Sexual Pleasure Mapping

Sex is physical, emotional and at times, a spiritual experience. But, what underpins it all is communication and there is one question you can ask during sex that can lead to communication breakdowns, despite your best intentions.

“What do you like?” 

On the surface, this seems like a good way to find out what makes your partner explode with orgasmic bliss and show consideration for their interests and needs. And in some cases, it works well because your partner can tell you exactly what they like. But it’s common for people to have no idea what turns them on the most, or they don’t know how to put it into words, or don’t feel comfortable sharing it with someone their intimate partner. That’s when you may hear things like: 

– Everything you do is fun.

– I like what you do to me. 

– I like the usual stuff most people like.

Although it is understandable that a person can answer like this, it does not help to create mind-blowing sex. 

Why it’s hard to name your pleasures

I have found that there are many reasons why people have trouble naming what makes them sexually happy. We live in a culture where sex is everywhere while at the same time, also sexually close minded. If the things that feel great to you don’t match what you think they’re supposed to be, or if you are concerned that they don’t match what you think your intimate partner thinks they’re supposed to be, it’s easy to get stuck in shame and avoid asking for what you want most.

But more than that, most people don’t really know how to define what makes them happy and feel good. Saying things to your partner like “I like the light kisses on my clit” or “it feels good when you wrap your tongue around the head of my dick with your tongue“ requires a degree of specificity that many people can’t put into words. word. In some ways, it is difficult for women because a lot of the raunchy action is difficult or impossible to see. Guys can look down and watch what’s going on, at least for some events.

There are a few different strategies people tell me they’ve tried. Some people will give feedback to a partner, be it words, sounds, or body language, to let them know them know they are doing something right. While that may help in the moment, it doesn’t make it any easier to ask for it in the future. The best thing you can do is ask them to “do what you did before”. It can work, but only if they remember exactly what it is.  Also, it is not transferable from one partner to another. 

Another way is to try to be patient as your partner tries to guess what you will like, while you both hope for the best. It can be like trying to throw a dart into a tree with your eyes closed – it takes more luck than you think. But if your partner does something that you don’t like without knowing it, you might end up enduring something you are not really into – and by the time they change it to something else, your arousal is gone and resentment may replace it. This is not a recipe for fun.

Sometimes, people will try to make themselves enjoy whatever their partner is doing. But that’s about as effective as trying to make yourself appreciate food or music that isn’t to your taste. Whether it’s a sex act that you never find pleasurable or it’s something that you might adore some other time, but not tonight, there’s no way to force yourself to enjoy something when it’s not the right thing or the right time or the right situation.

Pleasure Mapping is how you work out what’s hot or not

If you want to tell your intimate partner what feels great to you, Pleasure Mapping is one of the best ways to work out out how to do it. It goes like this:

Set aside some experimentation time

The aim of a Pleasure Mapping experience isn’t to have an mind-blowing orgasm, though it’s certainly not an issue if it happens during it. Instead, the idea is to get feedback and information about what feels amazing to your body and senses. Aim to try a lot of different things, just to explore how they feel and how they make you react.

If you experiment with a many different kinds of sexual stimulation and find out just three that feel amazing, that’s a huge win. It doesn’t matter that there were ten others that you didn’t like. All that matters is figuring out which three (or five or one) that you do.

Set aside at least an hour for this. The more generous you can be with your time, the more you can relax and follow your body’s responses – no need to rush!

Get creative

The whole point of Pleasure Mapping is to try lots of different things. If you’re not sure what that looks like, pick up a how-to book or movie. Personally, I prefer movies because you can see what you’re trying to do, and because you can watch a technique, hit pause and try it, and then move to the next one. 

Get a little turned on

Sexual arousal directly effects  how we process and perceive sensations, which is why getting bitten on the shoulder during a fun sexual experience feels different from getting bitten on the shoulder while talking to your mum on the phone. If you build some erotic charge before you shift to the Pleasure Mapping, it’ll be easier to get an accurate idea of what each technique or toy might be like during a sexual situation.

How to give feedback

Now that you’re all primed up, you can start with the Pleasure Mapping. Try one of the techniques and focus on tracking how pleasurable it is. There are a few ways you can do that.

Some people like to rate it on a 1-10 scale, where 10 is “don’t ever stop doing that!” and 1 is “maybe we should put on netflix.” Other people have difficulty using numbers or words because it pulls them out of their bodies and into their heads. If that’s you, you can give a thumbs up, squeeze your partner’s arm or leg, or just say “yes.” It’s also useful to have a non-verbal cue for “stop doing that.” I like using a double tap on the bed or on your partner’s body.

How to receive feedback

Read this sentence 3 times – ‘The most important thing to remember when you’re receiving feedback during a Pleasure Mapping session is that your partner is rating the technique, not your skill as a lover’. 

While this is good for everyone to keep in mind, I find it even more valuable for men. We often get our egos wrapped up in our sexual skills because we are hard-wired to provide for our partners and if we love them, we are driven to make them happy. All too often we take it personally if a lover tells us that they aren’t enjoying something that we’re doing. One good way to avoid getting caught in that shame loop is to remind yourself that your partner is telling you about the technique, not you as a person or as a lover.

