*Editor’s Note: for what it’s worth, I’m pretty darn certain I got pregnant the day I tried Dame’s newest masterpiece: Com. Thanks, Dame! You made our year a whole lot more special!
Fun (or depressing) fact: I wasn’t asked, “What turns you on?” until I met my husband.
Leading up to that point, I’d kind of just been “doing sex”—without thinking of what was turning me on…or off.
While there’s nothing wrong with learning and figuring it out slowly, I’ve come to realize it takes a lot more intention for us to unearth and truly understand our desire, whether it’s for solo pleasure or partnered sex.
I mean, I have been a vagina-owner my whole life and a sexual being for most of it, but I was today years old when I discovered that there are actually two “types” of desire. Huh? Yep. Our sexual hunger is either spontaneous or responsive (more on that later).
Dr. Emily Nagoski, sex educator and author of Come As You Are, in a sexual wellness resource supplied by Dame, would say:
“We can understand sexual desire in terms of when and how we become aroused—it’s context-dependent and definitely not a fixed drive.
Here’s the kicker: desire doesn’t always precede arousal and arousal doesn’t always follow desire!”
So, arousal is somewhat fickle, and when it comes to gettin’ in the mood, context is Queen with a capital Q. This is a true “ah-ha” moment, especially for COVID-19 couples.
Well, It’s a great reminder that there’s no “right” way to “do”…anything when it comes to our sex lives. And yeah, we can all raise our hands in agreement—without shame—that relationships and sex drives have been personally victimized by the virus. We’re working from home more. We’re quarantining. We’re constantly stuck with our partners…
I think it’s safe to say the “sex space” of late has kinda been…tight. (And not in a good way.) So, it’s more important than ever for us to understand…
How the Arousal Engine runs.
Having these conversations, sex-ploring the nuts and bolts of what desire is, and educating ourselves in a sex-positive way…that’s how we put ourselves back in the driver’s seat. And that is what Dame, the female-led champion of pleasure, lives for. Their mission? To level the orgasmic playing field (specifically in favor of vulva owners) and to craft the crème de la crème of sex toys.
There’s a whole world of pleasure out there, but we have to start asking the right questions and seeking the answers. Even when it’s tough to find that friskiness and allure because we’ve got salt n’ vinegar chips on our chest and we’re too tired to get off the couch (sorry, babe). It’s through understanding how our desire works, according to our bodies, that we can saddle up and re-harness all its deliciousness.
If my husband had never asked me what turns me on, I likely wouldn’t have ever thought about it—or had half the orgasms I’ve had now! So, before we get into the “how,” let’s get into the “what”:
What is Spontaneous Desire?
Sex educators from Dame would say we can understand it as “a readiness to engage in sex in any context, without needing much stimulation. It’s the black-and-white model we tend to learn about when it comes to getting turned on—we either are or aren’t.”
If you haven’t seen your sweetie in a while and he/she walks in the door and then your vagina tingles…that’s spontaneous desire. What we typically see in movies? Also spontaneous desire.
What is Responsive Desire?
This is what most people experience. Read that again—specifically vulva-owners. Just because you’re not ready to drop your panties on a whim at any second, does not mean your libido is broken. It means context and stimuli matter.
Because it takes more outside resources, we might view sex through the lens of, “What am I getting out of this experience? Is the effort worth the reward?”
The answer is always for each individual to choose for themselves, but there are a few ways to nudge our “no” or “maybe later” into a “f*ck yes!”
Crafting pleasurable sex to enrich well-being.
This is the “how” part of things:
Understanding how we get turned on means we also have to understand how we get turned off—these two processes work in tandem. Start by acknowledging what’s holding you back from experiencing pleasure. Sometimes it’s obvious: an upcoming work deadline, needy pets (or partners), the third sleepless night in a row. Sometimes, less so.
Fickle desire got you in a pickle?
Here are three ways to turn up the heat and take off the pressure:
1. Keep intimate products in reach and in sight.
Leave the massage candle on the shelf. Keep Com—Dame’s body-friendly, upgraded, seriously the best f*cking toy ever—wand vibrator on a nightstand. When it comes to clit-owner orgasms, this is the holy grail.
Seriously, with up to 75% of us vulva-havers needing clitoral stimulation to orgasm, the bendy, bulbed head is serving up exactly what we need and want.
COM also, uhh, comes with Dame’s most powerful motor to date, so it can double as a personal massager, much like the wands of yesteryears. “COM here, babe. I want a (* air quotes *) massage.”
Quick history lesson because COM is a whole-ass feminist icon: wand vibrators first hit shelves in the late 1960s—originally marketed as a sports massaging device. But, vulva-owners figured out its non-sports-related, orgasmic superpower pretty darn quick. As Dame says:
“Its introduction corresponds nicely with the emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement. This was a time in the larger history of feminist movements and activism when women’s sex and pleasure became unapologetically prioritized. The wand’s introduction and increased use during this time was yet another tool of the complicated and exciting feminist goal of liberating women.”
So, whether we’re looking for stronger vibrations, relief for muscle aches, broader clitoral stimulation, or a new way to participate in feminist history, COM is a must-have for every human. (Don’t forget to keep it close—for easy access!)
2. Try Pleasure mapping.
It’s pretty much what it sounds like. Think of it as a stress-free sex-periment (can be done solo or amongst couples).
Through a series of questions and “touch trials,” sex-havers and orgasm-chasers get to map out what they like, how they like to be touched, and how to get the most out of their sexual encounters.
According to Sex Educator, Kenneth Play, “Touch has a number of different variables which can attribute different degrees of pleasure: pressure, friction, speed, pattern, and angle.”(1) When we play with those variables, we can figure out what works and then…keep the gears grinding how we like—with less effort since we’ve already discovered the key.
Things you’ll need? Pick one (or all): a hand, another body, sexy tools. For the tools, think: something that vibrates, like Pom, at different speeds. Or, for another sensation, something that has suction.
3. Seek explicitly erotic circumstances.
If you’re not immediately turned on by a suggestive look or, vulva-owners, if your partner’s “magic wand” doesn’t just make you quiver on command…turn up the heat. That might mean watching more movies with naked bodies. That could also mean stashing lube in your purse.
For those of us with a “Responsive” sex drive, these discreet yet strategic changes and experiments offer subconscious cues to keep sex on the brain and ease the burden of having to go out of our way for pleasure aids (“context”).
Com on, baby…you know you want 20% OFF the best “O” of your life (use code ELEPHANT20 before Feb 14th) >>
With the right tools, knowledge, and setting, even the salt n’ vinegar chips can’t stop your grand finalé. So, make a date with yourself and/or your partner and start sex-perimenting, my friends.
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1. Psych N Sex