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Why "what turns me on?" is the wrong question to ask

August 3, 2015

 

Do you ever feel at a loss about how to feel more desire, enjoy sex more, reignite a spark that was once there, or to want sex again? Most people will hit a sexual lull at some point (or multiple points) in life, whether it lasts an evening or a few months or a few years.

At these points it can be helpful to take inventory. Most of us will ask ourselves, "What turns me on?" While this is a fine question, it will only get us part of the answer. In The Return of Desire, sex therapist Gina Ogden advocates completing the sentence, "I can turn myself on by..." It's a question that puts control and responsibility for our sexuality squarely back in our laps.

Some of the answers might be obvious. For example, "I turn myself on by:" reading erotica, fantasizing, masturbating, thinking of my hot lover, watching sex scenes.

Some of the answers may be less obvious, though. For example, "I turn myself off by": Criticizing my body, focusing on what my partner is doing that annoys me, doing the same things sexually even though I'm a little bored. Going with these examples, we might discover new and more subtle turn-ons: focusing on parts of my body I find sexy, focusing on what my partner is doing that I like or asking for something better, suggesting or trying out new things sexually.

Next time you find yourself lacking desire or in a rut, try out this little exercise using the "turn-on matrix" below. See what you'd need to do in order to minimize or change the turn-offs and maximize the turn-ons.

 

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