What turns women on the most? Perhaps one of the most common questions men ponder over, second only to “What do women want?” Thanks to the patriarchy, inadequate sex education, and a pop culture that focuses on the objectification of women, the answer to this question can be hard to find. There is little discourse on female turn-ons or sexuality, and whatever there is often gets either censored or systematically altered to suit the existing stereotypes.
But things are changing, and so is the browser history of an average male, who Googles not just “Pornhub”, “Premier League”, and “Speed test”, but things like “How to find the clitoris?” and “What turns a woman on about a man”, and “Is the beard a turn-on for women?” But the internet is a vast place and can often be misleading. We’re here to offer you some clarity, with the help of relationship and intimacy coach Shivanya Yogmayaa (internationally certified in the therapeutic modalities of EFT, NLP, CBT, REBT), who specializes in different forms of couples counseling. She offers some great insights that can help you discover subtle ways to turn her on.
What Turns Women On? 18 Scientifically Proven Things
For so long, women have settled for unsatisfying sex lives, pretending to have orgasms, never really experiencing one, either due to a lack of awareness or out of fear of slighting their partners. But the times are a-changin’. Women have become a lot more vocal about their lack of pleasure. And that has led a lot of men to think about what turns a woman on.
If you are one of those men who assumes that he is great in bed just because your partner doesn’t scream in pain, let me break it to you: You need to do better. Why?
- To make the experience more pleasurable for both of you
- To ensure that the relationship can survive because the dynamics and importance of sex in a relationship can’t be ignored
- It makes you feel good to make your sexual partner feel good
- Because it’s the bare minimum
To that end, here are 18 scientifically-backed answers to your question, what turns a woman on:
1. You have a healthy mature body
Pop culture has perpetuated the myth of a highly muscular physique as the ideal male body. However, research suggests that a healthy body with 16% fat and an 80% muscle ratio is considered attractive. These numbers are in the healthy fat range of 8–21% for healthy Caucasian males. It is interesting to note that muscularity is considered sexy mostly in short-term relationships, as suggested by a study. So, if you’ve been wondering how to turn on your partner or improve your sex life, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Try to maintain a healthy body
- Muscle mass is good but doesn’t go exploring unhealthy options like excessive dieting or supplements that can have side-effects
- Focus on muscle for short-term flings and a healthy body for a long relationship
Shivanya says, “Though times have changed, evolutionary psychology still plays a great role in what women find attractive in a man. Signs of traditional gender roles such as a muscular body or a beard suggest a protector role for men. These traits cater to the femininity of a woman and become physical turn-ons for a girl.”
2. You have good quality and groomed facial hair
Research suggests that light to heavy stubble is considered more masculine by women as compared to a clean-shaven face. A heavy beard also fared better than a clean-shaven face but was likely to give a fatherly vibe and was seen as preferable in a long-term relationship. To make her heart skip a beat,
- Grow a stubble. Keep it groomed
- Research suggests that a growth of 5-10 days was most favored by women as attractive, so keep trimming the bush
3. You have a great body language
Shivanya says, “What women find hot about certain men is that they woo their minds first, and then their bodies. They have this aura that they’re not trying for you, but that they’ve already won you over. And all of this is conveyed through their body language.” Research suggests that an expansive posture and a controlled gait reflect confidence, and increase one’s desirability. Great clothes and fragrances are lost on men who can’t carry themselves. A good posture not only suggests a healthy body but also grace and control. So,
- Square your shoulders while walking, do not hunch
- Keep your chin up. Walk with your head held high
- Do not slouch while sitting
- Choose the right profile pictures for your dating profile that shows an expansive posture
4. If you have battle scars, flaunt them
There’s a reason why Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones made Jason Momoa a heartthrob overnight – the scar on his left eyebrow. The legendary scar got so popular that people reportedly began shaving off their eyebrows to copy the scar Jason got from an assault. People may argue that scars are a stereotypical sign of a man’s masculinity and that this notion is slightly misogynistic.
