11 minute read
So you want your sex drive back – but surely, it’s not your job to learn how to turn yourself on? Your partner should be the one to turn you on, right?
Well – you’re both right and wrong. Because sexual desire is something that lives in you – but it’s affected by your partner, too.
This means there are likely lots of things they do (or don’t do!) that contribute to your lack of a sex drive. And when you work with a sex therapist and coach like myself – we address them all. Because in reality, there are likely things that you both need to work on, not just you.
However, in order to access your desire again and feel excited about connecting intimately – you need to take charge of your own desire first.
And this is actually good news!
When you do the work and you understand what turns you off and turns you on – you’ll be able to kickstart your own sex drive.
When you leave it up to your partner, it’s haphazard at best, and at worst – it causes tension and anxiety. Because they don’t know what you want. And if you don’t know what you want – how can you even tell them what to do differently?
When you’ve had low or no sex drive for months or years, sex can be intimidating and feel like it’s only important because it’s important to your partner.
While the above may be true for some, I like to focus on what’s in it for my clients. Because up until this point, you’ve likely been focusing on your partner’s needs way more than you’ve been focusing on or connecting with your own.
And that’s why you’re reading this article. It’s not because you have a sexual desire disorder and are broken and need to be fixed – but because you’re in charge of your sexuality.
Learning how to turn yourself on is empowering. It puts you in the driver’s seat and it gives you the education to be able to communicate with your partner. Turning sex into a meaningful and fulfilling experience for you both.
So if you’re with me this far, and want to try on the position of being in the driver’s seat for your own desire – let’s dive into the specifics of how to turn yourself on.
My suggestion is to read through all of this advice and insight and then decide what is your best starting place. The truth is, you may want to try it all eventually. But I’ve found for many clients, leaning into one idea as a place to start can have a cascading effect over time.
And once you try one – you might want to try all of them.
Desire is personal. What you want and what turns you on is deeply personal to you. So if an idea doesn’t do the trick – drop it and move on to the next one.
The important thing here is – just don’t give up.
Learning how to turn yourself on is a process – especially if you haven’t felt desire for months, years or decades. The more you work on it, the clearer your own desire template will become to you.
And what this leads to? Well, more desire leads to more arousal which leads to wanting your partner more. And when you want your partner more – better sex and more exciting experiences are waiting for you around the corner.
So let’s start with the one that’s probably already crossed your mind: visual and auditory aids.
My free resource The Desire Test helps you take that first step towards an increased sex drive, by understanding your decreased desire.
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Porn is a topic that most people have a relationship with; whether it’s that they use porn and like it, or avoid it completely due to morals and ethics. The good news about it, is that this kind of erotic support for your sex life is now less limited to visual aids and more options are becoming readily available in audio form (as well as the ever-growing trend of erotic fiction).
This important shift matters for many people, especially those who struggle with comparing themselves to the bodies they see in porn.
Because the truth is, most of us don’t look like the typical representations on screen.
Whether it’s the bodily changes that come with age, childbirth, or simply not being as ridiculously well-endowed as most porn actors are – it can cause us to feel badly about ourselves. This instantly moves our attention away from the thing that ignites our desire, to comparisonitis. Effectively turning us off.
According to a 2016 study, consuming erotic fiction and self-help books over a time period of six weeks helped female participants to make statistically significant gains when it came to sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, satisfaction, orgasms, pain reduction and overall sexual function.
Oftentimes, the simple accelerant of storytelling gets your mind (and body) into a place of feeling more interested in sex. From there, you might just find the story you’re listening to makes things like orgasming and overall pleasure, easier. And for people who want more desire in their life, erotic storytelling makes accessing your desire simpler.
This is a vital ingredient in rekindling desire, especially for those who have felt trapped in their low desire for a long time. Learning how to turn yourself on and expanding your understanding of what turns you on can help keep your interest in sex alive over time.
If you’re struggling with accepting your body as is and get caught up in comparing yourself to actors – know you’re not alone in these feelings, and that written erotic fiction or audio erotica might be the best place for you start.
And once you’ve done it a few times, it’s easy to start exploring what inside the story grabs your attention. In turn, giving you a clearer picture of what turns you on so it can be shared with your partner (or just accessed on your own when you’re in the mood!).
Beyond using erotic fiction, visual porn or listening to audio erotica, you can also turn yourself on through using various accessories. These include but are not limited to:
Lubricants are a great way of enhancing a moment of partnered sex and solo sex as they can be especially helpful in prolonging the experience. Some lubes out there are also specifically designed to heighten sensitivity in your genitals, whereas others provide a cooling or a heating sensation.
For those who struggle to lubricate on their own, investing in a lubricant that works for you can be vital in order to keep sex feeling pleasurable and good.
Because chafing and discomfort during sex is a sure-fire way for desire not to want to show up the next time.
Sex toys are a great way to play around with different types of stimulation or stimulating yourself in other areas than the ones you usually stick to. For instance, if you’re used to trying to orgasm as quickly as possible when masturbating – you might want to try adding in a sex toy to the mix to prolong the experience.
