not all be there.
However, your wit can be as sharp as ever in thirty odd years. In fact, it can even be razor sharp as life experience and increased knowledge will have certainly shaped you. That extra knowledge will come in handy as you age, and will forever remain attractive. Gentlemen, your brain will be your best feature when everything else goes south.
Ladies, children, gravity, and wrinkles, will eventually alter your 20-something swimsuit body, but the intellect, humor, and wisdom, you’ve attained through those years will always be there. That’s what will capture hearts when youth fades, and gray hair and botox become de rigueur.
None of us are immune to the ravages of time. We will all end up like miniature prunes in the decades to come, so instead of painful hours in the gym, it may pay off to spend pleasant hours with your nose in a book. Smart is sexy, Ryan Gosling be damned.