Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.’

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