I ask this question of clients a lot and surprisingly, people often cannot answer it. Many people look to others to turn them on. Their expectations are that partners will somehow know what to do. Many people are still brought up to think of sexual self-exploration as shameful. Women are often taught to attend to their partner’s pleasure and that if they make a partner happy they will be happy too. Sadly, though making your partner happy will make you feel good, it won’t often give you sexual satisfaction.
If you want to learn what turns you on, first learn to take responsibility for your own pleasure.
Serious as this sounds, it is actually lots of fun. The first step is to pay attention to your body and notice the things that make you tingle, hum, or purr. If you are not used to pleasuring yourself, you might find it more comfortable to have a partner touch your body in different ways while you focus on your response to see what makes you tingle, hum or purr. If you are going to do this with a partner, start by telling them that you are doing this experiment to learn more about what turns you on, that you would like their help in doing so. Tell them that you would like them to touch you sensually and sexually in a variety of different ways and that you will be focussing on your own responses. Make sure that they don’t expect you to start focussing on their pleasure.
If you are happy with masturbation and self-pleasure, explore on your own. Take the time to stroke your body in different places, in different ways. Use a variety of toys as well as your hands and notice your body’s myriad responses. Pay attention to the sensations that make you take in your breath sharply and the sensations that cause you to say ‘ahhh’. The goal is not necessarily to reach orgasm but rather to see what gets you so turned on that you are close. Feel free to use erotica, pornography, other movies and anything that you find stimulating. Spend this time with yourself daily over at least a week. Notice how you feel about taking the time to just enjoy yourself. Taking responsibility for your pleasure is empowering. When you know what turns you on, you can ask for what turns you on. When you are able to provide yourself with pleasure, you need not look to someone else to give you that sexual satisfaction. You can choose to be with a partner to gain sexual pleasure or you can choose to pleasure yourself. If you find yourself becoming turned on, you can see to your own needs.
Extend your exploration from noticing your reactions in your body, your feelings and your thoughts about what turns you on to looking at what turns you on in other people. When you know this as well you will make better relationship choices. What type of sex turns you on? For many people the answer is many types of sex. Pay attention to what you like and when you like it. Give yourself permission to push your own boundaries and try something new.
So many people have been brought up with shame around sex and sexuality.
They have been brought up hearing ‘no’ repeatedly, being told that sexual feelings and activities are shameful, wrong and sinful. So many women have been told that their pleasure is not a priority. Sexual pleasure is not wrong or sinful. Sexual pleasure is part of healthy sexual activity and relationships. Your body is made to give you pleasure. Give yourself permission to experience pleasure and particularly to experience sexual pleasure.
Try to remember the first time you felt turned on. Can you remember the event in detail? Leslie said ‘The first time I remember feeling turned on I was about 10 and I was watching a movie with a really sexy actor. There was a scene where he was in bed with the leading lady. I felt tingling and my breathing was faster. I didn’t really understand why I was feeling that way but it did feel good. It felt so good that I watched the movie four times so I could feel that way again.’ Roger describes the first time he felt turned on. ‘I was 9 and I was in bed and having a really good dream. I woke up with my hand on myself and it felt really great until I remember the nuns telling us that it was a sin and then I was afraid I was going to hell. I stopped for a while and thought about the nuns. But the next night I was touching myself again. This time I didn’t stop but felt guilty after. It took a couple more years before I stopped feeling sure I was going to hell.’
Do you know what turns you on? If you want some help exploring, schedule a free discovery session with me here