Exploring what parts of your genitals are exciting to touch and why can also be a fun way to mix things up and learn how to turn yourself on. In fact, exploring touch with your partner can be a great way to facilitate more desire for sex.
Oftentimes when people think about turning themselves on, they think about things that ignite their desire. While this is important (for obvious reasons) sometimes you need to think about it in a different way.
Your mind is an incredibly powerful tool (one way or the other) and it’s tricky to get turned on when you’re stressed out or your mind is on other things (like how many loads of washing you have to do, or what your toddler might actually eat for dinner tonight!).
Sex can relieve stress – but for most people, you need to first decompress and turn your mind off – before you can turn it on sexually.
Some popular ways of decompressing are doing things such as yoga, practising mindfulness, or even doing breathwork. All of these can facilitate relaxation and when you’re relaxed, you’re much more likely to get turned on.
When we get stressed, it’s the same age-old system that gets triggered in our body today as did thousands of years ago: the fight-flight-freeze response.
While most of us aren’t being chased by bears at the end of our day, your body still reacts as if you are when you get a threatening email from your boss (big deadline tomorrow) or your mother-in-law (surprise visit next week) or even from your partner (we don’t have sex enough).
The fight, flight, freeze response is not just psychological – it’s a physiological response. This means that when you feel stressed (even by daily chores or responsibilities) your body releases neurochemicals that cause your heartbeat to increase and your blood pressure to rise. And under these circumstances, very few of us feel sexy or raring to go with our partner.
After all, if your mind thinks it has to protect you from a bear – it’s not a great idea to suddenly feel in the mood for sex.
This is why before you can really learn how to turn yourself on, you have to first understand the impact stress is having on you so you can dial that stress response back.
This is where yoga, mindfulness, meditation or other calming practice comes in. By doing this first, your body will be more open to being turned on through the various techniques you try.
It’s easy to find yourself in the same old sexual routine if you’ve been with your partner for a long time.
Same place, same time, same position.
Changing things up through trying something new can sometimes be all that’s needed in order to access your desire again. The important thing to keep in mind here is that it doesn’t have to be “extreme”. Oftentimes changing one thing can be enough to create a new experience between the two of you – such that your desire heats up.
Because sexual boredom can cause us to feel less interested in sex, which is why we need to switch things up from time to time.
Knowing you’re about to do something new or different, means you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next. This can kickstart anticipation – which is also a key ingredient for sexual desire to stick around. This piques interest – which piques our sex drive.
Things like changing the location you usually have sex in, or changing your technique can make a massive difference.
If you usually touch a specific erogenous zone in a specific way, try changing that up and seeing what that does for your arousal and desire. Sometimes it can even be as simple as speeding things up, or slowing them down.
Other times it’s about changing the timing of when you have sex. If you usually fall into bed when you’re both exhausted – ask yourself, when do you have more energy? By finding a time of day when you naturally have more energy, you may feel more motivated to have sex with your partner. The kind that leaves you feeling giddy the rest of the day and longing for closeness at night.
By taking ownership of your sexuality and exploring what works for you, you’re releasing the one-sidedness in this part of your relationship. Compare this to the perspective of “my partner wants more, so I should just be giving my partner more sex” and it becomes clear this is a far more appealing way of approaching the situation.
No one wants to feel like they’re the only person who cares about the intimate part of their relationship. Nor does anyone want to feel like they’re always defending their disinterest to their partner. It gets really old really fast
Sex is a two-sided coin. For it to work, both people have to feel engaged and respected.
By exploring how to turn yourself on, you’ll also be giving your partner lots of guidance on what you need in order to feel more desire – so that sex really can become more mutually satisfying. And, by doing this kind of work, you learn how to connect to your desire forever more.
That said, sometimes it’s hard to explore your sexuality, especially if you feel like you’ve tried and it hasn’t worked in the past.
Maybe it’s a struggle to find anything that really turns you on. Or no matter how many de-stressing activities you do, it feels impossible to come down at the end of the day.
When this is the case, seeking support is paramount.
Whether you engage in a 1:1 online program like Re:Desire or seek out a sex therapist for regular sessions, this kind of outside support can help create a tailored desire action plan that leads you more smoothly to your destination. Compare this to when you’re just blindly taking a stab in the dark and trying different things with (frustratingly) no results.
If you would like help of a sex therapist and sex coach like myself, we can work together to identify why the things you’ve tried haven’t worked and what you need in order to move forward.
With that extra knowledge, you’ll learn how to actually turn yourself on and have the sex life that you are secretly still hoping and dreaming about deep inside.
One that is satisfyingly full of fireworks and desire.
I’ve worked with countless couples to rekindle their desire – those stuck in relationships with mismatched libidos and those who find themselves prioritizing everything else but sex.
Based on sexual science and my extensive experience as a sex therapist specialized in low desire and accompanying pressure surrounding sex – it helps you get your sex drive back and put your relationship on track again.
Get instant access to expert advice, delivered directly to your inbox weekly, when you download The Desire Test.
With 11 years of experience in the helping profession - Leigh helps her clients create stress-free, shame-free, pressure-free sex lives, through her unique combination of sexological science, & psychotherapeutic & coaching tools.
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