What’s your arousal type?

Just in case you haven’t already labeled yourself in enough ways, here’s an interesting article  in the Huffington Post (Motto: “At least we’re not the Daily Mail.”) about arousal and sexuality: Arousal Types: What’s yours? Aimed mainly at women, the author, relationship therapist Petra Zebroff, declares:

Most of us do not analyze what exactly turns us on; arousal just seems to happen. It can appear at the strangest of times, coming upon us with the most unsuitable partners or taboo acts. Or arousal can be more predictable, with the heat coming from a favorite alluring sex scene in a movie or book.

As a guy, I can attest to the fact that I often don’t  know what’s going to arouse me half the time. BUt the other half of the time, I’m admittedly predictable.

I found this interesting:

Research has determined women’s arousal to be ‘complex’, but has little to say about the specifics. Until the ’60s, women were believed to be sexually aroused only by the feminine aspects of sex such as intimacy and soft touch, when Alfred Kinsey (Sexual Behavior in the Human Female), Nancy Friday (My Secret Garden) and Shere Hite (The Hite Report) reported that women’s fantasies were often as bold and “dirty” as men’s were.

As someone who grew up in the 70s, I remember hearing and reading about this, and the controversy over the various books that were published identifying these ideas, and I remember sitting around with my college friends — men and women — talking about the kinds of things that turn women on. I was often surprised that women (some some women, anyway) spurned the bodice ripping drugstore novels for the more graphic erotica.

But on to the good stuff. Amazingly, Ms. Zebroff has managed to distill arousal down to 4 main types.

Just as there are different types of learning (visual, auditory, kinetic), there are different types of sexual arousal. The four sexual arousal types I have identified are:

  • The Sensual Type is body-oriented and relies on the senses (touch, smell, taste) to fuel arousal. They get hot by the sensation of their skin being stroked, smelling a delicious scent or tasting something erotic.
  • The Cognitive Type is head-oriented, relying on thoughts and imagination to drive sexual feelings. This type is fueled erotically by thinking about/seeing certain sexual acts. Fantasy and porn are important tools used by the cognitive type to imagine different acts in their erotic map.
  • The Intimacy Type’s primary motivation is to “connect” with their partner. They thrive when they share with him/her, or when they feel that he/she “gets” them.
  • The Attractor Type gets his/her arousal from arousing their partner. Their main source of arousal is when their partner finds them sexy and appreciates them. Being ‘seen’ is important to this type.

I’m a sucker for psychological profiling surveys, so I took the one linked in the article. Like the article, it seemed geared mainly toward women, but not exclusively so. I suspect that I’ll come out as either sensual or cognitive. It should take a few days to get the results, and I’ll report them on this blog.


Anyone who has seen a Myers Briggs Personality Type matrix is probably imagining how one might create a 4 x 4 profile of sexuality types.

In the meantime, let’s have something sensual, intimate, and attractive to think about:

8 thoughts on “What’s your arousal type?

  1. This is interesting.
    And distilling it down to only four types does kind of make sense if you break them down to basic components — “physical, mental, id, ego” kind of distinctions. But it sure doesn’t seem like a lot, does it?

    I’ll be interesting to hear what your type turns out to be, Tom. (:wiggles eyebrows:)
    I don’t usually participate in these online, “oh send us your email and we’ll do this with it. Uh-huh” things. But I might even break down for this.
    I know what I *think* I am…
    But there’s the very real possibility that this falls into the same category as Guessing Your Patronus – you pick something cool you identify with, like a soaring bird, then find out it’s actually a hedgehog or something of like ilk…

  2. Well, I find that such “labels” for people rarely reflect the reality of a complex person. There are times I find that any of those might be the turn on, though in truth, the cognitive and sensual types most often define me . . . maybe that’s why I edit erotic Romance novels.

    And my wife is a brain, so that’s a plus.

  3. I’m sensual. I even like touching myself (not just sexually) for the feel of something smoothing over my skin. I don’t know if I could really be aroused without really feeling it.

  4. Hmmmm, interesting…suspect I’m strongly cognitive, but as with all these things I’m always skeptical about labelling things too much in black and white – seems too simplistic for something so complex!

  5. Pingback: Don’t Be a Working Girl « Women in Contemporary Relationships

  6. 20. Please choose two that turn you on the most (including both fantasy and reality):
    Doing things that I shouldn’t (but that are still safe)
    Watching others have sex (porn or real life)
    Doing “new” sexual things
    Having “new” sexual partners
    Being in love
    Pleasing my partner

    This question bugs me because none of the answers seem to fit me.

    What turns me on the most lately is the idea of sadism. I don’t think this falls under “doing something I shouldn’t” because a) I’d choose an enthusiastically consenting partner and b) I don’t think it’s a sense of taboo that turns me on about it. And although I’m not experienced in sadism, the appeal isn’t that it’s “new” to me, per se. I’ve been wanting to try this stuff for years but just haven’t found the right partner. The other categories aren’t especially relevant either.

    Quiz or no quiz, it’s clear to me that I have elements of all four “types” but am most strongly Sensual and Cognitive.

  7. Yeah, i have elements of all four. I think most of us would. But what really bothers me is the outfit the woman in the photo is wearing. The parka and the “mom jeans.” At the risk of being thought shallow…WTF was whoever was shooting these models thinking????

  8. I took that test the day I read this, and still haven’t received my results. I assume you haven’t either? It apparently got more attention than they expected it to.

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