NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Monday, October 10, 2022

Core Erotic Feelings: What Emotions Help You to Get in the Mood For Sex?

In the book, The Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay - Techniques and Strategies For Mind-Blowing Sex by Jessica O'Reilly, Ph.D. and Marla Renee Stewart, MA, there is a fascinating chapter about core erotic feelings (CEF), which is the subject of this article (see my articles: Sexual Pleasure and the Erotic Self and What is Your Erotic Blueprint?).

Discovering Your Core Erotic Feelings

The main author, Dr. O'Reilly, who lives in Canada, is also known for her popular podcast, "Sex With Dr. Jess."  She is a sexologist who promotes healthy and pleasurable sex.  She also appears on television.  

Her theory about core erotic feelings reminds me of the work of sex therapist and researcher Dr. Jack Morin who wrote about core erotic themes and peak sexual experiences in his book, The Erotic Mind (see my articles: Discovering Your Peak Erotic Experiences and Reviving Your Sex Life With Your Peak Erotic Experiences).

What Are Core Erotic Feelings?
According to Dr. O'Reilly, to get into the mood for sex, it's not just about what you say or do--it's also about how you feel, which are your core erotic feelings (CEF). She indicates that CEF are a prerequisite for getting into the mood for sex.

Everyone is different, so what might be a CEF for you might not be a CEF for others.  When you're able to identify your own and your partner's CEF, you can have an impact on your sexual dynamics.

Dr. O'Reilly posits that your CEF is an essential part of who you are, and although it can change over time, it often remains the same.

According to Dr. O'Reilly, some common CEFs are feeling
  • Desirable (this is a common CEF for women)
  • Powerful
  • Vulnerable
  • Happy 
  • Confident
  • Sexy
  • Loved
  • Safe
  • Stressed
  • Challenged
  • Playful
  • Subjugated
  • Serene
  • Excited
  • Calm
  • Comfortable
  • Passionate
  • Liberated
The CEFs listed above are just a short list.   There are many others.

How Can You Discover Your Core Erotic Feeling (CEF)?
To discover your CEF, it helps if you: 
  • Think back to how you felt emotionally during a peak erotic experience
    • Spend time thinking and writing about this experience in your private journal, including what made it pleasurable for you and the emotion involved.
  • Remember a sexual fantasy that gave you pleasure and remember what emotion you were feeling
    • Remember a favorite sexual fantasy.  Ask yourself what makes it especially pleasurable. Spend time writing about it in your private journal and include the emotion involved.

Examples of Peak Erotic Sexual Experiences and the Related Core Erotic Feelings 
The following are common examples of CEFs that illustrate what you can discover about yourself when you think back to pleasurable sexual experiences and fantasies (all the names and identifying information have been changed to protect confidentiality).  

Remember there is no right or wrong answer, and everyone is different in terms of what emotions are involved that get them turned on.

When I got home from a stressful day at work on a Friday night, I was greeted by my husband, who gave me a passionate kiss and handed me a glass of my favorite red wine.  He told me he arranged for our children to spend the weekend with his parents so we could have a sexy, romantic weekend together.  We had not had a weekend to ourselves in months, so I felt myself relaxing as soon as I heard we were alone.  

Discovering Your Core Erotic Feelings

He led me into the bathroom where the tub was filled with my favorite bubble bath.  Then, he slowly undressed me as he kissed me and told me how lucky he felt to have such a sexy wife.  Then, feeling like a queen, I stepped into the sensualness of the bubble bath.  After I soaked for a bit and allowed the tension of the day to dissolve, I asked him to join me, and he did.  This was the beginning of a wonderful romantic, sexy weekend.
  • Core Erotic Feeling: Feeling Sexy 

On our one-year anniversary, my partner, Vickie, rented a room in one of our favorite bed and breakfast inns where we had a romantic dinner.  After dinner, we went to our cozy Victorian room, which had a fireplace in the living room and the bedroom.  We cuddled by the fire in the living room and drank champagne to celebrate our anniversary.  

Discovering Your Core Erotic Feelings

Eventually, we made our way to the bedroom where Vickie lit candles and put on my favorite song, a romantic jazzy song by Ella Fitzgerald that we considered "our song" because it was playing the night when we met.  Then, we both got undressed and she gave me one of the best massages I've ever had in my life.  I was so relaxed that I just melted in her arms and we made love.
  • Core Erotic Feeling: Feeling Loved
I met my girlfriend, Jane, at our favorite French restaurant in Manhattan.  I had just left a contentious work meeting where my confidence took a hit when the one of my colleagues criticized an idea I proposed at the meeting.  I was still consumed with how deflated and stressed I felt at the meeting when I walked into the restaurant and saw Jane sitting at the bar.  I was afraid I would be so distracted by my work-related worries that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the evening with Jane.  

