How To Discover What Turns You On

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Embarking on a journey to discover what turns you on and ignites your passion can be both exhilarating and enlightening.

Nearly everyone walks through the world with one or more sexual “movies” circulating in their imagination. These include images and ideas of how they want sex to look, what feelings they want to have, and what kind of experiences they want to live. The characters may change, but the themes generally stay the same.

While most people enjoy multiple forms of seduction, a person’s primary sexual desire generally brings them the most pleasure and intensity. However, people often try and suppress these fantasies, or fit them into their realities.

To find out what truly turns you on, you need to go all the way in fleshing out your fantasies and get to the bottom of what these ideas say about their actual sexual needs and desires.

Smiling, flirting young man

The process of finding and articulating what turns you on has 3 steps:

Step 1: Become a Self-Detective

We can spend endless hours studying, guessing, and gossiping about everyone else’s desires. But, how much time do we take to figure out what OUR desires are – especially when it comes to our sexual desires? For most people, the answer is “not enough.”

The most important part of self-detecting is taking a non-judgmental attitude. You may find that some of what turns you on is more accepted by society, and other parts less. If any of your thoughts make you feel ashamed or guilty, remember – these are just desires, not actions. As long as any enactment is between consenting adults, there is nothing to be ashamed of!

The way you figure out what turns you on is to gather some data from your life. Dig into your fantasies, whether they are overtly sexual or not is unimportant. Start to pay attention to what you think about when you start to drift off. Were your daydreams about you and someone you are attracted to? What kinds of thoughts get you turned on?

Next, think back on the books, movies, or sexual experiences that have gotten you most aroused. They might be romantic, full of passion and intrigue, types of BDSM, or any sort of themes from porn or erotic stories. Think of the scenes and the moments in those scenes that are the real zingers. You may want to do some writing on all of this to pinpoint your turn-ons or do a visualization.

What turns me on?

Step 2: Identify the Underlying Feeling You Want to Have

As you explore the data you have gathered, try to identify the feelings you are having, and see which ones seem most relevant and exciting to you.

For example, do you want to feel …

powerful, taken, degraded, surprised, in danger, cared for, precious, teased, indulgent, loved, denied, adored, abused, seen, desired, powerless, known, punished or accepted?

If you fantasize about sex in public places, this might be a fantasy of being so desirable, your partner would have sex with you anywhere. It also might be a fantasy of wanting to be seen (exhibitionism) or of being in danger (of being caught).

If your fantasy is of your partner surprising you with a five-course dinner at your favorite, fancy restaurant, it might be a deep need of being cared for (they planned it) or known (they knew it was your favorite restaurant). It could also be a fantasy of indulgence (five-course and fancy) or of surprise.

Make a list of the feeling or feelings that seem to turn you on the most.

Man finding his fantasies

Step 3: Script Your Own Fantasy

It is one thing to passively fantasize, watch, read, or allow others to do their best to give you what you want. But this last step will take it one step further.

With everything you now know about what turns you on, script the scene (or many scenes) that will invoke these feelings in you. Write down what you want to experience, and what you want to share in bed with your partner. Also, jot down what you want to keep in your back pocket to fantasize about during your sexual experiences, to give you that extra arousal bump.

Think about how you want your partner to look at you, talk to you, touch you, and how you want to do those same things to them. Imagine how you would like your fantasy to start, what are some experiences that you’d like for the middle part of your movie. How does your fantasy end? And what do you want from your partner once sex is over? Take some time to write out some hot scenarios!

Dive Deeper or Talk to a Sex Coach

For a more in-depth exploration of your cinema-worthy sexual fantasies, check out the book Making Love Real, where several chapters are dedicated to walking you through this process.

Remember – your quest to figure out what turns you on is not merely about enjoyment. It’s about finding deep resonance with activities that challenge and fulfill you. Listen closely to your instincts — they are your internal compass toward guiding you to your true inclinations.

Sex coaches can also be really helpful in guiding you to discover your true desires. Find that perfect sex coach near you.

Find a professional sex coach near you or by expertise now.

Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman is the is the co-creator of the Somatica® Method and the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She received an MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Women’s Students from UCSC.

In her teaching and coaching, Celeste routinely draws on her extensive training in attachment psychology, sociology, gender studies, and body-based modalities like Hakomi. She uses these embodied learning principles to help students and clients tap into their own somatic wisdom, deepen their experiences of pleasure, and realize their full personal and professional potential.

A prolific writer, Celeste researched and published a defining paper on adolescent sexuality development in 2006, during her tenure at SFSU’s Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality.

Since then, she has co-authored 3 books with Danielle Harel: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together. She writes frequently and is generally the first expert journalists turn to for quotes and information on sex, dating, and relationships.

No matter what she does – whether she is co-producing the sex-coaching-based TV series Here She Comes, or teaching at the legendary Esalen Institute – Celeste always brings her unconditional love, scintillating presence, erotic energy, and insight to every part of her work.

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