RECOGNIZING PLEASURE SIGNALS: A GUIDE TO GETTING TURNED ON

Guest written by Rain Andersen (@wearenotfriends_) a veteran sworker with nine years in adult entertainment and five years working for Lovers.

QUICK LINKS:

  1. What are Pleasure Signals?
  2. Signs of Pleasure: Physical, Auditory, & Visual Cues
  3. Pleasure Signals & Consent
  4. The Magic of Collaborative Sex
  5. How to Identify Pleasure Signals

What are Pleasure Signals?

Pleasure signals refer to the physical, verbal, and emotional ways that people express personal pleasure and enjoyment. They are a communication tool that allows people to react and respond to their partners needs in the moment. Pleasure signals can give people the insight to shape some of their most profound sexual experiences.

  • Reflexive Pleasure Signals
    All living creatures have what is referred to as an ‘automatic response.’ It’s the same function that is responsible for your fight or flight mode, helping the brain to determine how it will respond to any given stimulus. Humans have several sexual reflexes that stem from this same neurological function (like getting an erection or self-lubricating). We can use these primitive reflexes to help us recognize what pleasure can look like in others and when to act on it.

DISCLAIMER: Physical responses to fear and stress can at times look very similar to arousal. The bodies automatic response can be a great way to reference signs of pleasure but should not be substituted for direct consent.

  • Intentional Pleasure Signals
    It’s not uncommon for people to use pleasure signals as a deliberate way to communicate with their loved ones. People can use pleasure cues like moaning or clinging to specific body parts, to let their partners know they are doing a good job or that they enjoy certain styles of touch.

Signs of Pleasure: Physical, Auditory, & Visual Cues

People use pleasure signals at every stage of their erotic encounters to communicate signs of attraction, arousal, and orgasm. By paying attention to a person’s body language, facial expressions, and inflection we can glean important information about how they experience pleasure.

Understanding how you and your partner like to receive stimulation will allow you to create experiences that are tailored to each of you. Take a look at the way that our bodies use physical, auditory, and visual signals to communicate feelings of pleasure.

Signs of Attraction

  • Pupil Dilation
    The pupil sits at the center of the iris and concentrates the darkest amount of color in the eye. Its function is to control the amount of light that filters in, helping people to locate things that might normally be out of their field of vision. When you are attracted to someone, the bodies sympathetic nervous system can be activated, triggering a rush of hormones that causes the pupil to dilate, helping you to better locate the object of your desire.

  • Open Body Language
    Body language conveys information about a person’s mental and emotional state through their physical movements and behaviors. Arms stretching across a table, feet pointed forwards, or uncrossed legs are all examples of open body language that invites others to engage.

  • Changes in Inflection
    A person’s tone of voice is used to impart meaning or add emphasis to their words. When we’re attracted to someone, we raise and lower our pitch to convey interest, desire, and excitement.
  • Mirrored Behavior
    Mirroring is the unconscious imitation of gestures, attitudes, or speech patterns of another person. People use mirroring in a variety of settings to build trust and rapport.

  • Provocative Eye Contact & Leering
    They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and we often use them to communicate our innermost desires. Gazing, batting the eye lashes, or scanning the body up and down are examples of ways that we use our eyes to alert others that they are being observed.

Signs of Sexual Arousal

  • Sticky Fingers
    Haptic communication refers to the ways that we communicate and interact through touch. We use haptic communication to create bonds in infancy, to measure pain or danger, and to act out mating rituals. In the sexual arousal phase, we use touch to express our desire for physical intimacy.

  • Increased Body Temperature
    Is it getting hot in here? When we’re turned on, our heart rate goes up, sending blood rushing to the surface of our skin. Get ready to shed some layers!

  • Increased Lubrication
    The vagina produces lubrication when we’re aroused as a way to naturally prevent friction, microtears, and discomfort during penetration. You can purchase different kinds of personal lubricants, glides, and moisturizers to add additional comfort and sensation to your experiences.

  • Engorged Nipples & Genitals
    An erection is viewed by many as one of the most universally recognizable signals of pleasure, but it still requires direct consent.

    Contrary to common knowledge, the penis, vulva, and nipples all engorge with blood when we become aroused in order to prepare for stimulation. In fact, the clitoris is said to swell anywhere from 50-300% in size during the arousal stage. Some people enjoy using penis pump or multi pumps to increase the sensitivity of their erogenous zones before play.

  • Moaning
    Moaning is a non-lexical element of speech. A moan can be a grunt, a groan, a gargle, a giggle, a whimper, a wail, a sob, a scream, or a howl- and we use them to express feelings of both pleasure and pain.

Signs of Orgasm

  • Hyper Tense Muscles
    During orgasm, the can body involuntary contract, spasm, twitch, or cramp. Scientists know that people carry a large amount of tension in the pelvic bone and genitals during climax which they suspect is a result of the increase in blood flow to these regions.

  • Take My Breath Away
    There are many theories as to why people hold their breath during, and leading up to orgasm. In Emily Nagoski’s book, The Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms, she explains that “the reason people hold their breath as they approach orgasm is because their thoracic diaphragm is clenching rhythmically along with their abdominal, buttock, thigh, and pelvic muscles.”

    Sexologist, Megwyn White suggests an alternative possibility: that we use our breath to try and contain the overwhelming sensation of orgasm. We still have a great deal to learn about these types of pleasure signals, but one thing that many industry professionals agree on is that breathing through your orgasms can make them even more pleasurable.

