Are Women Aroused by Visuals Too?

I could make this post really quick and just say yes.

Or even post a picture of some hunky Hollywood celeb and let that speak for itself. But, of course, that’s not something I want to promote! I don’t seek out photos of shirtless men with six-packs or suave guys with smoldering looks in their overly blue eyes.

But these days, you don’t have to seek anything out. Just walk by an Abercrombie & Fitch, and you’ll see a huge photo of what I just described. Or go see a movie, especially one about superheroes, and you’ll get an eyeful of masculine beauty. Stand in the grocery store line and glance over at the magazine rack, and you’ll be treated to cover models showing off their goods.

Why are men on such rampant display these days? Because women like it.

Women are visual too. I believe they are not as visual as men, based on several reasons. For example, the percentage of men using porn is much higher than women, even though it is growing for women. Romance novels (auditory and imaginative stimulation) are more popular among women. Affairs for women tend to focus on emotional needs more than physical. And basically every deep conversation I’d had with women about sex tells me that the visual is a smaller component of their arousal.

But it is a component. What you see matters.

Are Women Aroused by Visuals Too?

How does this affect our sexual intimacy?

Watch where and how you look. It’s one thing to recognize that Brad Pitt or Bradley Cooper are good-looking men and another thing altogether to ogle and imagine romantic attention from them. I’ve been in the company of women saying things about male celebrities that I think they’d slap their husbands for saying about female celebrities. Watch where and how you look, ladies. Don’t stoke the fires of lust. That’s sin, y’all — plain and simple.

I’m not blind or dead, so yes, I notice a well-built man…but I don’t linger there. My eyes remain focused on the man I believe is the sexiest guy alive, my husband.

Gaze at your husband appreciatively. Train your eye to notice what’s sexually appealing about your husband’s appearance. Maybe he doesn’t have a six-pack (maybe more like a keg), but he has captivating eyes, or strong, muscular hands, or a rather squeezable butt. (I’m just sayin’.) Figure out what’s worth checking out on your guy and learn to appreciate God’s handiwork there.

Hey, men like to know they look good to their wives. You can certainly express that appreciation aloud. But it’s a bit like the saying: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. It’s greener where you water it.” Water that focus on your husband, and it will grow.

Open your eyes during sex. Getting specific, how about learning to tie the visual of your husband to the sensation of sexual pleasure? Too often, married couples have sex in the dark or with their eyes closed the whole time. But it’s a beautiful thing to gaze upon your beloved.

Take a look at Song of Songs 5:10-16, which starts with this verse: “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.” Then the wife goes on to his body — eyes, cheeks, arms, legs, and more. Obviously, she’s been checking him out while they make love.

Make note of your husband’s attractive features when you are intimate together. Link those feelings of arousal and satisfaction to the visual of your own beloved. Later, that visual might even spark feelings of desire, because you’ve connected them in your memory bank.

Are wives visual too? I think we are, or can be. And we can use that knowledge to enhance sexual intimacy with our husbands.

34 thoughts on “Are Women Aroused by Visuals Too?

  1. libl

    I believe women are sensual and visual is part of that sensual, but we don’t jump on the sex train as fast as men. And Brad Pitt does absolutely nothing for me. Even in movies, it isn’t usually looks, but rather the character’s character. My heart absolutely melts over Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, but Willoughby disgusts me. Either way, neither of them are thought of sexually.

    I scroll through a character list with pictures and I might say, “yes, he is quite attractive,” but if a gorgeous actress appears, hubby is like “hey hey, wink wink, know what I mean!” Augh.

    Reply
  2. Nancy

    I love watching my husband when he is performing on stage or when he is teaching his martial arts class. When I first met him, I never would have guessed he was “my type”, but 19 years later, I am very visually satisfied which leads to over things. 😉

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    From what I’ve read of women’s comments on this, they are all over the map on this.

    Some are extremely visual–as much or more than guys. Some are very visual, but it has zero effect on them (don’t ask me to explain that one–just relaying the quote). And some have zero interest in anything visual. I have references on those if you’re interested.

