What Turns Women On? One Wife’s Story

what turns women on?

So many men and husbands want to know what turns women on (and in particular, find ways to seduce and turn on their wife/partner). This makes sense, doesn’t it? They want to give the women they love pleasure, but they also want to feel desired in the process. After all, passion doesn’t feel all that passionate when it’s one-sided.

Often, though, the men seeking ways to turn on their partners (and answer the question, What turns women on?) are looking in the wrong place. What do I mean by this? Let me illustrate with an example…

Ace and Thea, both in their mid-forties, have been married for fourteen years. They have two children, ages eight and ten. Ace builds homes and Thea is an attorney. They both say that they have a “solid” marriage. There’s lots of love and trust on both sides, they have shared interests, and they usually agree on child-rearing approaches.

So why did they come to see me?

“Our sex life is practically non-existent,” Thea said with a sigh. “I’ve read lots of stuff that says this is common after awhile, especially after the kids come along and when you’re exhausted from work. But I don’t want to fall into that statistic, especially since we had so much passion when we were first married.”

Ace agreed, saying, “For a little while I tried to seduce my wife, but I stopped trying when it didn’t work much.” He added, “But before you ask us to give you specifics of what we do in the bedroom, Doc, I have to warn you: we’ve tried every technique and position, read every book and manual about heating up our sex life, and though we’ve had fun, and on the rare times we have sex it’s good, we haven’t found something that shifts things from scheduling sex after months without it just so we can say we’re still a couple to wanting to have sex just because we want it.”

“No problem,” I assured him. “I wasn’t going to go there. What I want to talk about today won’t bring us anywhere near the bedroom.”


Thea quirked a brow. “But we’re not having trouble at the dinner table, Dr. Nicastro! We’re having trouble in the bedroom!”

What if sexual seduction starts nowhere near the bedroom (and long before bedtime)?

Thea and Ace are not alone in their struggle to nurture a rich sex life in the middle of a busy work life and family life. Also, many years together tend to replace the edge of spontaneity with the softer aspect of familiarity.

Being familiar with one another is one of the great gifts of a long-term relationship. However, familiarity tends not to be a friend to sexual fireworks, which is why couples must actively and consciously make efforts to keep their sex lives healthy (note that the goal is to have a healthy, mutually-satisfying sex life, not one that approximates the sex life that you shared in the beginning of your relationship—that’s unrealistic and can lead to frustration and disappointment).

Thea and Ace are also not alone in their approach to improving their waning sex life: they placed a microscope of sorts on the literal mechanics of sex; they trained their focus on the bedroom and nowhere else.

On the one hand, that makes sense, right? When something’s not working as it should (for instance, your car’s engine), you go straight to the problem area to fix it. If your car keeps stalling, you wouldn’t bring your auto mechanic your iPhone and ask him to use it to fix your vehicle instead of looking under the hood!

But relationships are much more complex than automobiles (or iPhones!), and the physical and emotional intimacy aspects of marriage or relationships are exceedingly complex. What this means is that there’s not a simple one-to-one correlation between things in romantic relationships. It all runs much deeper than the surface level, much deeper than first glance or “logical” assumptions. In other words, it’s not as obvious as, “It itches me here, so scratch me here.”

Passion, sexual desire, and seduction may feel like fireworks in the moment, but they are slow burns that accumulate gradually, outside of the bedroom

If you’ve widely read my blog, you’re no stranger to the concept that what happens out of the bedroom affects what happens in the bedroom. Still, it can be hard to hold onto that when you’re dismayed or frustrated by what is or isn’t happening in your intimate life.

Most couples look for something magical when it comes to spicing up their sex life. They remember the fireworks of their early relationship (when sex felt natural and effortless, when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other), and they extrapolate those fireworks standards into their mature relationship, ending up frustrated (or mistakenly thinking there’s something wrong with their marriage) when they can’t manage to light the fuse.

But even though most people in long-term relationships assume that it’s the large, dramatic, powerful moments that contribute to a satisfying sex life, it’s actually more often the cumulative details of daily life that do the trick.

How? Let’s look back on Ace and Thea to explore this further:

What Turns Women On? 3 things my husband does that turn me on (that have nothing to do with sex!)

