What is your arousal type?


What gets us erotically hot and bothered?

Most of us do not analyze what exactly turns our sexual crank. Arousal just  seems to happen, sometimes but not other times. It can appear at the strangest  of times, getting us hot and wet as we face the most unsuitable  partners or taboo acts. Or arousal can be more predictable, with the heat coming  from a favorite alluring sex scene in a movie or book.

We may have a general impression of what type of man (or woman) we are attracted to, or maybe even know what sexual acts we like to watch in sexy movies or read in  erotica.  But outside of those vague ideas, sexual arousal is like a black box — we know it when we experience it, but the inside workings elude us.

Research has determined women’s arousal to be ‘complex’, but has little to say about the specifics. Until the 60s, women were believed to be  sexually aroused only by the feminine aspects  of sex such as intimacy and soft touch, when Alfred Kinsey (Sexual Behavior in the Human Female), Nancy Friday (My Secret Garden)  and Shere Hite (The Hite Report) reported that women’s fantasies were often as bold and “dirty” as men’s  were.

More recently, we have seen  women finding  50 Shades of Grey driving them to act on a new-found sexual arousal.

So, what actually does turn women on?

Our erotic map (the complex blueprint of what turns us on) is unique to each individual. It consists of genetics, throbbing hormones and erotic experiences that were ‘imprinted’ during early adolescence. As we go through life, these erotic maps change slightly as we experience different types of sex, or are altered by our environment, stress level, health and partner dynamics.

While each person’s erotic map is different, there are  general themes that run through the erotic maps of women.  After two decades of studying women’s arousal, in my practice as a sex therapist and a sex researcher, I have identified four primary types of arousal in women.

Each female has four types of arousal influencing her overall pattern, but it is usually only one (or two) arousal themes that are the real driving forces.

What are the benefits of knowing your arousal type?

When a woman knows her primary pattern of arousal, she can have much better sex.  It allows her to tap into her arousal when she wants it, as well as reach orgasm more quickly.  Also, if her partner understands her “arousal type” he/she will have a map to better arouse her.  Conversely, if she knows what arousal type her partner is, she will be much more likely
to make her partner’s sexual dreams come true, and thus increasing intimacy in the relationship.

Which arousal type are you?

Just as there are different types of learning (visual, auditory, kinetic), there are different types of sexual arousal.  The four sexual arousal types I have  identified are:

 The Sensual Type, who is body-oriented and relying on the senses  (touch, smell, taste) to fuel arousal.  They get hot by the sensation of their skin   being stroked, smelling a delicious scent, or tasting something erotic.

The Behaviorist Type, who is head-oriented, relying on thoughts and  imagination to drive sexual feelings.  This type is fueled erotically by thinking  about/seeing certain sexual acts.  Fantasy and explicit movies are important  tools used by the cognitive type to imagine different acts  in their erotic map.

The Intimate:  The Intimate Type’s primary motivation is to “connect”  with their partner.  They thrive when they share with him/her,  or when they feel that he/she “gets” them.

The Attractor Type gets his/her arousal from seeing their impact on their partner.  Their main source of arousal is when their partner  finds them sexy and appreciates them.  Being desired is important to this type.

While each person will be a complex mix of all of the types, we can get valuable information about our own main erotic map to control our arousal and make sex sizzle.


Finding out your very own arousal type:

You  can learn which main type you are.  Fill in a short questionnaire and find out your sexual arousal type  (and in the process contribute to sex research and a greater understanding of women’s sexuality).