A guide to help you explore what brings you pleasure.
Desire is a motivational system that can be affected by experiences that are supportive and experiences that inhibit sexual desire. These are commonly referred to as our turn-ons and turn-offs.
Emily Nagoski, author of Come As You Are, popularised the idea of our turn-ons and turn-offs as an actual sexual response system controlled by our brains that operates a lot like an accelerator and braking system in a car.
Your breaks are affected by factors that signal to your brain that sex isn’t a good idea right now. Carrying a lot of stress, being busy, not feeling understood, having an argument, feeling abnormal, having sex that isn’t pleasurable, feeling pressure to have sex, experiencing pain, and not having privacy are a few of hundreds of reasons why sex might not be a good idea.
Your erogenous zones are any parts of your body that, when stimulated, can turn you on and grow your mental and physical arousal. The most commonly referenced erogenous zones are the most obvious places, including the genitals and anus.
Essentially any part of your body can be an erogenous zone and create an arousal response, and other common zones are the scalp, earlobes, lips, neck, throat, fingers, wrist, the palm of the hand, inner elbow, fingertips, breasts/chest, nipples, lower back, penis, clitoris, testicles, prorate, anus, butt cheeks, inner thighs, behind the knee, the bottom of the toes and feet. Different areas may require different types, intensities and duration of stimulation to create a noticeable response.
The time it takes to orgasm is longer than you’d think. Most bodies need anywhere from 20 to 60+ minutes to become physically aroused, which is longer than you’d probably think. To have an orgasm, you need time to build up all that sexual tension so it can be released.
When play is goal orientated, whether it’s to have an orgasm or to lead up to a certain activity in partnered or solo sex, we might find ourselves rushing towards the end or becoming disappointed when that goal feels out of reach. This can also leave us caught up in our thoughts and uncomfortable feelings and less present in our bodies.
You might have noticed that after a long, stressful or busy day, it can be difficult to find the headspace where you’re open to playing, despite wanting to want it – that’s probably because your breaks are on.
There’s a social narrative that we’ve learned that says desire should be spontaneous and happen with little effort. For most people, responsive desire is far more realistic and common. Responsive desire is when the desire to play occurs over time in response to pleasurable stimulation that is already happening. Responsive desire is like a dimmer light that needs constant access to pleasurable stimuli so it can build the motivation and allow your body to become physically and mentally aroused.