    Every woman is different, which explains why no female version of Viagra exists (or ever will):

    “The researchers confirmed what most of them suspected all along: that women’s arousal [and sexuality as a whole], much more so than men’s, rests in the psychological as well as the physiological.” — Roach, Mary (2009-04-06). Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (p. 200). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

    Reply
    1. Eric

      Anonymous said: “From what I’ve read of women’s comments on this, they are all over the map on this.”

      Eric sez: Agreed. I’ve read and heard such comments myself. I don’t suppose if you were to poll every psychiatrist, male or female, from Freud to the present you could come up with a meaningful answer to this. Blind Fanny Crosby, America’s best-loved hymn writer, wrote of color and light in most of her hymns–yet she was blind. As a man I am incapable of female responses to sexual stimuli (at least that’s how I see it).

      Do women have visual response to sexual stimuli–or is it like Fanny Crosby who wrote about that which she could not see? Since no one has ever been born with BOTH sexual responses in his/her psyche, does anyone really know?

      True, a woman who has experienced sex can have abstract thoughts about sex when she sees a “hot” man. But I doubt if any woman can experience the sort of direct stimulation that men have when they see a sexually appealing woman or picture, or visualize such in their mind (Just my opinion).

      This leads to another issue, one that’s tied to the erection discussions of the two previous blogs: Sometimes a woman who’s been hurt by sex will refer to men and teen boys as “dogs,” as if their response is the same as the canine species. First, no mammal (other than a human being) has a capacity for abstract thought, and thus no dog, tomcat or bull can visualize a sexual experience in its brain. Yet all humans who’ve reached puberty, male or female (including pregnant and elderly) can have abstract thoughts about sex any time of the month–at least this is so if they’ve experienced sex. Animals (both sexes) are interested in sex ONLY during estrus, and their interest isn’t a romantic one (though humans often mistakenly anthropomorpisize animal behavior).

      So the human desire for sex (male or female) is unlike the desire of the dog, and it’s degrading to call it such. Human sexuality, however perverted it may have become, is a reflection of God’s desire for fellowship with humankind, and that’s one of the great ways we are “in His own image.”

      Reply
  4. Lauren

    Brava!

    J, you have outdone yourself! Thank you for encouraging and inspiring words! God has used you and your wisdom to bless my thoughts and actions in so many ways – but this has struck a chord in my heart at exactly the time I needed it!

    Reply
  5. Michelle

    Finally!!…. Someone stops focusing on men being so visual & actually addresses this issue for women. Well done J. I personally have to be very very careful with my eyes. I developed a habit of checking out gorgeous guys in my teens & only ever wanted to date someone good looking. I was probably quite obsessive. Now I still notice gorgeous men & do find myself tempted to take that second look or look longer than I should. Its a battle at times. My husband is good looking but I still notice other men. People who claim all women are not affected by visual temptations should be careful what they’re assuming.

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    1. anonymous

      Thank you for your honesty. I also struggle with this.
      I’ve been with my guy for 20 plus years. For quite a while, I have agonized over attraction to ‘cute guys’ (who are sometimes younger) and having a case of GIGS. I’m a lucky woman with a great guy who’s 100 percent faithful to me (extra weight and all!) But because I’ve only been with ONE man in my entire life, the enemy sometimes makes me feel like I ‘missed out’ on others, because I married fairly young.
      I’ve learned to simply LOOK AWAY. When I’m in public at a vacation spot and there are buff, cute dads walking around, (other women’s husbands!) I concentrate on focusing with love at my husband and his best features- his smile lines, his soulful brown eyes, his tanned forearms, his long lean runner’s legs. And the knowledge that I don’t KNOW those strangers anyway.

      Reply
  6. Anon

    My wife has told me time and again that women are not visual. She couldn’t care less about any male celebrities or guys with six packs or smoldering eyes. They do nothing for her. Zilch. I hear friends’ wives occasionally comment that so-and-so is handsome or good looking but my wife thinks that is inappropriate. She says she never finds other guys attractive.

