Do you know what turns you on? Most of us learn to tolerate or suppress our sexuality as youth, so we never developed an erotic mind. A mind that knows where to go to get aroused. So how do we figure that out now? How do develop an erotic mind?
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Many women come to me for coaching, who tell me that they don’t hate sex, but they just don’t really like it. And they want to like it. They want to want it like their husbands, and other women do. They want to feel that excitement and energy. They understand that it can be fun and exciting, but they think that it’s just not that way for them. So today, we are going to discuss how to figure out what turns you on and what works for you.
Pleasure is kind of a funny word right? We don’t hear it all that often anymore, except for maybe at Chick-Fil-A: “My Pleasure!” It’s not something we really talk about or embrace, this idea of pleasure. So what is pleasure? The definition is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.
Pleasure is kind of a foreign concept for us these days. Most of us are all about productivity and getting things done. The idea of pleasure seems lazy. Pleasure is about what is happening at the moment. And most of us are focused instead on what’s next. We don’t take the time to be in the moment.
I often hear of women who feel like they don’t deserve pleasure for one reason or another. Or they feel like they shouldn’t want pleasure. And if they do want it, then they feel guilty for wanting it. Or they feel like they can have pleasure when the to-do list is done, which, it’s never done. Really, they just don’t make pleasure a priority.
Many women have completely blocked out the idea of pleasure. For many, it started in adolescence. The way that sex and pleasure were presented was kind of the gateway to hell. We were taught that we have to tolerate or suppress sexual needs, wants, and desires. To seek pleasure was what the “natural man” would do. Spirituality and pleasure were mutually exclusive. You couldn’t have one with the other. That if we indulged in one area of pleasure, it was a slippery slope into other areas as well. So to not get dragged down a pathway of destruction, we completely shut off the idea of pleasure. And we didn’t necessarily do this consciously; it was probably very subconsciously. You probably had no idea you were even doing this. But it happened, nonetheless.
And maybe some of you never repressed your sexuality. Maybe things were great for a while, and then something changed. That’s totally a possibility. But, the important thing here is to figure out what feels good to you? How do you experience pleasure? What turns you on?
The Importance of Maps
I was born and raised in Utah, and if you aren’t familiar with Utah, we have a very unique way of laying our cities. Each city has a Main Street that runs north and south and a Center Street that runs east and west. Streets are laid out in a grid system, so it’s pretty easy to find your way around. If an address I’m looking for is 450 N and 1200 East, then I know I need to go 4-1/2 blocks north of Center Street and 12 blocks east of Main Street, and I can find where I’m going. We also use the mountains to guide us a lot in where we are going. Where I grew up, the mountains were on the east side of my city, so I always knew which direction I was going with the mountains there.
When I was 14, we moved back east to Maryland, and we had to buy one of those big books of street maps because Maryland did not have the same easy grid system that Utah did. Whenever we needed to go anywhere, we had to find it on the map and map a route to get where we wanted to go.
When I was newly married to my first husband, we moved from Utah to Texas. This, too, was in the days before GPS was common. I remember sitting on my apartment floor in Provo, UT, with a street map of Fort Worth, TX studying the major roads so that I wouldn’t get completely lost going from our apartment to the grocery store with my brand new baby.
Without these maps, I would have been completely lost and have no idea where to go and what direction to turn, to reach my destination.
Often, in our sexuality, we are lost and don’t know where to go. We don’t know where to turn, and we don’t know what is going to work for us.
I want to introduce you to something called an Erotic Map. An erotic map is a blueprint of what turns us on. It’s unique to each individual. It consists of experiences that were imprinted on us during childhood and adolescence and continues to develop as we experience different types of sexual experiences. Our individual map guides us in understanding our unique sexuality. Without a map, you fumble around, hoping to find your way to the ultimate pleasure trove. But with a map, you have direction, language with which to communicate, tools for troubleshooting, and a clearer path to pleasure.
So, you need to start identifying what is on your map. What are the things that you find attractive and stimulating?
One of my favorite examples of this is from the TV Show Friends. There’s an episode where Ross is talking about a certain Star Wars Fantasy, and Chandler immediately knows it’s Princess Leia and the gold bikini. That particular fantasy is on many a boy who grew up in the 80s erotic map.
