Relationships

A Secret to Getting Turned On

Anna Karina

Over Christmas vacation, we rented a house in L.A. While the boys were napping one afternoon, I browsed the living-room bookshelf (it’s always fun to see what people read) and pulled out the book The Secrets of Happy Families. As I curled up on the sofa, I skimmed chapters on dinner conversations, fighting fair, family vacations — and then came to a chapter about sex…

The author, Bruce Feiler, had visited Esther Perel, the legendary relationship therapist and author of Mating in Captivity. Here’s what happened:

During our visit, Perel asked me to play a short game. Each of us had to finish the sentence, “I turn myself off when….”

She went first. “I turn myself off when I look at my e-mail before going to bed.”

Me. “I turn myself off when I take forever to brush my teeth, take my medicine, and get ready for bed.”

She. “I turn myself off when I haven’t had time to go to the gym.”

Me. “I turn myself off when I have to take twenty pillows off the bed.”

“As you can see,” Perel said, “ninety percent of the answers have nothing to do with sex per se.”

Perel then asked Feiler to think about what turned him on — whether it was nature, dancing or going to a party.

“The point is,” she continued, “each of us is responsible for our own desire. For being shut down or being turned on. I have asked people in twenty-two countries the same questions, ‘What draws you to your partner?’ And the answers are universal. First, when he’s away, when she comes back, when we are separate and reunite. Second, when I see the other at work, on the stage, surfing, singing; when I see my partner doing something he’s passionate about. And third, when he makes me laugh, when he surprises me, when she dresses differently, when she introduces an element of the unknown.”

I sat there, the California light streaming through the windows. The chapter rang true — if I work late at night, I only want to watch TV and veg afterward; I’m too tense and wound up to relax in bed. But on weekends, when the lazy days stretch out ahead of us, it’s a different story. What a compelling approach to think about what life circumstances turn you both on and off — often you don’t even ask the latter question, and your moods can end up feeling unpredictable and capricious, even to yourself. It’s empowering to take control of them.

And I identify with the part about how people get turned on when their partner feels unfamiliar or separate. When Alex does something new to me, even something small, I’m totally into it. When I call his work line and hear him brusquely answer “Alex Williams,” it gives me a thrill. It’s as if we don’t know each other well; as far as he knows, I’m a complete stranger.

Really fascinating to think about. Now I want to go back and re-read Esther Perel’s fantastic book!

What about you? What turns you off? And what makes your heart race? I’d love to hear…

P.S. Our trick for fun dates, and scheduling sex.

(Photo of Anna Karina in Le Petit Soldat)

  1. I like it. I’m not married but it’s incredible to think about this…
    what turns me off… working until 3 minutes before I fall asleep. I want to sit, drink some wine, relax, joke around.
    -Belen
    A Hint of Life

  2. Amy says...

    This is so interesting! The concept of an accelerator and a brake, rather than thinking about it in terms of ‘libido’. For anyone who is interested, Emily Nagoski’s book ‘Come As You Are’ is fascinating, and talks about all of the psychology behind good sex. A must read for men and women alike!

  3. Such a fantastic topic! I get turned off when we let too many days of no-sex go by because then it feels like we are out of touch/on different wavelengths. It’s like we both end up thinking maybe she doesn’t want to or maybe he doesn’t want to. When in reality we both want to. Sometimes I end up blurting out about the elephant in the room (because my husband is not the best communicator on the subject) and then we will laugh about it. Another turn off is mess! When the house is a mess I feel a mess which is definitely a mood killer! Haha!

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  4. Jenni says...

    I have to think. I don’t know. Wow that explains so much (sorry to my bae) but hum now I have more to think about smh. Great post of course.

  5. Andrea says...

    Would love to know these answers from a man’s perspective. What turns him off.

  6. Chelsea says...

    There are so many things about my partner turns me on, his smell, the way his t shirt rises up when he reaches for things & I get the slightest glimpse of skin, watching him talk to others when we are at a party, his understated intelligence…

    But when I recently started to suffer quite severe anxiety attacks, what I found, is that his voice makes me feel so safe, so supported & is the most calming thing in the world to me…and that is the biggest turn on of them all.

    • Natalie says...

      Chelsea, this reply is nearly verbatim what I would have written in a comment. It is so wonderful to have a partner who supports us in so many ways and accepts us as we are… We are so lucky!

    • ChelseaG says...

      We sure are Natalie! I tell him how lucky I am almost daily (his response is always “No, I’m the lucky one”). He has my heart :)

  7. Becky says...

    My husband works in the city three hours away…when he comes home Friday night we are thrilled to see eachother…and because our time together is precious we tend not to make mountains out of mole hills. We definately do not take our time on the weekends together for granted.

