What's the best way to get your man in the mood? You won't find the answer in the Victoria's Secret catalog.
Sure, sheer lingerie and scantily clad models will do on most days. But there are a lot of sweeter, PG-rated, and not so obvious turn-ons that also work, especially if you are in a relationship that has a future beyond that first night together.
As a younger man, Richard, a professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville who asked that his full name not be used, went for the sexy, racy look with lots of skin. Now 40, he and his wife recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. His tastes have matured, mellowed.
“We have children, so there isn't a lot of turning on,” Richard jokes. “Actually, my turn-ons are a lot more pedestrian these days. Just getting to spend time alone together is a turn-on.”
Richard and his wife try to have a date night every week: dinner and a movie and holding hands.
“It's the intimacy, period,” Richard says. “Cuddling has become more precious.”
After a moment's prodding, an admission: “I am into shoes, high heels. But it's a minor turn-on. I don't put them on. Let's just be clear about that.”
Minus the shoes, John Horner, 53, finds himself turned on in much the same way. Married for 25 years, the Richmond, Va., drafter puts emotional closeness and intimacy far above the sexual.
“Early on, it was the physicality, the clothes, that turned me on," Horner says. "Now, just sitting near my wife while we read is a turn-on. There's an emotional depth there.”
Neither man's wants are unusual.
“Men want more affection as they get older,” says Irvine, Calif.-based sex therapist Stephanie Buehler, PhD. “When they're younger, they can dispense with that and get right down to it. But especially in their 40s, 50s, 60s, things don't happen as automatically. They need more time warming up.”
What will warm your guy up? Whatever it is, don't expect him to tell you, Buehler says.
“Men rarely ask for what they want,” she says. “A lot of men don't like asking for small signs of affection, but they like getting them.”
She says her husband is a perfect example. He likes to be hugged firm and close. Easy enough. The only problem was he never said anything about that until recently.
“These things are easy to fulfill, but a man has to ask,” Buehler says.
And if he doesn't ask? Buehler advises making the first move.
“Ask him to kiss you, or just go up to him and give him a real kiss, not a peck. Taking the initiative is a turn-on.”
Not all men are too shy to say what they want. Jeffrey Kelly, a bartender and student in Portland, Ore., is up front about what turns him on.
“I like being able to be gentlemanly,” says Kelly, 26. “I like opening doors for a woman, paying for dinner, being romantic in an old-school sense. Everyone is so independent these days, and that's awesome, but sometimes I don't want to go Dutch. It's as much for me as it is for her.”
Being a Priority
Men like to be put first sometimes as well, Buehler says. That can be hard when kids are in the picture, but making that effort every once in a while can pay off romantically.
“Ask him, 'Can I put you first this weekend?'” Buehler says.
She also recommends keeping in mind that men are, above all, very visual. So boost your intimacy in general -- from how you relate to physical closeness -- but don’t overlook the obvious: Although men like sweet and subtle turn-ons, they also want to see a little skin.