However, research suggests scarring is a turn-on for women, especially in short-term relationships but only if the scar is a minor one. A large scar could suggest emotional instability, as suggested by this research. The key here is to strike a balance between what you flaunt and what you conceal.
- If you have minor facial scarring, flaunt it
- Do not go to great lengths to mutilate yourself. Nothing looks worse than a made-up scar
Related Reading: 21 Ways To Make A Girl Fall For You
5. Subtle ways to turn her on – Confidence
A major myth about being a confident man is that one has to be an alpha male to stimulate heterosexual attraction. This was also propagated in pop culture with Spaghetti Western movies and through pick-up books like The Game. However, research discredited the myth that a dominant man is what turns women on. This study suggests that confidence and assertiveness are sexy, but when it’s combined with dominance, the attraction rarely increases.
Shivanya agrees, “Confidence is important but subtlety is the key. When you compliment a woman in a flat voice while avoiding eyes, it doesn’t do anything to her; but when you do the same thing while maintaining eye contact, in a low voice, now that’s a sign of a confident man that women look for.” Here are some things to remember about channeling your confidence the right way:
- Be confident, not cocky. Controlled confidence turns a woman on more than anything
- Show aggression and dominance on competitors, not your friends and family. A study found that women tend to prefer a man who is aggressive and dominant toward his competitors but is sensitive and friendly with his family and friends
- Lower your voice pitch to show you are a leader. Research suggests a lower pitch communicates competence and control while a higher pitch indicates a lack of confidence.
6. You are chivalrous
Despite the long debate about whether chivalry is sexist or not, many women find chivalry attractive, according to research. A possible explanation for this behavior is that a chivalrous man appears willing to invest in a relationship.
Shivanya explains, “Chivalry is not just holding doors, it’s about creating an atmosphere of trust around you. When a woman feels she can depend upon you, you’re appealing to her feminine side. This is why women fawn over men with leadership qualities. It’s one of the simple ways to make her fall in love with you.” Here are some ways to let your chivalrous streak shine through:
- Walk on the outer side of the sidewalk when you go out
- Offer her your jacket if you think she might be cold
- Walk her home, but only if she is comfortable
- Be nice to any kids or pets around her
7. You can flirt well
Flirting is a modern mating dance. Flirting cues, either verbal or non-verbal, can vary from culture to culture. However, eye contact and smiling are universal indicators of flirting. Research suggests that humor can be an effective tactic in flirtation. Since humor is subjective, one needs to look at indicators like her body language and verbal response to assess if she’s responding positively. Here are some quick tips to amp up your flirting game:
- Avoid overused pick-up lines
- When in doubt, start with a smile
- Keep tabs on whether the conversation is getting creepy or stale
- Use a flirtatious bio on dating apps – it can increase your chances of getting matches by 400%, as suggested by this study
8. You maintain yourself
Bad hygiene can be repulsive. Research explains disgust for bad smells as a defense mechanism against anything that might get one in touch with an infectious disease. Research also indicates that smell may take precedence over visual cues. This simply means if you dress nicely but smell bad, it makes you appear less attractive. Shivanya says, “Science of scent is often ignored. Smelling good is a great female turn-on. It is also important to look put together. It conveys that you are in control of things around you.” A few things to keep in mind to keep your appeal on point:
- Dress simply but smartly
- Try to look like you put an effort into your looks
- Instead of going after the latest fashion fads, choose simple and clean styles
- Do not wear an over-powering perfume. Wear something that is muted and natural, like musk
9. Try to make yourself belong on her love map
In his book Lovemaps, John Money defines the term love map, as a template of attributes one would expect in their potential mate. Some attributes, such as assertiveness, physical attractiveness, and a healthy body, are common, but still, love maps may vary from one person to another. Research suggests that people tend to look for a mate who is similar to themselves.
