Traditionally, arousal is visualized as a linear progression:
Arousal – Plateau- Orgasm – Resolution
The standard sex advice is that to enjoy sex more, just add more arousal. More lingerie, more candles, more genital stimulation.
But we all know it is not that simple. You can flood your system with arousing input and still not be turned on.
A newer model of arousal is the dual control model. It was developed in the 1990’s at the Kinsey Institute by Erick Janssen and John Bancroft and explored in Emily Nagoski’s book, Come As You Are. We interview Emily Nagoski about the dual control model of arousal (and SO much more!) in podcast episodes 79 and 80.
When you embrace the dual control model of arousal, it puts you in the driver’s seat. You can learn to manage your turn ons and turn offs to create a more arousing erotic experience every time. As Nagoski says, you can learn to “turn on your turn ons and turn off your turn offs!”
Your turn ons are the gas pedal for your arousal. Your turn offs are the inhibitions that slam the brakes on your arousal. Most people focus on adding more gas – but this won’t work if your foot is slammed on the brake!
Both the Sexual Excitation System (the gas) and the Sexual Inhibition System (the brakes) respond to all sensual stimuli, your thoughts, fantasies and emotions. That means essentially EVERYTHING going on in your life will influence how easy or difficult it is to get turned on. Common inhibitions include stress, resent, guilt, shame and everyday distractions like laundry in the corner. Sensitive brake, no matter how strong the accelerator, is strongest predictor of sexual problems of all kinds. Learn what your specific inhibitions are and you can more easily manage them, paving the way for more arousal and a better sexual connection. You can also learn how to avoid “arousal contingency,” a common condition where everything must be “just perfect” before you allow yourself to get aroused. Arousal contingency is a big problem for a lot of people, but it can be overcome with the right mindset.
In this podcast, we share with you the dual control model of arousal and guide you in learning how to manage your sexual experience. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment to arise, you can actively design your life to be more conducive to getting aroused. You can minimize distractions, eliminate active turn offs and add in more of what works for you!
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