16 Random Ways to Turn Her on and Get Her in the Mood for Sex

There's a myth floating around that women are much harder to turn on than men are. And while experts say some women may crave more foreplay than others, research shows that it doesn't take heaps more effort to get them in the mood. In fact, a 2019 study found that men and women don't differ much at all in how their brains respond to sexually arousing imagery-and an older Canadian study found that it takes both men and women an average of 10 minutes to reach "peak arousal" while watching porn.

Now that we've cleared that up, let's address how to turn a woman on. Of course, every person is unique-and what gets one gal hot and bothered might not work for another.

"Some women need to feel safe and cared for, while others get turned on in the face of danger or being "found out", explains Leah Carey, a sex and intimacy coach and host of the podcast Good Girls Talk About Sex. "Similarly, some women light up when they feel appreciated, while others feel sparks fly when they're being degraded." (Consensually, of course!)

According to Holly Wood, LMFT, a clinical sexologist, people experience arousal in one of three ways: spontaneous, responsive, or contextual.

As the name suggests, spontaneous desire-a.k.a. good old-fashioned horniness-shows up with no stimulation needed. Responsive sexual desire is a physical response to some external stimuli. And contextual sexual desire is when the circumstances and environment come into play. While women can experience all three, Wood says responsive desire tends to be more common than spontaneous desire. But that doesn't mean it takes a ton of effort to get a woman in the mood-even a single tender graze across the small of her back, a lustful glance, or the utterance of a single word might be enough to flip the switch in her brain.

In the interest of specificity, it's also worth mentioning what types of cues tend to trigger responsive desire. According to Christina Mathieson, a licensed marriage and family therapist with training in sex therapy, all four of these categories can have a powerful effect on arousal:

  • motional bonding cues: Having a sense of connection, safety, and support in the relationship, such as cuddling with your partner or telling your partner how you feel about them
  • Explicit/erotic cues: Revolving around sex directly, such as watching porn or reading an erotic story
  • Visual/proximity cues: Seeing something that's sexy but not overtly sexual, such as a person acting confidently or dressed well
  • Romantic/implicit cues: Bonding with your partner, such as through taking a bath together, dancing closely, or giving/receiving a massage

"When information is coded as sexually relevant the brain hits the accelerator for sexual response," Mathieson explains.

The gist? If you want to be good at sex, find out which cues work best for your partner, either by experimenting or just flat-out asking.

And with all that in mind, here are 16 ways to connect with your partner and turn her on both inside and outside the bedroom.

1. Hold hands.

There are over 40,000 nerve endings in the palm of your partner's hand. Don't be afraid to gently take hold of it as you're walking across the street or watching a movie. Besides, hand-holding is objectively adorable. It's a subtle form of PDA that shows you really do love your partner, and you're not afraid who else sees.

2. Gaze into each other's eyes.

"Eye gazing can be very sensual and is a great way to increase arousal," says sex and relationship expert Shamyra Howard, LCSW, a member of the Men's Health Advisory Panel. Choose a time when you both are feeling relaxed. Then take two minutes to stare into each other's eyes without talking. Go ahead and discuss the experience afterward. "Allow yourselves to be vulnerable, accept the awkwardness you might feel, laugh, and return to each other's eyes." Eye gazing is actually a fundamental component of tantric sex because it's such a powerful and effective way to enhance intimacy.

3. Hug.

"People often mention that they would like more physical affection from their partner that doesn't include sex," Howard explains. Next time you're with your partner, share a hug for twenty seconds. "Hugs are soothing, increase connection, and they don't have to lead to sex," she says. The point is to show how much you desire your partner outside of a sexual setting, which, ironically, will be a turn-on for your partner to have more sex!

And keep in mind there are many other highly effective ways to engage in non-sexual touch, too. For instance, Suzannah Weiss, a certified sex educator and resident sexologist for the pleasure product brand Biird, notes that stroking her hair or putting your arm around her can gradually build up arousal.

4. Give a massage.

Using your own hands to give your partner an erotic massage-i.e., a massage that releases tension and turns her on-won't hurt your cause, either. Check out our guide to mastering the art of erotic massage. You can thank us later.

"The more time you spend touching without expectation of reciprocation, the more space you're leaving for her to get turned on," Carey says.

5. Send flirty texts throughout the day.

Instead of trying to turn her on over the course of a few minutes, turn her on slowly throughout the day. You know your partner better than anyone, so hopefully you have a sense of how overtly sexual you should be, but if you aren't 100% confident, start off with cute, innocuous texts like, "Can't wait for you to come home tonight." Over the course of the day, let the conversation naturally evolve to a more sexual level: "It's going to be so sexy having your naked body next to mine"-or something along those lines.

