Walk past the lifestyle magazine section in any shop and you’ll no doubt see half a dozen front covers promising the best lines, erogenous zones and positions for the best sex ever. As it happens, however, many of the things that arouse us the most have nothing to do with the bedroom at all.
A survey by health and beauty retailer Superdrug asked 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Europeans: What are the most common nonsexual turn-ons for men and women? If you fancy skewing the laws of attraction in your favour, here are the results.
Never mind appearances – both men and women ranked scent as their top atypical turn-on. Men placed the smell of perfume top of their list, while women had a good cologne as their number one. Wonder why whiffs and sniffs are so powerful?
According to psychologist Bettina Pause, the human brain reacts strongly to the chemicals in scents, while other researchers believe smell helps us detect compatible romantic partners. A more direct link was discovered by the Smell & Taste Treatment And Research Foundation, which found that pleasant smells can not only boost your moods but also increase blood flow to the sexual organs.
A man in a suit was the second-biggest turn-on for women, so after you’ve bought a nice bottle of after shave, it’s time to invest in some new threads. The trend for an authoritative and mature look was also borne out in women’s attraction to someone in a military uniform, which was number five on their list. Formal clothes were another big preference for men, although their choices conformed to the more stereotypical ideas of fantasy and roleplay, with a maid’s uniform and a school uniform ranked as the second and third largest turn-ons, respectively.
Foreign accents also ranked highly for both male and female respondents, with an exotic inflection the third most likely thing to pique a woman’s sexual interest, and the fourth most likely factor to attract a man’s attention. This might explain why people often find more success when abroad.
Good news for all you razor-dodging hipsters: someone sporting a beard was rated number four in women’s list of the things most likely to fire up their libido. If for some inexplicable reason, you’ve grown a moustache, however, best shave it off right now – the crumb catcher was all the way down in fifteenth and last on the list. The hairstyles that men said had the highest chance of arousing them were a ponytail (fifth in the men’s list) and pigtails. Add that to men’s desire for school uniforms, and it appears that while women value maturity in a prospective partner, the male brain veers towards a much younger look. Perhaps the video for Britney Spears Baby One More Time is more damaging than first thought.
Odds and ends
Although found closer to the bottom of the rankings, there were some surprises on both lists. The not particularly erotic sight of someone wearing socks will apparently get a few men’s thoughts veering towards the bedroom, while a small percentage of women watching someone stretching will find themselves a little hot under the collar. So, if you’ve not signed up for that yoga class yet, now’s the time.