  8. love this! I think this applies to most areas of life…it’s up to each of us to create our own mood, our own happiness.

    particularly for me:
    1. seeing them interact with others..I think it shines a new light on what makes you love them in the first place ♥
    2. definitely seeing them involved in whatever they love, be it music, cooking, or just a lively debate at the dinner table :)

    http://oprahismyreligion.wordpress.com

  9. Heather says...

    1. My husband’s cologne
    2. He’s usually very quiet and reserved, but when he has to direct his staff or something, he gets a more powerful, confident sound to his voice. I love that.
    3. BOXER BRIEFS. Meow.

  10. Kali says...

    My husband is my high school sweetheart and while that’s novel in today’s society, it also takes work. Luckily we talk about our wants and needs. Physical touch is his love language so he seems to live in my ever-expanding bubble (we have two young girls). Therefore, the minute he seems disinterested or plays hard to get, I’m IN. He’s also the quintessential jock so seeing him do something athletic in a group of yuppy neighbors makes my loins happy. For me, if we can set the scene, cliché as it sounds, it helps. I’ve always thought certain songs or the music in movies puts me in the mood and wondered if it would work at home. Sure does. Turn on the Jambox, light a candle, wash the bedding, close/lock the door so there can be no intruders, turn down the lights … 

    • Lola says...

      I’m at work reading this and definitely laughed out loud when you said, “makes my loins happy”. Totally reminded me of an episode from Friends when Joey discovered a “naughty” book under Rachel’s mattress…there’s a reference to loins and it was a bit nostalgic to read your comment. Thanks for the good laugh.

      -Lola

  11. Kate says...

    My fiance and I are getting married in April, and his kilt was delivered a few weeks ago. When he came downstairs fully dressed in full Prince Charlie, it wasn’t just my heart that leapt :P Absolutely nothing sexier!

    I also agree with the commenters who have mentioned hair cuts – he has long hair with an undercut, and I clip his undercut and trim his beard for him. Even though I did it, it’s still nice to see.

    I like meeting him in public too. I feel like that’s something you lose when you move in together – I should make more time for it.

  12. Jessica Clem says...

    My partner has an incredible smell to him. He doesn’t wear cologne, nor does he stink (he is a bit of a bath freak), but his pheromones are just off the fucking wall. When I smell his apartment or his sheets, or when I go home smelling like him, it makes my heart happy dance.

  13. Lauren E. says...

    Nothing turns me on more than when I see him unexpectedly on the street (and it happens quite a bit for a city as big as New York!). One time I was getting on the N train and I stepped onto the car and there he was, both of us heading home. It was like, “Oh my, who’s that handsome… Oh! He’s mine!”

  14. Reb says...

    Time apart… Makes the heart grow fonder !!

  15. Jihan says...

    1. My boyfriend’s professional attire, seeing him all suited up before and after work.
    2. Taking good care of my body makes me feel confident about it and more likely to want to show it off and share it.
    3. A lack of time constraints, slowly starting or ending the day, rolling around in bed, pillow talk, having time!
    4. Not feeling full from too much food.
    5. Date night. But particularly when we meet out like strangers happening upon each other at a bar. Seeing him across the restaurant, like, him! Thats mine!
    6. My boyfriend talking about the work he does, giving people advice, his intellect.

    • Lindsay says...

      ditto, all of these :)

    • Megan says...

      Not feeling full is something I hadn’t thought of at first but is so simple and true!

  16. i love this post! never thought about seeing it this way.
    my boyfriend and i are in a ldr and we only see each other twice a month. we have our designated locations that we call “our spots” were we wait for the other to get off of the bus when visiting each other and i always get butterflies right before i see him there

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  17. Madeleine says...

    My husband has an amazing sense of style. Every day he is impeccably dressed with perfect pairings of styles and colors. I am also obsessed his hairstyle and his piercing blue eyes. Last but not least, I love his breath!

  18. SJ says...

    I must start by saying, I also love going through other people’s libraries! It’s the first thing that catches my attention on someone else’s house. How many books do they have, what are they about? I just want to jump into there and see!

    And in relation to the turn ons, I must agree with the being apart for a while. Whenever my husband or I have to go on a trip without the other one, I always tell him: “I will miss you, but I like being apart for some time.” A contradiction, but still nice!

    SJ – https://simplyconversing.wordpress.com/

  19. Erica says...

    My husband is a firefighter. One day he had his gear with him so he could sub at another station….I had him put all of it on for me. He was laughing at me, but GAH!! Best. Ever. :)

  20. Megan says...

    I love seeing my boyfriend and puppy play together. They are just so sweet together – it makes my heart melt. Or when he comes to meet me after work for a drink – I feel so lucky knowing he’s mine. Or when he wakes me up in the morning with little kisses on my cheek – best alarm clock ever :)

  21. My take away from this post is that you like snooping on other people’s libraries (he!). Me too.
    But I will tell you what turns me on… and it is simply hormonal and related to the day 14th of my “month.”

