Q: When I'm having sex with my girlfriend, I make her talk dirty saying things like, "F*** me harder", "you taste so good", etc... I find that it really turns me on to hear her say these things. She thinks its kind of weird, but she plays along. Why does hearing certain words make us more horny?
A: Most of what we personally find sexually arousing comes down to past experiences. Whatever we've been exposed to while being sexually aroused in the past tends to make us more sexually aroused in the future. This is a product of classical conditioning. For example, let's say you're watching pornography that you find particularly arousing and, in this porn, the actors are using this type of language. It's likely your brain will make an association between these words and being sexually aroused. Then, in the future, when you hear this type of language again, it will activate the parts of your brain that respond to sexual arousal.
There may also be something especially titillating about curse words, given their forbidden nature. When we act in a way that isn't socially acceptable, it heightens our physiological arousal. This is why many criminals feel a sort of "high" when they're committing a crime, and why teens often enjoy "breaking the rules" with their friends. This heightened arousal is caused, in part, by the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can give us the feeling of having more energy and have a greater degree of concentration and motivation. It's likely that hearing your partner curse is triggering this type of stress-response in you, which can be quite pleasurable during sex.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.