The Greatest Aphrodisiac of All…Wait for it…

The Greatest Aphrodisiac of All…Wait for it…

The only reason to read the rest of the article is because you are anticipating the answer, right? And, that’s the answer. Anticipation. It’s the greatest aphrodisiac of all. No other aphrodisiac can make the claim like anticipation can; that the level of excitement rises the longer you wait for something. The more you anticipate, the more you think about what you’re anticipating, and the more you think about it, the more you anticipate it. It’s a vicious circle that makes it impossible to get that chocolate sundae out of your mind, or that late night encounter from intruding upon your work day. It’s no wonder we tend to gain weight as we vow to lose it. The more we anticipate not eating the more we think about eating. That’s the dark side to anticipation; it fuels our obsessions. The positive side of anticipation is that it makes everything more alive.

In our modern world of instant gratification, the anticipation of waiting a week for the next installment of our favorite show has been replaced with the anticipation of waiting a few seconds for Season Two, episode 1-12 of House of Cards to cue up. Thanks to Netflix and our ability to stream and DVR anything that has a broadcast signal, binge watching is the new fast food. I call it “impatient anticipation” since we don’t have to wait very long to get what we want. The outdated mode of waiting a week for the next episode to air, which I call “eager anticipation”, is to denote the time it takes to let something simmer while we await its delivery. Eager anticipation is similar to waiting for the package from Amazon to appear. Sometimes we buy it just to anticipate its delivery.

To talk about anticipation as an aphrodisiac, though, we have to talk about sex, since that’s what we all think about when it comes to aphrodisiacs. In my private practice the subject of sex comes up quite regularly. When couples lose their sexual rhythm with each other they often lose the anticipation of being sexual. Often, the anticipation of pleasure is replaced by anticipation of rejection. The dark side of anticipation causes people to withdraw and employ many different expressions of hostility, from distancing to ignoring to being snarky. To help regain lost momentum I generally advise couples to get mechanical, not creative, about their sex lives. I suggest they make an agreeable structure so they know when they will be intimate. This suggestion, always surprising to me, is often met with resistance. Couples have a difficult time putting what they think should be a spontaneous expression of love and affection into a cold and calculated framework. What they fail to realize is that by creating a structure they are also eliciting the aphrodisiac of anticipation.

Think back to the early stages of your current relationship or past romantic relationships. The chemistry was high. The hunger for each other was deep. There was rarely a time you weren’t both on the same page sexually. Rejection was not an issue. Anticipation of the next encounter was mutual. It was the love potion of romance. It was like an anticipatory clairvoyance you both shared. You didn’t need an aphrodisiac, you already had one! Where is that anticipation today? It generally falls just after your anticipation of food, sleep, after dinner wine, a day off, exercising, morning coffee, vacations, a good book, Scandal, dessert and clean sheets. The one thing that is within your reach – and completely under your control, which is inexpensive and always available – is looked upon as a road block to spontaneity.

In long-distance relationships the dark side of anticipation masquerades as intoxication. The anticipation of getting together is so high that when weekly or monthly visits arrive the desire for each other is intensified to a disproportionate level when compared to normal relationships. Researchers have shown that anticipation excites the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which then prepares the body to act. In anticipatory situations, dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, flows into the prefrontal cortex, which can be very pleasurable and even addictive. In long-distance relationships, the extended state of preparation overexcites the already anticipatory state. It’s a wonderful feeling when the associated tension is finally released. It’s so pleasurable, in fact, that we anticipate the next encounter with even more excitement since our brain has now begun to expect the same degree of pleasure from each subsequent encounter. You can imagine the dismay couples feel when their long-distance relationship transitions into living together and they find they have lost their earlier “magic.” That’s because it wasn’t magic at all, it was the intoxicating aphrodisiac of anticipation that bonded them together.

So, the next time you’re getting ready to cue up Game of Thrones, or are thinking about that great meal you’re going to have in your favorite restaurant, know that it’s the same aphrodisiac that fuels sexual excitement through anticipation. And, when you feel reluctant to make a sex date or pre-determine sexual frequency with your partner, know that you’re allowing the most powerful aphrodisiac you’ll ever know to wilt and die. You can never use up the dopamine driven addictive qualities of anticipation. You can only benefit from them. It will make your life better. The more you use anticipation to your advantage, the stronger the associations will become and the happier you’ll be. While the rest of the world is rushing through five seasons of Breaking Bad, you should take it slow. Anticipate the positive, and if negative anticipation creeps in there, know that it will be easier for you to enjoy life if you mix in positive anticipation to balance it out.

Five Minute Articles For Your Consideration2 comments

  1. Patrece says:


    I’m anticipating your next blog!

  2. Tera says:

    Hi Larry,
    Absolutely wonderful and enlightening…Many Thanks:)

Leave a Reply