Making it clear that you like someone is more sexually attractive than hiding your feelings, new research finds.
It means that strategies like playing hard to get or being mysterious may not work well.
Creating uncertainty in new relationships is sometimes claimed to increase sexual desire — but this study found the opposite.
Uncertainty is also bad in long-term relationships, further studies found.
Long-term couples had more sexual desire for their partner when they were more sure about the relationship.
Dr Gurit Birnbaum, who led the study, said:
“People may protect themselves from the possibility of a painful rejection by distancing themselves from potentially rejecting partners.”
For the research, a series of opposite-sex pairs who did not know each other interacted.
The results showed that people were more turned on when they had more signals that the other person liked them.
Dr Birnbaum said:
“People experience higher levels of sexual desire when they feel confident about a partner’s interest and acceptance.”
He continued, that sexual desire may…
“…serve as a gut-feeling indicator of mate suitability that motivates people to pursue romantic relationships with a reliable and valuable partner.”
On the other hand:
“…inhibiting desire may serve as a mechanism aimed at protecting the self from investing in a relationship in which the future is uncertain.”
In two more studies, the researchers looked at the effect of uncertainty in long-term relationships, instead of people who have just met.
Once again, uncertainty turned out to be a turn-off.
Professor Harry Reis, study co-author, said:
“Well, they don’t put the final dagger in the heart of this idea, but our findings do indicate that this idea is on life support.[The uncertainty idea was] never supported by solid science — but folk wisdom at best.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior (Birnbaum et al., 2018).