You’ve heard of IQ (intelligence quotient). You’ve also probably heard about emotional intelligence or EQ. But what about erotic intelligence?
The word “eroticism” usually invokes images of porn, desire, kinky sex acts, and complicated sex positions. We’d like to think of erotic intelligence as encompassing your total sexual health and wellness knowledge—how well you know your body, what it wants, and how you communicate those desires with a partner. It’s also about how you ask others for their desires, as well.
To better your pleasure routine, let’s talk about what erotic intelligence is and what role it plays in your sex life!
What Is Erotic Intelligence?
The Center for Erotic Intelligence defines eroticism as “the ability to balance your beliefs, desires, feelings, and reality with the chaos around you at any given moment,” and says that erotic intelligence is less about knowing positions and more about “knowing who you are.”
The basic principles of erotic intelligence are:
- Bodily attunement
- Social intelligence
- Emotional intelligence
- Creative imagination
These principles serve us in the bedroom, sure, but they also make us genuinely better people and sexual and relationship partners. Let’s break these down one by one and explain how each plays a part in our lives.
1. BODILY ATTUNEMENT
Bodily attunement is probably most closely associated with sexual health and wellness. After all, you can’t communicate what makes you climax to a partner if you don’t know yourself! We encourage exploration through solo play and masturbation, one of the best ways to discover which sensitive erogenous zones you like touched, and how.
If you’ve never masturbated and have a vulva, or simply want to revisit the basics, we created a simple guide that covers, top to bottom, how to masturbate with a vulva. There’s no shame in picking up a new trick or two, and be sure to note what you love and what you don’t. If you’re a cis guy or have a prostate, we’ve got you covered there, too.
Of course, bodily attunement also includes other elements of sexual health and wellness besides masturbation and desire, like addressing pain during sex if you experience discomfort, getting tested regularly for STIs, and creating good habits that also stimulate our mental health.
2. SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
According to Verywellmind, the theory of social intelligence was first introduced in 1920 and defined as, “the ability…to act wisely in human relations.” It’s not an inborn trait; instead, we have to learn. In practice with partners, this includes a LOT of communication and continuing to get consent during intimate moments.
Without consent, there can be no trust and intimacy. Because women and people with vulvas experience sexual harassment and assault so frequently, we often live with stress, hypervigilance, and fear a lot of the time—making consent even more important. This includes both verbal and non-verbal cues, like body language.
Communication between partners is vital no matter how casual the relationship, although of course social intelligence applies to more than just intimacy.
3. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
According to Verywellmind, emotional intelligence is the ability to “perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.” This is very similar to social intelligence but also impacts you, too. What are you feeling during pleasure or intimate moments? How can you regulate negative emotions and recover if something makes you upset? What boundaries do you need to set to stay safe, and how can you let a partner know when something makes you feel good and appreciated?
These are all important questions to ask, and they require self-awareness, the second-to-last principle of erotic intelligence. Self-awareness can mean a lot of things, like knowing how you love your G-spot and clitoris stimulated, or it can mean knowing those boundaries. Good intimacy is as much about communication with yourself as it is with others.
Lastly, erotic intelligence requires creativity. In her book, “Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence,” author Esther Perel helps couples keep their home fires burning, so to speak. In an interview with Psychology Today, she said that foreplay and mystery, as well as flirting, are keys to maintaining interest and eroticism, as is viewing your partner as a separate unit with their own thoughts, feelings, passions, and interests.
“There is a connection between remaining curious and...having a certain kind of sexuality. It doesn’t mean having sex,” Perel said in the interview with PT. “There’s still something to discover, so that you remain fundamentally interested in the other person. To want to have sex with them over the long haul, to want to enter them, is to also remain interested in them.”
How do I get better at erotic intelligence?
Now that we’ve covered the basic principles of erotic intelligence, how do you go about getting better at it? Well, according to Perel, it comes down to exploration and creativity, and we have to agree.
While there’s no set path or sexuality for everyone, we have four tips you might consider to boost your erotic intelligence and create a more pleasurable, equitable intimate sex life.
1. Focus on healing trauma. No matter what your gender, age, or demographic, it’s possible you’ve been through traumatic events in the past. If so, they can make pleasure hard to enjoy, even if the trauma wasn’t sexual.
If you find sex painful, uncomfortable, or your libido and desire are lower than you’d like, consider talking with a therapist. Sometimes our past creates obstacles to enjoying the present, and everyone deserves mental health help. We could all use a therapist, seriously!
2. Discover your likes and dislikes. Like we mentioned, masturbation is a great way to find what makes you orgasm, or more generally, what kind of pleasure you love and what you desire. If you’re not sure what makes you climax, it’s time to find out. Make a commitment to yourself to re-discover your pleasure as soon as possible—starting tonight!
3. Try out a new toy or two. Remember when we said staying curious was important? Listen, it’s 2021, and if there’s a toy you want, you can find it. There are toys for every position, kink, interest, gender, and orientation!
We’d love to suggest our warming line; the best vibrators for women and people with vulvas should focus on anatomical design, body-safe silicone, and a buzzy, rumbling, experience. We deliver! Plus, the heating technology brings our new devices, Tilt, Drift, and Sway to just over body temperature. If you’re struggling with pelvic or vaginal pain, this can help you relax. Gender doesn’t matter; our toys are great for both P-spot and G-spot stimulation!
4. Go wild, like WILD. If you’re really up for some experimentation, have you considered ethical non-monogamy? How about a sex party, a strip club, or a dungeon? Life is too short to limit yourself, so if you and a partner are really interested in trying something new, here’s your permission slip to get buck wild and buck naked—not that you need our approval.
We hope these tips will inspire you to keep striving for erotic intelligence. It is about you and your sexuality, but it’s also not! Increasing your PQ (pleasure intelligence quotient, if you will) will benefit any partnership or romantic relationship you’re in or will enjoy in the future.