On the Netflix series Sex, Love, and Goop, couple Erika and Damon divulge a common yet rarely talked about problem—mismatched sexual interests.
The couple work with somatic sexologist Jaiya, who goes by her first name only, to learn more about working through their sexual polarities. There’s a common misconception that if sex is incompatible, there’s nowhere to go but out the door. Through a framework invented by Jaiya’s decades-long research, called the Erotic Blueprints™, Jaiya provides relief and correction to that assumption.
There are five blueprint types: energetic, sensual, kinky, sexual, and shapeshifter. Erika and Damon realize that their turn-ons are simply different. Jaiya liaisons the couple through connecting with one another with a series of tactile and energetic explorations, as well as downright necessary lessons on clitoral anatomy.
At one point in the series, Erika remarked that the married couple hadn’t explored their sexualities over the span of six years together. There’s a cultural deficit in how we learn and communicate about sex—our lexicon is limited. Any romantic movie teaches that if there is love, the sex will always be good.
It’s expected that good sex is a natural skill when it’s actually an acquired one.
Lack of education often leaves people without a clue where or how to start exploring. Jaiya, whose background is buttressed by ancient erotic rituals, tantric practices, the study of kink, and the psychology of turn-ons, makes it clear that finding the ignition to your arousal is just as important, if not more, than knowing what to do with your hands. We had the pleasure of chatting with the scientist of turn-on herself about how the blueprint framework can transform the ways we connect with ourselves and others.
What are the 5 Erotic Blueprints™?
The erotic blueprints seek to answer a question that fueled Jaiya’s studies—why do certain people get turned on by one thing, and for others, the same stimuli do nothing?
Jaiya explained, “The Erotic Blueprints give us a map to understanding our own and others’ eroticism. Think of them like a language. If you speak French and your lover speaks English, well then you are speaking two different languages when it comes to what turns you on and how you are wired erotically.”
Lacking a collective understanding of each other’s arousal can lead to frustration, trouble communicating, and undesirable sexual outcomes. Even with completely different blueprints, there are ways to work through them and find common ground.
“The Erotic Blueprints help us to know ourselves, so that we can have more pleasure, connection, and satisfaction either in solo sex or in partnered sex. But beyond sexuality, they give us deeper insight into our truest selves and permission to love ourselves just the way we are,” said Jaiya.
The energetic type is turned on by anticipation, space, tease, and hovering touch. “They love to yearn,” said Jaiya. This type is very sensitive and is able to reach orgasm without touch.
The sensual type gets turned on from igniting all their senses. This type might want sex in a beautiful setting, and they’re the type to desire roses, chocolate, a bubble bath, or Marvin Gaye playing in the background.
The sexual type is turned on by what our culture generally considers sex: nudity, genitals, intercourse, and penetration. This type is usually fast to heat up.
The kinky type likes anything taboo to them. They could be psychologically kinky, gravitating to power dynamics, or sensation-based, and enjoy giving or receiving intense sensations like flogging or temperature play.
The shapeshifter type is aroused by anything that might turn on the energetic, sensual, sexual, or kinky types. They are malleable because of their sexual intelligence and ability to cater to anyone. This type is erotically expansive and thrives on sexual variety.
Each blueprint also has a shadow side, meaning a blockage to access desire and pleasure.
These blockages may manifest as self-judgment, shame, or beliefs. Shadow sides may account for disconnection or dissatisfaction in the bedroom, said Jaiya. They are anything that could press on the arousal brakes—but there are ways to heal them.
The energetic’s shadow side can be hypersensitivity, which can cause people to “short-circuit” and become turned off because of too much sensation too fast. In turn, their arousal system shuts down, said Jaiya.
Jaiya’s tip: “For the Energetic, play with more tease, light touch on the body and consciously give more space for turn on to turn into begging for more.”
The sensual’s shadow side can easily get caught up with thinking or planning, which takes them out of their body and into their heads. It can be helpful for this blueprint to take time to ignite the senses to transition to a more erotic realm.
Jaiya’s tip: “To heal the Sensual shadow, folks must have “toggles,” which are things that help you transition from the mundane tasks of life to the erotic realm. This can be anything from getting a massage to eating some chocolate—anything that is relaxing to you. Engage in mindfulness practices to help you stay focused on the present moment.”
The sexual may be prone to losing track of the exploration of sex and hyper-focusing on orgasm. In turn, they miss out on the journey.
Jaiya’s tip: “To heal the Sexual shadow, one should expand into other blueprints to gain more vocabulary and understanding.”
The shadow side of the kinky-type could be shame for having taboo desires. In turn, someone can work with self-permission.
Jaiya’s tip: “Explore a variety of sensations; from scratch to slaps to different temperatures. Get creative. To heal the Kinky shadow, one should work with someone who is kink-positive to help them through any shame or guilt coming up.”
Because the shapeshifter can shift to please or accommodate their partner, they may be unsatiated about their own sexual needs or feel as though they are “too much.”
Jaiya’s tip: “To heal the Shapeshifter shadow, folks must understand they are not too much—but simply erotically intelligent. Make sure you create space and time for yourself to be fed. So, give yourself a lot of different ways to play in every Blueprint. Make sure you set aside ample time for yourself to really indulge in the exploration.”
Navigating different blueprints and libidos
It’s common for challenges with differing blueprints to arise. A common mismatch is when one person has a high percentage of sexual and the other person has a high percentage of sensual or energetic, as was the case for Erika and Damon. Jaiya said this is “the most common match we see.”
Jaiya said partners can find relief that their sex life isn’t doomed if they have different blueprints! “It’s a lot like learning any new skill or language. All there needs to be is a willingness on both sides to learn the other’s Blueprint,” said Jaiya.
“There is an opportunity that as we heal, we also feed our Blueprints so that we are not depleted and starving. Simultaneously, we end up feeding our lover’s Blueprints, which is a skill we can learn to do. We also can learn to speak each other’s languages. There are certain words and ways we use body language that are greatly helpful in bridging the gap. Eventually, as we learn a new Blueprint we expand into that Blueprint — this means that the Blueprint that once was not a turn-on becomes our own turn-on,” said Jaiya.
Constricted sexual palettes can learn to expand. However, unwillingness to learn the skills to nourish a blueprint can have toxic consequences for a relationship and sex life. Unwillingness leads to resentment, which can lead to a sexless relationship.
Willingness to experiment, heal, and nourish your blueprint can be transformative.
Curious to find your blueprint type? Take the quiz here.