    • Cass says...

      Ovulation is a powerful thing!!

  22. Cass says...

    Wendell Berry:
    “You are the known place leading always to the unknown,
    And you are the known place to which the unknown is always leading me back.”

  23. Marie says...

    My boyfriend is Danish and I’m an American. We speak mostly English at home, but since my son attends a Danish-speaking kindergarten, my boyfriend often switches to Danish when they’re together. It melts my heart when I overhear him reading a children’s story in Danish–with funny voices, noises, and interjections, of course! It’s such a turn on to catch him in a nurturing moment, speaking a language in which I’m still not totally fluent (cue: showing off a special skill plus a bit of mystery!). My mind races through kindergarten drop off, work, pickup, dinner, bedtime, clean up, and then… IT’S ON!!!

  24. Sarah Exeter says...

    I love Esther Perel!
    Great post!

  25. Fresh haircut is a turnon for sure! + I love when he reads to me aloud in bed and when he is all dressed up is a suit for work and when he helps me to cook a dinner…

    • Tiffany says...

      Haircut – yes!

  26. When my husband is making silly jokes that make me laugh so hard, it definitely gets me going. Some of the jokes areusually silly things that only me and him get!

  27. Nicole says...

    I turn myself on when I take a break to do my nails, shave my legs, cook something rather than go out (again), read a non-science book, etc. I may sound incredibly weird to all of you right now, but let me explain! Medical school.

    Like Koderzz said, it’s the little things.

    • Susie says...

      I am right there with you a little self love and nose up from the tomes always does it!

  28. Sarah says...

    Getting enough sleep is so vital to this- when we are doing 5 hours every night for weeks, the enthusiasm just is not there. Turn offs- eating dinner late, phones or laptops in front of us. Turn-ons- haircuts, seeing him do something he’s passionate about, dressing up and meeting somewhere in public for a date, surprises (he came home from work 30 minutes early last week and surprised me with this huge smile…then…..:) :) ).

  29. My husband sings! Like, really sings. It is what first made me notice him when we were just little 7-year-old kids :)

    • Miranda says...

      <3 <3 <3

  30. I love this post for a few reasons:

    First, I really am interested in this book and would love to explore some of the ideas she presents. They ring true here as well.

    Second, I absolutely am turned on by the idea of my man in an unfamiliar setting, situation, time in his life. I was thinking about this today actually while listening to this country song by Jana Kramer called ‘I Got the Boy.’ It’s a girl reminiscing about a boy she loved when she was young and he was young and how they were both so different then. She mentions that she has a part of him (the hot-headed young boy) that his current flame (having the clean-cut man and all) would never have. My husband and I met when each of us were in our early 20’s so we missed that time in each other’s lives. The simple fact that there was a time when we existed on the same plane, but in completely different spaces turns me on.

    Third, I wish my husband had a business line. ;)

  31. I love when my husband gets dressed for work and has to wear a suit jacket instead of the usual shirt and jeans. Nothing like a well-dressed man. However, I’m eight months pregnant right now, and sex is just not at the top of our minds. And, I’m afraid, like Lana we’ll be in a bit of a slump for a while since we’re planning to co-sleep with our new arrival. Still, I love that he makes me feel beautiful when he compliments the way I look, or asks me if I’m wearing something new, or calls me “cutie” because goodness knows I feel more like a beached whale than anything! Because nothing turns me on like knowing that after 10 years together, I still turn him on.

    • Elspeth says...

      I love your last sentence, Melissa :) ‘Because nothing turns me on like knowing that after 10 years together, I still turn him on.’ All the best with your little one xx

  32. Mac says...

    At home and work, my husband GETS IT DONE, whatever it is. Most recently, the baby was tired and uncomfortable on a long flight. He worked his magic in the aisle, looking great in his jeans, and got her to sleep. DO ME NOW. Or after this long flight, finding and loading our luggage, checking into the hotel, and getting the kids settled. Okay, NOW.

    • Lindsay says...

      I love this “gets it done” quality in my guy, too. :)

  33. Julie says...

    Seeing him in work mode for sure! My husband is an anesthesiologist and I LOVE seeing him in scrubs. We used to work together (I’m a nurse) and it used to thrill me to see him work…he literally has someone’s life in his hands! One of the first interactions we had was when I saw him doing CPR at a code blue and I just marveled at how calm and collected he was. I am so proud of him and proud to be his wife.