    The issue is that she then applies that standard to me, a guy who is visual, and gets hurt if I even notice a woman who is attractive. Not sinful lusting, mind you, but noticing. In casual conversations with friends I sometimes pretend like I don’t know who they are talking about if the topic is a popular actress or a female singer for fear that my wife will assume that, because I know who this woman is, I am attracted to her. It can be exhausting.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      That does sound exhausting. I wonder if she’s received some poor teaching that even noticing is lustful (because I’ve heard that in the past, but it’s not supported by scripture). And why would she be upset that you know who another female is? Women are half the world!

      Honestly, I doubt this is about you. Something is going on inside her. Maybe you can gently find a way to probe further and help her relax more and feel reassured with your love. Saying a prayer for y’all.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        J, I love your blog and I love your posts. But I do feel like I need to say I don’t agree with your tone in reply to ‘Anon’ saying his wife gets very upset about him noticing other women. You completely took his side and put the blame onto her. ‘Something is going on inside her’ and making out she is to blame. The reason I say this, is because this guy has spoken up , yet we know nothing of his wife’s side of the story. I am a wife and I am exactly like the wife Anon describes. And I’ll tell you why….because my husband was addicted to porn and lust for our entire marriage and even though he confessed five years ago, and it has stopped, the trauma and triggers are there for me every day. I get very anxious if he notices someone is attractive. Does that make me sound a little paranoid to someone who doesn’t know why I am this way? Sure it does. But there is an extremely good reason for it. I am not accusing Anon of anything. I don’t know what he’s done in his marriage and it could be nothing like what my husband has done. I just didn’t like reading your reply when all we can hear is Anon’s side of the story and she has no opportunity to speak up. Maybe it is someone else who has hurt her in this area. I don’t know. But J, please don’t make assumptions about people based on one sided comments. Thanks xx

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          If that’s the case, then yes, something is going on inside her. And he needs to find out what it is. If it’s that he has mistreated her in the past, I want her to have the opportunity to speak up and tell him so.

          Maybe I did lean toward him, but honestly I wanted him to find out WHY she feels this way. It could be something from her past, but you’re right — it could be something from his. So I’m sorry if I made it sound she was to blame. I certainly didn’t mean to and that’s not how I felt; rather, I doubted a wife she felt this way naturally and figured she had some underlying reasons.

          Thanks for your comment!

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          1. Anonymous

            Well, in J’s defense, the OP was careful to add, “Not sinful lusting, mind you, but noticing.” Based on that statement and the rest of the OP’s post, I think J was careful and balanced in what she said.

        2. Anon

          I disagree with the notion that there are ‘sides’ in a marriage. If I’ve learned one thing in my married life is that my wife and I are in the same ‘side.’ We simply continue to have opportunities for spiritual growth as we sort through our various layers of brokenness in a covenant relationship. That’s not always easy.

          The title of this post is ‘Are Women Aroused By Visuals Too?’ and that is what I was addressing. My response is that my wife is not at all. The things that J describes as being temptations (super hero movies and ads with shirtless men) do nothing for my wife. I have never had a problem with porn but I am visual. I’ve always felt guilty for even noticing an attractive woman because my wife would be hurt by it. Again, I said ‘notice.’ Not lust or stare. Because my wife is not visual and is not affected by shirtless men or buff super heros she has the expectation that I should be the same way and that’s simply not the case.

          Reply
          1. J Post author

            Thanks for clarifying. In all honesty, I didn’t go back and read every word before answering the concern. I know oftentimes when I’m answering one person’s question, others are looking at their own situations too. But ultimately it’s about knowing what’s going on in your own marriage. So I appreciate you speaking up! Thanks.

    2. Eric

      Chiming in on Anon’s post. Either males or females are capable of wrongful lust, true. It’s also true that both men and women can notice the beauty of the physical form in the other sex, or of their own sex. For example, my wife likes to look at Sean Connery, but she’s not turned on by him, and she’s told me so. She also does say that I “look a bit like Connery,” which I doubt!

