SECRETS OF THE SEXUAL MIND
Our brains fall into one of three sex types – visual, aural or kinetic. REBECCA NEWMAN reveals the erotic triggers
behind your turn-ons
What turns you on? Or rather, what turns you on the most? Is it the sight of your lover lying beneath you? Would it be the sound of their voice in your ear, telling you how beautiful they find you and exactly what they plan to do to you, detail by detail? Or perhaps you go to a place where your body is flooded with sensation; that point when your eyes are shut, when you and your partner are tangled together where everything is purely physical bliss. With any luck, it will be all three. But, more likely, one of these will speak to you most strongly. ‘People can generally be divided into three sexual types,’ says sex and relationship coach Elena Angel. ‘The visual, in which you are stimulated by seeing things; the aural, where you want to hear things – both for the meaning of the words, but also the tone and timbre with which they are spoken; and the kinetic, where it’s all about the variety and quality of touch.’ Taking time to recognise which type you are empowers you – and your partner – to maximise your sexual experience.
‘For me, it’s watching his body,’ my friend Sally, a 29-year-old film producer, confesses over coffee. ‘I love the way he looks naked. It drives me crazy when he’s on top and I can see his back reflected in our wardrobe mirrors.’ Women like Sally, who are most strongly turned on by the visual, will already be aware of it. ‘I even like to see my own body when I’m wearing great underwear,’ Sally says. ‘I like to observe our bodies coming together, to revel in the way we move.’
If you are a visual type, the scene you are in matters significantly to you. You will be more turned on with light – or, even better, candlelight – to see things by. Your levels of arousal may equally be affected by the way a room is laid out: untidiness may distract you from orgasm. But similarly, perfect sheets, rose petals scattered around, the view of your lover kissing your stomach, or their wrists bound in leather cuffs, are visual cues that can be tremendously powerful. ‘A visual person will be looking to read her lover, too,’ Elena says, ‘watching for signs that they are aroused. So if she is with a person who internalises these things, she may not be as turned on. She will want eye contact, and to make the most of different positions because of the variety of ways she can watch their bodies interacting.’
The auditory type of woman can be far more difficult for the partner to read. ‘For her, sex is about seduction with words and sound,’ says Elena. ‘She will want to hear erotic words and to listen to their intonation, keenly aware of whether they are said in a loving,
romantic or urgent fashion. She will want to hear that her partner is enjoying the experience, which may be uncomfortable for those who find it difficult to express themselves in bed.’
If your partner is not terribly good at vocalising his or her thoughts in a sexual situation, start gently by encouraging them to articulate what they’re doing, or how fantastic they think you look. Ben, 32, an author, is one such reserved character. ‘I used to find the idea of saying anything in bed, or during foreplay, terrifying. I imagined you had to come up with some kind of pseudo-porn,’ he says. Eventually he realised it wasn’t nearly that complicated. ‘It’s as much the sound of my voice that my girlfriend likes as what I am saying. I would tell her how, at work that day, my mind had wandered to how sexy I find her shoulders and back.’ As well as the voice, other sounds also play a part. Noises outside the bedroom can be distracting. Equally, putting on some great music can make a real difference, or playing with toys that make suggestive sounds: think the whip of a cane through the air, or the clink of a chain that will be laid cold across your body. On a more subtle note, the sound of your partner’s moans or your own gasps can be highly charged.
If, however, you tend to notice textures – if you play with your hair and love a massage – you are most likely to be kinetic. In bed, you often close your eyes, losing yourself to the sensation. ‘A great thing for this type is to play with different qualities of touch – textures such as silk or leather, or hot and cold temperatures. They would also enjoy stimulation all over the body, beyond the usual erogenous zones.’ So your lover will want to think in terms of bringing the whole of your body to a point of high arousal – every part of you until you are overwhelmed with the sensation.
‘Knowledge of what sexual type you are gives you greater control over your sexuality,’ says psychologist Dr Sandra Wheatley. ‘Everybody will have a preference and be drawn to some things over others. It’s similar to the way some people are more sensitive to music and others to paintings: it isn’t a choice for you, it’s just how it is. An awareness of what turns you on can enable you to relax and be comfortable in your own skin.’
It is in this place, this zone where you abandon yourself to stimulation by someone who truly understands your particular buttons, that you may find yourself tipping into a deeper kind of climax. ‘Providing you are in an open and welcoming frame of mind, if you are deeply and tenderly aroused, you may find you reach a kind of pre-dreamlike state. You are conscious, but not conscious, not controlling your body, not dictating your arousal or your climax.’
Once you’ve identified your stimulus, this isn’t to say that you should focus solely on satisfying your type. As Elena says, ‘You want to develop the other sides of your sexual mind. For example, a kinetic woman might try to keep her eyes open. You never want to use your type to limit yourself – more to highlight certain avenues that will repay exploration.’
Of course, in your relationship there are two sexual types to consider – your lovemaking will be shaped by the needs and desires of your partner as well as your own and, crucially, the compatibility of your types. ‘The great news is that your predominant sexual type is not wholly exclusive,’ Sandra says. ‘You might be 80% kinetic and 20% visual, so there will always be some overlap between your and your partner’s desires. Use this common ground as a starting point for communicating your sexual preferences, then you have a basis on which to suggest trying new things.’
Exploring both your own type and that of your lover can not only benefit your mutual orgasms, Sandra says, ‘but your relationship as a whole. If you are both able to open up and discuss what works for each of you, this breaks down barriers between you and builds confidence. When you are both noticing the details of one another, encouraging and communicating your turn-ons, you may find that your partner has observed things you never even knew about yourself.’