2. The Pavlovian theory.
Researchers in the 1960s showed a group of men images of naked women alongside images of boots, Lehmiller says. Eventually, the men became aroused by the images of boots all by themselves. This boot study suggests your brain is capable of forming sexual associations around random objects even if no arousal impulse was there to begin with, Lehmiller explains. So if you’re exposed to something repeatedly during times when you’re sexually aroused, your brain might come to link that object with sexual desire. “There’s also some research showing people with higher sex drives are more likely to have uncommon sex interests,” Lehmiller adds. Why? A super-charged sex drive leads to arousal in situations where sex with a partner isn’t possible. And because there’s no one around to get busy with, super randy people may unwittingly redirect their sexual energy toward whatever’s in the immediate vicinity, Lehmiller adds.
3. The gross-out theory.
“When you’re in a high state of sexual arousal, your disgust impulse weakens,” Lehmiller says. And so the things you’d normally find repulsive (feet, spit, feces) may not seem gross. “It’s almost like a heightened state of arousal changes your perception of the world,” Lehmiller adds. “And that changed perception might lead you to incorporate different things into your sexual acts.” If you enjoy that new source of sexual stimulation, you may want to repeat whatever it is, he explains.
4. The pain theory.
Research has shown sexual pleasure and pain involve the release of many of the same brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and serotonin. These chemical ties may help form connections for some people that lead to an enjoyment of pain during sex. (This chemical commonality may also explain “runner’s high” and other euphoric sensations tied to physically painful sensations.)
Curated by Erbe