As I began my journey to discovering sexual freedom and pleasure, there was one question I lived in fear of hearing:
“What do you like?”
I’ve been fortunate to find a series of sexual partners who have genuinely cared about my pleasure (and I have walked away from potential play partners who demonstrated that they were only interested in their own pleasure … but that’s a story for another day).
This question, then, is an essential part of the conversation – with 100% of your body real estate available, and an infinite number of ways to interact with it, can you give me a head start on which places you like being touched and whether you like being caressed, tapped, scratched, grabbed, spanked, or any of a thousand other things?
The problem is that, with a history of shutting my body and brain down in order to tolerate sexual experiences I didn’t want, what I liked hadn’t even been something I thought about. I had no answer for the question.
Any time someone asked “What do you like?” I felt like a mumbling fool. It was embarrassing. I felt stupid and inadequate. Once again, I was convinced of my brokenness.
A few times I got brave enough to say, “I don’t know what I like. Will you help me figure it out?” And while saying that much was a major step forward, it still felt pathetically weak. Like I would always be relying on other people to teach me about my own body.
It took six months of wandering around in the not-at-all-sexy dark before a new thought emerged: it is time for me to stop asking others to figure it out for me. It’s time to become a scientist of my own pleasure.
I recast myself in a new role: Sexual Scientist!
I reached out to the man I was dating at the time.
“I’ve gotten stuck in a mindset that is continually saying ‘I don’t know’ about what I like and hoping someone else will teach me. Which is anti-helpful – it keeps me so focused on what I think I’m missing that I’m not actually present to what I’m feeling.
I’d like to spend some time with you approaching my body and sexual touch like a science experiment. ‘Let’s try this – do you like it?’ If yes, wonderful! There’s new information to add to the list. If no, no judgment on me or you. I’m not broken and you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just not something I love in this moment, so let’s try something different.
It would require a lot of communication and a slightly different mindset for us both. It would also require a focus on one-way touch rather than interactive play. Is that something you’d be open to?”
It didn’t take him long to respond:
“Thank you for offering this idea as an approach. I am happy to participate, and it actually would be refreshing. Yes, count me in!”
It ended up being a delightful and illuminating experiment. So much so that I’ve since shared it with other sexual partners and given it to clients who have had similarly eye-opening results.
And now I offer it to you!
If you have a home with kids and other distractions, it can be helpful to set aside a specific period of time. Even five minutes is enough. The goal is to be as fully present as you are able for those five minutes.
Agreeing on a set period of time beforehand (whether it’s five minutes or an hour) can also be helpful in keeping you focused on the activity and not automatically moving into your habitual sex moves once you find a hotspot. Sex is fine, but make sure it happens AFTER the exercise is complete.
One person is the giver of touch and one person is the receiver of touch for this session.
Here is the scientific method as I learned it in school:
1) Make an observation
2) Create a hypothesis
3) Test the hypothesis
4) Draw conclusions and refine the hypothesis
Let’s assume that step 1 is done – the observation is that there is more sexual pleasure to be discovered within our bodies and we’re on a hunt to find it.
Step 2: Create a hypothesis.
The receiver might say, “I think I would enjoy some nibbling on my neck. Would you start the experiment there?” While I encourage the receiver to be the one who gives the first hypothesis, if they get really stuck it’s okay for the giver to say something like, “I’ve noticed that you like light touch on your stomach. Would you like to experiment with that?”
Step 3: Test the hypothesis
If the agreed-upon exploration is scratches on the arm, the giver should DO THAT and JUST that. Scratch the receiver’s arm a few times with a consistent speed and pressure. Then wait for the receiver to say, “Yes, I love it exactly like that!” or “I like that, but could you do it a little slower and to the left?” or even “I thought I would like that, but I don’t. Let’s try something different.”
The giver’s job is to follow the input from the receiver, just as it is given. The giver’s job is NOT to get fancy or try to anticipate what might give the receiver even MORE pleasure. Don’t let your ego get in the way, telling you that you know better than the receiver what their body will enjoy. The goal is to help the receiver get in touch with their own body and their own pleasure signals.
We disconnect from our pleasure signals for many reasons – whether it’s past abuse or a desire to demonstrate pleasure to soothe a lover’s ego. Help your receiver to tune into their pleasure signals by doing what they request – nothing more and nothing less.
And remember – if the receiver doesn’t like something, it’s not a rejection of YOU. They are listening to their body – possibly for the first time – and finding out what it craves. You get to be the hero of this exercise by helping them discover new vistas of pleasure!
Step 4: Draw conclusions and refine the hypothesis
The receiver’s job is to tune into the touch and ask one question: “Do I like how this feels?” How it FEELS. Not how you think it should feel. Not whether this is a thing that Good Girls are supposed to get off on. Not whether your partner will be happy or sad knowing that you like or don’t like the thing.
Focus on the touch and ask your body if this is something you enjoy.
If you discover a new touch that you love, CELEBRATE! Share this with your partner. Tell them IN WORDS how much you enjoy it. You might even want to write it down or take some pictures to help both of you remember what worked so you can replicate it again later.
If the touch is okay but still leaves you wanting more, ask the giver to make a slight adjustment – an inch to the left? A little lighter? Slower? More tongue? Whatever you think might get you closer to great pleasure, tell your partner. Perhaps one refinement will do it; perhaps it will take ten before you find the sweet spot that brings you the great pleasure you’ve been wanting. Don’t give up!
Or perhaps you will decide that this touch isn’t right for your body at this time – no harm, no foul. You’ve got information! Move on to the next hypothesis and start again.
At the end of the session, thank your partner and make sure that you both have a way to remember what you’ve learned.
If you have limited time, set up a date to reverse roles. If you have more time now, switch places and get ready for a whole different adventure on the other side.
Written out like this, it might sound complicated and a tad too clinical. But I promise that playing the game can be intuitive, fun, and TOTALLY sexy.
And women, here’s something important to know: so often we get into the trap of thinking we have to please our partner by performing pleasure. We don’t want to give too much feedback because we’re afraid it will turn our partners (especially our male partners) off and upset them. But it turns out the opposite is true: they are CRAVING information. They WANT to be great lovers and are grateful for direction.
So go forth and experiment. I’d love to hear about what you learn!
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