What is Sexual Arousal and Why Does it Matter?
Take a minute and think about how you evaluate partners, whether or not you want to have sex, and how you want to experience it. This is all related to your particular erotic proclivities. Whether you are having the sex you want, desire better sex, more sex, different sex or sex period, understanding your personal erotic blueprint can assist in this discovery.
Everyone’s capacity for pleasure and erotic blueprint is different, and that’s fantastic. Many of these interests lie in the subconscious and become crystallized at a young age. Your blueprint can be expanded upon, but often not deleted.
The Psychology of Arousal
Researchers suggest sexual arousal happens as a result of interplay between cognitive, emotional, motivational and physiological factors.
Thoughts become categorized as sexual and exist on a spectrum of intensity. Certain categories may have more importance than others. One individual may notice patterns of fantasizing about skinny dipping in the ocean as a sexual stimulus, while another may find it repulsive. A third person may have never even considered the ocean as sexually suggestive.
Emotions can assist in evaluating pleasurable situations in the body and the mind (aka the largest sex organ) as arousal increases or decreases. Identifying as a demisexual, means feeling increasing interest when deeply emotionally connected to an individual. A kink for being dominated might mean being turned on by feelings of submissiveness.
Certain contexts direct behavior towards or away from arousal. If you know the sitter is coming home at any moment, motivation to continue pursuing sexual acitivy may be suppressed. The dual control model, developed by Dr. John Bancroft and Dr. Erick Janssen, helps explain these nuances.
Physiological factors explain the changes taking place inside the body as you prepare for sex. These responses can help guide your preparedness or interest in sexual activity, which includes primarily genital response and breathing changes.
How to Understand Your Erotic Blueprint
Your personal arousal is a chart to your desire. It identifies physical and emotional characteristics that are pleasing, particular kinks or fetishes, behaviors you exhibit and entertain as sexual, and processes that move the sexual response cycle forward.
Somatic Sexologist, Jaiya, believes people have different maps to eroticism, which she calls Erotic Blueprints. She claims five different maps to turn-on and that we can learn to speak them all. The five primary blueprints types include: energetic, sensual, sexual, kinky, and shapeshifter.
- The energetic individual is turned on by anticipation and some can experience full body orgasms without genital touch. Aspects such as space, anticipation, and teasing are often utilized.
- The sensual individual enjoys titillating all of the senses during sex, such as tastes, smell, and touch.
- The sexual individual oftens persues sex through focus on genital focused and penetrative sex.
- The kinky individual has a proclivity for taboo sexuality. These individuals may enjoy experimenting with sex toys and a range of activities in the BDSM community.
- The shapeshifter likes to incorporate all of the above.
Arousal can change and expand with awareness, curiosity and personal exploration. Developing a solo sex practice is a way to engage with different blueprints to understand your experience of pleasure.
Utilizing porn frequently in solo sex as a means to arousal has the potential to lead to desensitization, and unhealthy sexual behaviors. In these cases, it is best to seek professional help.
Arousal can fluctuate throughout life and this doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong. If you are struggling with erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, or aren’t able to achieve orgasm, there is hope. It may be helpful to consider what feeling more or less sexual means to you, if there is discomfort around your current relationship to sex.
Embracing & Expanding Your Erotic Blueprint
Expanding your arousal can offer opportunities to experience a deeper connection to sex as an experience rather than a product. When sex is defined by intercourse or over emphasizes orgasm, it can become performative and task oriented. This has the potential to cause greater relationship anxiety when particular events don’t ensue or when the orgasm gap seems to widen.
To begin embracing and expanding your arousal, try answering these questions for yourself and/or with a partner:
- How do I define sex?
- How do I want to feel when having sex?
Consider writing down an ideal sexual encounter, in granular detail, and why you would choose these particular pieces.
- What sights, smells, textures, tastes, sounds and internal states allow you to feel erotic?
There is a language to sexuality and not knowing or understanding it can cause sex to feel awkward or contrived. Anxiety around sex often occurs because individuals think they aren’t doing it right, it’s not happening enough, or they have been hurt through traumatic sexual experiences. Educating yourself on your personal arousal will assist in creating the sex life you want.
If you don’t know how to begin this journey, working with a Sex Therapist or Certified Erotic Blueprint Coach can be a good place to start.