Unlock the psychology of female arousal to enhance your sex life

Imagine this — it’s late at night, you just finished cleaning the kitchen and the kids are finally asleep.  After a long day of adulting, all you want to do is crash into bed and sleep for *hopefully* 7-8 hours.  You slip under the covers, nestle in against the crisp sheets, and let out a moan of pure relaxed relief as you start to drift off.

You feel the mattress dip, and a nudge against your side.  “Hey, you wanna … ?”  


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Can anyone relate to this scenario?  

It seems for many women that sex has continued to lose rank on our priority lists the more responsibilities, children, and years we accumulate.  Alas, it’s not that we don’t enjoy sex with our partners — It’s become a running joke with my girlfriends that after every sexual encounter, we ask ourselves “Why don’t we do that more?!?” — Yet, we still find ourselves letting this important love language become more and more unspoken in our relationships.  So what gives?

If you are in the “why don’t we do that more” camp and ready to up your sex game with your partner, let’s first dive into the science of female arousal to understand what you’re working with.   With some basic female psychology facts and a few strategies to get you in the mood, you will have everything you need to make the physical magic happen in the future.

Alright, let’s get busy!  

Updated sex ed — Female Emotional Arousal 101

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Like many modern women, my own sexual education can best be described as “self-taught;”  a hodgepodge of Cosmopolitan magazine articles, one awkward sex toy party hesitantly attended in my twenties, and years of research and experimentation.   The one resounding lesson I’ve realized after all these years is that we, as women, have our sexual work cut out for us.  

It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I discovered the genius book She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner.  Yes, this book is written by a man and marketed to men who want to please their female partners — kudos to him, by the way! — but as a fairly knowledgeable woman myself, this book even taught me new valuable information about the female sexual anatomy and response cycle.

The book itself focuses on the art of performing oral sex on a woman, which by itself is a great reason to purchase it and not-so-subtly leave it on your partner’s nightstand.  But I found the most value in Kerner’s focus on the mental and emotional aspects of female sexual arousal.  

Here are just a few highlights so you can better understand and embrace your own sexual psychology.

It starts in your head

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While the physical aspects are usually first to mind when you mention sexual arousal, it is so often the mental and emotional arousal that is inadequate for women.  While many men can switch their psychological gears as quickly as the first signs of physical arousal pop up, female arousal requires a close correlation in their physical and mental states.

The female brain is always busy; working on multiple problems, making lists, and completing tasks in any given period of time.  So just because you finally nestle into bed after a long day to relax doesn’t mean that all those thoughts just immediately vanish away.  If only.  

No, women need time to decompress and let their worries go.  So if there’s any chance for physical arousal, you must be in the right mindset.

Foreplay isn’t just physical for women

Foreplay, as referenced in this book, is not purely physical.  Instead, Kerner focuses on the psychological side of female arousal before he even gets into the details of physical stimulation.  

Talking, playing, flirting, connecting — all of these acts help both partners to relax and enhance emotional intimacy.  Taking time to focus on emotional foreplay will not only increase the female’s receptivity to physical arousal but ultimately can lead to more sexual pleasure and feelings of connection for both partners. 

Timing is everything

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It is no secret that women need more time than men to get in the mood and (fingers crossed!) achieve orgasm.  Kerner quotes an average of 45 minutes that a woman requires to go from zero to the big O.  

The good news is that needing some time to get in the mood is not only scientifically proven but normal for most women.  On the other hand, this means the path to sexual excitement is paved with our most precious and scarcest resource  — time.

As you and your partner work to find new ways to connect and strengthen your relationship, don’t forget the important part that physical intimacy plays in the big picture.  Keeping this in mind will help both partners be more accepting of the non-negotiables and time needed for female arousal.

Get ready to get busy

Now that you understand the psychology of female arousal, let’s outline a few tricks to accommodate these emotional needs as part of your busy schedule.    

Treat yourself to some pampering

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The first (and, arguably most important) step in your sexual arousal journey is to take care of yourself physically.  It’s pretty difficult to feel sexy in three-day-old sweatpants with dirty hair and a belly full of greasy pizza.  

If you are looking to channel your inner sexual goddess, then treat yourself like one.  Take a warm shower or bath, slip into something comfortable (and maybe a little sexy), or dab on a little bit of makeup while sipping your favorite wine or cocktail.  

Desire begins in the mind, so do whatever helps you glow and feel attractive from the inside out.

Plan time to connect with your partner

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As women, our sexual confidence grows as we feel more connected with our partners.  Plan a date night or find creative ways to spend quality time with your partner to build desire before you ever lay a finger on each other.

Get the conversation flowing with the help of a couple’s game.  The couple’s edition of We’re Not Really Strangers includes questions for light and fun conversations.  If you’re looking for something more serious, we love the {THE AND} card game to encourage deeper discussions.  The Talk Flirt Dare game encourages spicier dialogues to turn up the heat and anticipation for sensual activities. You can even make your own game by writing down your own playful, inquisitive, or naughty questions and taking turns asking each other.  What a fun way to get the scoop on that question you’ve been dying to ask!

If you’re short on time (who isn’t these days), build that connection in smaller chunks of time over a longer period.  Try a romance challenge, schedule a quick lunch date once a week, chat on the phone for 5 minutes on the way home from work, send flirty texts throughout the day, and encourage some friendly competition from afar with a virtual game (Words with Friends is still fun a decade later) — all of these small interactions add up to a big connection.  

Get in the right mindset

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If your regular evening routine consists of cooking dinner, cleaning up, coordinating kids’ homework and then baths and then bedtime before finally plopping into bed yourself — it’s no wonder you’re not in the right mindset for some nookie with your partner.

Every once in a while, ask your partner to take the lead on parenting or household responsibilities.   Explain your motive and I bet they will be happy to help out!

Get your head in the sexy game by reading a spicy novel or short erotica story.  Watch some porn if that excites you.  Take some time to fantasize about a past sexual encounter or something you want to try with your partner.  (Even better, tell them about it later to help get the party started.)

Taking a small amount of time to get into the sensual mindset will make the transition into the actual act of intimacy much smoother and a better experience for both of you to enjoy.

Take your time

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Once you’re ready to go, don’t waste all your physical and mental preparation by rushing through the act itself.  Remind yourself (and your partner) to savor the experience and take your time.  The more time you use to experiment and enjoy your physical relationship, the better the results will be for both of you!

What’s holding you back?

There will be days when, try as you may, sex is just not an appealing option.  And that is okay.  

Stress, lack of sleep, illness, and monthly hormone fluctuations all have a significant impact on your sexual appetite on any given day.  But if you never feel in the mood, ask yourself if something bigger is holding you back sexually.  

Depression and anxiety, certain medication side effects, relationship troubles, and past trauma can all put a damper on desire.  Make sure to evaluate what else is going on in your life and talk with your doctor if you continue to struggle with low libido.

Embrace your sexuality, for yourself and your partner

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It is a shame that “Female Emotional Arousal 101” was not a course requirement during our passage into womanhood.  Unfortunately, most women, myself included, have spent too many years in our sexual prime having to figure it out ourselves.  

Embracing your needs and claiming your sexuality is every woman’s right.  Don’t be too afraid or shy to ask for it, especially in your relationship.  Sexuality is a gift meant to be shared and asking for what you need to get aroused is an important part of strengthening your physical bond as a couple.  Not to mention, it feels (both physically and emotionally) pretty damn amazing. 

Now go enjoy yourself!

How do you and your partner build your connection and desire for sex?  What do you do to get yourself physically and mentally ready for intimacy?  Share your tips in the comments below!

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