In 2014, the term “sapiosexual” was added to the dating website OkCupid as a sexual preference.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, a sapiosexual is someone who bases sexual attraction on intellect, not necessarily on looks. Wouldn’t you know it, the guy who came up with the term sapiosexual is a computer programmer in Seattle named Darren Stalder.
“I like people based on me being able to have a conversation with them. Discuss philosophical concepts with them,” Stalder told me. “I’m bi-sexual, in other words, I like both men and women. At one point I coined this term because I like people and I don’t care about the plumbing all that much. The thing that distinguishes is I like people who make me think.”
But don’t most people want to be with someone they can talk to? Isn’t it common for someone to look for a partner they consider intelligent? What’s the difference between these people and someone who identifies as a sapiosexual?
“I mean, just in the same way that some people go, ‘I really want redheads’ or ‘I like people with Roman noses or strong shoulders.’ For me, my primary criteria is I have to be able to have interesting and deep discussions with them. If their primary comment is going to be (makes high pitched giggly noise) ‘How’s the weather’ and it doesn’t really get any deeper than that, and they just want to have sex, I am not going to be interested.”
A sapiosexual marriage
Darren has been married to his wife Christina for eight years, and she also identifies as sapiosexual.
“You know how some people say I only love you for your looks? I was joking with him, I said, I only love you for your books,” Christina Stalder laughed.
She says they use intellect as foreplay.
“We do a thing we call Wiki Whacking which is sitting around on Wikipedia. This is really kind of embarrassing,” she said. “Every once in awhile we’ll pause our screen time and look at each other with significant looks. Like, ‘What are you reading about?’ ’16th-century French cuisine. What are you reading about?’ ‘I’m reading about trains.’ We’re always learning and so it’s become a new way to kind of flirt. Just to hang out with each other, you’re both online, you’re both learning things and you’re kind of teaching each other at the same time.”
I asked her if this can turn into a bodice-ripping situation.
“It can! It really can!” she exclaimed. “I’m going to get all blushy here. He’s just so smart.”
Darren says he has received criticism for his orientation. Some think he’s being pretentious or discriminating against people with mental disabilities who aren’t capable of intellect. He says he simply likes what he likes.
The New York Times reports that scientists don’t consider sapiosexuality a sexual orientation as much as an identity. People who identify as sapiosexual may also identify as gay, straight, bisexual etc.