Eroticism can be defined in many ways. Here are a few definitions that I like:
- a quality (in a person, artwork, fantasy, etc.) that causes sexual feelings;
- a philosophical contemplation concerning the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love;
- a state of sexual arousal or anticipation – an insistent sexual impulse, desire, or pattern of thoughts;
- the cultivation of pleasure for its own sake;
- the exploration of sexual imagination and fantasies.
Eroticism is what gives sex a broader and more gratifying focus than just performance or procreation.
“We socialize sexuality through our imagination. And the central agent of the erotic act is our creativity, our imagination, or ability to renew, our ability to anticipate… And it is the cultivation of pleasure for its own sake.” (Esther Perel)
“Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements.” (Anais Nin)
For some people, eroticism comes quite naturally – perhaps they have regular enjoyable fantasies; they may more readily notice and relish in the sensual day-to-day moments; they may be able to switch more easily from the mundane/domestic to the sexual; or they may enjoy erotic music, art, film, photography as a regular part of their life.
For others, eroticism may come less as a natural or automatic state.
For these individuals, cultivating eroticism may require more intention. It may require actively curating your own Erotic Diet, or the Erotic Diet of your relationship – that is, choosing more intentionally to engage with the erotic, sensual and pleasure-inducing aspects of life.
“…eroticism in the home requires active engagement and willful intent…Complaining of sexual boredom is easy and conventional. Nurturing eroticism in the home is an act of open defiance.” (Esther Perel)
Here are some ideas for those interested in more actively creating an Erotic Diet:
- Gather erotic images – images that make you feel sensual, sexy, receptive. You could gather these from the internet, photography books, art books, postcards, erotic book covers/illustrations, or still images from films. You could collate them on a Pinterest board (see my erotic Pinterest boards for some examples), a computer folder, a collage, or a visual diary.
- Spend time in fantasy – choose an erotic scene to play out in your mind.
- Build a collection of erotic films that you enjoy. Think back to sexy films or scenes you’ve enjoyed in the past. Do an internet search for erotic film suggestions. Ask friends about their favourites. Search for erotic music videos.
- Reminisce about past enjoyable sexual experiences – this could be on your own, or with a partner. Relive the details and sensations of the experience.
- Build sensual experiences into your week. Choose scented candles, perfumes/colognes, incense, oils that make you feel good. Place visually-pleasing art on your walls – perhaps even erotic art or photography. Book a massage or arrange one with a partner or friend. Surround yourself with the colours that appeal to you most. Eat good food with a mindful focus. Wear textures that feel good on your body.
- Build an erotic playlist from your pre-existing music collection, or from new music online.
- Read erotic novels or short-stories. Listen to audio-erotica. Find erotic fiction that describes fantasies you’re interested in.
- Notice attractive and sensual people around you – appreciate their sensual qualities.
- Masturbate – give your body sexual pleasure. Be selfishly erotic.
Now this is a long list and you certainly don’t need to try everything. But, if curating your Erotic Diet feels like a worthwhile idea, perhaps just choose one or two suggestions to try over the next week.
Dr. Alice Hucker