Discovering Your Core Erotic Feelings

But when I approached her, I saw she looked amazing.  She was wearing a beautiful sexy black dress, and I knew she had gotten dressed up just for me, which made me feel great.  I was about to greet her when she turned to me with a seductive look and said in a low voice, "I've never seen you here before, but I definitely want to get to know you." I realized she wanted to do a sexy role play where we were two strangers who met at a bar.  Before I could say anything, she leaned over and whispered dirty talk into my ear, which really turned me on.  We never got to have dinner that night because we were back home having some of the best sex of our lives 20 minutes later (see my article: What Are the Benefits of Sexual Role Play?).
  • Core Erotic Feelings: Feeling Sexually Desirable and Powerful

Examples of Sexual Fantasies and Core Erotic Feelings (CEF) 
As mentioned previously, you can discover your CEF through your favorite sexual fantasies, as illustrated by the composite examples below (all identifying information removed):

There's a beautiful waitress in a restaurant close to my apartment.  In reality, she's always friendly but professional.  She's never made a pass at me and I have never flirted with her.  I can barely speak whenever she comes to take my order, and my friends tease me about this.  But in my fantasy, she invites me to see the catering room in the back.  She seems like her usual self--until we're alone in the room.  Then, she's all over me and we end up on the floor having passionate sex.  
  • Core Erotic Feelings: Feeling Excited and Confident
There are two attractive gay men who own a men's clothing store in my neighborhood.  They're also in a relationship together. In reality, they have always been helpful and professional.  They have never crossed a sexual boundary with me, but I'm secretly attracted to both of them.  In my fantasy, one of the men comes into the large dressing room where I'm trying on clothes.  No one else is around.  He winks at me and then he kisses me on the mouth.  Soon he's undressing me and we're rolling around the floor.  

Discovering Your Core Erotic Feelings

Suddenly, his lover comes in, discovers us on top of each other and looks angry.  But to my surprise, he says to his partner, "Why wasn't I invited to the party?"  Then, we're all in a heap on the floor rolling all over each other.
  • Core Erotic Feelings: Feeling Playful and Excited

What Detracts From Your Core Erotic Feeling (CEF)?
Even if you know what emotions get you turned on, you might have certain experiences or other conflicting emotions that detract from your CEF, including:
  • Stress
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Envy
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Hunger
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Your Roles: An example of this would be a woman with children who has difficulty transitioning from being mother during the day to a sexy woman with her partner at night.  She might need a transitional time to let go of her role as a mother to feel like a sexual being with her partner.
The examples listed above are only a few of the emotions and experiences that can detract from your CEFs. 

What Changes Do You Need to Make to Experience Your Core Erotic Feelings?
Identifying what gets in the way of your CEF is the first step in making the necessary changes.

For example, if you know that stress is a major obstacle in terms of experiencing your CEF, you might need to experiment with different ways to de-stress and transition into a sexual mindset.

There might be limitations to what you can do for certain situations.  For instance, if you have a young child who gets up in the middle of the night and comes into the bedroom where you and your partner are hoping for some privacy to have sex, you might have to get more creative.  

Similar to one of the examples above, if possible, you might ask your parents or your in-laws if your child can occasionally spend the night with them so you and your partner can have privacy.

Exploring Your Partner's Core Erotic Feelings
If you're in a relationship, you can communicate with your partner about what you need to feel emotionally to get turned on.  

You can also be open and get curious about what emotions are involved with your partner getting turned on.  If your partner is open to it, encourage him or her to discover their own CEF by thinking about their peak erotic experiences and sexual fantasies and identifying the emotions involved.

Once you have shared your CEFs with each other, you can have fun finding ways to stimulate these feelings in each other.

Some People Tend to Be in the Mood For Sex Regardless of Their Emotions
There are some people who, regardless of their mood, are ready to have sex at the drop of a hat.  Whether they're happy, sad, angry or stressed out, their emotions don't affect their mood for sex.  These people don't usually need to pay so much attention to their emotions because, when it comes to sex, they're ready.  

For everyone else, knowing what core erotic feelings gets them in the mood helps them to have a better experience and to communicate their needs to their partner(s).

Recommendation: The Sexual Excitement Survey (SES)
In the Appendix of The Erotic Mind by Dr. Morin, there is a Sexual Excitement Survey (SES) that you can take.  

By completing this survey (privately for yourself), you can stimulate ideas about your peak erotic experiences.  

If you have a partner, you and your partner can take the survey and share your results if you feel comfortable.

Part 1 is about your most memorable peak erotic experiences and Part 2 is about your sexual fantasies.

Next Article
In my next article, I'll focus on another fascinating chapter in Dr. O'Reilly's book: Elevated Erotic Feelings (see my article: Elevated Erotic Feelings Can Enhance Your Mood For Sex).

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
If you are unable to access your core erotic feelings due to a history of unresolved trauma, you could benefit from working with a licensed psychotherapist who has an expertise in trauma therapy as well as sex therapy.  

Freeing yourself from your traumatic history can help you to lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?)

My specialties include sex therapy and trauma therapy (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.