So, if you like a confident and assertive woman, you have to show that you’re confident and assertive too. Shivanya says, “You need chemistry on both sides to make any relationship work. It’s better not to waste time on someone who may not want you. Instead, look for someone else who thinks you’re great.”
- Look for a woman who is on the same level of attractiveness as you
- Try to mirror her behavior and personality to show you’re similar to her
- Do not be needy and fixate on someone who has expressed her disinterest in you
Related Reading: 8 Amazing Health Benefits Of Kissing
10. You aren’t afraid of her sex toys
According to this study, men are intimidated by sex toys to the point where they reported lower levels of satisfaction while using vibrators during sex. Researchers believe that the need to use a vibrator during sex reflected poorly on their performance. However, vibrators can elevate the sexual experience for your girl, especially if you consider the orgasm gap. Research suggests that 70% of women reported that using vibrators during sex, especially in a rocking or pairing motion, can help achieve orgasm faster.
- If you notice a dip in her libido, try to spice things up by throwing sex toy in the mix
- Gift her a sex toy to show you’re secure about your sexuality
- Do not be skeptical about experimenting in bed
11. You’re mindful of her pleasure
Have you heard of the orgasm gap? Research suggests that the disparity in the frequency of orgasms between men and women impacts future sexual desire and expectations. This should worry you if you think your girl doesn’t orgasm as frequently as you do. When you make an effort to ensure your partner has an orgasm, you make her feel more desirable. This increases her libido and she begins to think of sex as less of a chore and more of an enjoyable experience. Here are some ways you can maximize pleasure for her:
- If you think that missionary sex may not be doing it for her, try new positions
- Research suggests clitoral stimulation is what turns women on the most, even more than vaginal penetration. Try using your hands and mouth to increase pleasure during sex
- Talk to her to know how to be a better lover. Try to understand what is not working for her and what she enjoys
12. Don’t take her for granted
In a 2019 study, female sexual desire in a dyadic relationship was found to be influenced by three factors: intimacy, celebrated otherness, and object-of-desire affirmation. The celebrated otherness referred to an understanding in the relationship that the female is not an extension of the male. In simpler words, celebrated otherness is when you don’t take her for granted and she has personal autonomy.
As the researchers write, “desire thrives in ‘otherness’, defined as the space between the self and the other that allows for the unknown, novel and unexpected, for surprise and risk.” To show her you respect her individuality and autonomy,
- Always ask for consent on anything. Never assume
- Keep some space between yourselves, even if you live together
- Communicate your appreciation (or surprise) that she chose you
13. Physical turn-ons for a girl – Erogenous zones
Erogenous zones are the places on the body that stimulate sexual pleasure when touched. It’s a common belief that genitals and breasts are erogenous in women. But a study found that erogenous zones are usually larger and distributed all over the body. Touching your girl all over her body with special attention to erogenous hotspots like genitalia, anus, breasts, and butt cheeks can be extremely pleasurable. A study has also shown that sexual arousal also increases in a woman upon touching her partner’s erogenous zones.
It is also interesting to note that erogenous zones can increase physical intimacy in a relationship not just by touching, but by looking too. Another study showed that looking at a partner’s genitalia and the area around it could be extremely arousing for a woman. So, make sure you look good down there, and
- Touch her well and take your time. Deliberation is what makes women weak in their knees
- Ask her to touch you too. Slowly guide her hands on your body to make it more pleasurable
- Pay attention to the areas she responds most to
14. You make her feel that she is the only girl in the world
What is interesting about the object-of-desire affirmation suggested in this study is that female sexual desire is not just affected by the attractiveness of her partner, but by how desirable she feels around him. This places a need on the partner to affirm her self-worth. Shivanya elaborates, “After a point in the relationship, a woman may begin to feel ignored. In such situations, it’s better to communicate your affirmation of her as an object of desire with gestures instead of words.” Here’s how:
- Whisper in her ear in a room full of people
- Respond to her random social media stories with flirty texts
- Tell her that you fantasize about her or had a wet dream about her. A study found that a majority of its participants were turned on when their partners told them that they were fantasizing about them
Related Reading: Expert View – What Is Intimacy To A Man
15. You praise her for her intellectual capability
Research suggests that compliments can improve self-worth in the receiver. Learn to compliment a woman for her intellect. Shivanya says, “I train men to praise a woman’s non-physical attributes more than her physical attributes. Appraising her physique is important, as that makes her feel desirable, but combining compliments about both kinds of attributes is the best strategy. Tell her that you like her for the mind and not just the body.”