      Sometimes, when watching figure skaters, she’ll say, “That girl has nice legs,” to which I sometimes mutter a cautious, “I agree.” I have no feelings of jealousy whatsoever over my wife’s liking the appearance of Connery, but you can bet if I were the one first to notice the skater’s legs and mention it, her hackles would be up.

      Women normally wish to protect their territory. so if a husband happens to notice a pretty young woman, he’s wise not to mention it; and guys who do get the scorn they deserve. The same goes for noticing a pretty woman (nude or clothed) in a painting or photo. What men see as appreciation for beauty is commonly misunderstood by the wife as either wrongful lust, hubs preference for the pretty girl over dear wife–or both–when it’s probably neither.

      Further, I believe that a man is most likely to notice girls about the same age as the girl he first noticed when he was himself a teen. I know that this could get me labelled as an old lecher, but I think it’s universally true. It’s not a preference for the girl over your wife; it just that ANY powerful experience that changed your perspective on life will pop up again and again. For instance, I know where I was and what I did on November 22, 1963 ( the day Kennedy died–most of you weren’t born yet!). So when a pretty girl of 15, with a mouth full of pearly teeth smiles at me . . . ?

      Reply
  7. alchemist

    I don’t know about that. Those pictures with the shirtless guys with smoldering eyes kind of creep me out. I really can’t say I’ve ever been aroused by seeing a picture of a man. If anything, I’m slightly repulsed by those overly sexualized, half-naked man photos. Or naked statues.

    I notice attractive girls more than attractive men. And anime characters…. They are gorgeous. But not really in a sexual way. Not just the pictures of the guys themselves anyway. It’s the situations that are stimulating. Romantic gestures. Highly sexually charged scenes. For example, the anime Vampire Nights, the characters are all really beautiful (bishonen style). No-one is ever naked. I think we see one guy topless and implied shower scenes (just the head with water running over him). There is little to no kissing or making out and certainly no sex. But that is an extremely steamy show. Probably too steamy. I’ve not watched the same kind of genre since I watched that 4 years ago.

    The personality and actions of the characters are attractive. For example; when Chris Evans played the human torch in the Fantastic Four I found him annoying and a repulsive. When Chris Evans plays Captain America, he’s probably my favorite Avenger. Still don’t want to see him shirtless though.

    Reply
  8. PainToday

    Honest question for men (in relation to Anon’s comment and the replies). –

    When my husband notices a beautiful woman, I try not to care, but it hurts me to the depths of my soul because I believe what Eric mentioned, that “hubs preference for the pretty girl over dear wife.” THAT is what gets to me.

    I can’t control his thoughts. If he wants to wonder how much better things would be with THAT woman – go for it. But don’t get upset with me when I don’t want to hear “I love you.” Bunk!

    I honestly wonder why men even get married. I totally get it that they are not blind and they are going to notice beautiful women (each one better than their wives, mind you – that’s the really hurtful part). So if you can’t love your wife without constantly wondering what it would be like if you could have that woman, or this one, or that one…what the heck did you get married for?

    My husband says all the time he wishes I would accept his love. For what? To be stuck in naïveté, knowing I will never be the woman he truly loves and desires? There is always going to be someone more beautiful than me, and he will always notice, and I will never measure up.

    My question is this, if men aren’t thinking, “wow, she’s beautiful, I’d sure like to ………… with her. Where’d she go? I’d like to get another look. Oh no, here comes my plain old stupid wife. Man I wish I weren’t tied down.” Then what are men thinking??

    I think if I could understand how men can be constantly captivated and desiring of another woman’s beauty but still love their wife the way they claim to, that I’d be a much happier person.

    By the way, my husband is a good man and he is good to me and it upsets him that I just cannot believe he could ever love me TRULY, when I pale in comparison to every other woman.

