There’s a lot that’s strange and confusing about sex. When you boil human sexuality down and examine its constituent parts, none of it makes any sense and it’s a miracle any of us manage to do it at all.
That’s because we’re complex psychological animals who have to, for the first time in known history, apply conscious, intellectual thought to sometimes irrational and contradictory instincts. That’s what makes it fun.
But understanding it isn’t always fun. That’s why we’ve pulled together these three uncomfortable facts about our sexual psychology. Stop reading now or your sex life might be ruined. Go and read Cosmo or something, and wrap yourself up in the fiction that everything is warm and simple. Go on. Off you pop.
You’re Attracted to Your Parents.
I know, I know, sorry. No one said this would be easy. But we’ve suspected for a while that our opposite-sex parents have a strong influence on our own burgeoning sexualities (for straight people, at least. As ALWAYS, the research into non-straight and nonbinary folk doesn’t exist.).
It’s not quite as weird as it sounds. We’re not sexually attracted to our parents. Not usually, at least. What we’re attracted to are elements associated with our parents’ characteristics. One study subliminally exposed a group of undergrads to photos of their opposite-sex parents (and to others’ parents as a control). Then, they measured the students’ sexual attraction to photos from their parents’ yearbooks.
As you might guess, the majority inadvertently rated their attraction to their own parents’ in their yearbook photos as markedly higher than the control group. Other studies show that we are more likely to take sexual partners that resemble our opposite-sex parents. It seems we’re programmed to do it. We’re more likely to be romantically involved with a partner who shares the same eye colour, hair colour, and vocal profile as our opposite-sex parent.
Red is Sexy Because of Our Genitals
We find people more attractive when they’re dressed in red. Study after study proves it. The colour red enhances our perception of physical attractiveness and, more simply, sexual availability. Red runs deep into our culture: Ferraris, lipstick, red dresses, red heels, you name it, our society has adopted it to signify sexuality and status.
Why red, then, and not, say green? Researchers believe that we find red particularly sexually appealing because of our evolutionary history. To put too fine a point on it: red signals our sexual receptiveness by association with our genitals engorging with blood. Sexy, huh?
Female primates indicate sexual receptiveness with engorged, red tissue on their chests, lips, and genitals. We’ve been conditioned over millions of years to associate it with sex.
Being Horny Makes Gross Stuff Sexy
You’ve probably noticed that some things that would normally gross you out actually turn you on when you’re horny. There’s science behind that. A recent study found that men who had just viewed erotic imagery rated normally disgusting stimuli as less disgusting. Whether its smell, auditory, tactile or visual, we can tolerate it more if we’re sexually aroused, even if we would normally consider it disgusting. It is apparently even more true if the stimuli were sexual.
Further research indicated that we were far happier to enjoy ‘disgusting’ sensations – such as the smell of condoms, or the sensation of thick liquids – much more appealing if it’s done during arousal. It suggests that we’re conditioned to be turned off normally, except when it’s necessary for sex to occur. We’ll put up with much more than we normally would.