When it comes to female sexuality it’s all about desire and arousal. The issue for many women is the misunderstanding between desire and arousal. Being aroused is one thing, but knowing what triggers or maintains your arousal is another. What is important to note is that arousal and desire are not one in the same. For example, you can have a desire for sex whether or not you are aroused. Alternatively, if you have arousal issues, they may reduce your sexual desire. This is slightly complicated and not a topic to unpick today. Instead I am going to talk a little bit about how there is more ways than one to be turned-on. Knowing your triggers means you gain so much insight and added control over your sex life.
What is arousal?
Arousal is a state by which our bodies experience increased physiological action and heightening of emotion. With sexual arousal (also known as sexual excitement), physiological responses occur in the body and mind as preparation for sexual activity. These physical responses tend to be; increased heart rate, increased blood flow to the genitals, moistening of the expansion of the vagina and rapid breathing.
What is desire?
Desire used to be thought as occurring ‘spontaneously.’ Desire first, then arousal. But it transpires that many people often experience desire as ‘responsive’, developing in response to, rather than in expectancy of, erotic stimulation. Arousal first, then desire. What turns us on is unique and personal to each person. Gaining an understanding that what works for one individual, may not work for another. Discovering what arouses you can be the key in a happy, healthy sex life, whether that be with yourself or with a partner.
Four different ways:
I went to an Esther Perel talk last year and she asked the audience “think about the last time you were attracted to your partner. What were they doing?” People shouted out different answers from; seeing their partner mingling with their friends, their partner making them laugh, stroking their face, when they wear a white shirt! The examples were quite diverse. It got me thinking about desire and arousal. We have this preconceived notion that our senses need to be stimulated in order to be aroused; touch or sight (porn, or fancy underwear). However, there is actually more than one way of being aroused! These different types are like building blocks. You may possess more than one and have a primary and secondary. Read through to see if any resonate with you.
The Sensual/Touch Type:
is a person who is aroused by the senses. Their desire is sparked by the feel of skin on skin, by smells or taste. It is driven by the body and craves the senses to feel arousal.
The Thought/Cognitive Type:
this is someone who is fuelled by desire by using their mind and thoughts. Fantasies and images increase their arousal.
The Emotional/Intimacy Type:
is aroused by the feeling of being able to connect with their partner. They feel desire when there is intimacy, trust and sharing.
The Visual/Attractor Type:
feels aroused by being ‘seen’. They get turned on from arousing their partner or alternatively when they are seen as attractive or ‘sexy’ by their partner.
Knowing what turns you on can greatly help you to have a confident sex life. It facilitates tapping into your arousal when you most want it. When a person is aware of their arousal type, specifically the primary trigger, sex can massively improve. Also, gaining insight means that you can tap into your desire easily and facilitate a greater connection with your sexual partner. Not to mention the ability for this person to reach orgasm easier! So many wins! Not only that but if you communicate each other’s it can allow you both to express your desires, and even fantasies. If you are in a relationship this can build on your communication and therefore intimacy.
So how can you identify your trigger?
Think about the last 3 times you were filled with desire: What was happening around you? What were your thoughts? What started it?
Another way of attempting to decipher your arousal type is through your dreams-if you remember them that is! Most people will have erotic dreams and using them is a great tool to understand what you may enjoy. So, first thing in the morning, grab your phone and jot down what you experienced. You never know what you may have learn!
Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Drurytherapy