I find that there are two easy steps you can take to do that. First, once you’ve been doing a particular move for a little bit, ask your partner to tell you how they rate it. That makes you an active participant in the Pleasure Mapping and helps remind you both that the intention is to collect information. Second, whatever their response, thank them for sharing it with you. It’s a great way to keep you from getting so caught up in your ego, and it helps them give better feedback because they know it’s welcome.

Using the feedback

When your partner rates something at a 6 or higher (or when they squeeze your arm, or say “yes”), make a mental note of that move/technique or toy being used in a certain way because it’s a winner. After the Pleasure Mapping session (or during, if it doesn’t kill the mood), describe what you were doing. Try to put it into words, but if that doesn’t work, you can also demonstrate it – this will help you remember it. For example, if your partner likes to have their clit sucked on, show them on a finger tip. Show them how much pressure they liked on their G-spot or prostate with your fingers on the back of their hand. Or if you were using a movie for guidance, scroll back to that technique so they can watch it.

This is probably the most important step because it’s how they learn how to describe what they want to ask for. “Do firm circles on my prostate” is a lot easier to understand than “do that thing with your finger.”

You can also use their feedback to look for patterns in their sexual response. For example, you might tell them that they like light touch on the head of their cock and firm squeezing on their balls. Or circles on their clit and “come hither” on their G-spot. Or light touch at first, with more intensity later on. Whatever the patterns or combinations are, you’ll give them the incredible gift of knowing more about their sexual response and how to share that information to make a request during sex.

Try something else

Once you’ve tried a technique and rated it, shift to something different. If you find a move that feels amazing (like a 9 or 10), feel free to stick with it for a bit, but don’t lose focus on the primary purpose of Pleasure Mapping. You can always come back to that move later on and/or use it in the future.

In addition to trying different techniques, you can vary them by changing the tempo or the intensity. You might find that adding more speed or pressure makes it feel better, or you might find that it becomes less pleasurable. You might even find that there’s a “Goldilocks zone” where it’s just right. Each time you vary what you’re doing, give your a few seconds to tune into it and then ask them how they rate it.

What next?

You can make your Pleasure Mapping session as long or as short as you want. You can wrap things up when you feel like you’ve gotten enough information, or you can transition it towards a hotter and intimate experience. You can also switch roles and try it from the other side. That might be fun to do back to back, or you might want to do it another time. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, other than what works for the two of you.

The most important thing is that you both discover more about your sexual pleasures and responses, and that you have new ways to ask for what you want. If that’s where things end, that’s a big win!

Some things to remember

Since arousal can change how the nervous system processes sensations, you might find that a technique that only rates a 2 at the start might be a 7 later on. So it’s worth trying some of those moves later to see if anything has shifted. (Though if there’s something that gets a big no or a negative number, you probably don’t need to give it another chance.)

One of the more common mistakes people make is thinking that the best sex happens when you keep adding more and more sensation. Unfortunately, that can lead to overstimulation which makes the body numb out. You’ll have much more fun if you allow for the rise and fall of arousal. A technique that rates a 3 is a great way to cool things down and give your lover a chance to catch their breath. Then, you can do that 9 move and ramp them back up. They’ll actually feel more pleasure than if you stayed with the 9 for the entire time. It’s much easier to do that when you have the information from a Pleasure Mapping session.

Some people find that starting or stopping hormonal birth control can shift things, as can having hysterectomy or prostatectomy. A lot of medications can also change your sexual response. But even if none of these sorts of medical events have happened, if sex isn’t feeling the same as it used to, Pleasure Mapping can help you reboot.

Rebooting isn’t just for dealing with a clearly defined event like a medical issue. Pleasure Mapping is a useful way to bring a beginner’s mind to your sex life and get some fresh perspective.

You can use Pleasure Mapping while exploring BDSM. It works for all kinds of activities, like spanking, role play, flogging, bondage, or almost anything else you might want to try. And you can use it to explore touch anywhere on the body. This isn’t only for sex.

Pleasure Mapping can also be done solo. That’s a great way to experiment with your pleasure response without the pressure of a partner’s expectations, or if you don’t have someone to try it with. 

Lastly, you might find it helpful to try Pleasure Mapping with a professional sex worker/Dom/Domme. These are people who offer erotic exploration within a safe container and a strong ethical code so you can learn about your sexual patterns gain sexual insight and build new behavioral patterns to make it easier to create the sexual connections you want.

You’ll get different information working with a practitioner than exploring with a partner because they have a wider perspective. They hold a different space than partners, and they don’t have the same emotional attachment to your process or the outcome. Working with a practitioner can be especially worthwhile if you’re back on the dating scene for the first time in a while since you can get some new tools and ideas to make sexual communication easier. It’s also helpful if you’re on a healing path, particularly around sexual trauma.

However you decide to use Pleasure Mapping, it’s a simple and effective tool to figure out what you enjoy, find better ways to ask for what you want, and even discover things that you didn’t know would feel wonderful. And that goes a long way towards helping you create an amazing sex life.