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Halloween special: how sexy is it to be scared?

Are there any links between horniness and fear? If you snuggle watching a horror flick this Halloween, are you more likely to feel those sexual stirrings?


I’ve always made quite a strong mental connection between fear and sex. If you’d asked me I’d have said it had something to do with a horny evening watching The Exorcist with a guy I fancied when I was sixteen. In truth, though, I didn’t find the film scary enough because I was too busy wondering if I could sneak a hand down his pants before the end credits rolled. But I was right that there are links between erotic feelings and fear, so what better time to explore this than Halloween?

In Counterpunch, Dr Susan Block explains that:

“Fear can be erotic, in part because whatever we fear, it all springs from fear of the unknown. And the unknown, uncharted territory is one of life’s great aphrodisiacs.”

What’s more the physiological response to fear can often mirror sexual arousal. That’s not to say you should dress up like a zombie and jump out of the wardrobe shouting ‘BOO!’ as the start of foreplay, but as someone who has anxiety, I can tell you that some of the symptoms of a panic attack, particularly at the beginning, are similar to the symptoms of arousal. Your heart beats faster, your breathing rate increases… Of course that also comes along with some not-so-fun stuff like nausea and shaking and being unable to leave the house because you’ve had some bizarre panic about what will happen if you do. Good times. Still, there is clearly a link between fear and arousal, from getting dressed up as a slutty skeleton for Halloween to the extra frisson of risk when you’re having sex in public, or sex with someone you know you shouldn’t.

Some have suggested that fear and arousal are similar because they both have a similar aim: to make us more sensitive to stimuli.

Are there ways to harness this? Of course! Watching scary movies together – as I did with my teenage crush – can get your blood flowing (in a sexy way, not necessarily a ‘dripping from your mouth while you cackle like Dracula’ way). Role play and discussion of specific fantasies can get people going too – just ask any teenager who’s played a game of ‘spin the bottle’ after a session swapping ghost stories.

There are some people who are so into fear that they incorporate it into their play, testing more intense scenarios as a means of getting adrenalin flowing. Maybe not a shocking fact, especially given that many people in the BDSM and kink community sing the praises of adrenalin, and its special powers in making you feel tingly and excited. Fear Play is more than just pain or power exchange, though: it’s the act of playing out a scene with someone you trust, but ramping up the elements of genuine fear as a means of chasing that all-important adrenalin rush. This can include more extreme things such as knife play, or abandonment.

If you’re keen to try this, make sure you have the obvious discussions with your partner(s) first: do you need a safeword? If so, what is it? What kind of scenario most turns you on, and which fears are you looking to explore? If that all sounds too extreme then you might just prefer to do a bit of sexy dress-up, or angle for a good night in the bedroom after your Halloween party. All you need is the right costume

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