  • Increased Heart Rate
    The pulse continues to rise as we reach orgasm, taking up to several minutes to return to a resting heart rate.

  • Increased Sensitivity
    This is the “build up” to your orgasm, when your sensations feel most magnified. During this phase, we’ve stimulated enough physical, emotional, and auditory pleasure signals to trigger a climax.

  • Increased Vocal Projection
    Vocal projection is one of the final pleasure signals that we often see in our sexual encounters. People can use the volume of their voice to convey and provide a feeling of physical release during their orgasms.

The O Face: The OG Pleasure Signal

“O Face,” slang for “Orgasm Face,” refers to the facial contortions and expressions that can occur during sexual climax. In 2011, researchers examined over 100 recordings of people orgasming and found that humans have similar responses to pleasure as they do to pain.

94% Closed Their Eyes
67% Dropped Their Jaws
48%
Frowned or Furrowed Their Brows
44% Parted Their Lips at the Moment of Climax

Pleasure Signals & Consent

Pleasure signals are physical, emotional, and non-lexical articulations that convey our pleasure. When we experience pleasure, our body produces pleasure signals without much context or explanation for how or why they occurred. Naturally, this can blur the lines of what is truly perceived as pleasurable and what is not.

Nothing will ever substitute explicit consent.

It’s important to continue to maintain a verbal dialogue, even as you work on recognizing non-verbal signs of pleasure. Dirty talk can be a great way to gauge your partners comfort level in the moment with questions like, “Do you like that,” or statements like, “I bet you like that,” that are intended to illicit a reply.

The Magic of Collaborative Sex

Finding pleasure signals is about finding ways to experience more pleasure, and being able to facilitate more pleasure for our partners. In partnered dance, we coordinate our movements to create a “flow.” Pleasure signals create a similar type of flow in our sexual experiences, helping to bridge one sensation from the next.

If you don’t know what types of sensations bring you pleasure or you have difficulty articulating what you desire, it can be challenging to establish this flow. As you start to learn more about your desires and how you commute them, you’ll become more confident with navigating your partners body and pleasure cues.

Experiment with different forms of touch to activate your pleasure signals. Each experience allows you the opportunity to refine the next. Once you learn how to recognize signs of pleasure- you discover what activates them, when they need to activate, and how they need to activate in order to maximize your experience. You get to call the shots.

5 Fun Ways to Discover Your Pleasure Signals

  1. Guided Exploration
    Guided Exploration is a teaching method that involves immersing a person in a particular subject by providing them with examples of the language and actions associated with it. In the context of our pleasure, Guided Exploration can be used to demonstrate different styles of touch, how we like to be touched, or how to properly implement sexual tools and toys into our routine.

  2. Body Mapping
    Body mapping is an activity that helps people to visualize how their partner’s like to be touched by tracing their body, and filling it with colors or numbers that reflect the styles of touch that they enjoy. Body mapping can be a form of foreplay as well; creating body maps for specific types of activities like oral sex or bondage can be a great opportunity to look for different pleasure signals.

  3. Sex Journaling
    Journaling can be a way to reflect on your sexual experiences and identify signals of pleasure.
    Our blog, How to Keep a Sex Journal, provides some great prompts for anyone wanting to learn more about their own pleasure.

  4. Innovative Sex Tech
    Bio-sensors measure biological or chemical data- like our pH balance and our contractions- and use that information to activate a sensory response. Bio-sensors have become an important component to modern day intimacy products, featured in some of the most coveted vibrators in our inventory like the We-Vibe Melt, LELO F1s V2, and the LELO Sona Cruise.

LELO Sona Cruise, $139.00

LELO’s award-winning Sona Cruise Air Pulsator combines the power of two bio-sensors to take your pleasure experience to new heights. Target up to 75% of the nerve endings in the clitoris, maintain a seamless flow of power, and provide over 360 degrees of stimulation using LELO’s sophisticated SenSonic and Cruise Control Technologies.


LELO F1s V2
, $219.00

Take complete control over your pleasure with the next generation Sextech Console. Both a high-end stroker and an open-interface platform, the LELO F1s V2 allows users to build their own cyber-sexy apps and sync with the interactive world. Programmed with ten, intelligent sensors, the LELO F1s V2 is able to gather performance feedback, perfect for stamina training and edging, using LELO’s award winning SenSonic and Cruise Control Technologies.

Redesigned with the feedback of over 1,200 users, the Premium 2.0 is an upscale sex toy designed to stimulate all 8000+ nerve endings in the clitoris. No two encounters are the same with the Premium 2.0’s improved autopilot function. Invite surprise and anticipation into the bedroom with these sexy-smart algorithms, that guide you through your favorite intensity levels from light to advanced. Visual and haptic feedback ques let users know when the autopilot function is engaged, keeping you in control of your pleasure experience!

  1. Yes/No/Maybe Lists
    A Yes/No/Maybe list is a tool that people can use to assess their comfort level with different activities, pet names, and forms of touch.

    Yes/No/Maybe lists can help us to set boundaries for upcoming sexual experiences or can inspire us to explore new forms of intimacy. Download and print out our free Yes/No/Maybe List from our Quarantine Date Night Blog to get started!
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Further Readings:
Experimenting Your Way to More Pleasure: Dipsea Stories
The Science of Sexual Arousal: American Psychological Association
The Definitive Guide to Micro Expressions: Science of People

WITH PLEASURE, 

LOVERS