What even is erotic intelligence? Can you improve it? Is there such a thing as an erotic IQ? And if so, what are the ingredients needed to cultivate it?
Believe it or not, erotic intelligence is less about knowing 50 positions from the Kama Sutra, and more about knowing who you are. It’s the ability to balance your beliefs, desires, feelings, and reality with the chaos around you at any given moment.
Contrary to popular assumption, human sexuality is not based on what genitals you were born with, much less what you do with those genitals. Rather, your individual sexuality is an ever-evolving expression and manifestation of how you perceive yourself, and how you relate to the world around you.
In today’s culture, the connotation of the word eroticism elicits thoughts of porn, obscenity, and prostitution. But in fact, eroticism extends far beyond the idea of sex, stretching into deeper facets of what brings pleasure to our lives. We feel its currents in nature, art, music, food, fashion, etcetera. Take, for example, the #cloudporn or #foodporn hashtags floating around on social media. Humans are permanently arousable; we are wired to seek out pleasure. Even when we know the consequences might not serve us best in the long term, we are still willing to have that second bowl of ice cream, splurge a hefty sum on that irresistible new coat, spend too much time on social media, or even have a wildly torrid love affair behind our partner’s back.
Eroticism, then, is the interplay of desire and arousal with the daily challenges of loving and living. As one might imagine, this literally constitutes the entire spectrum of the human experience from the moment we’re born. Think of every experience as another wave crashing against the cliff of self, affecting the conscious and subconscious, working to shape and mold our deepest most inner needs, thereby determining who we’re attracted to and why. The cliffs represent our biology—in our purest physical form. The ocean and wind are our experiences; their impact on our cliffs and the resulting shoreline represents our eroticism. While it’s all too common to think of ourselves as permanently fixed landscapes, everything from the cosmos to the blood pumping through our veins is constantly swirling in motion.
It’s no wonder eroticism is a bundle of contradictions and paradoxical emotions. The seasons change, death and life, decay and awakening. The heart pumps, in and out. Just as sure as anxiety, guilt, fear, shame, jealousy, or anger can disrupt sexual enjoyment, these emotions can also enhance it.
So if eroticism is the interplay of desire and arousal with the daily challenges of living and loving, what the hell is erotic intelligence, exactly? Navigating that interplay like a pro! The five main elements of erotic intelligence are: Body attunement, social intelligence, emotional intelligence, self-awareness on steroids, and creative imagination. Cultivating these elements will serve you better than learning five fingerbanging or blow-job techniques from Cosmo, I promise! And in their cultivation, they will serve you better in all arenas of life—not just in the bedroom. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing an erotic intelligence series, diving into each one of these main elements with more depth and detail.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll begin to consider what sex means to you. What role does it play in your life, and what role(s) might you wish to see it play? There are an infinite number of reasons we might have sex at any given time: release, pain, boredom, ego, pleasure, love, transcendence, manipulation, punishment, reward, power, numbness, duty, connection, intoxication—just to name a few. But overall, what is the meaning of sex to you?
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Mal Harrison is a clinical sexologist and the Director of the Center for Erotic Intelligence. Follow her on Twitter @AdviceFromMsM or Instagram @EroticIntelligence