For women, it may be something more like a romantic movie they’ve seen, like The Notebook.
Can you maybe think of a time where you saw something on TV or in a movie, and it made you uncomfortable because it was stimulating? Perhaps it wasn’t a sex scene in a movie, but it was just romantic. Or maybe it was a sex scene and that you felt it wrong to be watching is what made it arousing — all things to think about.
The things on your erotic map are not always things that are present and at the forefront of your mind. Sometimes they are buried deep in there. But they are things you find attractive, sexy, arousing, and erotic. They can be things, feelings, experiences, images. They can be anything. It could even be the thought of a partner and their warm body next to you that is arousing. It doesn’t have to be outlandish things, although it totally can be.
Now, not everyone has erotic thoughts and fantasies. A lot of women, when I ask them about fantasies, they say they don’t have any. But again, that is usually because they have repressed things. We weren’t given permission to think about those kinds of things growing up, or you were told it wasn’t ok, so you’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about it and never developed that part of you, which is fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to start developing your erotic map, you need to start figuring that out.
So, how do we do that? You may have some ideas of things that are on your map. Something that I have said may have sparked a memory or a thought. Pay attention to those. Write them down. They are important. That is your brain telling you what it finds arousing.
A good to place to start building your Erotic Map is to think about what goes through your mind at the moment of orgasm if you’ve had one. It’s a great place to start thinking about fantasies and erotic things that get you going and turn you on. A lot of times, we don’t think about what we are thinking at that moment. We are trying to stay present, which is great. We need to stay present. But, having an awareness of what is going on in our thoughts, so that we can bring those thoughts up again up at a later time when they are useful, can be great.
If you aren’t getting to orgasm, we can go about this differently. What is fun for you? What do you enjoy? What was exciting at the very beginning? What did you look forward to? Think about when you were dating, and what did you find attractive? Maybe it was a guy in his football uniform? Or when he wore a suit? Perhaps it was the guy that pursued you and courted you?
What thoughts are coming into your mind right now? Those are the ones that you need to pay attention to. Those are things that could be on your erotic map.
If you are comfortable, you can read romance novels or some types of erotica. You have to find what your comfort level is with this with some experimentation. This is not an area that I have personal experience with, but I have some recommendations that I will put in the show notes from other LDS women. Things that have worked for them. Again, I’m not personally recommending any of these, so please use your own discretion.
Another thing to try is to add some playfulness into your life and your sex life. And that doesn’t just mean new positions (although it totally could be), but try finding fun things. Try just laughing together and finding something funny instead of sex being super serious. Laughing is so great. Try role-playing. Go on a date and pretend to be someone else. It may seem silly, and that is ok. But adding in some fun and novelty is exciting. You could wear a wig or dress up. Or have him dress up! If you find a man in uniform alluring, get some sort of uniform for him to wear.
You’ll try some of these things, and they won’t work. And that’s ok. Take out the word “failure” and call it a success if you created some enjoyment and meaningful time together. A lot of times, we get so focused on orgasm that we forget about pleasure, connectivity, and closeness.
You can also try taking out the sex part altogether. Reconnect in other ways. Massages, baths, kissing, cuddling. Again with making the goal PLEASURE. When you put pressure on yourself, then you absolutely won’t feel sexy. But focusing on pleasure, that makes things a lot better.
You also need to know what pleasure feels like to you. Make sure you get in touch with your body. Often we go into marriage, hoping that our partner will awaken our sexuality within us. But you know yourself the best. You need to figure out what feels good to you and what you like, and then you can direct your partner. If you aren’t comfortable touching yourself, guide your partner’s hand with your hand. Also, try touching yourself with different things. You may find you don’t like to be touched with fingers, but a tongue feels good.
You’ll find that some things you try will work and some things don’t. Again, focus on pleasure. If you are doing this with your spouse, remind them not to take it personally when things don’t work. They aren’t doing anything wrong, you are just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t for you and you love having them be part of that.
Don’t forget to bring Heavenly Father into this. He cares about you and wants to help you with this. By listening to the Spirit and listening to your brain, you can figure this out.
I’ve created a worksheet for this episode to help you figure out your erotic map. It will walk you through the things we’ve talked about today and hopefully help you gain some insights into what turns you on.
And as always, if more help is needed, I’m always here.