It's no secret that sexuality is one of the weirdest, most bizarre things on Earth. What is really hot for one person can be extremely meh — or even extremely gross — to another. That's why if you want to know how to figure out what turns you on in bed, you have to start by remembering the two most important things: Everyone is different, and none of your turn-ons are "wrong."
Part of having a healthy sex life involves knowing yourself well enough to know what gets you off. If you've been brought up to feel shame around sex (especially as a woman), that can be a scary and intimidating process. Rest assured, though, that not only do you deserve to have sex that feels good for you, but figuring out what turns you on is so much easier than you think. Elite Daily enlisted the help of some experts to get you started.
Know The Common Fantasies
It can be hard to figure out what turns you on if you don't actually know the very wide range of things that can turn a person on. Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist based in San Francisco, gave Bustle a rundown of some of those main categories of sexual fantasies. I'm just going to drop them all in here because this list is really wonderful and comprehensive:
Role-playing. This is where you pretend to be certain characters. For example, you might take on the role of a student and your boyfriend might be your teacher. Specific sexual behaviors. This category includes things like threesomes, oral sex, playing with sex toys, being spanked and so on. Most of the kinky stuff would fall into this category, but there are plenty of behaviors that are wonderfully vanilla (i.e. tame). Power dynamics. You might be into the idea of letting one person be completely in control, and the other person completely submissive. Partners. Did you grow up fantasizing about Justin Timberlake? That would be a partner-specific fantasy. Stories. You may have always dreamed of having sex in the middle of an abandoned beach, or losing your virginity to a mysterious stranger. Feelings. This is a category that not a lot of people think about, but many of us actually experience. You might fantasize about feeling swept off your feet during an intimate encounter. Or you might dream about feeling confident and uninhibited.
Any of these sound interesting to you? If so, you're on the right track to figuring out what turns you on.
Be More Aware Of Your Surroundings
Susan Winter, a relationship expert in New York City, says that discovering what turns you on is as easy as just being more aware of your surroundings and analyzing how they make you feel. "Becoming conscious of what excites us is the key to figuring out our sexual fantasies. This requires being attuned to where our attention (and interest) goes throughout the day," she says.
She suggests you begin by asking yourself some simple questions:
Did you recently see a movie with a really hot love scene? What was that made that scene so exciting? Did you read a book with a romantic storyline that felt intriguingly stimulating? If so, what was it about that scenario that you found so arousing? Did you hear someone retelling the story of a sexual interlude that turned you on? What part of that story set you on fire?
It's when we begin to notice "what we're noticing," she says, that we are able to tap into our true desires. "Then, analyzing the active elements that have captivated our attention give us the details of how our fantasies are constructed."
You are, of course, more than welcome to re-read 50 Shades of Grey to figure out what turns you on. "Reading erotic literature is a wonderful way to enjoy and experiment mentally about what may be a turn on," says Dr. Dawn Michael, clinical sexologist at thehappyspouse.com. If 50 Shades isn't your thing, there are volumes upon volumes of other kinds of erotic literature that you can download online and read low-key on your Kindle. Just skim through some descriptions and find what works for you.
But really, there's lots of inspiration in your day-to-day life, including movies, music, books, advertisements, blogs (Tumblr is a gold mine for this stuff), and more. Don't be afraid to utilize them.
Remember That Your Fantasy Is Not Weird
The most important thing for you to remember is that no matter what, your fantasies are not weird, gross, or wrong. Seriously. "Many people feel guilty for having particular types of fantasies or thinking about the 'wrong' person, but fantasy is free space," says Dr. Nikki Goldstein, sexologist and relationship expert. "Sexual fantasies are endless and there is also no right or wrong. It can be as crazy or weird as you would like because it's your free space."
You may come to realize that what you fantasize about are things you'd never, ever want to happen to you in real life. For example, you might fantasize about being raped (and a lot of women do), but you would never want to be raped in real life. You might even not want to act out that rape fantasy in the comfort of your bedroom. "Just because you fantasize about something doesn't mean you have to live out that fantasy, or even that you want to," says Dr. Goldstein. That's why a fantasy is a fantasy — it can remain in your head, and you can just conjure up images of it when you want to be turned on.
That being said, you are also more than welcome to act out your sexual fantasies in the bedroom. You just need a partner you trust, who's willing to experiment.
Get Your Partner Involved
There's only one way to really know what will turn you on: Try it. "Experience is the only way to know what we like or don't like," says Winter. "But to give any new fantasy a fair shake, it needs to be done in a safe and supportive environment. This would require having a conversation with your partner."
It can feel intimidating to talk to your partner about what turns you on, especially if this is your first time bringing up the topic. But there's a reason "communication" is the solution to literally every relationship issue, and that's because it works, you guys. Honest communication really is the key to having a fulfilling sex life.
If you don't know where to start, Winter suggests you ask your partner what they like first. "Begin the conversation by focusing on your partners needs. As you listen, stay open and unruffled by whatever you hear. The moment your partner feels that you don't judge them, you've just established the perfect platform for your honesty as well," she says. Once you are both open and honest with each other about your sexual desires, you have the freedom to try whatever you'd like.
Before you begin, though, Dr. Goldstein suggests you "test the waters" first to determine that you even want to bring your fantasy to life in the first place. Maybe you and your partner decide to watch a porn movie that displays your fantasy of being gagged. Or maybe you start talking to your partner like you're in the midst of doing a teacher-student role play. That can help you decide if you actually like the fantasy as much as you thought you did, or if you maybe want to do a lesser version of it.
If you're feeling nervous about trying out your fantasy, talking about the fantasy out loud can be more than enough of a turn-on. "Talking about fantasy with a partner is a wonderful way to enhance intimacy, as well as be mentally stimulating," says Dr. Michael.
Figuring out what turns you on is a really rewarding process. You'll feel empowered to take control of your sex life in a way you never thought you could, and your partner will be excited to be able to do things to make you feel good. Honestly, what more could you want?
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