You Know Your Love Language—How About Your Sex Language?
Learning your sex language can help transform your sexual experiences from here on out.
There is no greater sexual partner than one who is willing to explore with you, as I’ve recently learned. My current friend-with-benefits and I swap sex fantasies, share theories about the best ways to boost intimacy and have a rather filthy checklist of all the things we’d like to do with each other’s body.
Our relationship is the most open sexual environment I’ve ever experienced, which has given us both a greater sense of liberation. The key, for us, was learning about the five erotic blueprints. The concept—created by Jaiya (who goes by only her first name), a renowned somatic sexologist who looks at the mind-body sexual connection—helps people identify what they need in order to establish better sexual connections.
Last fall, Jaiya gained notoriety when she appeared on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix series, Sex, Love & Goop, with the task of helping couples improve their sex lives. “Your erotic blueprint is a map to your own wiring and your own turn-ons,” she told the couples in one of the episodes. “People speak different erotic languages, and we can learn how to speak any of them.”
The blueprints are: energetic (someone who is turned on by anticipation, teasing and longing), sensual (turned on by senses, like taste and smell), sexual (turned on by the most traditional view of sex, like nudity or penetration), kinky (turned on by a taboo), and shape-shifter (turned on by any of the other blueprints, and can shape-shift to match their partner’s). Many of us have a primary one that activates our arousal in an especially intense way, which ideally leads to more powerful orgasms.
“It’s a person’s sexual template and is an extension of the popular five love languages, which can tell you how your partner prefers to communicate their love. In this case, it’s about sex,” says Vancouver-based sex therapist Soraya Mortimer. “That psychological aspect is the fun part of a sexual relationship. It’s what drives the excitement.”
My partner and I took Jaiya’s quiz, which can be found on her website, and I learned I have a sensual blueprint, while he’s a shape-shifter. We then decided to play with our senses more when we have sex by carefully considering the music we’d play and the material of the sheets under us. For him, we’d have nights dedicated to one blueprint or another to help him discover where his interest lies. It has created a greater intimacy between us and built a space where there is less fear of saying or doing the “wrong” thing. In other words, it made us better communicators, which added to the thrill.
“Understanding not only what turns you on but also what turns you off are key elements in creating an ideal sexual experience,” says Josyln Nerdahl, a clinical sexologist and intimacy coach based in Vancouver. “All too often in my coaching practice, I encounter partners who have a desire discrepancy, meaning they have a miscommunication around the different types of touch being offered or requested.”
Nerdahl gives an example of a man approaching his partner from behind, arms around their waist; she says each person may interpret this action in different ways. While one might see it as an affectionate gesture, the other might see it as an unwanted sexual touch. Situations like this can lead to resentment and arguments, says Nerdahl. Knowing your erotic blueprint makes it easier to minimize these stressful occurrences because each blueprint has its own “shadows,” which are the parts that might need healing. For instance, a sensual blueprint might often get stuck in their own head if everything in their physical space isn’t just right, while a person with an energetic blueprint might shut down if they’re too stimulated.
It’s all about communication—and it can lead to better sex. When a person is supported with the knowledge of their erotic blueprint and its shadows, they can come fully armed to ask for what they need and discuss their struggles. For us, it took the quiz and a lot of vulnerability to determine our blueprints. For others, it may take speaking with a sex therapist who can moderate that conversation for you.
“Talking about sex, fantasies or desires can be really intimidating for folks, especially if they haven’t had much practice with it,” says Nerdahl. “You have to receive the information without judgment. If you’re creating an honest, open dialogue that is about agreement, curiosity and tolerance, you’re setting yourself up for success.”
Don’t panic, though, if you discover that you and your partner have different blueprints. “A lot of people don’t go into relationships thinking about this, so it’s easy to end up with someone who doesn’t have a similar blueprint or has a very fixed blueprint,” says Mortimer. “Maybe they only connect with one type, or maybe you’re wanting more variety. When I was married for 15 years, we did the same thing over and over again and, for us, it was beautiful, because we learned how to build energy. Now, with my current partner, we’re into kink. So it’s possible to experience and find joy in different dynamics.”
In other words, you might not know until you try. And the discovery can be the best part because it encapsulates the entire body—the physical, the mental, the emotional. Your blueprint tells you what makes you respond to your partner, creating space for surprises, quirks, kinks and ultimately a deeper connection.
It’s worth keeping in mind that an orgasm is “a brain event,” according to sex educator and Come As You Are author Emily Nagoski. That means that sex is so much more than a physical act. “Bringing mental and emotional elements into our erotic understanding deepens our awareness of ourselves and also our partner,” says Nerdahl. “It creates the space for greater exploration and opens a doorway into heightened sexual experiences. And that is something that we can all benefit from.”