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by James Houran, Ph.D

What are the top turn-ons and turn-offs for men and women?

It would seem that physical attractiveness and attitude are the major turn-ons (or offs!) for both sexes. Let’s face it, men and women both care about how good someone looks and how well that person “carries” him or herself. Women tend to be more forgiving about looks and place more stock in personality and economic and psychological stability in a potential partner. Men do care about looks – but even looks can take a backseat to “attitude.” Remember what I wrote in an earlier column, most men will approach a “plain Jane” over a “blonde bombshell” if Jane sends out “go” signals when the blonde does not.

But from my conversations with actual singles about the issue of turn-ons and turn-offs, I have found a great deal of overlap in what people liked and disliked in their dates. Popular turn-ons included having a sense of humor (and smiling a lot), being attentive to the other’s needs, having a romantic or passionate attitude, speaking and acting in an intelligent manner, being well-groomed and showing good manners, and finally acting comfortable and at ease.

Of course, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do. The popular themes in people’s strongest turn-offs were poor dress and hygiene (including bad breath!), acting bored or self-absorbed, showing poor sense of humor and poor manners, not listening, and lastly not making good eye contact. I guess it comes down to a simply recipe actually:

» Having a mindset that you are attractive and sincerely want to be with the other person

» Putting that mindset into action by having excellent hygiene, eye contact, and basic manners

» Finally, wrapping up your positive mental attitude and courteous behavior with the unique characteristics that make you who you are – such as your sense of humor, personality, and ability to be in the moment and enjoy the other person.

Please take time to email me right now if I have missed something really important!

Do Men and Women Show Affection Differently?

Yes, often times they do. Knowing about this difference in expression for affection can help you not jump to conclusions next time your partner does something… or maybe that should read… doesn’t do something.

Basically, women desire more emotional sharing and affection than men. To this end, women tend to say “I love you” more often and exhibit more nonverbal emotional expression and eye contact – such as using empathetic touches and other gestures that convey support and nurturance. On the other hand, men tend to express affection through sexual intimacy. Furthermore, men are natural analysts and problem-solvers. Rather than saying “I love you” or placing a nurturing hand on your shoulder or openly talking about their feelings, men are also more likely to show affection through direct actions. For instance, a man might discuss solutions to problems, buy gifts, take their better halves out to dinner, or even paint the garage.

The point is… men and women both need intimacy in a relationship. However, the way they express and experience affection and intimacy can be quite different. Don’t assume you can fully read your partner’s mind… or his/her actions. If you have a need that is not being met, please talk to your partner and gain understanding. It’s whole lot better for your long-term relationship than jumping to conclusions and gaining misunderstanding and resentment.