What turns you on?

A deliciously cheeky male friend of mine recently asked me this question. “What turns you on”? As I tried to formulate a succinct answer, I realised there are many layers and complexity to the phenomena of desire: different situations, different moods. So I asked for some time to think about it. Here is the response I gave him.

In passing. You’re on the way to a meeting, or heading home from work and someone in the passing crowd attracts your interest. What is it that makes you want to turn from your path and follow a stranger? For me, it’s the scent. Very difficult to define, but you can just tell when the scent matches the man wearing it… maybe it’s skin chemistry… maybe the cologne enhances the particular smell of the man you would normally be attracted to (studies have found where one woman may find a particular man attractive according to the way he smells, another woman will not. And that can change depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle). Other men may smell good, but not in a way that turns your head. When it’s right, you just can’t help turning around to try to find the source. For me, it normally leads to a well-groomed man in an exquisitely cut business suit.

In a contained crowd. For me, it has to be eye contact. Not the creepy kind that makes you want to turn away and move as far away as possible, but the kind that says “I know you”. Even though you’ve never met before, you sense a connection and see by the look in his eye that he does too.

In conversation. This would have to be the most universal answer. To find that you have interests, hobbies, opinions in common. But it is also very stimulating to talk to a man who has a slightly different view on a subject you share an interest in: when he challenges your thinking and stretches your beliefs.

On a date. A man who effortlessly treats you like a lady. I like a man who acts like he’s in control (as long as there is no unconsenting physical force). He doesn’t lunge for the door to open it just as you place your hand to do it for yourself. He doesn’t awkwardly pull the chair out for you as you sit down. He does it all as if it’s second nature: he’s not even thinking about it.

In the bedroom. Slow and lots skin contact… a man who is able to touch you anywhere and give you shivers of desire. Hand, calf, neck… The biggest turn off would be when he goes for the obvious sexual zones straight off. Unless that’s where you NEED to be touched, then it’s definitely a turn on to be with a man who is open to requests/instruction. But it can be nice to be teased – for a little while.

So… what turns you on?