    I look forward to your honest answers cause this is driving me crazy.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      “I can’t control his thoughts.” Yes, but you can exert some control over yours. And you are allowing yourself to go to deep, dark places and assume the very worst about your husband—and men in general. What if your husband presumed that your inability to feel reassured in his love meant you really wanted to be with someone else? Wouldn’t that hurt?

      Ultimately, you have to replace the negative thinking with positive truth. When those bad thoughts pop up in your head, practice telling yourself something different like:
      He saw that other woman, so I know he wants her more than me –> My husband chose me, not anyone else. He loves me.
      I can’t measure up to those women out there. –> I am God’s handiwork, and I am beautiful in my own way.

      Reply
    2. IntimacySeeker

      @PainToday No, you cannot control your husband’s thoughts. It was hard for me to accept that I could not fix this problem. I had to change my thinking to: My husband’s thoughts are not my responsibility. My husband’s thoughts are his responsibility. My thoughts are my responsibility (as J also shares).

      In addition to replacing your negative thoughts with positive thoughts, I recommend filling your mind with other thoughts altogether. Focus on your work, ministry, passions, etc. How is God calling you to make a difference in this world? If you engage in this calling, your husband’s “thoughts” will no longer plague you.

      Reply
    3. e2

      PainToday wrote: “My question is this, if men aren’t thinking, “wow, she’s beautiful, I’d sure like to ………… with her. Where’d she go? I’d like to get another look. Oh no, here comes my plain old stupid wife. Man I wish I weren’t tied down.” Then what are men thinking??”

      Why assume we’re thinking anything at all? Each and every day, whether in person, on TV or the Internet, I see scores of attractive women. I can’t avoid it and I’ve stopped feeling guilty for noticing they exist and are attractive. But, I rarely think anything at all when I see them. I just see them, notice their beauty, and go on with my life. I *never* think that I want to have sex with any of them. I *never* think that I would prefer them to my wife. I *never* think I wish I weren’t tied down. There’s a massive difference and a huge gap between noticing that a woman is attractive and wanting to make love to her. Even for us guys — and contrary to the messages from the beauty industry — male sexual and romantic desire is about far more than a hot body.

      As I write this, I am watching a movie with two actresses wearing off the shoulder dresses. They are very attractive and I happen to find a woman’s shoulders quite sexy — which is probably why they wear off the shoulder dresses. But, that’s it. No sexual desire; no lust. No wishing my wife were dressed as they. No wishing I were free from my marriage. Just two attractive women stylishly dressed. And the fact that they exist does not diminish my love for my wife and I would hate for her to doubt my love because I happen to see two attractive women in a movie.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        Thanks for this. I think your experience is true for a lot of husbands (including mine 🙂 ).

        Reply
    4. Sister in Christ

      Dear PainToday,

      The Lord placed it on my heart to share two things with you.

      The first being: Our Joy comes from the Lord (Psalm 16:11). Allow Him to fill your cup. When I got married I thought everything was going to be rainbows and sunshine. I thought my husband was supposed to make me happy. After all, this is what society teaches. I started seeking out resources for my marriage and I found that my husband is not the main source of my joy; the Lord is! That is not to say that a spouse cannot make you happy, (because they can) but the Lord has to be your main source of happiness (joy).

      The second being: You are wonderfully made (139:14). Beloved He has created you in His own image, and doubts about your worth are lies. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). I encourage you to stop comparing yourself to others (2 Corinthians
      10:12). Instead, focus on how wonderfully you are made!

      Know you are loved, He loves you so much!
      Tustin in His Word (Proverbs 3:5).

      God bless my sister!

      Reply
  9. IntimacySeeker

    I have never been sexually aroused by the sight of a man, clothed or naked. I may notice that someone is good-looking by the standards that have been imposed on me in my 50+ years, but I don’t experience temptation to think sexual thoughts about them. This may be due in part to my inability to associate sex with positive emotions. Perhaps women without this issue are more likely to experience visual temptation.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    If I may add one last comment, it’s that women themselves don’t always agree on what they themselves believe and hear from each other on this topic (illustrated even by the comments in this post). That was quite evident in an article (not recommended for visiting at the moment, since the website appears to have been hacked;, but hopefully it will soon be made safely available again) on thegoodwomenproject.com entitled “Debunking The ‘Only Men Are Visual’ Myth”.

