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How do I increase sexual arousal for myself and for my partner?
There are many ways to increase your and your partner’s sexual arousal. Sexual arousal is a psychological and physiological response1. This means that having positive feelings in both body and mind are necessary for adequate arousal. Here are ten tips to help boost sexual excitement. Most importantly, communicate openly and honestly with your partner. Let them know what turns you on, what does not, and ask them to share their preferences with you as well. Open communication in a relationship builds trust and positive feelings. The more pleasure, the more arousal!
1. Don’t rush! A lot of couples are so busy that sex is restricted to a limited timeframe. This doesn’t allow much freedom to create high levels of arousal. Collaborate with your partner
and dedicate special time in the week for intimacy. Try spending the first fifteen minutes caressing, kissing, smiling, laughing, and anything else to help both of you relax and unwind. Couples often rush through their sexual activity as if there is a finish goal to attain. Every person varies in the amount of time it takes to feel aroused, so allow each other sufficient time to get in the mood2. Once both of you feel the excitement, you can explore touching the more erotically sensitive parts of each other's bodies to intensify the effect.
2. Increase the intimacy. Take a nice long bubble bath together. Give each other massages. Light some candles and put on soft music. Slow dance. Simply hold each other. According to Basson’s model of sexual response, intimacy is the precursor for arousal, especially for women3. Intimacy leads to arousal and desire, and desire feeds into a loop of even more feelings of intimacy and arousal4. Engaging in intimate activities may increase sexual interest, not only for the time being, but for the long run as well.
3. Do more activities together. Go for a walk through the park. Watch a movie or go to the theater. Eat dinner together. Try something the both of you have never done before, like surfing or an art class. Find activities that the two of you can enjoy doing together. Participating in shared interests together creates positive memories later to reflect upon and enhances intimacy.
4. Don’t stress! Feelings of stress and anxiety tend to lower sex drives5. Expectations during sexual activity may induce stress, especially if these expectations are not met. Worrying about sexual performance or physical appearance interferes with your ability to enjoy the pleasures of the moment6. Sensate focus exercises are a great way to reduce such anxieties because they work to eliminate the mental distractions that deter arousal. Too demanding of a lifestyle can also be a source of stress, so you may want to reprioritize with your health in mind. If there is tension in the relationship due to an unresolved problem or argument, be sure to take the time to work it out. Lessening such stressors should facilitate arousal.
5. Pucker up. Too many people underestimate the erotic potential of kissing. From sweet little pecks on the cheek to passionate kisses with a lot of tongue, the act of kissing holds a lot of arousing possibilities. Try kissing each other for ten minutes without doing anything else. You'll be amazed at the results!
6. Talk dirty. Similar to styles of kissing, certain words and phrases can increase arousal3. Be creative. Say things to your partner that you would like to hear in that moment, like “I want you so bad” or “It feels so good when you…”. Let your partner know explicitly how you feel. Also, erotic talk isn’t limited to the bedroom—send your partner a sexy text or picture letting them know you were thinking about them or what to look forward to.
7. Try erotic stories, fantasies, and role-play. These techniques allow you to toy around with the idea of something that you couldn’t or wouldn’t do in the outside world. For example, you can't be a princess or medieval knight in reality, but during role-play you and your partner can have fun with such ideas. Sexual fantasies can be imagined together or in your own private thoughts. Fantasizing increases your resources for sexual arousal7. Since these erotic narratives are stored in your mind, you can pick among the scenarios and play it in your mind at any time you wish to become aroused.
8. Give your partner affection. Being caring and nurturing towards your partner allows them to feel more comfortable with you, making it easier for him or her to become aroused when the time is right. Show your partner that they are appreciated both verbally and nonverbally. Give him or her a hug for no reason. Compliment something you enjoy about your partner—like “you have the best sense of humor” or “I feel so safe with you”. Make your partner feel cared for, and watch them do the same for you.
9. Be confident. Like stress, having low self-esteem may hinder sexual arousal. In order to desire someone else, you must desire yourself first. Improve your self-image by doing things that make you feel good about yourself. This could be going to the gym, eating healthy, or picking up a hobby you lost touch with. Confidence radiates, and your partner will definitely notice your sexy new sense of self. Positive feelings of security, coming from both within and from your partner, will enhance sexual arousal.
10. Look at each other! You'd be surprised at how aroused you can get just by holding eye contact with your partner. Use your sense of sight to appreciate the beauty of your partner’s body. Look at his or her neck, muscle lines, and freckles. Let your partner know how much you enjoy his or her body. Again, this can increase desire and arousal for both partners.
1-5 Greenberg, J. S., Bruess, C. E., Conklin S. C. (2011). Exploring the
dimensions of human sexuality (4th Edition). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
6-7 LeVay, S., Baldwin, J., Baldwin, J. (2009). Discovering human sexuality.
Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.
Last Updated: May 14, 2012