After working with Ace and Thea for awhile, and teasing out not what they learned in sex manuals or videos but rather, what they learned in their daily lives, we discovered that Thea is powerfully drawn to Ace in certain circumstances. And though those circumstances don’t have anything to do directly with sex, they end up adding to that slow burn that allows passion and desire to accumulate. (They are the key to him seducing her, though he wasn’t aware of it—he was looking in the wrong place.)

What turns women on?Here are those aspects of daily life (and Ace’s behavior in particular) that were actually driving Thea wild (though she hadn’t identified them that way when the couple was only focused on frequency of sex and the mechanics of sex):

1) “Ace shows genuine interest and curiosity in me.”

Having someone really be curious about you can be an incredible turn-on. You may think you know everything there is to know about your partner, but that’s simply not possible. Each of us is evolving. Our preferences, goals, dreams, thoughts are changing. Get interested in your mate—without an agenda, with nothing more than sheer love and curiosity—and become mindful of what intrigues and excites you about this person. Ask questions, listen to the answers, be open to the person your partner truly is—in this moment in time—not who you expect them to be.

Part of the reason new love is such a heady experience is that we’re each naturally curious about the other person—we may know almost nothing about him/her, and of course part of courting him/her is learning everything we can. So it’s no surprise that passion fires easily in the early stages of courtship. And it’s no coincidence that that’s also when curiosity feels natural and necessary.

But you don’t have to abandon that curiosity. Although you may indeed know your partner’s favorite food, political leanings, taste in music—and the like—there’s always more to learn when you remain enthusiastic about your mate. (For some fun, practical ideas about how to keep that pro-relationship enthusiasm alive, check out my little book, 50 Ways to Give Your Marriage a Hug, available exclusively on Amazon, and currently priced at only $.99.) 


2) “He is passionate about things in his life that have nothing to do with me.”

During the counseling sessions, I discovered that Ace is passionate about his hobby of boat-building. He was careful to balance that with his family time (and to dovetail the two when possible and include the family). And Ace discovered that, contrary to Thea seeing his hobby as something that competed for his time, she became mentally turned on when she thought about how passionate Ace was about the pursuit, and how much he wanted to learn, grow, and do it better and better.

“I guess you can say that it makes me see him as a whole person,” Thea reflected. “I’d been thinking of it as something entirely outside of and irrelevant to our sex life, but I guess it’s far more relevant that I thought.”

Of course, if Ace were sending Thea messages that he would rather be with his boats than with her, then Thea may not find his passion about his hobby so stimulating. But Ace wanted to build boats and be with his wife in every capacity. It wasn’t an either/or, it was an and. And that allowed Thea the safe space to see Ace as a man of meaningful interests that he loved and strived for.

3) “He can be strong and tender.”

Speaking of either/or, here’s a common misperception that I’d like to address with great emphasis. People often think that men can’t be strong and tender; there’s a misperception that they can only be one or the other. “Want a loving man? Okay, but he won’t be a strong man.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

Strength and tenderness (or gentleness or loving-kindness) are not mutually exclusive. And tenderness is not threatened by strength (or vice versa). If a man feels self-conscious or embarrassed about showing a softer side (and many men do, thanks to stereotypes we’re surrounded by from childhood on up, the stereotypes of the rugged male who has no depth of feeling), then he may have a knee-jerk reaction against tenderness and may not show gentleness or loving consideration, or may fight it within himself.

That doesn’t mean he can’t be strong and tender—it means that he’s choosing to only reveal the strength, at the expense of the tenderness (sometimes it’s a conscious choice, but more often it occurs at a subconscious level).

At least in Thea’s case (and in the case of many wives/girlfriends I’ve worked with in couples counseling), she was turned on by all the rich colors of Ace’s emotional palette, not just the strong ones, and not just the tender ones.

So the message for all the guys out there is don’t assume that some of your emotional dimensions have no place in your marriage/relationship. If your wife/partner wants all of you—not just the parts you define as “manly”—you can bring all of yourself to the relationship. Whether you see a direct correlation between that and your sex life, I assure you that wholeness will come to bear on your intimate life too.

After all, don’t we each want to be our most authentic selves for our mates?

So the next time you’re thinking about ways to turn on your partner, shift your focus from what happens in the bedroom to the ways that the two of you connect outside of the bedroom. The ways you admire each other, the ways you demonstrate how interested you are in each other, and the authentic ways you allow your true self to exist in the relationship will all contribute to that rich, meaningful sex life you seek.

Here’s to a relationship filled with love and passion!

Dr. Rich Nicastro

(Featured images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici & Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)