Here’s something that will bring comfort to men insecure about their prowess in the bedroom: Arousal isn’t haphazard. Rather, it’s a function of evolutionary science. Thus, we can not only say that certain things are more likely to be arousing, we can also say why they are arousing (or not), which gives us insight into the subject of arousal more generally. In fact, scientists are currently mapping out arousal as it pertains to the female brain.
One thing to keep in mind as you read this is that every man and woman is different. Just because “people” find something arousing doesn’t mean that the specific person you’re with is going to be aroused by something. However, you will gain a bit of insight into people in general.
1. Anxiety Is Arousing For Men
Some time in the mid-80s, a Boston University scientist came upon a surprising tidbit of arousal science: Men are more likely to get an erection under duress. Here’s how the study worked: Men who had no problem achieving or maintaining an erection were told that if they didn’t get in the mood, they would receive an electric shock. The tangible effect was that the threat of shock increased sexual arousal. Unsurprisingly, men who had trouble getting and maintaining erections were not helped by being threatened with an electric shock if they failed to perform.
2. The More Aroused, The Less Grossed Out
Here’s a study with even more surprising results: The more a woman is aroused, the less she’s grossed out by… well, pretty much anything. Women who were sexually aroused were more likely to drink from a cup with an insect inside or to wipe their hands on a towel that had already been used. When you think about this, it isn’t terribly surprising, as sex often involves smells, sounds and actions that might seem “icky” in the cold light of the morning. It also explains why sex can become less frequent as a relationship goes on: Because she’s not as aroused by you as she used to be, she’s less interested in engaging in “icky” sexual behaviors.
3. Women and Men Like Porn About the Same
A 2006 study at McGill University discovered an interesting tidbit about cross-gender arousal: Men and women become aroused at pretty much the same speed… at least when they’re watching porn. All told, it takes a man or a woman about ten minutes to reach peak arousal when it comes to watching porn. The scientists found this by having subjects watch half an hour of the Canadian countryside to establish a baseline for arousal as measured by genital heat. After this, the subjects were then shown porn, a horror movie or highlights from Mr. Bean (yes, really). Genital arousal only spiked when being shown porn, by the same amount and in the same general time frame of ten minutes.
4. Ladies Love Cucumbers
No, not in that way.
The smell of a cucumber increases bloodflow to the clitoris, resulting in heightened arousal for women. Next time you’re out shopping, maybe don’t pass by that cucumber-scented body scrub quite so quickly. Other scents that can be your friend when it comes to pulling ladies include baby powder, Good and Plenty (you know… the candy), pumpkin pie and lavender. Turns out these are a few things that help in how to turn a girl on.
Old Spice and English Leather somehow did not make the list.
5. Women’s Tears Are a Chemical Turnoff
It’s probably not much of a surprise to learn that women’s tears aren’t exactly an aphrodisiac. However, the why of it is curious: Tears apparently serve an evolutionary function of saying “not tonight, dear.” The reason? There are couple of theories, including an evolutionary function to reduce male aggression toward women, as well as put men off during “that time of the month,” which is, biologically speaking, one of the worst times for reproduction. Interestingly, reflexive tears (the kind shed when you chop onions) were not effective in deterring male arousal — only emotional tears.
Scientists collected tears from women (and one man), stuck them on a pad underneath the subjects’ noses, measuring decreased arousal. Note that this had nothing to do with whether or not the men were involved in what caused the tears: The very presence of the tears was enough.
6. How to Turn a Girl On: Humor
This is another one that might not surprise you too much. Experience shows that women love funny guys. In fact, one of the main things that we teach at The Art of Charm is that humor is a great way to get your foot in the door with a woman, because it helps her to relax and loosen up in what are generally stressful social situations. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to how to turn a girl on, humor is a huge advantage.
Turns out that science agrees. A French study found that men who told a joke to another man (who then left) were far more likely to get phone numbers from women who had overheard the joke. Not only does humor help basically everyone to relax, it also demonstrates intelligence, another trait that women love in a potential mate. What’s more, humor is an unpretentious way of communicating intelligence. It’s a win all around.
7. Deep Voices
Here’s one that you might not have thought of: The tone of your voice. A joint Canadian-American study in 2007 found that women preferred men with deep voices. Such men were perceived to be more masculine, dominant and even more healthy than men singing soprano. The study looked at 100 Tanzanian tribespeople with no access to contraception or other creature comforts of the modern world. Men with deep voices sired the most kids — one of the most straightforward expressions of male virility going. Case in point: Barry White and his eight kids.
In case you were curious, the opposite is also true: Women with higher voices are more likely to attract a mate than their deep-voiced counterparts.