What triggers sexual attraction?
What is romantic love? Where does it come from? How does it start? Can we instigate it? How do we keep it forever?
These questions have boggled the human mind for eons and finally psychologists, anthropologists, behavioural scientists, mating and dating specialists, and common wisdom are starting to agree on what attraction is and what triggers it.
Dr Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist and a Research Professor at Rutgers University in America. She has written five books, all dealing with the subject of love, human sexuality, marriage, divorce and infidelity.
To the question, "What happens when you fall in love?" Fisher answers that "it begins when someone takes on 'special meaning'. The world has a new centre… your beloved’s car is different from every other car in the parking lot… people can list what they don’t like about their sweetheart, but they sweep these things aside and focus on what they adore. Intense energy, elation, mood swings, emotional dependence, separation anxiety, possessiveness, a pounding heart and craving are all central to this madness. But most important is obsessive thinking… someone is camping in your head."
So can you, trigger attraction in other human beings? Are there things you can do to ensure that you take on ‘special meaning’ in someone’s mind, so you can ‘camp in their head’? Enter Renee Wade.
Renee Wade is an Australian writer and author of the blog www.thefemininewoman.com . On the blog she offers an ebook called The 17 Attraction Triggers.
Some of the triggers are rather obvious, we know for example that men like cleavage, wide hips, and few can resist a round and ample butt.
But what about the less obvious triggers? Here are 10 not-so-obvious things that trigger attraction in men. The point is not to work with each and every trigger, but rather to pick three or four that you can pull off well and effortlessly.
Walk – This is a walk that emphasizes your hips and shows off your sensuality. It suggests that you know what you are doing with your hips and it allows a man to look at you. There is a reason men go to strip clubs, they enjoy looking unabashedly at women in motion. So go ahead let men look at you.
Long hair – It takes years to grow long and healthy hair. A healthy mane is a sign that all is well with your body because you cannot grow it unless you are healthy.
Soft feminine voice – A man I know once lamented that modern Nairobi women have taken to "barking laughter" as a show of their independence.
You may have noticed that your man has a harder time saying no to you when your voice is slightly softer and higher pitched; or you have watched a little girl asking her father for something in a sing-songy voice and watched the previously overbearing man turn into soft ugali? A higher pitched voice is an indication of youth and fewer burdens in life and which man doesn’t want to be around that?
Feminine dress code – This does not mean you have to be half-naked on the streets of Nairobi. Just that you wear items of clothing that are a distinct expression of your unique brand of feminine – skirts, dresses, soft fabrics; OR tight jeans, boots and red lipstick.
The point is for you to feel feminine and sensual in your clothes and to express different aspects of you. Your friends can help you figure out what parts of your body are the most attractive and then how to show those off – low cut tops for cleavage, fitted jeans for a curvy derriere, short skirts for great legs, jewelry to highlight attractive hands, feet or a long neck…. Try this for a week and I guarantee you will receive more compliments and attention.
Luscious lips – The poet Sitawa Namwalie has a poem called The New Black which pokes fun at Caucasian women trying to get the thick lips that we Africans are sometimes ashamed of.
There is a reason models are pictured pouting and lipstick alone is a billion dollar industry. Men love to look at a woman’s lips. Human beings remember the lips of everyone they have ever been attracted to so go ahead and wear some lipstick. Gloss is nice, but colour works better. Also remember that any colour with a slightly blue tone like deep purple will make you teeth seem whiter.
Clear soft skin – Clean your face at least twice a day, wear sunscreen, drink a lot of water and eat as much fruit and vegetables as you can. Clear soft skin tells a man that you are healthy and possibly fertile.
Sparkling eyes – Just like skin and hair, this too is an indication of health. However, sparkly eyes are also a sign of happiness and joy. Pessimists do not have sparkly eyes, neither do sad, angry or stressed people. You cannot fake joy, in fact trying to will stress you out but if you notice that the light has gone out of your eyes, it may be time to figure out why your heart is broken and heal it through therapy, prayer, meditation or a kickboxing class. A woman I know went for boot camp every Saturday morning at Karura Forest after a broken engagement left her fuming at the world. It took a few months but she really let out her anger.
While you sort out your issues, put on some eye shadow – the darker the area around your eyes is then the lighter and brighter your eyes will appear to be. Also drink lots of water so your body can flush out toxins that discolour the whites of your eyes.
Posture – Have you watched some people walk and just felt ‘Woiyee’ for them? That is what bad posture can do for you. It can make potential lovers and partners want to hug you instead of ravaging you passionately with desire. So? Stand and sit straight imagining that someone has tied a piece of string to the base of your neck and is pulling it up.
Sexual confidence – Easier said than done, this stems from a radical acceptance of you, your body and your sexuality. A lack of sexual confidence shows up as awkward movements and hiding either in drab clothing or being socially passive and what this says to men is ‘boring!’ so they move on.
