Tune in and talk to target turn-ons

By Ginger Manley | Posted: Sunday October 5, 2014

July 2014

Dear Ginger
I have been around a long time but I still don't know the answer to this question.
What turns on a woman, especially a woman of a certain age (70's)? Is it the same thing that turns her on in her 30's? I'll bet lots of guys wonder this.
Fred

Dear Fred
You are quite right--lots of guys wonder this. As Sigmund Freud said almost one-hundred years ago, it is a topic that thirty years of study left him unable to answer.

Because I live and work in an academic environment that requires "evidenced-based" answers, I began my search for an answer by reviewing the body of scientific knowledge on the topic. Numerous studies have been carried out in the more than sixty years since the Kinsey Report of the fifties, but despite all that effort there is still no answer acceptable across the board.

There have been studies using highly complex devices that measure brain changes, heart rate, vaginal moisture and blood flow. There have been longitudinal studies involving committed couples and studies doing in-depth interviews with various segments of female populations. There have been studies across cultures and ethnicities, studies involving use of fantasy, violence, and erotic imagery, and studies using some of the same medications developed for use by men to treat erectile dysfunction.

Studies done with monkey populations that became embedded in psychological theory years ago (i.e. female monkeys are passive recipients) are now being re-done exposing the inherent biases of the investigators, so we now have new animal-modeled theories of sexual desire and behavior (female monkeys are sexually aggressive and males are passive). And still, no one agrees on the answers.


The only common thread that I can find is one that sets on end the belief held commonly in our north-American culture that monogamous long-term relationships are the ideal and best. Numerous studies have shown that while these relationships are definitely productive of long-term happiness and intimacy, they are not necessarily good for enhancing sex.

It seems that both female monkeys and human females get bored with sameness fairly easily, while male primates and human males are less likely to get bored with the same mate. The results of that boredom are that human females often become disinterested in their spouse, but the appearance of a new potential partner quickly gets the female interested in sex again, if not necessarily in their long-time mate. While many women are taught to ignore this trait in themselves, some women act on it by having affairs or by engaging in sexual fantasy even while remaining monogamous.

Even more confusing, in the studies the same woman often responded differently from one time to another, and often the woman herself had difficulty saying what she liked and disliked as turn-on's, all of which contributes to the complexity of your question, Fred.

So, what's a guy to do?

If you have been a reader for awhile, you know that I recommend what I call "true oral sex" between partners--using your mouths and ears to discuss issues or questions that are brewing. As a therapist who has worked with hundreds of couples, I can tell you that boredom of any kind in a relationship can be a killer of interest or desire. In long-term relationships it is the number one reason why people stop having sex. Couples often deal with boredom by figuratively burying their heads in the sand--pretending the issue does not exist, when they really need to use true oral sex to address the problem.

For most couples, adding a new person to a coupleship is not the best option, even if that's what science tells us is needed. Long-term couples do, however, need to be creative in solving the problem of boredom--find new positions, new surroundings, new bedding, new music. Anything that changes the routine can be appealing, but be forewarned--this is not a good time to add something that might be offensive or harmful (like bondage) unless you as a couple have discussed and agreed upon the activity.

Fred, you don't say whether you are in a relationship or you are contemplating a relationship. Either way, think of your question as an opportunity to explore a very important and confusing topic with your lady. Try to engage her in true oral sex at a time when neither of you is feeling performance pressure, and then listen carefully and without judgment. If she tells you to pay more attention to personal hygiene (nose hairs and body odor) then definitely do so. If she says she would rather listen to classical music than to Elvis, change the CD. If she says she wants to dance naked as part of lead up, do so. And contribute to the conversation something out of the ordinary repertoire that you'd enjoy.

Remember, sex in later years is completely for recreation. If you're not having fun, something needs to change.


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