Bedroom Insider

A blog about relationships, intimacy and sex toys.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How to Turn Your Partner On

Beautiful loving couple kissing in bed

The key to turning on your partner is knowing what turns them on. It might be something unexpected. For some people, feet are a huge turn on (in fact, a foot fetish is incredibly common), but others find feet to be quite a turnoff. You need to think both outside of yourself and society in general. Focus on what you know about your partner. If you’re unsure, there are a few options:

Ask directly
Try what’s worked before (or what commonly works for others)

Talk About It

If you’re in the middle of flirting, making out, or dirty talk, you can easily ask your partner in a sultry way what turns them on. They might feel special that you’re taking the time to get to know them, and you may have a chance to talk about your own preferences. Plus, talking about what turns you on can be a turn on in and of itself.

There are other ways you can go about this, too. You can instruct your partner to show you what turns them on or even request that they tell you what to do to get them aroused. Many people find power play to be quite erotic, so these games serve dual purposes.

If your partner has trouble opening up or if you’re not even sure what might be an interest, your communication might need a kick start. You can employ technology to help. You’ll find a few tools that enable you to discover new things to try and do so in a way that’s low-pressure. Mojo Upgrade allows partners to take a quiz separately and then view overlap, but it’s not the only option. Autostraddle’s Sex Worksheet includes a section about turnons. Although less fancy, yes-no-maybe lists allow each of you to rate what you’re willing to try, would consider, and will never do in bed.

You might hear something that you find surprising or even distasteful. You don’t want to judge your partner when they reveal something so vulnerable as what gets their motors running in the bedroom. This can make them clam up and refuse to open up to you -- or any other partner -- in the future.

Go With What You Know

Although it’s never a bad idea to ask your partner about their sexual desires, turnons, and preferences, there may be times where there isn’t an opportunity. This is when you might rely on what has worked to turn on your partner’s in the past. If you lack experience, you can get a feel for common turnons online.

Things that commonly turn people on include:

Deep kissing/making out
Touching their genitals over clothing
Kisses on the ears, neck, or collar bone
Sensual massage
Watching porn or reading erotica
Sexy texting
Taking off their clothes
Taking off your clothes/performing a striptease
Talking dirty
Performing oral sex on them
Grabbing their butt
Masturbate for them or let them “catch” you
Lighting candles or incense
Turning down the lights
Sensual music
A blindfold

Remember that while some (perhaps even many) techniques will work for most people, no technique will work for everyone. So while your experience or advice from other people may lead you down the right road, you shouldn’t expect that it will work. Be prepared that your partner may not like everything you try, and recognize that this is okay. Avoid saying anything that might shame your partner for their preferences or bodily responses.

You still need to pay attention to how your partner reacts -- if they make noises that indicate discomfort or pain, if they’re silent, still, or they pull away from you, they’re probably not having a good time. You should check in to determine if whatever you’re doing is okay.

Bodily cues such as enlarged pupils, faster breathing, a blush over the face and chest, pulling you closer, moaning, grinding against your body, and erection (penis, nipples, clitoris), or moisture can all indicate arousal.

Explore to Find More ways to Turn Your Partner On

Experimentation is a great way to find out what else turns on your partner or how you can adapt the typical turnons. Exploring in this way combines using what you know works and communicating because you’ll need to get feedback on what you’re doing. But many of these methods rely on your body versus your mouth and mouth. Don’t forget to pay attention to their body to see how well it’s working!

Use Tools At Your Disposal 

Just like there are tools you can use to find out what your partner wants to do once they’re already turned on, there are tools to help you get there. Pillow includes a number of exercises that you might find helpful.

You can also find books, films, and other media that will coach you through similar exercises.

Sensate Focus

Sensate focus is a well-known exercise created by sex researchers Masters and Johnson. It focuses on sensuality over sexuality. In fact, you should avoid sexual touch at first Sensate focus takes place in several stages. You should try each phase twice weekly for 1-2 weeks before moving on to the next.

           1. Touch, kiss, and caress your partner’s body, avoiding the breasts and genitals. Take your time to touch every part of your partner’s body and to use different techniques to do so. Your partner can provide nonverbal feedback such as squeezing or tapping during this process. A partner can gently move your hand away if they don’t like the stimulation. The session should last at least thirty minutes before you switch roles.
           2. Start with the non-sexual touching from the first stage. However, you can now add the breast or genital areas. Remember not to engage in penetration or sexuality activities that would lead to orgasm. Keep up with the second stage for 20 minutes before switching roles.
          3. You and your partner can touch at the same time. Remember what you’ve learned from the first two phases. It’s likely you’ll become aroused, but you shouldn’t try orgasmic touching.
         4. Start the final stage with the touching you learned in the first three stages. Assume a position like that used for penetrative sex but focus on external rubbing and grinding. Lube can be helpful for this exercise After a session or two, you can move to activities that are designed to lead to orgasm.

Note that sensate focus was designed with straight couples in mind. Depending on your definition of sex, exercises in these phases, especially step 4, may qualify as sex. And while you’re not supposed to orgasm until the last phase, it can occasionally happen in an earlier stage.

When You Can’t Turn Your Partner On

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you’ll fail at arousing your partner. It’s all too easy to take this as a failure or even rejection, but don’t give up just yet. It’s time to investigate.

Do They Know Themselves?

You might have heard that it’s much harder for a partner to help you have an orgasm if you don’t already know how to have one, but this can extend to turnons, too. If your partner doesn’t know what turns them on, perhaps because of sexual inexperience, you’ll have to try things and see what works. But if their turnons are especially unique, you might not be lucky enough to stumble across them.

Encourage your partner to experiment with erotic content and masturbation. They can also research different sexual interests and activities to learn what works for them. One thing to do is to look for common themes in the erotic content they enjoy whether that be porn, a steamy movie, or erotica. This can also be applied to sexual activity or fantasy. What happens when they’re turned on? How can you incorporate that into your sex life?

Should You Focus on Their Brakes, Instead?

Sex researchers Bancroft and Janssen developed the dual-control model of sexual, which you can learn about here. In short, there are the things that turn you on (accelerators) and what turns you off (brakes). If those brakes are at 100%, it doesn’t matter how hard you push the accelerator. To ease up on the brakes, you might need to help your partner de-stress, work on relationship issues, or even use different words when discussing sex (yes, this can be that important).

Sometimes a person’s sexual brakes are things such as body image or sexual confidence, which require your partner to work on them. You can be supportive, but there’s not much you can do aside from that. Still, if your partner can let you know what prevents them from being turned on, you can

Are You Giving It Enough Time?

Some people find themselves turned on at the drop of a hat, but others? Not so much. You can’t expect your partner to be turned on immediately. For some people, especially women, it takes more time. Some people have what’s known as responsive desire, which means their desire needs the right cues. Scheduling sex can build anticipation that triggers responsive desire. You can discover more about responsive desire in Emily Nagoski’s book Come As You Are.

As you get to know your partner, you’ll discover some of those cues. But you’ll need to give it some time to work.

Allow yourself and your partner to enjoy the journey. Don’t be focused solely on the destination. Every part of sex from the turnons to the afterplay can be pleasurable! It’s one reason why I think we should stop calling it “foreplay” and work on coreplay, instead.

Discovering what turns your partner on and using that to drive your partner wild with desire can be just as scintillating for you and can make you feel powerful when you figure out the keys to unlock your partner’s arousal. Just make sure your partner is on board with the idea and you don’t treat them like an object in the process.

By: Adriana Ravenlust
Follow on Twitter @adriana_r