"Women tend to get turned on more between the ears than between the legs," says Wood. "So, try verbally expressing your attraction to her, or sending a racy text."

As Weiss points out, sending a few sexts can start the process of building anticipation so that she's raring to go once you finally do have a chance to tear each other's clothes off.

6. Water is a good thing.

Take a stroll along a beach, a lake, or a river. Sit next to a birdbath. Fill up the tub. Studies show that simply being in the proximity of water creates a relaxing effect that may clam any libido-killing jitters. It's probably not a coincidence that commercials for erectile dysfunction medication feature so many shots of couples walking down the coast or gazing out at the ocean.

7. Seek thrills.

Activities that produce adrenaline make us hyperaware. Breathing quickens and the heart begins to race, things that are also associated with sexual arousal. Roller coasters, zip lines, and scary movies can all be a turn-on. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology even found that couples who participated in such novel activities experienced greater overall relationship quality, which of course translates into the bedroom. Just make sure both of you can hold your lunch down before strapping into anything extreme.

8. Break out a cucumber... in the kitchen.

Certain scents trigger sexual arousal, but which scents do the trick can differ for men and women, according to research conducted by Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. What aromas turn women on? Hirsch found that cucumber and licorice lead to increased vaginal blood flow.

9. Feed her fantasies.

According to a report in the Journal of Sex Research, women think about sex an average of 19 times a day. And a Men's Health survey found that one in three women have in mind something they've been dying to try in bed but are scared to bring up with things start to get hot under the covers. There are plenty of ways to let your partner know you're open to indulging her fantasies. Watch porn together. Gift her a book of erotic stories. You could also-and this may sound crazy-just ask her if there's anything adventurous she's been itching to try in the bedroom. Don't be afraid to communicate.

10. Dim the lights.

There's no physiological response-at least sexually-to low light, but according to sex researcher and author Ian Kerner, Ph.D., turning down the lights can make people feel less self-conscious, and thus more relaxed. Putting that dimmer switch to good use is a no-brainer.

11. Get sweaty.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that physical activity is able to prime a person's body for sexual activity. It makes the body more sensitive to touch by revving up a network of neurons known as the sympathetic nervous system, which controls arousal. Go for a run, take a bike ride, or hit the gym. Activity outside can lead to activity in the bedroom. Just ask power couple CJ Koegel, a fitness model, trainer, and inventor, and Bree Branker, a former Broadway dancer and Akins Army trainer.

12. Pick up a mop.

According to the Journal of Family Issues, couples that clean together report more relationship satisfaction. The study's author, Adam Galovan, Ph.D., says that women can equate your level of interest in helping out around the house with your level of interest in them.

Not only that, but Carey notes that this form of "choreplay"-taking some stressful tasks off her plate-is one of the best ways to help her get in the mood.

"Women talk frequently about how they're trying to keep so many balls in the air at once-they're afraid to let their guard down and fully relax for fear that they'll lose track of something," she says. "So, try loading the dishwasher and taking out the trash without being asked."

13. Schedule a sex fast.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. By that same token, abstinence can make the sex grow stronger. Experts say that taking a short-term break from all forms of sex -including masturbation-can help both you and your partner rediscover the thrill of the chase.

14. Get some sleep.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that a good night's sleep can boost a woman's libido. After participants tracked their sleep and sex drives for two weeks, the study concluded that for women who are in a relationship, an extra hour of sleep increased their desire for sex the next day by 14 percent. "The driving force could be biological," says study author David Kalmbach, Ph.D. "Some prior research has shown that sleep increases sex hormones, which can influence feelings of sexual desire."

15. Watch a romantic movie.

Research from the Netherlands suggests that romantic movies can heighten arousal in women, which isn't necessarily the case for me. According to the study's author, Marieke Dewitte, Ph.D., women's sexual motivation can tend to stem from relationship-based content rather than from scenes that are overtly sexual, which are what tend to get men revved up.

16. Draft a wish list.

A University of Brunswick study revealed that after 15 years together, couples said they only knew about 26 percent of what their partner disliked. This doesn't need to be the case. Pour a glass of wine, grab a pen and paper, and start talking. A "yes, no, maybe" list for the bedroom is a surefire way to foster a sense of comfort and understanding, which will lead to better sex.