THE THINGS THAT TURN US ON EVERY TIME
You wouldn’t be alone if lately you’ve been feeling a bit low on electricity. You know, not feeling inspired, stirred up, titillated, excited… okay, aroused. Life’s become so regulated, prescriptive – dare we say it, obedient – that most of us catch ourselves fantasising (all too often) about all those things that have never failed to ignite the fires in our loins. If this is starting to feel like stumbling upon a random page in a romance novel, you’re not wrong. But so what? Why shouldn’t we surrender to pleasure (guilty or otherwise) every once in a while? So, to get you in the mood, let’s indulge in a little foreplay.
Studies on the subject of arousal tend to segregate men and women, arguing that we’re not necessarily aroused by the same things. That might be true when it comes to your choice of words (i.e. how dirty you talk) when things get steamy, and the general speed at which, let’s say, proceedings move in an intimate situation. But in essence – fluffy toy or foot fetishes aside – we get turned on by the same things.
MAKING EYE CONTACT
Picture it. You’re sitting on a train moving rapidly through the countryside. Perhaps you’re reading a book that doesn’t quite grab your attention. Suddenly, something tells you to look up. You can’t be sure, but, did the stranger on the other side of the carriage just look away at the exact moment you lifted your gaze? Hmmm… you look out the window, your peripheral vision on high alert. Then, you look back. You were definitely not imagining things. This time the stranger doesn’t look away, but rather holds your gaze for a moment longer than what feels acceptable. Ooh… would it be too much to drop your phone’s charger cable on the way to the dining car? So simple, but eye contact must be the ultimate foreplay.
A simple hand on a shoulder might not immediately send your thermometer into the red, not unless the chemistry between you and the hand’s owner is so palpable that it was all you needed to lose all control. Consider also the hand on the knee. No real cause to take the elevator ride up to HR, but public nonetheless, and somewhere between innocent and downright animal. It signals closeness without being overtly sexual. Considering that, imagine being asked if someone could kiss you on the cheek. It’s nothing more than a greeting by anyone’s standards, but the fact that they asked? What’s that about? Perhaps right at the top of the touchy-feely food chain is the immortal hug. Both men and women respond to it with equal vigour, but women generally like being hugged from behind a little bit more than by conventional means. Let’s face it, it’s surprising, exciting, and playful. Why not make it a thing?
COOKING FOR SOMEONE
No matter who you are, nothing makes you feel quite as spoilt as when someone cooks for you. It’s one of those primordial things – food is a carnal pleasure after all – but what makes it sexy is when someone cooks you your favourite meal. Perhaps you mentioned your love of Thai curry at some stage (chilli is said to improve your sex drive), an unforgettable platter you had on holiday in Tuscany (before a sexy siesta), or that you simply cannot resist a chocolate fondant (the serotonins released by eating chocolate are said to trigger a feeling similar to falling in love). When someone remembers that and goes to the trouble of making it for you, it fires endorphins you didn’t know you had. And then, never forget the amorous qualities of a well-chosen bottle of wine.
This takes skill. Anyone can smell insincerity from a mile away. And compliments are so personal. But if we were to talk broad strokes, the classic pickup lines (think, “Did it hurt?” – “Did what hurt?” – “When you fell from the sky?”) rarely work. Neither does whatever you say that might sound vaguely like a compliment. Confused? How many women do you know who would be turned on by being complimented on how big or strong they are? By the same token, how many men like to hear that they’ve got delicate hands. It’s not sexist, just not necessarily a turn-on. All conventional standards aside, though, what gets us going every time is when someone pays us a compliment that’s got almost nothing to do with anyone else; something unique to us, and something that is within our control. Hearing your hair looks great, how what you’ve got on today really accentuates your best attributes, that your work is really great, or that your take on something really made someone think. A true compliment makes you feel like you make a difference to someone else’s life – that their world is fuller with you in it. Isn’t that just so delicious?
Or any romance language. But really, French has beguiled us for centuries. In Henry VIII’s time, the aristocracy often switched to French as way to express themselves more elegantly (English at the time was a little bit more rough around the edges than it is today). But the language does have its critics, who often abhor the French proclivity for schmaltz and sentiment. Take Victor Hugo’s famous line, “La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel,” for instance. “Life is a flower of which love is the honey.” You get those in any language, but they don’t ripen quite as effectively in French as some others do. Now, consider the phrase, “Tu me manque,” which you say when you tell someone you miss them. Only, directly translated, it means “you me miss,” like you’re missing from that person. It’s bodies pressed up against each other, it’s feeling the heat of someone else’s skin, it’s two presences filling each other up. That’s when you just go with it, let it wash over you, and surrender to the charms of a language whose every fibre was made to seduce the ear.