Excerpted from Secrets from the Sex Lab by Judy Dutton. Copyright © 2009 by Judy Dutton. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Question: What were you surprised to learn during your research on attraction and sex?
Judy Dutton: I was surprised to learn that sexual attraction is shaped by forces well beyond what we’re consciously aware of. For instance, the vowels in your name can make you more or less attractive. For men, names with a’s, e’s, and i’s are hot, like Matt or Mike. For women, o’s and u’s are hot, like Lola or Judy (which I guess is good for me). I was also amazed to learn that researchers have tallied a total of 237 reasons why people have sex. To me, this just goes to show that sexual behavior is far more complex than meets the eye.
Question: What are some of the most successful pick-up lines men and women have used?
Judy Dutton: For men, the opener “I feel a little embarrassed about this, but I’d like to meet you” scores best with an 82 percent success rate. A simple “Hi” will get the conversation rolling 55 percent of the time. Cheesy come-ons bomb badly. “Bet I can out-drink you” will work only 20 percent of the time. Perhaps not surprisingly, women can utter any of the above pick-up lines with an 80 percent success rate. So, women really shouldn’t be afraid to make the first move.
Question: What’s the best piece of dating advice you would give to a single female friend?
Judy Dutton: One surprising tip for women would be this: plan your dates when you’re ovulating (which is typically day 14 after the start of your last period). Studies suggest that men find women most attractive when they’re most fertile. Any guy who dates you at this time of the month will be utterly smitten–and unable to figure out why.
Question: What about a single male friend?
Judy Dutton: For men who are out on the prowl, my number one piece of advice is this: Bring along a female friend. Women are highly intrigued by men who’ve already won another female’s stamp of approval. So by heading to a bar with a wingwoman, you’ll attract many more ladies than if you head to a bar with your male buddies.
Question: If a couple’s sex life has become a bit dull, what are some tactics they might use to rekindle the spark?
Judy Dutton: Oddly, shaking up what you do in bed isn’t the answer. The solution is to shake up what you do outside the bedroom. During your next date night, try something new, whether that’s tango lessons or a Thai cooking class. Novel activities stimulate the brain’s reward system–the same circuits that get activated when couples first fall in love. So, you’re essentially goosing your brain chemistry into making sparks fly again. Another simple trick is to remove the TV from your bedroom. One study found that couples who don’t have a TV in their bedroom have sex an average of eight times a month, while those with TVs have sex half as often. If you need TV come bedtime, try to at least steer clear of reality shows, which were found to be the biggest libido killers.
Question: Do most people fantasize during sex? What are the most common fantasies?
Judy Dutton: On average, men indulge in 7.2 sexual fantasies per day, women 4.5. The most popular fantasies are surprisingly G-rated. “Touching/kissing sensuously,” “being seduced,” and even “walking hand in hand” all make it into the top ten for men and women. Racier fantasies, however, are also very common. Half of men and one-third of women have fantasized about participating in an orgy. One in three women and one in five men have dreamt of a homosexual encounter if they’re heterosexual, or a heterosexual encounter if they’re homosexual.
Question: What did you learn about cheating and infidelity?
Judy Dutton: I learned that many of our beliefs about cheating aren’t true. For example, many assume that cheaters must be unhappy with their current relationship. And yet, one study found that 56 percent of men and 34 percent of women who’d had affairs rated their marriage as “happy” or even “very happy.” Secondly, I learned that our bodies have their own defenses against cheating. For example, men’s semen contain “killer” sperm that cruise around killing any other man’s sperm it encounters within a woman’s reproductive tract. One final point is that the future looks bleak for philanderers, since currently there’s a genetic test that can tell who will cheat, and a vaccine that keeps cheaters faithful. Currently this vaccine only works on rodents called voles, but perhaps one day this vaccine will exist for humans as well.
Question: What do you hope people take away from reading How We Do It?
Judy Dutton: Sex, dating, and relationships can cause a lot of anxiety, but whatever your quandary, science can help shed some light on the subject. An MRI scan, for example, can clear up whether you’re in love or just in lust. Women who constantly fall for bad boys or married men might like to know that there’s a scientific reason why they’re doing this–and a way to stop. Men might be relieved to know that the size of their penis really doesn’t matter, because scientists have found that big and small models alike give the same number of orgasms on average. Meanwhile, women who are stressed about their how they look naked may be glad to know that according to eye-tracking studies, men spend most of their time during sex staring at a woman’s face verses her body. This book will set you straight on many of the myths that people assume are true about sex, but aren’t. Know the facts, and your love life will be a whole lot happier for it.
From the Hardcover edition.