What’s your sex style?


Have you ever had a sexual “misfire” with a partner when it seemed like the two of you were talking different languages in bed? Maybe your eyes were closed and you were deeply feeling your physical sensations, but, dammit, your partner kept bugging you to look at her. (Or look at her while she’s saying “Hi” over and over.) Or maybe you told your partner that you wanted her to dress up and pretend that she was a high-priced call girl, but she acted disgusted that you would want such a thing. She scolded you and said that lovemaking is all about being real with each other, not some made-up “game.”

These kinds of miscues might not just have happened once or twice in your lifetime. You may regularly be experiencing them with your wife, live-in partner, or steady girl.

A Simple Fix

Wouldn’t it be great to know that by simply learning your partner’s erotic language you could not only heal major rifts in the bedroom, but you would also be well on your way to become a cunning linguist? A master of all love languages? A sexual rock star?

This is actually possible. What may seem like worlds-apart, irreconcilable sexual differences at first glance could turn out to be a simple adjustment in sexual “lovestyles.”

Back in 1980, psychologist Donald Mosher first introduced three basic partner “scripts” of sexual experience: trance state, role play, and partner engagement. (Mosher’s categories were later expanded and popularized by psychologist David Schnarch.)

Let’s look at each of these dimensions in turn. Perhaps you’ll discover your go-to sexual style in these descriptions. And keep in mind that there’s no hierarchy among the three styles. Each has its own power. (This is especially handy to keep in mind if you or your partner like to tyrannize the other because you believe in the superiority of your sexual style.)

Entering the State of Trance

People who have Sexual Trance as their primary sex style are focused on the kinesthetic experience of sex. They prefer having sex in private, non-distracting settings. They like slower, repetitive touches from a non-intrusive partner. This helps them focus inward on their sensuality. To them, talking seems like a distraction from the immersion they’re desiring, and they often want the conversation limited to giving instruction about where and how to touch.

Really Good Sexual Trance would mean they were completely absorbed in the sex act and unaware of the external events. They might also have the experience of being taken to another land, or perhaps a hallucinatory sensation. (“The worlds collided. I entered another dimension.”)

I’d estimate that most of the men I coach — perhaps around 60% — would call the Sexual Trance lovestyle their “native” language.

Playing the Role

Folks who get into Role Play enjoy acting out their fantasies with another willing co-conspirator. Being able to play a wide range of roles is a hallmark of someone skilled in this lovestyle — and not just because they happen to be a good actor or actress! Rather, they are comfortable and secure in themselves, and thus can play a variety of roles without feeling phony.

Experts at Role Play get completely absorbed into the scene that they’re playing out — like any good “method” actor would be. For some individuals, the experience of Role Play is also profoundly healing: They get to rewrite (rewire) outdated or painful “scripts” from their childhood or adolescence — a deeply satisfying experience.

No more than 10% of the men I work with have Role Play as their “go-to” style.

Engaging your Partner

Emotion and mutuality are the cornerstones of Partner Engagement. If you’re into romance, eye contact (especially during orgasm), kissing, front-to-front sexual positions, speaking loving words to your partner, and making sure the atmosphere is right in the bedroom, Partner Engagement is probably your primary sex style.

Partner Engagement may have the greatest range of depth of any of the sex styles. At the shallowest level, Engagers use their partners as “pleasure props” in their own opportunistic sex script. Great sex for Engagers might mean a love-filled synergy so powerful that it becomes an archetypal mystical union that celebrates life itself.

This may come as no surprise: As the quality of sex increases for Partner Engagers, the number of available, quality partners decreases. The deepest states seem to demand a partner who is special and unique to you — not a number of casual affairs.

About 30% of the men I work with are primarily Engagers.

How to make this all work?

It’s complex, right? Not only might you have a different primary sex style than your partner; you might also have a different level of depth within the same sex style.  That is, you and your partner might both be Engagers, but you stopped developing at the “performance” level, while your partner has experienced profound moments of unity consciousness during lovemaking.

The key to becoming a sexual rock star — it should be obvious at this point — is to both broaden and deepen your sex styles. Broaden, by experimenting with a sex style you’re least familiar or comfortable with. Deepen, by taking the next step in your primary sex style.

Take a clear, unbiased look at your sexual history with these three categories in mind. Have you gotten in a rut with your rutting, falling into familiar but limited patterns in the bedroom? Do any of these styles seem threatening to you and your sexual identity? Are you intrigued by one of them but aware of shame or fear holding you back?

And for those of you who like to target the low-hanging fruit: Where might you make the most sexual progress with the least effort?

Then determine the next step to take. That might look like, “Talk to Courtney about my ideas for Role Play,” or “During lovemaking, practice maintaining eye contact twice as long as I normally would.” Maybe a first step to creating more harmony in your bedroom is as simple as “Stop judging Stacey for her preferred sexual style and become an expert at it!”

If you can let yourself move forward in this journey with an open mind and a willing heart — instead of a holding a fixed idea about what sex should or should not be — you just might start experiencing more pleasure than you ever imagined.

I’m wishing you well in your journey to become more of who you really are in the bedroom.

Banner for Coaching with Jim Benson