Why Smarter People Have Less Sex
The other day, I wrote a piece on famous people who died as virgins.
For the most part, the list consisted of older people -- primarily people who lived in the 1800s and earlier -- however, that being said, the time period in which they lived was not the only similarity that I noticed between many of the people included.
One of the most striking commonalities that I likened among all the famous virgins on that list was intellect. I mean, come on -- Nikola Tesla, Sir Isaac Newton, Henry Cavendish -- these weren’t just your run-of-the-mill smart guys; they were all f*ckin’ brilliant.
So, this got me to thinking. Is there any correlation between intelligence and sex drive? Is there a reason some of the smartest humans to ever roam this planet simply chose not to have sex? Were they on to something?
After doing some research, I did, in fact, find a link between intelligence and sex drive. However, it’s more complicated than it might appear at first glance. Allow me to explain.
According to one science blog, Medical Daily, “new research by sex toy retailer, Lovehoney, found a correlation between high sexual libido and elevated intelligence,” however that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re having more sex.
Actually, it usually leads to the contrary.
In an article for Psychology Today, Lauren F. Friedman explains why people with the highest IQs are actually the least active when it comes to tapping into their own sexuality.
Using the 2011 National Survey of Family Growth, Friedman reveals how “men with college degrees are half as likely to have had four or more partners in the last year as men with a high school education alone.”
However, Friedman continues to explain that the reason behind this statistic is a complex one to understand. As a result, research on the topic gets diverted toward younger subjects to provide some additional information.
According to Carolyn Halpern, who teaches at the UNC School of Public Health, “a high concentration of teen virgins [were] at the top of the intelligence scale.”
However, it’s important to note that being a teen virgin and dying a virgin -- like many of the people I listed -- are two entirely different ball games. I mean, a lot of people graduate high school as virgins, and they do so for a whole slew of different reasons outside of intellect, altogether.
Some kids are shy. Some kids are nervous. Some kids have different priorities. And some kids are just f*ckin’ awkward in high school and can’t get laid. Whatever the reason, it becomes hairy when you start to to link teenage sexual activity with intellect.
While it might be true that some of the smartest teenagers were having the least sex, I was looking for a more concrete connection between the two.
And it appears that link may lie within the decision-making of intelligent people. As Friedman notes, people with “high executive functioning,” which relates to things like general judgement and impulse control, have what Friedman calls “slow life history strategy.”
The “life history theory” refers to how people go about deciding things like how many offspring they want to have -- and also the timing in between potential offspring. While certain types of people seem to be naturally drawn to the idea of producing offspring and engaging in sexual encounters, others are more concerned with refining their own skills.
It seems like this might be the tradeoff that intelligent people make when they decide to focus on specializing some aspect of their own being -- whether it’s inventing, like Tesla -- or mastering laws of physics like Sir Isaac Newton.
Personally, I think that, at least in the past, famously intelligent people like Tesla, Newton and Cavendish were simply too preoccupied with other aspects of their life to be worried about sex.
I don’t think they were any more intelligent because they chose not to have sex -- nor that the two are causally related -- but I do think it’s valid to say that less frequent sex is more common in highly intelligent people.
It’s extremely possible that the most intelligent people might find random acts of sex as boring...or insignificant. Maybe in the grand scheme, they’re right. I suppose if you’re dealing with devising new ways of generating electricity, such as Tesla, the idea of sex may seem pedestrian.
Then again, it’s also important to take into account how higher IQs are also strongly related to social anxiety. Although intelligent people may have no difficulty solving a “Good Will Hunting” sized math equation on a chalkboard, they also might be a little less comfortable in a bar with people around.
But, for now, if you’re not having much sex -- let’s just say you’re a genius and leave it at that.