Some people have sex to blow off steam when they’re stressed. Some do it to feel more emotionally connected to their partners. Others do it because all that physical touch feels amazing.
We’re motivated to have sex for different reasons and have varying definitions of what “good sex” is. That observation prompted sex therapist Vanessa Marin to try to identify different sexual “personality types” based on her work with clients over the past 15 years.
“Just as it’s important for us to understand what we’re looking for in a partner and in a relationship, we need to know what we’re looking for out of our sex life,” she told HuffPost.
After coming up with her own classifications, Marin polled people via her email list and social media channels to get their feedback and see if there were any types she’d missed. (She noted that her methods for gathering data were “not scientific by any means.”) Marin ended up with a list of 11 sex personality types.
“Any sort of attempt to classify the entire population into just a handful of groups is never going to be perfect,” she said. “But I think it can be fun to look for commonalities in our experiences.”
The 11 Sex Personality Types
To figure out your type, read through the descriptions below and see which one resonates the most with you. If a few sound close, try to rank your top three in order so you can identify your primary type.
1. The Decompresser
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, sex is your go-to stress reliever. You relish the physical and mental release that orgasms offer. You may even use sex (solo or partnered) to help you fall asleep at night.
“Sex is a way that you blow off steam and unwind,” Marin wrote in her blog post. “You may seek out sex because you’re feeling tense, or you may simply enjoy spending time basking in the afterglow when sex is over.”
But sometimes you’re so fixated on the finish line that you forget to enjoy the ride.
“You may also come off to your partner as not being particularly present or engaged in the moment since you’re so focused on the end,” Marin said to HuffPost.
2. The Explorer
For you, sex is all about trying new things between the sheets, having fun and not taking it too seriously. You’re sexually curious, you’re willing to learn and you crave novelty.
“You’re open to trying something even if you’re not sure that you’ll like it,” Marin said. “You can laugh about it if your explorations don’t work out in the end.”
3. The Fair-Trader
Generosity and a healthy give-and-take in the bedroom are crucial for the Fair-Trader. You expect your partner to meet your needs with enthusiasm, and you’ll gladly do the same for them.
“You want to know that your partner enjoys giving just as much as you enjoy receiving, and vice versa,” Marin explained in her blog post.
It can really throw you off if you sense that your partner isn’t as into it as you are.
“If your partner seems a little disconnected during a particular session, you may find yourself getting up in your head, unable to enjoy the experience,” the therapist told HuffPost. “Sometimes that can feel a little exhausting to your partner.”
4. The Giver
In your eyes, sex is a gift to share with your partner.
“Your partner’s sexual experience is at least as important to you as your own, and probably even more so,” Marin wrote. “You’re very in tune with your partner’s experience, and it makes you feel good to know that you can make your partner feel good.”
This may mean you have trouble receiving when it’s your turn.
“You may feel uncomfortable being the focus of attention or just receiving without also reciprocating in the moment,” Marin told HuffPost.
5. The Guardian
Feeling safe with your sexual partner is of the utmost importance. You may have dealt with sexual trauma in your past.
“You like feeling that foundation of security with your partner and with yourself,” the blog post explains. “Your boundaries are important to you, as is enthusiastic consent.”
6. The Passion-Pursuer
For you, sex isn’t good unless it’s intense and all-consuming — maybe even animalistic.
“You’re very in tune with the energy between you and your partner during sex,” Marin wrote. “You love the idea of letting go and losing yourself in the moment. For you, the best sex is when time seems to stand still.”
7. The Pleasure-Seeker
The physical pleasure you feel during sex is what keeps you coming back for more (and more). Simply put: You like feeling good.
“You may even be confused about all of these different personality types, because you think sex is just one of those simple pleasures in life,” the therapist wrote. “You enjoy touch and physical contact throughout the day too.”
For you, sex doesn’t have to be emotional or overly intimate ― it can be enjoyed with someone you just met.
8. The Prioritizer
No matter how busy you are, sex remains a top priority for you. Even when you’re tired, you want to find time for a roll in the hay and will plan accordingly to make sure it happens.
“You value your sex life, and you’re willing to spend time on it and make sacrifices for it,” according to the blog post. “You like sex to be consistent. You may even like having a specific routine with how often you have sex.”
9. The Romantic
For you, the purpose of sex is to connect with your partner on an emotional level, not just a physical one. You may enjoy more intimate sex that involves caressing, eye contact and exchanging “I love yous.” You want to stay present and not rush the experience.
“The Romantic and the Passion-Pursuer are pretty similar, but the Romantic needs to have emotional intimacy with a partner,” Marin said. “One-night stands just aren’t your thing.”
10. The Spiritualist
“You think sex should be a transcendent experience,” Marin wrote on her site. “Sex is bigger than what’s happening in the body. You may be religious, or you may enjoy Eastern philosophies like Tantra.”
If you grew up in a religion with rigid moral views about sexuality, it may be difficult for you to enjoy a healthy sex life without feeling ashamed or judged.
“For some Spiritualists, the connection to religion can pose challenges,” Marin explained to HuffPost. “Your religion may have certain guidelines that you don’t fully agree with or that evoke shame for you.”
11. The Thrill-Seeker
Your sexual interests aren’t vanilla and that’s the way you like it. BDSM, kink or taboo sexual fantasies don’t scare you off ― they excite you.
“You may enjoy an element of power play in your sex life, like allowing your partner to dominate you, or dominating your partner,” Marin wrote. “Whereas the Explorer simply likes exploration for exploration’s sake, you crave that sense of the taboo.”
Why Knowing Your Type Matters
Think of it this way: If you haven’t figured out what aspects of sex are most important to you, how can you communicate what you want to a partner?
“The sex personality type model creates a framework for opening that conversation,” Marin told HuffPost. And by knowing your partner’s sex personality type as well, you can do a better job of making sure their needs are being met.
Marin uses the model with her clients to help clear up sex-related miscommunications and misunderstandings. She gave as an example one couple with whom she worked a few years back: The husband told his wife he wanted to try some new things in the bedroom. The wife was upset by this and he couldn’t understand why. While he was excited about the prospect of experimenting with the woman he loved, he didn’t realize that she interpreted the suggestion as a sign that he was unhappy with their sex life.
Marin helped them see that they shared the same goal — to feel connected to each other and to have a satisfying sex life. They were just approaching it in different ways.
“Exploration was the husband’s ‘language’ for experiencing connection,” Marin said. “Once the wife realized that it wasn’t a critique, she was able to see that he ultimately wanted the same thing she did.”