Thomas Fiffer talks straight about what really turns men off.
Women’s magazines are full of tips—often involving “tips” and associated twists, techniques, and touches—for how to handle your man to get him turned on. But these purveyors of sexual proficiency never tell you about the real stuff that turns men off in relationships. Hint: It’s not your belly or your love handles. It’s not your unshaven legs. It’s not whether you waxed down there. And it has nothing to do with how flexible or dextrous you are. The truth is, a man cares a lot less than you think about how you handle him in bed and a lot more than you think about how you handle his psyche. And he’s a lot more likely to get turned on—in bed—if he’s feeling loved and appreciated in his head (the one on top of his neck).
Here are five major male turn-offs that shut down male libido faster than pouring ice water on his crotch.
1. Telling a man “you’ll never get it.” This tops the list and is outright demeaning, yet men hear it all the time. There’s nothing that makes a man shrink (figuratively and literally) like making him feel incapable of understanding you. It sends his frustration level through the roof and sinks his ego into the basement. Think about it. You’ve just crippled your partner, while reserving the right to complain about how lame he is. How can he respond without sounding defensive and outright contradicting you? Also, if he’ll never get it, why should he bother trying? Your man wants and needs to understand you, and sometimes he needs some help, just as you need help understanding him. Approaching misunderstanding as an opportunity for learning, to connect more deeply with each other, and to build a more cohesive bond is both a big aphrodisiac and one of the best ways to strengthen a relationship.
2. Treating sex as an obligation or making fun of a man’s sexual needs. Sex is never an entitlement—for men or women. It’s a consensual act of love and intimacy. Taking a perfunctory attitude towards sex, acting as if you’re doing your man a favor or making a “necessary sacrifice” to enable his release makes a man feel shamed and unworthy of affection. This is not about your technique but your attitude. Rolling over grudgingly, making a joke about how insatiable your man is, or spreading your legs and saying, “OK, go,” is much worse than refusing. But you won’t hear most men say that, because the majority of us who don’t see sex as an entitlement have been socialized to feel fortunate, as in “lucky,” if the gatekeeper agrees. Another cutting remark women sometimes make is, “You’ve earned it.” While this sounds positive, it cheapens sex by framing it as an exchange-based act instead of a gift of love. Obligation sex is cold comfort, and sex should always be … hot.
3. Feeling entitled to a material reward for real (or perceived) mistreatment. If a man mistreats you in some way (other than abuse), or you feel slighted, you’re entitled to an apology and a promise not to repeat the offense, not material compensation. Using his mistakes as an excuse to spend money, or demanding an expensive gift to make up for them not only hurts a man’s (or your joint) finances but also makes him feel used. Forcing a man to open his wallet when he screws up will never open his heart; it will only make him feel resentment and turn money into a locus of control and punishment in your relationship. In addition, the nice things you might buy for yourself become tainted with the hurt used to justify their purchase. Gifts should be sweet, not bitter. Do you really want a home full of apologies? Punishment is something parents use to discipline children, and being able to work through hurts in a constructive, adult way is not only hot but also critical to a relationship’s long-term survival.
4. Telling him he’s selfish when he does his own thing. If a man’s independent interests and activities make him consistently unavailable to you or unable to fulfill his responsibilities in your relationship, you’ve got a case for selfish behavior—and you don’t really have a relationship. But treating his interests, hobbies, or friendships outside the relationship as selfish indulgences that cause you harm and unhappiness puts him in a no-win bind. He can close himself off to things he loves and people he enjoys seeing, or he can risk your disappointment and anger. Getting a man to sacrifice things and people he values for the sake of your emotional security doesn’t mean he loves you. It means he fears losing you (very different from love) and lacks the self-esteem to stand up for himself as an individual. Men do want and need to feel needed by women, but not at the expense of their own freedom and autonomy. Freedom is a big turn-on for men, and relationships thrive on balance and healthy respect for each other’s independence.
5. Comparing him to other men. Making comparisons to other men who earn more, look better, or do nicer things for their partners, or worse, past lovers who performed better, is not going make your man rise to the challenge. It’s only going to make him feel inadequate and less loving towards you and open you to similar, inappropriate criticism. Every person and every relationship is unique. And in every relationship, our partners will inevitably, at times, fall short of our expectations or fail to meet our needs. These moments are flash points for growth—in one partner’s abilities or maturity and the other’s tolerance and understanding. Try appreciating the things that make your man unique (huge turn on) and encouraging him in areas where, with a little push, he can improve. If your old boyfriend was really so wonderful, you’d still be with him, right?