  34. I need a tidy space (even if the rest of the house is a mess but the bedroom is clean, that works) and a schedule with some margin built in. If I’m thinking of the four places I have to go the next day, or it’s the morning and I feel like I’m going to be late for something, sex is just not gonna happen. Yet another reason to keep our commitments a notch or two below the max level!

  35. Wow ! for this article and all the great conversations before me. I am a male with just 3 years of marriage and a 6 month old kid. This is a topic ( or rather lack of it) that has been getting on my nerve lately. I used to think love and sex goes out of marriage after you get kids ( yes very naive of me). But thinking at all the points in your post makes me realize that getting on or off has nothing to do with kids and rather our habits. I guess I will be looking at it from a different point of view today. Oh and I am taking my wife out for a spa and relaxing time this weekend with kid at my parents place. I hope it turns her on :-)

    • katrina says...

      My husband gave me a spa day when our first baby was 4 months old. 5 years later ( and many, many other times he has gone above and beyond to make me feel loved), I am still so touched that he planned that all for me :)

  36. Kaitlyn says...

    I am 30 and have been…suffering (?) From total loss of libido. I am nursing a 9 mo old and we have a 2 year old… I know nursing changes your homormones but seriously… This has been really rough. I asked my midwife about it and she just said it was normal and basically, “just put out… Your body doesn’t want to get pregnant again so soon so that is why you have no sex drive. “. I didn’t think it was as bad as this after my first child. Can anyone relate?! what can I do to help myself feel more…sexy? It’s been difficult on my marriage and my self esteem. I’m thinking I should stop breastfeeding but I feel guilty stopping before she’s 1, and I like nursing.

    • Agnes says...

      I’m no expert but I think your midwife is right! Perhaps you don’t NEED to feel like it? Just let (or ask?) your hubby go to town and you might end up feeling like it as you go along? Wishing you the best!

    • Ashley says...

      I know I felt the same way with each phase of nursing. Besides your hormonal changes I know we get “touched out” by the end of the day. The last thing I wanted after putting kids to bed (finally!) was to get touched again by my husband. A few things helped. First, be honest with your partner. If he doesn’t understand he can’t be understanding. Secondly, try try try to take a little time to yourself to detox from touch. And lastly, try morning sex! Situate the kids and then sneak off. This may only work on the weekends, but you’ll start the day giving your partner your ‘first fruits’ of attention and reminding both of you that your relationship came first.
      Good luck!

    • T says...

      Oh, I can relate! You are not alone. I’m not breastfeeding anymore but with two small kids, a full time job, and all the other stuff that needs to be taken care of to run a household, I am still completely uninspired to have sex. I just want to read a book and go to sleep.

    • Fiona says...

      Kaitlyn, you don’t have to stop breastfeeding — and shouldn’t, seeing as it’s important to both you and your baby — but it will probably take longer to feel the sexual spark related to your breasts being touched. Maybe your partner could explore other areas that didn’t get as much attention before. Foot rubs work for me…

    • Marie says...

      I relate 100%. It happened to me, too, when I was nursing. It is disconcerting! I was afraid it was never coming back. But in the end, I think it was kind of a good thing. I learned to develop an appreciation of sex for its own sake, rather than slaking a thirst. I love this advice about learning to avoid your turn-offs, because frankly… my husband had to learn to turn up the heat! I was not in a place where I was as able to ignore minor turn-offs. And waiting for the mood to strike me meant waiting forever– the mood didn’t strike me. It had to be kindled, and that was new territory for both of us.

      Around 18 months, I began to feel like my “old” libido came back, and about 25 months, I felt like I was really all there. I weaned my son at 2.5 years. But I’m glad I had that temporary hiatus from my usual lusty self, because I think now, my husband is more confident, and sweet Jesus, it’s so hot.

    • Kate M says...

      We just moved the baby out of our room and it is magical. She is not sleeping through the night (7 months) but I find having the baby in the other room even though I am still breastfeeding helps regulate my hormones. It is also nice psychologically and definitely helps me get in the mood. Also we have grown-up “naptime ” too. Put the baby down and take your time for some afternoon sex. I let my husband know that I need it slow because sometimes it takes a while to get your head into the right space. Finally, I know that even if you may not feel like it at first, sometimes the emotional connection and physical activity of actually doing it, gets you more reved for the next time. The more often we have sex, the more I want to have sex. We are two kids in, a 2 1/2 year old and a 7 month old and I can say honestly while we may not have sex aso often as before kids, it is better sex now. Hang in there mama.

    • E says...

      Girl, I hear you. I am just now, at fifteen months, starting to feel an interest in sex again. I went a long time feeling pretty bad about my lack of desire, and also considered weaning early. But I stuck with it, and I’m so glad I did. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You’ll get there when you’re ready.

    • Gretchen says...