    I mention this, because it really was an eye-opener to me as to how much difference there is among women on this topic. The majority of women replying to that article were very aroused visually, and couldn’t understand how/why any woman wouldn’t be..!

    Reply
  11. e2

    I recall reading about a study many many years ago where researchers hooked women up to sensors and showed them erotic images to measure their arousal. While the results were not consistent, what stood out to me was that many women denied being aroused when their bodies demonstrated physical indications of arousal. It was as if they were either untruthful about their arousal or honestly didn’t know what their bodies were feeling.

    Reply
  12. Lianne

    Such a sensitive topic this one. My heart goes out to Julia & feel she has been a bit ‘ganged up on’ here. Anon, if your marriage is supposedly not about sides & you & your wife are a team, then where are her comments on this blog? Perhaps I missed her point of view & if I did miss it, apologies but I can only read Anon’s comments, not his wife’s. Anon its great if porn isn’t an issue for you & hope it stays that way. From what I’ve heard, it starts with being ‘visual’ so I pray you will continue to protect your wife. Blessings.

    Reply
  13. Louisa

    Some very interesting comments here. I wonder if a lot of the women who get upset by their husbands noticing another woman should just take his comments on face value. He is noticing beauty as he might notice beauty in any other part of creation. I supported my husband all the way through a battle with porn, and wondering how he should look at women, and how to deal with all the half naked girls walking around the streets. With time, love, persistence and lots of prayer (prayer that he would see women as Jesus sees them) we came out the other side. If he makes a comment about the physical features of any particular female, I know without a doubt that he is noticing physical beauty (or lack thereof) and there is NO sexual connotations involved. Wives we need to trust our husbands, and fully rest in the assurance that his desires are for us.

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  14. Anonymous

    My wife is among those who are not aroused by visuals. I am wondering if this is due to her upbringing, especially her family and church, not her biology??

    Reply
  15. Ourgangmn

    Pain Today,

    As a man I want to say that I am married to a very beautiful woman. She would probably never be on the cover of a magazine, but that’s okay–she is beautiful to me. She doesn’t have the perfect figure or Photoshopped-clear skin. She colors her hair to cover up the grey. She gave birth to our 4 beautiful daughters and carries some of that proof–it’s inevitable. Can she “compete” with the magazine covers and celebrities? From a purely visual, physical standpoint, of course not.
    But, then, neither could I. I never had a six pack and the keg is filling up! I used to have a full head of hair….
    But when I see an attractive woman in person or on TV or the computer or a magazine cover by the checkout, I do not think to myself, “I wish I could ___________ her!” That is exactly what God calls sin (coveting after your neighbor’s wife. etc.) Do I have to be on guard against that temptation? Of course, I do. Does your husband need to be on guard? Absolutely!
    The greatest ally I have in my fight to guard my eyes and thoughts is my wife. When I compliment her I want her to accept that I am telling her the truth….but, like most of you ladies, she struggles sometimes to really believe me.
    Here is the argument nobody has mentioned (at least the I could tell): At the end of the day, which woman is going to give herself to me? An airbrushed beauty on a magazine cover? Never. The seductively dressed woman at the office or mall? Not a chance. The attractive woman at the beach? NO. The jogger in the way too short shorts? Nope. The pretty woman on the sidewalk in front of me with the second skin yoga pants? Of course not! There is only one woman who actually loves me enough to give HER BEAUTY to me…my gorgeous wife. So while I have eyes (thankfully), that does not equate to lust. When I see a beautiful woman I try to see her as God’s daughter, and thank Him for the one woman in this world loves me enough to actually share her true beauty with me, and not just display it. I LOVE HER AND WANT NO ONE ELSE!
    Does that make sense? Maybe your husband’s perspective might be similar to mine?

    Reply
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