CAN YOU SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE?

Categories:Anne's Blog
Anne Hooper

One of my earliest sex therapy cases concerned a couple where the husband complained that the wife never wanted sex.  “It’s not true,” she angrily protested.  In fact the boot was on the other foot.  Or rather the nightgown.  This was a flimsy lacy number, which she wore on the nights when she felt like a bit of rumpy pumpy.  “But he never responds,” she complained.  “He never takes the hint.”

His reaction to hearing this in the counselling room was to roar with laughter.  He’d had no idea that this is what the nightgown signalled (to see more stories like this, check out Anne’s author profile on NSFW Stories.). Somewhere along the line, a complete inability to interpret bedtime language was busting this couple neatly asunder.

But the story got worse.  The husband’s signal that he felt an urge to get closer to his wife ran after the time-honoured style of Roddy Doyle’s hero in The Snapper.    Mr Rabbit’s never to be forgotten line “I suppose there’s no chance of a jump?” spoken at an entirely inappropriate moment, sums it up.  There is no way women will ever find that approach remotely seductive.  Yet it comes naturally to many men.  It certainly fitted my client.

So why are men more matter of fact about sex?  And why do men and women find it hard to reconcile the two approaches?  How can we get them to understand each other’s language?  The answer lies in understanding each other’s arousal triggers.

Often what acts as a sexual trigger for one person, has absolutely no effect on the other.  Let’s take football as an aphrodisiac.  Not perhaps what you would expect to see featured in a sex column.  Yet psychological studies have shown that men are highly likely to feel sexually aroused after their team has won its match.  And many assume that their womenfolk feel the same.  But the women footie supporters are more likely to have been rushing around tiding away the lager cans and rustling up extra bags of crisps.  This, unsurprisingly, doesn’t figure high on their sexual excitement count.And for each culture there will be triggers that others just don’t get.  Some people get high on swear words, intellectuals may prickle to 11th century history; scientists may throb to the sound of butterfly wings flapping on the other side of the cosmos. One of my friends adored the smell of wellington boots while another former client used to turn on to the sound of grand opera.  Each to his or her own.

The secret of understanding a sexual approach is to tune into a partner’s inner world of eroticism.  If you know football does it for him, make some allowances.  Next time he mentions a quickie in front of the TV, stretch out lazily and say “seduce me then”.  Don’t just automatically say no.

If his lack of understanding  your need to hurl yourself at him after  watching a weepy movie seriously impedes love-making, it’s your turn to make with the seduction.

How to avoid the non-speak that my married clients presented with?  Here are some loving but searching questions you might slip into the conversation on those early tender  episodes when you are lying utterly satisfied in bed together after good sex, before you get the opportunity to grow less enchanted with each other.


  • Establish what each other’s sexual triggers consist of.  Ask about current passions and enthusiasms.  Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “what kind of things turn you on?”  It is normal to want to know.

  • If this feels difficult to get started, preface your request for information with a personal disclosure of your own.  “I find I feel really sexy when…..    What’s fun for you?”

Remembering the nightgown episode, don’t be afraid to explain that romantic build-up, such as candles, negligees  and loving massage, are all part of creating an erotic atmosphere which is your trigger.  But remember too that some individuals wouldn’t recognise subtlety if it were thrust in their face.  If your man is one of these you will need to adapt.  Learn new more blatant signals if that’s what it takes.


Believe, above all, that you are a responsive and exciting individual.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not because the truth is there will always be someone who thinks you are better by far than any other human being in the universe.