      I had my second 3 months ago and my oldest is 3 years. Sex has been hard, but I got some good advice that hasn’t failed me yet… Even if you aren’t turned on, “just do it!” I’m never bummed out that we had sex. I am always glad we did. It’s not always perfect, and it’s almost never convenient, but it helps us feel like we actually connect and that makes a huge difference in our relationship.

    • Lisa says...

      I am so thankful for the chorus of replies to this comment, mainly as they remind me that I am not alone. Kaitlyn, I could have written your post save for a few age differences (I am a bit older, my kids are 4 and 14 months). But my drive is at zero. Literally zero. And it was not like this after our first. I think it is a combination of physical and mental exhaustion as well as being “touched out.” I honestly resent being told to “just do it” as I want to enjoy it too and I want it to be on my terms as well as my husband’s. But at this point, I think just doing it is my only option as I don’t want our relationship to falter more than it already has. I am so hopeful that things eventually improve as others have noted has been the case for them.

  37. Becca says...

    During his third year of med school, my husband did a month-long rotation at Cambridge University while I stayed home with our one-year old son. Before he headed back to the States, we arranged for our son to stay with my mother-in-law and I met my husband at the airport in Paris. We cried and kissed and were Parisian lovers during that trip! I really do think that strengthened our marriage for years!

  38. When he comes home from work and his dress shirt sleeves are rolled up. I LOVE that.

  39. Laura S. says...

    Whenever my husband brings me to a work function or if we are out to dinner with a small group, I am almost awe struck (I don’t know how else to describe it) by how much I love this person. It’s easy to think of each other as husband and wife but it’s so meaningful to have those moments where you can appreciate one another as people. I love seeing him and hearing him as an outsider and still having those butterflies. Those butterflies are even bigger when he introduces me as his wife. Kind of brings me back down and reminds me how lucky I am.

    • Emy says...

      Yes, I love those moments!

  40. Colleen says...

    *sleep-deprived

  41. Colleen says...

    I have this book waiting in the wings for me! Right now, I’m reading “The Collapse of Parenting”. It’s amazing – so many kids are just active but their parents and doctors think they have ADHD, kids are self-deprived, kids look to their peers to teach them instead of their parents. I don’t feel so bad being a hardass about vegetables, no cell phone at age 8, and reasonable bedtimes. I’m not their friend :)

  42. Eliza says...

    I met my husband in college (21 years ago!!). He has always been a runner, but over the past couple of years he started getting into it more seriously and even trained long and hard to run some ultras (a 50 miler and a 100 miler). Over the course of his training he dropped about 65 lbs. and started lifting light weights. I didn’t realize how much of a slump we’d actually been in after 2 kids, jobs, etc. But watching him dedicate himself so wholeheartedly to an endeavor and physically change in front of my eyes allowed me to see him in a new light after so many years and it was H.O.T. It helped that I was also taking better care of myself physically and had increased confidence. I was shocked at what a difference it made in my desire and libido!

  43. elisa says...

    One time I was coming back from a jog and my husband was running an errand and I saw him at the other end of the block, walking up the sidewalk towards me. I didn’t recognize him at first, but got all flustered thinking “that guy is so hot!” and then I realized it was him and it made me laugh, but also feel super proud. It make me realize that if I met my husband today, I would still be so into him. Probably the most (bizarrely) romantic moment ever.

  44. Emily says...

    Even after four years, I get butterflies when we are meeting in public and I spot him walking towards me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and feel like every stranger on that street must be looking at him and thinking how lucky I am. I think it’s related partially to being apart and then reunited and partially to being outside of our normal circumstances.

    On a somewhat related note, I also have this terrible habit where when someone asks me about him, I get overwhelmed by how much I like him and embarassed by how happy I am, so I blurt out something like, “he’s not that great!” It’s the worst.

    • tunie says...

      Haha…oh dear…He’s great! Shout it from the rooftops, it’s ok!

    • emily says...

      100% agree with seeing my fiance walking toward me down the street. Meeting out of the house is such an amazing feeling once you as a couple have gotten into a somewhat boring routine at home.

    • Jessica says...

      Your are THE CUTEST

  45. Suzanne says...

    My husband is a general contractor. He doesn’t wear his tool belt as often as he used to, but every now and again I’ll stop by the job site and he has it on…full of manly things like hammers and tape measures and drill guns. It hang on his narrow hips just perfectly. I’m a goner. He also can back up a trailer with his truck like nobody’s business. It’s so sexy!

    • Jackie says...

      lol I just told my husband the other day that his trailer backing skills turned me on. It really is so sexy when a man can back up a trailer like its nothing. Hahaha

    • Carrie says...

      My husband and I both work for a concrete cutting company, and when he comes back to the shop all dirty ….oh my. He is just so manly, I can’t get enough of it! I also love that he possesses all of these skills and knowledge that it took me so long to even realize he had.

