Ever wonder, Would he really care if I totally stopped shaving my legs? Or totally started putting the moves on him? In the name of relationship research, we had real women make those changes and more. You won't believe what never showed up on his radar. By Ronnie Koenig, REDBOOK.
Getty ImagesExperiment 1: Become the initiator
"It's not that I never initiate sex," says Michelle, 42. "It's just usually only after I've had a few cocktails. I know he won't reject me, but it's out of my comfort zone." Her husband, Bill, has mentioned that he doesn't like being the one who always gets things going, so Michelle decided to go a little Lady Marmalade on him. They'd just walked through the door after running errands one afternoon when, Michelle says, "I gave him a deep kiss. Before I had a chance to do anything else, he took off with it!" So a few nights later, she lost the subtlety. She put on her sexiest underwear and flashed Bill before they went out. "When we got home, I started kissing him and running my hands all over his body." That, and the fact that he'd been panting to get another look at her lingerie all night, led to good things. "He never did say anything about me taking control, but if I keep getting that kind of reaction, I don't really care about the recognition."
Experiment 2: Go naked
Naomi, 33, owns a cosmetics company and wears a full face every day: "I know Mauricio likes when I do a natural look, because he compliments me," she explains. "But he rarely sees me with no makeup since he leaves for work before I'm up, and I don't take it off until right before bed." You'd think he'd wonder if she were sick if she just skipped it altogether, right? Ha! "I went for three days with nothing, not even mascara, and he didn't say a word. When I asked, 'Have you noticed I'm not wearing makeup?' He said, 'not until you pointed it out. You look nice.'" Naomi thought Mauricio's obliviousness was hilarious but also a huge ego boost. "It feels good to know that he likes me however I am, which makes me comfortable going out bare-faced more often."
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Experiment 3: Be way more vocal in bed
With our infants in the next room and neighbors that I can sometimes hear getting it on, I wasn't too eager to start yodeling out my passion, but I gave it a whirl. The first night, I eased into the experiment with a few choice phrases and some not-so-soft noises. His excitement level rose with every word, but my new expressiveness didn't register enough for him to mention. A few nights later, I let loose with a monologue inappropriate for a PG-13 audience. Whoa! Suddenly our encounter became something to rival an episode of Game of Thrones--but he still didn't comment after. One week and a couple of hot bedroom sessions later, I finally 'fessed up that all the dirty talk was for an article. He'd recognized since day one what I was doing, but he didn't say anything in case I got self-conscious and stopped. Apparently, in the guy playbook, pretending not to notice is a great way to get your partner to do what you want.
Experiment 4: Let the hedges grow
"Jason and I met online, and early on he told me, in a joking way, that he likes his women well-groomed," says Stacey, 34. "That was fine, because I always get professional bikini waxes and keep everything else in check. I only agreed to do this because I thought it would be fun to mess with him." A few days in, when she could just start to see stubble, Stacey put her bare legs across Jason's lap while they were watching TV. "He rubbed them for a second, then let his hand drop. I'm sure it's because he was grossed out." But the real test of Jason's fortitude was still to come: "I was about two weeks overdue for a wax, and I'm the type that it shows on. I wore lingerie to bed. The hair down there wasn't '70s yet, but it was definitely coming out the sides. Jason didn't even flinch. I thought it was sweet that not even getting hairy, the biggest turnoff for him, would make him less attracted to me. So after we made love, I told him what was going on." Jason was relieved that her foray into natural landscaping was an experiment, but he said he would have gone along with it. "He figured I was tired from work and just planned to wait it out. I was actually kind of touched!"
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Experiment 5: Hide his junk
Raquel, 24, is a master organizer. Her husband, Greg, "hoards clothes, magazines, flyers, birthday cards, guitars. I'm scared to go in his closet!" He'd been promising for a year to clean up and had made many trips to Ikea for organizing materials, but still nada. The first day, "I watched from the window as he drove off, and made sure he wasn't coming back because he forgot something." Then she got to work bagging up old shoes for charity, and put them in the garage. The next day she moved his guitars to the loft in their house. On day three, she really got bold and hit the closet. The next morning, questions flew. "Wow, you cleaned? Thanks. But I have my own organizational methods, you know? Um, did you get rid of my clothes? Oh, my God, did you get rid of my guitars? Why are you laughing?" Reassured that his stuff was safe, Greg saw the light. "He was elated about being able to walk into his closet. The only thing he wasn't comfortable dumping was the papers. But he agreed to buy a filing cabinet, and now that I know I can get away with tossing small amounts, the mess won't ever get crazy again."
Experiment 6: Start a mother-in-law fan club
"My mother-in-law does things like buy my daughter clothes, but she won't let her bring them home because she doesn't like the way I do laundry," says Cheryl, 43. Suffice it to say, Cheryl's husband, Lary, understands why they've never had a great relationship, but he wishes they could get along for the kids' sake. So Cheryl gave Lary a double dose of what he asked for. One night while they were at her MIL's house, Cheryl mentioned how great she looked. "The next day, I told him I thought her cooking was improving. 'What's going on?' he asked suspiciously. 'Nothing,' I said. 'I just think her roast wasn't so dry.' Lary shook his head." That Sunday, when Cheryl told Lary to ask his mom over for the weekend, she says, "He felt my forehead and asked if the pastor had preached anything special in church! The next day I told him we should invite her to come on our family cruise in August. He wanted to take me to the doctor." Obviously, Lary knew something was up, but Cheryl has decided not to confess, because she hopes that keeping up the compliments will morph into real positive feelings. "I actually felt less tense after seeing her than I usually do," she says. "Part of it was that Lary appreciated the effort I was making, which made me let go of my grudges a little."
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Experiment 7: Cut off the food supply
Gloria, 25, admits she has a sweet deal when it comes to cleaning: "Tad does the laundry, the vacuuming, the toilet, everything." But they've been married for four years, and she can count on one hand the times he's crossed the threshold of a grocery store or attempted to cook. Now that she's pregnant, it seemed like the perfect time to take a vacation from cooking and shopping, since Tad will have to pitch in once the baby arrives. "I was expecting temper tantrums and a huge guilt trip. But for the first four or five days, he made peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, or occasionally had a Clif Bar, and never said a word or seemed annoyed. Maybe he thought I was too tired because of the baby. Finally, we ran out of bread, and he quietly went to the store and bought groceries. It was just the basics--bread, milk, more peanut butter--but still, I was shocked." A few days later, Tad casually mentioned how little food there was in the house. Gloria's response: a mystified "hmm." Eventually, Gloria plans to start cooking again--just not every night, now that she realizes he's willing to make do. But for the moment, she's keeping quiet.
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