The Psychology of Your Kink

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Ever wondered why you get turned on by certain things?

The sound of a lover whispering “good girl” or “good boy” during sex. 

The thought of having sex in a risky place…where you could get caught.

The pressure of someone pinning your wrists down, while they have their way with you. 

We all have particular sexual ideas that excite us, but most of the time, we think in terms of the specific behaviors. If you dig a little bit deeper though, underneath the behaviors themselves, you can get an interesting window into your erotic psychology – and why you crave the things that you do. 

Your Core Erotic Desires

Some of the best experts I know working in eroticism and psychology are Danielle Harel, PhD and Celeste Hirshmm, MA, authors of Coming Together: Embracing Your Core Erotic Desires for Sexual Fulfillment and Long-Term Compatibility. They’re also past guests on my show: if you’re interested in this subject, I recommend listening to our interview

Core erotic desires are the particular feelings you want to have during sex. Whether that sex looks vanilla or kinky doesn’t matter – we all have core erotic desires, and what’s interesting is, we don’t really choose them. But they are the key to unlocking your arousal and your orgasm. Until you figure out your core erotic desires, you’ll always have a sexual thirst that you can’t quite quench. 

Examples of Core Erotic Desires (& How They Show Up In Kink)

Maybe the idea of having sex in public is hot to you, because you feel so irresistible that your partner would have sex with you anywhere.

Maybe the idea of coming on your partner’s face is hot to you, because you feel so accepted you can completely let loose with them. 

Maybe the idea of being watched while you have sex is hot to you, because you feel so free you can let others appreciate your body and sexuality. 

Maybe the idea of being tied up while you have sex is hot to you, because you feel powerless to someone else’s control. 

Maybe the idea of restraining someone during sex is hot to you, because you feel powerful calling the shots. 

There are a ton of examples like these in Coming Together, and I also take a deep dive in Smart Sex. Notice the feelings I described:

  • Irresistible
  • Accepted
  • Free
  • Powerless
  • Powerful

They all manifest in different kinky behaviors (exhibitionism, face ejaculation, voyeurism, and bondage). But the feelings driving them are what’s most important. Those are specific to you and your psychological makeup.

Where Your Core Erotic Desires Come From 

In a word – childhood.

Let me be absolutely clear: core erotic desires do not come from children having actual sexual experiences. What they do come from, however, are experiences when we’re young, that contain both arousal and an obstacle. (Keep in mind: arousal isn’t inherently sexual. It’s your body’s response to stimuli, whether that stimuli makes you excited or puts you on high alert.)

This research comes from psychotherapist Jack Morin, author of The Erotic Mind. He discovered that it was the frustration of certain desires that shape our deepest turn-ons. More to the point, he found that these desires shaped a person’s central sexual desires for the rest of their lives. 

For example, perhaps as a child, you didn’t receive a lot of touch from your caregivers: few hugs, pats, or loving embraces. Now, your core erotic desires may inform your sexual cravings: to be touched all over, everywhere. For sex that’s highly visceral, with lots of caresses and squeezes. That’s another example of feeling accepted during sex, like your partner can’t wait to touch you. 

How to Figure Out Your Core Erotic Desires

Your fantasies! If you fantasize while you masturbate, start to pay attention to the emotional themes present. Focus on the parts that are most arousing and exciting to you. Try to be as honest as possible: some core erotic desires are socially acceptable (like feeling accepted), some are less so (like feeling humiliated). It’s one hundred percent OK to have a core erotic desire that falls into that latter category, because remember: you don’t choose these desires. 

Another great way to hone in on your core erotic desires is to remember the hottest sex you ever had. Maybe it was sex in a place where there was a chance you’d get caught – and the feeling of being taboo or rebellious turns you on. 

Finally, you could try thinking back on your favorite sexy movie scenes, audio erotica, books, or even porn clips. What are the characters saying to each other? How are they behaving? What’s the context of their tryst? All of this provides clues about your arousal patterns. 

I’d love for you to try these exercises, and get back to me. Take some time to journal your findings, and let me know what you find out. What are the feelings you’re craving during sex? How do they shape your fantasies? How do they shape the sex you most want to have?

If you want to learn more, check out my recent article with 10 common kinks and fetishes, and exactly what they are. There may even be some that surprise you…

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