      Jackie it’s so funny you say that I completely agree! I am always left in awe of his skills with a trailer, it’s his confidence and nonchalance about it that is a turn on!

  46. Emma says...

    Being in a long distance relationship means every day together is both a reuniting and a discovering. “You’re wearing a different perfume!” “You rearranged your apartment!” It feels like coming home and jumping into something new all at once. Absence really does seem to make the heart grow fonder.

  47. Phones are a big turn off for me…I get caught up looking at instagram or facebook and miss what he does to pay attention to me in bed or even just the simple pleasure and romance of getting ready for bed together.

    I especially get turned on when he wears new clothes and dresses up for a wedding or important meeting or after watching stand-up comedy…I’m so giggly after and start making my own jokes which eventually make him laugh…then seeing him laugh turns me on :)

  48. sharon says...

    for me, hearing my significant other’s voice is more than enough. it might be due to us being long distance (him – DC, me – LA) but there are moments when i crave hearing his voice, especially when i wake up or fall asleep. on a side note, it’d be really cool to cover long distance relationships. i rarely get to hear about positive long distance relationship experiences. often times, they’re so negative it can be disheartening. thanks!

    • Emilie says...

      I couldn’t agree more – it would be so great to talk more about Lon distance relationships. I’ve been in one for almost 10 months and am always surprised by how many people I speak to about it around my age (27) are either in a long distance relationship now or have been recently.

      I love this advice about turn ons and offs. I like to think of the moments when I first saw my man after time apart. Greeting me in the drive way, at the airport, getting off the greyhound… There is no feeling quite like it.

    • Another pro-long distance relationship girl over here! My (now) husband and I dated long distance for four years before I moved to Croatia to be with him. 4.5 years later, we are now in the U.S. together :)

      Long distance relationships are an amazing bonding experience that makes your relationship so different (and so strong because all you can do is communicate while you are apart). There definitely aren’t enough pro-LDR blogs/websites out there!

    • Rosie says...

      As encouragement: my boyfriend and I were long distance for two and a half years. We finally moved to be with each other 3 years ago and now we are engaged. LDR’s can work! And I really think the time we spent apart made us the couple we are today. I trust him implicitly and thank my lucky stars every morning that we get to be together today and are no longer living apart. If you make it through an LDR, I think you can make it through almost anything together. So keep the faith!

      But there really is nothing quite like those long distance reunions – talk about butterflies!

    • Claire says...

      yes!! NYC LA. LDRs are an amazing test of (and lesson in) communication & trust, especially if you start the relationship long distance. obviously, it is also very difficult, but i keep telling my friends to try it (as a joke? kindof?) because it forces you to have conversations early on about the relationship and be very intentional about the relationship you’re forming. it’s taught me to ask for what i want and what he wants and not brush things under the rug. you can’t read each other’s minds in person, but you really really can’t in a LDR. it’s not the worst thing ever!

    • W says...

      Another former SF NYC ldr over here too. Now we are married with 2 kids and a cat. :)

    • Louise says...

      Another positive LDR story here! Met traveling in LAtin America when just out of high school / uni, LDR for 6 years between Holland and UK and 15 years later, here we are with two awesome daughters and living in our third country together. I always say LDR work when you’re meant to be together. If not, it will fail. Failure is not due to the long distance, it’s the relationship that’s not good enough / worth it, I think. X

  49. Elliesee says...

    A little massage/back rub goes a long way.

  50. I get turned on when my husband shows his passionate side, and I get very turned off when he vegs and complains (but similarly, I am very turned off when I do that too!). Such an interesting post – I love being able to talk about a healthy sex life in an open format. Great topic today :)

  51. Capucine says...

    When his neck smells like ocean-wetsuit after a surf.

    Last week in the pouring rain, he was dressed in his good clothes about to leave when we looked out the window and saw a sheet of water pouring down from a blocked gutter. There was a moment of dismay broken by me running off to settle an argument…and the next thing I saw was him, naked, trotting by with a ladder, up in the rain fixing it. Because it was easier and faster than trying to keep his clothes dry under a bunch of gear. It was ridiculous and marvelous, and bold.

    • I love this and your description of it being ridiculous, marvelous, and bold.

  52. Amber says...

    I get turned on watching my husband play soccer. After 2 kids and 15 years between him and the soccer field at our college, he doesn’t do it nearly enough, but when he does, I can see how much he lights up. It makes sense really. The first time I ever saw him, he was running around with his long blonde hair during a soccer game. I turned to my friend, and told her that I had to meet that boy. And the rest is history.