- Pay attention to her achievements and brag about them to others. It’s a beautiful way to make your girlfriend feel special
- Notice what she says carefully and remember it. Bring it up later when she least expects it
16. You have high self-esteem
Self-esteem is different from confidence in a way that confidence is something that can be developed as a person grows and get more skilled, but self-esteem comes from one’s sense of worth. Confidence can be acquired through external factors, but self-esteem can be improved upon only by working internally.
Studies show that high self-esteem in men is highly attractive to a woman. A person with high self-esteem is secure about himself and can provide a stable environment for a relationship. Here is how you can show your partner that you have high self-esteem:
- Show her that you know how to appreciate healthy relationships and let go of unhealthy ones
- Show her that you have realistic expectations of yourself
- Do not dwell on the past and focus on future
17. Things that turn women on – A good sense of humor
A major reason why Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother scored with a lot of women was his humor. Research has suggested that humor can improve a person’s sexual attractiveness. Researchers believe that a good sense of humor reveals intelligence, creativity, and other ‘good genes’ or ‘good parent’ traits, which makes it a factor in sexual selection.
Research also suggests that self-deprecating humor, especially by men of higher status can improve their attractiveness as it suggests high self-esteem, another factor in sexual selection. So,
- Focus on feel-good humor, or at worst self-deprecatory. Avoid making fun of others
- Humor is subjective but it’s advisable to steer clear of controversial subjects
- Focus on quality, not quantity. You want to appear sexy, not clownish.
- A dry sense of humor is worth hundreds of knock-knock jokes
18. You are adventurous
There is something inherently sexy about seeing a bike racer zoom past or watching a professional diver take a plunge. It gets your heart racing, fills you up with adrenaline, and makes you want to lick his washboard abs. Why? Because it’s risky.
Risks that are rooted in hunter-gatherer human evolution, like extreme sports or living in the wild, look sexy. Research also suggests that women are likely to be attracted to a man who shares an attitude similar to theirs toward risk. Here is how you can project yourself as a cautious risk-take:
- Take calculated risks around her
- Avoid modern risks like gambling or driving without a seatbelt
- Ask her for suggestions about adventurous travel for two you can explore together. Try to make it something along the lines of what she is comfortable with
- Be spontaneous. Try new things, especially the ones she hasn’t tried before
- Things that turn women on include signs of traditional masculinity like facial hair, deep voice, muscular body, and an earthy scent
- Focus on connecting at a mental level than a physical level
- Be mindful of her pleasure in bed
Finally, I asked Shivanya why women are turned on by fictional hypersexualized characters like Christian Grey or Damon Salvatore who are essentially misogynists. She explains, “Most of the time, it’s a wounded woman who turns to a man like that because a dysfunctional relationship is a norm for her. But even when a mindful woman seeks a relationship where she seeks dominance, the man must remember that it’s a game she’s seeking. She doesn’t expect the same behavior in reality. So, it’s not a good idea to emulate these men when looking for what turns women on.”
You should care about what a woman thinks if you’re planning to get into a relationship with her. Whether it’s short-term or long-term, you must always focus on how best you make her comfortable. People may advise you that women like an alpha male and so you should use such-and-such pickup lines or you should smile in a way that you think is hot (but is not). However, what always works is that you make a connection with her mind more than her body.