How do you feel when you’re turned on, and what is the exact mechanism by which you feel aroused? These complicated questions welcome many possible answers: Maybe you need to shower, do your hair, put on that outfit, and look in the mirror. Maybe you need to see and touch your partner. Maybe you need to be touched yourself. Or maybe it’s something else entirely because when it comes to how to get aroused, options really are limitless.
But to help you better understand the nuances of your own libido, having a better understanding of your primary arousal type can help, according to relationship and sex therapist Petra Zebroff, PhD, who adds that arousal is the pathway by which you get turned on. In fact, it’s best to be aware of all five primary arousal types so that you can know how to get yourself in the mood and also understand what might excite your partner(s). (Take this quick quiz to get a hint on which type best aligns with you.)
If you’re a sensualist, the best answer to “how to get aroused?” is to use the five senses. Think: The way you smell like vanilla and lavender. The sounds you make, like moaning. How you feel soft as the sheets you’re between. And yep, even the way you taste. Sensualists let arousal build in a slow, unhurried manner. They love erotic touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste. They’re easy to turn on.
Behaviorists usually have unique tastes and know exactly what turns them on. Whether that’s playing with new positions, role-play, dominance, or anything else, whatever it is that turns them on typically requires imagination and thinking about the act sex. They’re very into sex toys and porn, and love to plan and discuss different strategies for spicing things up the bedroom. They love open-minded partners.
These types need to feel truly close to their partner to feel turned on. They are all about emotional connection, so they love deep discussion or quality time together before getting into bed. Sex is deeply meaningful to intimates, who desire to merge body and soul. They are typically very giving in bed, and aim to ensure their partners are as excited and satisfied by sex. Giving pleasure turns on Intimates.
Attractors feel most turned on when their partner sees them as desirable. They like dressing up in any way that feels sexy to them before they feel really prepared to have sex. Look at them longingly, and they’ll melt; compliment their appearance, and they’ll be ready to go. Attractors often like to feel pursued and enjoy a quick-paced, hot-and-heavy session in the sack. Lingerie is a great gift for this type; let them know you want to see them all dolled up for you.
It’s also possible to derive sexual arousal from all four aforementioned types equally, and that’s where the Equalist arousal type comes in. Equalists are as turned on by a partner’s orgasm as they are by feeling personally hot in the tight dress they’re wearing. They are as into the idea of role-play as they are connecting on the date beforehand that precedes this show.
The power to be gained from knowing your arousal type extends itself to all relationship-status situations. You’ll gain some understanding of the best arousal-inducing directions you can give (literally or subliminally) to sexual partners new and old, and they do the same, so you’ll both likely be more satisfied with your rendezvous—and more taken care of as a partner. And if you’re untethered to any kind of relationship? Knowing your arousal type can help you understand what adds up to you being more in the mood for solo sessions.
Now that you know more about how to get aroused, here’s a primer on how to talk dirty without feeling super awkward. And here, sexperts answer the most common questions about sex they say they receive.