  53. My husband is an arborist, which basically means he’s in a tree with a chainsaw all day. There’s something sexy about knowing he’s so physically capable and mentally alert at all times. When I happen to drive by a job he’s on when I run errands and I see him from afar, way up high, it’s pretty exciting. We both make our time together a priority, after the dishes are done and the kids are tucked in, that’s our time to focus on each other. Sex is an important element of our marriage and we work at that. If one of us has been tired or preoccupied for several days we find ways to reconnect. Having wine, watching a good movie we’ve both been wanting to see or just having a long talk. Doesn’t have to be anything complicated.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that is awesome.

  54. Ellen says...

    I work with my husband and although we are in separate buildings now, seeing him at staff meetings, running into him in the hallway, or walking by a room where he could be seen working inside ALWAYS gave me butterflies! It’s like I would be in focused work mode and forget about him.. but then I’d look up and *gasp* there he is!

    • Yes! Same here! My husband and I both work at a school; I’m a teacher and he’s in IT, and I’m always happily surprised when I run into him. My heart gives a little flutter and I get so excited!

  55. Tania Carrier says...

    When he gets a haircut. Every. Single. Time

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! so true :) totally goes along with her theory about people looking unfamiliar.

    • Wow, I totally agree and hadn’t even realised that I do. My husband recently dramatically changed his hair and it was a really sexy moment. He was suddenly a very different person, and yet the same. I hadn’t put two and two together until now!

    • Mimi says...

      Yes!!!!!!!! Me too. Always. Never fails.

  56. For the first time, I’m watching my husband perform in a rock band tonight. He was in a legit rock band in the 90s before I knew him. He has songs featured on Dawson’s Creek and everything! It feels weird to see a brand new unknown side to him. Nervous!

    • Ellen says...

      oh my gosh, you guys are SO getting it on tonight.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha i agree with ellen!

    • Amy says...

      What Ellen said!

    • Most definitely getting some ;). And as a fan of 90s music and that generation of tv shows, I’m awfully curious what band your husband used to be in! I hope you have a fun time watching him perform!

  57. Lisa says...

    I love to watch my partner walk out of the surf after a swim. He’s 57 but still has a great toned body from years of physical activity. That always gets me going :)

  58. Lana says...

    We are in such a sex slump right now. We have an 18-month-old who still nurses THROUGH THE NIGHT (!!!!) and a five year old who sleeps in our room
    Bc her bedroom is “all the way upstairs” (I get it! That’s far to be by yourself!). We are both working out tails off and don’t live near family. When night time rolls around all I want to do is curl up with a mug of tea and watch movies. Sex seems so far out of our realm right now. I read an awesome article about nursing moms being “touched out” and it tang so true for me. It’s hard!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks so much for your honest comment! it’s so normal, i think, to go through a slump when babies are little and everyone’s getting settled. i can totally see being touched out! i remember feeling that way when i was breastfeeding; i just wanted to be totally alone and quiet :) hang in there!

    • lomagirl says...

      My husband loves to take time for us during the day- and sometimes that solves the “too tired at night” thing- but I know what you mean by all touched out!

    • Amy says...

      Oh me too! I have a fifteen month old who nurses through the night and a four year old who sleeps in our room. It is tough just to make adult conversation time at the end of the day right now. As I write this, I’m nursing S to sleep and I can hear my son boldly exclaiming to my husband that tonight he’s going to sleep by himself in the superhero bed (there is an 0.5% chance this actually happens). It is good to hear I’m not the only one. I was talking about our sex slump with my midwife a while back and she recommended just scheduling biweekly sex. I thought she meant every other week and was like, wow, that’s a lot, but okay, we can do it. Then two seconds later I realized she meant twice per week! Holy cow, that is SO MUCH MORE SEX than we are having post baby!!

    • Stella says...

      Yes! I am still breastfeeding my 3.5 year old and I am so touched out. I never planned to BF for this long and although it’s had many benefits our sex life has suffered. Time to wean!!

    • Katie says...

      You are not alone. I am also breastfeeding and could not be less interested in sex. I love that feeling when you rediscover your spouse, but I feel like I haven’t felt that way in ages. Anyone struggle with not just being uninterested in sex, but not being attracted to your partner? I know attraction is much more then skin deep, but I’ve been feeling awful lately that all I can think is maybe if you lost 20 lbs, took some pride in your appearance, didn’t fart and burp so much I might be more interested in getting it on. My hubby is so great, but I hate feeling like we are just roommates!

    • Mainer says...

