When women get in bed with their mates and start touch that leads to sex, they are often not yet physically turned on. They may be starting at a zero level of sexual arousal — or a two or three — out of ten. Their partner may already be at 7 or 8 or higher. The arousal level that would be exciting enough to lead them to an interesting experience or an orgasm would be a nine or a ten. That is a big jump, and it is a jump that can stall out. Finding out how to increase one’s arousal is a process of discovery. Most women I talk to who have low levels of arousal have not spent the time needed to explore what brings them pleasure. They have not discovered what actually works for them. Or, in some cases, they used to know, but their bodies have changed, and they have not re-explored.

A few years ago a 33-year-old woman introduced herself in an evening class I taught by saying she was there to find out if she could have sex that was something in-between the sex she was currently having with her husband, and the sex in the erotic novel, 50 Shades of Grey. Peals of laughter emerged from all corners of the room as the women in the class could relate. Women want to be highly aroused, and yet they don’t know what to do. They hope their partner can figure it out for them, they hope it will be more exciting this time, yet they don’t have a map to make it so. 

In my view the sex in 50 Shades of Grey is remarkable not for its S and M components but because it displays the benefits of having sex with someone who is well trained in sexual arousal. The level of training in and attention to arousal is the standout element in this book. The sex in 50 Shades of Grey did not just happen. It was sex with someone who had spent hours paying attention to what is sexually arousing to another person. Christian Grey had invested time, attention, and thousands of dollars on his sexual education. He had practiced and experimented for hundreds of hours the best way to move a woman from a zero to a ten. He learned to identify increases in her heart rate, to know which pressure of touch got her there faster, to hear which moans indicated she was near her edge. If the arousal level in your sex life does not match 50 Shades of Grey, don’t be down on yourself or your partner. Don’t think you should already know. If you’re like most of the people who come to see me, neither you nor your partner has had a single class in sexual arousal. You have not had the hours of one-on-one mentoring with uninterrupted focus and no expense spared that the fictitious Christian Grey had.

Most women piece together their education in sexual arousal with the bits and pieces they have stumbled upon from direct experience, or as interpreted through girlfriends, the movies, TV, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and maybe a sister. They hope their partner has had a better education, but this is unlikely.

As interested as men are in getting their women excited and pleasing them, and they are interested in doing that, few are well informed about how to do it. Most likely your partner has had little useful education about sexual pleasure. High school sex education classes cover anatomy and physiology, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. These classes focus on real problems and risks involved with sexual activity, but they do not educate at all on how to create a good experience or peak of pleasure. Your partner’s information about your pleasure most likely is collected from bits too, e.g. his friends, TV pornography, or other things he has read on the internet, as well as what he has found to work in the past.

Your arousal is at the heart of enjoying sex and central to both you and your partner’s satisfaction. Your arousal is a very good thing. The more you are aroused, the more excited you will feel, and the more likely you are to orgasm. Finding out what kind of stimulation gets you going is the missing information. 

The first thing to know as you explore what takes you from a zero to a ten is that no two women are alike. You have your own personal arousal triggers. The ideas you see in the movies, or hear from a girlfriend may or may not work for you. Experiment. Find out what makes you tingly or hot and what makes you wet.

What works for you sexually is not something you get to choose — it is something you get to discover. You can’t decide to be aroused by something, you get to try it and see if it actually works.

Be yourself, relax your mind, and feel your reactions. Feel them, don’t think about them, feel them. It can be fun. Perhaps a light touch to the side of your ribs is deliciously arousing to you. Or maybe you prefer being lifted strongly into the bed by your partner and aggressively mounted. Or a tender personal, erotic dialogue in your ear during intercourse may be what works to get you going. Is it roses? It is his sexual advances? Is it when he does something on the edge? What gets you sexually excited? Do you want touch on the sides of your external clitoris, sweeping in and barely touching, or do you want pressure from the top down?

Does romance arouse you? If so, don’t judge it; work with it. Read romance novels. Watch movies with swashbuckling heroes or heroines that are swept away by love. Ask your partner to up his romantic moves. Ask to be surprised with flowers, or to have your bed littered with rose petals and an enormous number of candles lit around the room, or dine first by candlelight as a prelude. Perhaps you’d like to role-play with him. He gets to be the Texas Ranger, and you are the irresistible damsel in distress, or vice versa. As you experiment you may be surprised by what excites you. Make note of it. You may not choose to do everything that you find excites you. Some things may not be safe or desirable. You will want to do some of them.

Watch erotic movies, or read erotic literature. There is a whole genre of material out there that is designed to turn you on — see if it does. In bed try a variety of touches and pressures, different positions, unique places and see how you respond.

When something works don’t keep it to yourself. With your words or your moans, let your partner know you are turned on. You can say: “More there,” “Yes!” “That’s it.” Be direct and positive. 

When things are not working, let him know too. If his hand is slightly off the right spot, move it. If the pressure is too strong, adjust your body or his.  Don’t do it as a frustrated woman, or a stern teacher, do it as a sexy female who is aroused and wanting to be more aroused. You are on the same team, working together to make sex exciting for both of you.

If you don’t know what touch or position you want, but you know what he or she is doing isn’t working, communicate your desire to experiment, “Let’s try here” or “Touch me here.” Take his hand and place it where you can explore. Move it in the rhythm that feels good to you. Small immediate sexy communications that disclose to your partner what is happening inside your body work to keep arousal building.

If squeezing your nipples is more arousing than kissing them, tell him to squeeze them. If you know the kind of passion in the kiss you want, show him. Kiss him the way you want to be kissed. Tell him in your aroused passionate (not angry or critical) voice that this is how you love to kiss.

For examples of women who have claimed their sexual selves enough to share the specifics of their own orgasms, go to www.OMGyes.com. The open talk on this site may reframe things for you and make it easier to disclose what you are experiencing.

Don’t take it personally if you have to tell him again the next time. Persist. When he sees what awakens when you get fully excited his memory will improve.

Be direct and positive. A man’s macho self can take it. They can take your honesty. They want you to be excited, so they are more open to change than you think. They don’t know what to do to get you excited, so tell them. 

If your partner is female, communicate with her in the language that would work for you, whether you are using the language of touch or words. Watch and listen to her responses closely, and adjust what you do. There are two arousal speeds in the bed, and you want both to be at a nine or a ten.

Remember, if you don’t know what works for you it does not mean there is anything wrong with you. Most likely you are sexually “normal”. You just never had the hours of education in arousal that Christian Grey had. You can start now. 

For more specifics on desire and arousal, click here to buy my book Fanning the Female Flame — How to Increase Your Sexual Desire without changing partners.

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