If you’re anything like me, you might giggle a li’l bit every time you hear the word boner. Call it what you want, but in most cases, it’s just a man’s signal that he’s got the hots for you, which is weirdly kind of cute? And honestly, men have enough of a hard time showing their emotions—the least we could do is get a physical sign of horniness, okay?
“The process of an erection is actually quite complex,” says Koushik Shaw, MD, urologist at the Austin Urology Institute. “It involves the synchronized work of your brain, psyche, nerves, blood vessels, hormones, and tissues." Damn, who knew boys could be so complex?
But turns out, there are actually situations where having a boner doesn’t necessarily = that a dude is turned on. “Morning wood normally happens without the man even knowing—and think about teenagers going through puberty who have boners randomly,” says Dr. Shaw. I guess this means there are different types of boners? Here are 18 of ‘em according to our male expert, Frank Kobola.
1. The Pee Boner. This is a fake-out boner that really just happens when you really, really, really have to pee, and goes away right after, like stepping on a garden hose.
2. The Morning Boner. This greets you in the morning with a stiff hello, like a butler that can only pee and ejaculate. This boner is the Egg McMuffin of morning sex: The two go well together
and are even better with hash browns.
3. The Ghost Boner. This one comes along and leaves like the wind. There's nothing happening around you to set it off, there's no one to see it. It's just there and gone like an apparition.
4. The Gym Boner. This kind of thing can happen at the gym as his blood is flowing all over the place and inadvertently sloshing into his penis, filling it up.* Hopefully he’s got a good pair of compression shorts on, otherwise his boner is going to be pretty noticeable in those sweatpants.
*NOTE: This isn’t really how blood or erections or anything actually work, but gym boners still happen.
5. The “Time to Consult a Physician” Boner. It’s the boner that lasts more than four hours. The one that won’t go away. Maybe it’s too erect. Maybe it’s painful. It might not literally be worth a trip to a doctor, but it’s worth consulting Web MD to make sure it’s normal.
6. The "I Don't Know How I Should Feel" Boner. We're watching something on TV, like reruns of The Nanny, when suddenly a boner shows up out of nowhere and forces us to come to terms with the fact that we're sexually attracted to Fran Drescher's weird accent for some reason.
7. The Inappropriately Timed Boner. This boner pops up at a time that just makes us feel dirty and we really have no idea why its there, like when our dad is saying grace at Thanksgiving dinner. Unlike No. 4, we know in our heart that boner is there for no reason and usually can go away with a little bit of focus. It's just our penis being a free spirit.
8. The Classic Boner. You can't beat a classic (well, I guess in this case you can). This is the pre-sex boner that shows up right when we need it most. This is our penis being a bro(ner) and doing exactly what it's supposed to do exactly when it's supposed to do it.
9. The Night Boner. This boner shows up right when we want to go to sleep and makes it tough to fall asleep on anything other than on our back. We're forced to either wait things out or lose 20 minutes of sleep negotiating with it.
10. The Attention-Seeker. This boner pops up when we're in a public place, or worse, doing a presentation at work. "Hey, what's going on," this boner says. "Let me show you my PowerPoint." This is pretty much every boner we got throughout middle school and most of high school. They're less common when we're adults but we can still get them on occasion.
11. The Forever Boner. This boner thinks we're buds and just wants to hang out a bunch. It's like that friend that comes over and then doesn't take the signals a few hours later that it's time for them to leave because you're tired. In both cases, the only way to get them to leave is by masturbating.
12. The Legendary Boner. Not all boners are created equal. Sometimes we just wind up getting a boner that has that certain je ne sais quoi that really elevates it above the other boners we normally get. It somehow feels extra manly, like a Viking boner.
13. The Marathoner aka the Tag-Team. This is the boner that shows up right after another boner after sex like, "Yo, what's up? This penis doesn't even know what flaccid is."
14. The Sad Boner. This is the opposite of No. 10. It's a boner by definition, but nothing more, like our penis just isn't feeling it. Seeing it instantly makes you sad, like an abandoned baby carriage or present-day Aaron Carter.
15. The Sweatpants Boner. Sweatpants are a boner's tuxedo. While a boner in and of itself, these boners know they're out and they don't have a care in the world.
16. The Public Bathroom Boner. For some reason, our penis decides when we're sitting on a public toilet seat, now is the time to get hard. All we can do at this point is to start writing out our will, because we want to die.
17. The Denim Non-Boner. The moments when our jeans bunch up in just the wrong way, causing us to desperately try to explain to an uncomfortable stranger, "Oh, don't worry! That isn't my penis!" and now somehow things are worse.
18. The “Haven’t Seen You in a While, Old Friend” Boner. There will come a time in a man’s twilight years when he will yearn for the frequent, spontaneous boners of his youth. But then a boner will pop up to say hello and remind him of his golden years. And he’ll smile, wistfully, and as the blood drains from his penis for the last time, he will realize he has nothing else to look forward to now except the sweet release of death.