      What Katie said…. I just weaned my 16-month old, but am also nearing the end of my first trimester. I feel guilty since my husband is only home for a few weeks at a time, then off for work for a few weeks, so we only have 1/2 our lives actually physically together – if we have an off week or 2, it is such a missed opportunity. I’m exhausted at night and mornings used to be reliable, but now we have family story snuggle time. We’re both at home all day while our daughter is at daycare, and I could certainly take breaks from work to initiate something, but every time the thought crosses my mind, I can easily talk myself out of it. Some of it’s attraction-related, some hormonal pregnancy stuff and not feeling super attractive, I’m sure…. and some just being tired of being the only one to initiate. Lots of things to overcome. I know seeing him be an incredible dad and be super hands on is attractive, and I’m extremely lucky that he does nearly 100% of the cooking, cleaning, laundry when he’s around. I feel those should be enough of a turn on, but I focus on the fact that he hasn’t noticed me, said anything ‘nice’, ‘romantic’ or ‘complimentary’ instead and turn myself off! Time to overcome…. I know.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      So amazing! I loved her book too.

  59. Amanda says...

    When we run into each other in public. My husband used to work next to a grocery/cafe I would shop at and occasionally I’d run in to him there. It was so fun to see him in “regular” life, the part that didn’t involve me or our kids. And of course it’s always fun to have the opportunity to hit on your spouse in public. ;)

  60. “…each of us is responsible for our own desire.” I love this.
    I used to be in a relationship with a not so great guy, who would hold me accountable for his moods and desires. I was not a happy way for either of us to live.

    My current relationship is so much healthier. And I couldn’t agree more with how exciting it is when you see your partner in work mode. My husband’s an illustrator and nothing is sexier than watching him, completely focused, at his drafting table.

  61. Emily says...

    I love this post! I’ve been trying to think about this lately, as we’ve been in a bad pattern with not doing it often enough and insecurities/being on different pages screwing things up when it does happen.
    One night last month I got home from work a couple hours before my husband, and felt determined that we’d get it on when he got home. I subscribed to an erotica podcast and did the dishes (a clean kitchen is such a relief!), changed into panties that made me feel confident, and then just lay on the couch listening to the stories until he came home.
    I also recently had a revelation: sure, when we met at 19, I found it titillating to always have sex in daylight or with the lights on, and was proud to not be one of “those women” who needed darkness to get turned on.
    But now? I know what he’s packing, that’s no secret. I’m ten years older and not-so-lithe. A flip of the lightswitch can switch off my often insecure/overactive/overly critical brain, and help me to just focus on the moment. It’s a little thing but it’s incredibly freeing to realize that I don’t need to hold myself to the same arbitrary standards I had when I was a teenager.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a great comment. you sound like such an amazing and self-aware woman! also, very cool about the podcast :)

    • Mac says...

      This is weird, but uh, here goes. I recently tried ear plugs and it was surprisingly great. Cancelling out the outside noise cancelled out the inner noise and I was very present. So do what works! There are so many things I do now that my 19 year old self would be disappointed with. Whatevs. She was great. Current self is also great.

  62. Audrey says...

    Have you ever seen those books called Porn for women, and it’s men cleaning dishes and vacuuming? When my husband cleans up around the house (without me asking for help) it always increases his chances of getting lucky later.

    • lomagirl says...

      I call washing dishes, “foreplay.” Because when he frees my time up, I have time for him.

    • Heather says...

      YES! ME TOO! And my hubby totally caught onto that on his own. Now, if I come downstairs from getting the kids down, and the kitchen is sparkly and clean, I totally give him the side eye because I am reading him loud and clear. HAHAH! Married-life foreplay. :-) Makes sense, though- if I don’t have a “reason” to say “No,” I won’t!

    • Mainer says...

      it’s called ‘Chore-play’!

  63. AmyB says...

    Seeing eachother outside of Parent Mode. I suppose that could be filed under the “unexpected” category? I’m always drawn to my guy when we’re out doing something fun without the kids and away from work and tech, and it doesn’t matter what it is. We started our marriage with kids already in the picture, and the family has grown since, so we never dated or lived together as just the two of us; any time I get to experience that I feel 17 again ;) I also find that daydreaming about him keeps me in the mood – the more you think sexy thoughts, the more likely you are to make them reality.

  64. koderzz says...

    When you get a hug and can smell his cologne, when he’s out of town and you can smell him on his t-shirts, when he tells you something with his eyes from across a full room, when his friends call him for advice, when he makes you laugh. The little things, often missed, is a win. Pay attention to the little things.

    • MissEm says...

      Yes – agree with all of those. And road trips. When we’re on road trips together. I think it’s the adventure and being out of our normal lives, together in strangeness and newness.

    • Yes! when you hear a comment or encounter a situation and just by looking at each other you can tell what the other is thinking and have your own secret joke!

  65. Katharine says...

    Just waiting in the Denver airport for my husband to pick me up and my heart is beating faster already at the thought of his scruffy face. Even though inevitably our sons will be screaming in the back of our super sexy Volvo ;)

    • molly says...

      Haha! I love that!