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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Sexual Self Discovery With Pleasure Mapping

The term "pleasure mapping" was coined by Sex Educator Kenneth Play.  

Pleasure mapping can be done on your own if you want to discover for yourself what you like sexually or it can be done with a partner (see my article: Sexual Self Discovery).

What is Pleasure Mapping For Sexual Self Discovery?
There are many individuals who have difficulty answering the question, "So, what do you like?" when they're with a sexual partner because they haven't taken the time to get to know what gives them sexual pleasure.

Sexual Self Discovery With Pleasure Mapping

Pleasure mapping is a way to discover what gets you sexually aroused without the pressure of doing this in front of a partner if you don't feel comfortable at this point and without the pressure of trying to have an orgasm (see my article: Sexual Wellness: What is Performative Sex?).

What's the Difference Between Sexual Arousal and Desire?
Sexual arousal is when your body feels turned on.  Sexual desire is when you feel mentally turned on.

People who experience spontaneous sexual desire tend to feel turned on mentally first.  They think about sex and they're turned on physically.

People who experience responsive sexual arousal often don't feel turned on at first by thinking about sex, but once they get going physically, they usually feel sexual desire mentally as well as physically.  

Pleasure mapping can be good for everyone, and it's especially good for people who tend to experience responsive desire to set the mood and get themselves physically turned on so they feel sexual desire.

A Simple Guide to Pleasure Mapping
  • Set Aside at Least 30 Minutes of Uninterrupted Private Time: In order to explore your sexual turn-ons, you need time and privacy.  
  • Set the Mood: Context is important so choose a place in you home where you'll be comfortable and you can relax. Set the atmosphere with your favorite soothing music--whether it's sultry jazz, rhythm and blues or whatever you like to put you in a sexy and seductive mood.
Sexual Self Discovery With Pleasure Mapping

  • Collect Items That Will Aid You in Your Sexual Exploration: What feels sensuous to you? Maybe you like massage oil, your favorite moisturizer, a silky cloth, feathers, leather or whatever turns you on. You'll also want to have a hand mirror, notepad and pen, and possibly your favorite fruit (grapes, strawberries or whatever you like to eat) or something else that's pleasurable to eat.
  • Dim the Lights or Light Candles: Sitting or lying down under dimmed lights or candlelight can help you to relax.
  • Breathe to RelaxSquare Breathing can be relaxing. You can also try this type of breathing: Inhale in the count of 4, hold for 4 and exhale slowly to the count of 8.  Do this several times until you feel tension melting away.
  • Mindfully Touch Yourself: Once you feel relaxed, close your eyes and place your hands on the crown of your head. Allow your hands to move very slowly down your body to sense where you feel pleasure. Go beyond exploring the erogenous zones that you're already familiar with and become aware of what feels good. You might discover certain areas of the body, aside from the ones you already know, that start to turn you on. If you prefer, you can use massage oil to slowly explore your body all over.  If you start to feel uncomfortable, remember you're doing this privately and no one needs to know. 
  • Spend Time Touching Your Erogenous Zones: If you've discovered new erogenous zones that you were unaware of before, spend extra time touching those areas gently. Remember: This is a non-performative exercise, so you're not trying to have an orgasm. You're learning what it's like to discover sexual pleasure for yourself.
  • Use Your Mirror to Explore Your Genitals: Explore your genitals and use your hand mirror to discover what you look like. Take your time to observe in a gentle and nonjudgmental way.  You're not masturbating at this point.  You're just looking. Do your genitals look different when you're sexually aroused and when you're not?  What else do you notice?
  • Take Notes: After you have explored your body with touch, massage or how ever you explored your body, take notes:
    • What felt good?
    • What felt uncomfortable?
    • What type of touch did you prefer?
    • What parts of your body turned you on?
    • Did you discover new erogenous zones? What were they?
    • What did you like about pleasure mapping?
    • What didn't you like?
    • What added to your sexual experience?
    • What would you like to try again in the future?
    • What new areas would you like to explore?
Pleasure Mapping Can Enhance Your Sexual Self Esteem

Share Your Pleasure Mapping Experience With a Sexual Partner
The advantage of doing pleasure mapping on your own is that you discover for yourself what gives you pleasure. You're not relying on a partner, who might not know what you like, to get you turned on. 

Share Your Pleasure Mapping Experience With Your Partner

Pleasure mapping on your own can be sexually empowering.  You have control over what you do, how you touch your body, what you're using to get yourself in the mood, the type of pressure you use with your touch, and so on.

Sharing what you've discovered about your sexual pleasure with a partner can provide both of you with pleasurable experiences. If you're with a romantic partner, it can also bring you closer together.

Keep an Erotic Journal
Keeping an erotic journal is a good way to help you build sexual self awareness and keep track of what is sexually pleasurable to you (see my article: Keeping an Erotic Journal For Sexual Self Discovery).

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
It's not unusual for people to feel sexually blocked for a variety of reasons.

If you're having problems sexually, you can work with a skilled sex therapist who can help you to discover and overcome whatever blocks are getting in your way (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy.  There is no physical exam, nudity or sex during a sex therapy session (see my article: What Are the Most Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

Sex therapy sessions are for individual adults or couples (see my article: What Are the Most Common Issues Discussed in Sex Therapy?).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who is a sex therapist so you can have a meaningful and pleasurable sex life.

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

I work with individual adults and couples.

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.