Stroke her ego, stoke her fire
Confidence is an aphrodisiac
Where do women get their sexual self-assurance? Seventy-five percent of the 1,300 women we asked say their boyfriends or husbands are the main sources. And the most confident women value sex more and initiate it more often than their meeker counterparts do. Pick your spots, and build her up.
Dinner with friends
Your strategy: Brag about her. “By showing public admiration for her or her accomplishments, you raise her social capital,” says clinical psychologist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. She’ll feel insecure if she thinks you’re too good for her, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Your move: Follow up with a more personal, related compliment when you’re alone with her. “If you don’t compliment her in private, she can perceive your public bragging as just showing off what a good boyfriend or husband you are,” says Journal of Personality and Social Psychologythe author of What Women Wish You Knew About Dating.
You’re stumped by a problem
Your strategy: Ask her opinion, not her advice. “She’s more likely to tell you what she thinks than to give you advice,” says Tessina, the author of Money, Sex, and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. “If you ask for her advice, she’s going to feel maternal, which isn’t very sexy.”
Your move: Use words like “opinion,” “feel,” and “think” instead of ‘Tell me what to do,’” Tessina says. It validates her opinions and reinforces her confidence in your bond.
She’s totally wrong
Your strategy: Never agree to disagree. A study published in the Journal of Management Development found that women are more likely to resolve conflict through collaboration than men are. “Agreeing to disagree shuts down the communication process and never resolves a thing,” says Tom Merrill, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the coauthor of Settle for More: You Can Have the Relationship You Always Wanted . . . Guaranteed! “The less comfortable she feels communicating, the less confident she’ll feel about the relationship.”
Your move: Ask non-judgmental questions like, “Why do you think that?” or “Have you thought of it this way?” It shows respect for her intellect and decisions, and she’ll be more likely to share her thoughts.
Next to her in a car
Your strategy: Silence—but touch her nonsexually. Women are more satisfied with their relationships when their partners are physically affectionate in a nonerotic manner, according to a study in the American Journal of Family Therapy. “This kind of physical affection ironically, makes her feel sexy,” Tessina says.
Your move: Rest your hand a few inches above her knee. It’s close enough to be in intimate territory, but it’s not obviously sexual, so she won’t think you’re just looking for action at the end of (or during) the ride.
She’s feeling good
Your strategy: Make it up to her. Huh? You aren’t in trouble—so it’s the ideal time to fix a past mistake. A woman questions your sincerity when you take action to remedy a problem that’s fresh in her mind, according to a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. You’re most effective when her focus is elsewhere.
Your move: “Think about what your last few fights were about,” Simpson says. “Tailor your behavior as if you were trying to make up for that.” Now’s the time to do the dishes because you want to do them, or surprise her with flowers at work.
Image by (top) Getty Images, (bottom) Stockxchange.