I'll admit I have an incredibly limited understanding of the works of Plato, but upon a glossing over of the Symposium, it seems he is saying that love of intelligence is of a higher importance/quality than physical attraction. Sapiosexuality is attraction to intelligence first, and is a new term (only popping up around 2004). Which brings me to my question: Is Sapiosexuality simply a case of the internet making up a new word to describe an existing definition, or is there some difference between platonic love and sapiosexuality?

I apologise if this is a rookie question, and I am making some fundamental error in my logic, but I couldn't seem to find the answer anywhere else.

  • 1
    Maybe "sapiosexuality" is only a new name for Platonic love... Can you imagine why we call it "platonic"? Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 6:38
  • haha @MauroALLEGRANZA talk about hypersexualisation huh?
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 18:01
  • people are sexually attracted to all sorts of things. some guys like fake tits and bleached hair @MauroALLEGRANZA does that make them platonic lovers or just in bad taste?
    – user66760
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 18:21
  • 1
    Where do all these nerds and geeks come from?
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 19:13
  • I'd say you're right, it's a case of making up a new word. Everyone is attracted to intelligence, that's a normal, and every day part of sexual attraction.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 10:44

5 Answers 5


They are very different, though I disagree they are totally incompatible.

Plato describes spiritual, intellectual love as higher than physical love. The love of wisdom (philosophy) is elevated above carnal desire. This emphasizes the meaning and achievement that can come from a close mental/spiritual bond between individuals.

Sapiosexuality also values the intellectual, psychological connection between partners above physical attraction. Sapiosexuals are drawn to the life of the mind. But it is specifically framed as a sexual/romantic orientation, a form of attraction.

For Plato, the highest love aims at spiritual enrichment and is not overtly sexual. Sapiosexuality, while valuing intelligence, does relate to intimate physical/romantic desire between sapiosexual individuals and their partners. Platonic love is focused on elevation of the soul through deep friendship. Sapiosexuality is more individualistic - a specific preference in romantic/sexual partners.

I think, sapiosexuality takes inspiration from Platonic priorities, but frames it within a 21st century context of sexual identities and orientations.


They are definitionally incompatible.

Platonic love is a kind of love in which sexual desires are not present or have been suppressed.

X-sexuality is sexual desire for X.

Hence sapiosexuals, if such creatures exist, are people who have special difficulty having platonic love with intelligent people, because nuanced conversations and differential equations make them horny.

  • What is usually implied by sapiosexual is being attracted to intelligence, rather than purely physical characteristics (aka "booty"). But I enjoyed reading your answer +1.
    – Roger V.
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 19:10
  • 1
    There is no more special difficulty in forming a platonic relationship than with any other sexual attraction. It isn't the nuanced conversations or the differentional equations which are sexy, but the person. Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 19:12
  • Thank you for clearing this up for me! So, just to fully grasp the concept; would I be correct in saying that sapiosexuality is almost the opposite of platonic love, because a sapiosxual is actively moving from a higher order love to a lower, because of their physical attraction to wisdom? Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 0:21
  • @Shootsakovich Yes - if such a thing actually exists, and isn't just a preferred personality type, a sexual fetish, the reverse formulation of a set of off-putting behaviors, or a relationship precondition for sexual activity. A person who is attracted sexually to healthy members of the opposite sex, but doesn't want to have sex with anyone but her husband, and him only when he isn't malodorous, and who married him because she loved his mind, is not a sapiosexual any more than she is a conjussexual or a fragransexual.
    – g s
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 10:28
  • Granted I am not the definition boss and anybody can call anything anything they want, but while we're still speaking English and the neologism isn't yet in common use, if it doesn't reflect the meaning of similar conjunctions, it's being misused.
    – g s
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 10:31

I suppose the idea is that platonic love sublimates sexual desire, and when we desire sex with someone due to their intelligence (or status or personality) that is in fact just sublimated physical attraction.

But you are aimlessly groping for that conclusion unless there's really no such thing as sapiosexuality (which I find absurd: most women are sexually attracted to intelligent high status etc. men), and even then you're redefining 'platonic'


There seems to be two real threads to this question

  1. Can we be sexually attracted to minds? Apparently so, and this is prefigured in your question

  2. Is unconsummated sexually attraction necessarily platonic? Personally, I feel yes in some senses anyway. Sexuality is also defined by behaviour.


Sexual love and eros are the more fragile loves than platonic love, which is something we are often willing to cheerily extend to strangers, if their values cohere enough with how we want to see ourselves. So to ask yourself "is this sexual" you might start by thinking "do I feel the same way for others" "am I willing to extend these feelings to even 100s of different persons" etc.. Nevertheless, sexual love may still be the cheaper commodity.

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