Cheeky wink – the point here is not to start winking like a school boy but rather to inject your being with a sense of playfulness and flirting... to stop taking yourself too seriously. Yes life is serious and there is much to be done but we all agree it goes by faster when we can inject brevity and laughter into it.
Now for the guys, I am consistently receiving emails from young men who do not know how to approach women or speak to us once they have our attention.
I blame this on all boys boarding schools. Anyway, I found a website by a short redheaded guy named Shane Stanfield with the hilarious moniker www.silverbackseducation.com and he too had attraction triggers to offer guys.
He talks about masculine energy being about control and action, as opposed to the feminine which more free flowing and passive. Stanfield is really not the best-looking guy which I think is a great thing because he obviously needed all the help he could get. I found his advice insightful and funny.
Be the leader of the troop – Why lie, if a man can inspire others to follow him? That is very sexy. This is why leaders seem to have all the ladies. Please note that talking loudly is not leading. Instead, talk clearly, stand tall and even walk a little slow.
Be protector of the troop – In every pack of guys, there is the one who talks to the cops when something goes wrong; the guy who deals with the mechanic if the car breaks down… the protector of the troop. That status tells a woman that she can trust him to protect her.
Be comfortable around women, especially attractive women – This is relatively easy to cultivate, just start hanging out with women. They could be your sisters and cousins to start with. Having women who trust you means that other women can do the same. It is the main reason married men are so attractive.
Be emotionally unaffected and maintain composure – I hate to admit it but this is so true. Crying men, enraged men, screaming men, whining men… nothing about them says "let’s get naked".
Instead a man who expresses himself calmly is very attractive. Yes, you should be yourself but please save all the emotional outbursts for when you are sure that I am attracted to you.
Be engaging – There is an art to conversation. Being good at it demands that you pay attention to your surroundings so you aren’t crass or long winded.
It means you have to let others speak and respond appropriately. It means you have to be sensitive to societal norms, if only so that you can break them humorously. As Americans say, "Learn how to conversate".
Develop strong boundaries – a man should know what he wants and what he is willing to put up with in order to have it. Being able to communicate this in conversation but also in action is very important.
Once people cross your boundaries you must be able to express your displeasure quickly and effectively without too much drama. So to that chick who brings three hungry and parched up girlfriends to every date you can stay for one drink, then as you take your leave, say, "I was looking forward to spending time with you. Let me know when you are available." We respect men who respect themselves.
Be gracious and well mannered – This one is not from Stanfield, it is mine. It is important that I believe that the man I am with is thinking about me and that he is in control.
I will see this in his treatment of me but especially in his treatment of others. Are you polite to the waitress? Are you gracious with other people or rude and dismissive?
I read somewhere that the way a man treats the waitress is the same way he will treat you in two months and I have seen it to be true. A confident man with high self-esteem is gracious and considerate of other people. It makes it easier to trust that I am safe with him. I will be ok to eat with him, travel with him and eventually commit more and more aspects of my life to him and his judgment.
In the human mating dance, the female animal is the more colourful and visually appealing (signs of health and fertility); while the male pursues by making clear what he has to offer – protection and security while the female is pregnant, and fidelity and resources as they rear their young as a team. The above are some of the signs that you are a great mating partner.
Cultivate them, highlight them and hopefully attract a wider range of potential partners. If you are in a relationship, these triggers will increase passion and attraction in your dynamic, keeping it fresh. Enjoy!
Physical Signs of Sexual Attraction
Sweaty Palms – these are a product of increased heart rate so do shake your date's hand or simply touch his palm and see the effect you are having on him.
Mirroring - When people interact in dating scenarios, and things are going well, body language mirroring often happens subconsciously.
For instance, someone will lean in close to the dinner table, and other person follows in suit. That’s not all; we mirror each other’s verbal patterns as well.
This is why we all start wenging when we speak to mzungus we like, and they start adding Swahili words into their vocabulary. It is also no accident that couples look more and more alike as they age. Try scratching the back of your neck and see if your date follows suit.
Change in voice pitch – Men drop their voices while women raise the pitch of theirs. This is a hard one to pick up on because your beau will always dip his voice in response to you, so ask a mutual friend.
Grooming - Women are more likely to do this than men but just like our primate cousins, we too pick ‘bugs’ or lint off those we love. Women also touch themselves more in the presence of men they like as a subtle invitation to the guy.
Change in posture - Men stand straighter, jut out their chests and place their hands around their groins to draw your attention to their gonads. If it sounds like peacocking that is because that is exactly what he is doing: strutting his stuff.
Unnecessary touching - Ours is not the most affectionate society and when a man takes every opportunity to make some kind of physical contact with you then you know that he likes you and is attracted to you.
There are the obvious signs like kissing but I am referring to the seemingly innocent touch of a hand grazing your forearm, a hand on your lower back steering you through human traffic, a touch on the shoulder… it may seem innocuous but this is a guy checking your boundaries and asking for permission to touch you some more.