Some of us get confused between these two concepts.
We think that the same things that turn us on are also the same things that feel pleasurable.
But if you examine closely your own experience, you will most likely realize that the two are separate, distinct elements of your sexuality.
At times, it is quite obvious.
For example, you might be turned on by a fantasy of some sort — and then, not enjoy playing that fantasy out.
Other times, it is more subtle.
You might be turned on by feeling adventurous and taking risks, but once you engage in sex that is more perilous than what you’re used to, you might not find it enjoyable at all.
And more subtle still.
You might be really turned on by thinking of your partner penetrating you — but you are not ready for it and if penetration was to occur now, it might be painful or uncomfortable.
Most people know what turns them on. But many people do not know what gives them pleasure. And I find it especially true for women.
Learning what turns you on is simple — it usually engages your imagination and that’s it (even if this imagination is simply recalling a past event or fantasizing about a future event). Our brains are really great at occupying ourselves with the past and the future.
When it comes to learning what gives us pleasure, we are not necessarily as good.
In order to really tap into our pleasure, we must stay present. We need to pay attention to the current moment. We need to focus inwardly to the sensations in our body.
It is too easy to get distracted. To continue doing something just because it turns us on and because we assume that it will feel better down the track.
Not long ago I came across a woman who said she is okay with feeling pain when her partner thrusts against her cervix because sometimes she will experience an intense orgasm through this motion. And although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I personally don’t think there’s any need to endure pain in order to (possibly) enjoy an orgasm later.
When pleasure is our main focus, we have to stay present. We have to maintain our awareness in the here and now.
When we stay focused on pleasure, we can see that it shifts and changes.
Sure, some things may stay the same — you might like your clitoris to be stroked in a particular way, for example. But you might also notice the subtle change that is required for one specific occasion. You might feel that just a little tweak of pressure, or angle, might feel much better on a different occasion. And you might discover that different phases in your menstrual cycle feel slightly different in terms of the pleasure your body can sense. You might discover that at different stages of your life your body responds in completely different ways.
As long as you keep your attention on the current moment, you will most probably be able to tap into your pleasure with minimum effort.
This is one of the reasons why I’m a big fan of slow sex.
Slow sex, amongst other things, trains our mind to stay focused on the current moment, allowing us to enjoy the subtle sensations of pleasure everywhere in our body.
The other reason why I’m a big fan of slow sex is that its emphasis is on the one thing we all crave for in sex (and relationships in general): connection. True, deep intimacy.