For a long time, the internet was ruled by funny cat videos and makeup tutorials, but while everyone was distracted, videos dedicated to autonomous sensory meridian response (a.k.a. ASMR) started going viral. Their purpose: to help you bliss out to the sounds and visuals of people whispering, softly scratching, running their hands across skin, or even eating.
And though ASMR was never really meant to be a sex thing, it is now—because, of course.
“ASMR is a term used to describe a sensation experienced by some people in response to visual and auditory triggers,” explains Giulia Poerio, PhD, an ASMR researcher and lecturer at the University of Essex. ASMR typically creates a tingling sensation that starts at the crown of your head and can spread down to your fingertips and toes. “It is a pleasant, relaxing feeling that can almost feel very trance-like,” she adds.
ASMR sex doesn’t involve any specific positions or new moves, but rather, it’s all about finding a trigger that turns you on, says sex psychologist Caroline West, PhD, a lecturer in sexuality studies at Dublin City University and host of the Glow West podcast. That could be anything from a soft whisper to the sensation of someone running their hands over your skin. “It’s a trial and error process,” she says.
But when you find the right trigger, it can seriously ramp up your sexual experience, West says.
Interested in giving ASMR sex a go? Here’s how to turn this internet hit into a sensation in the bedroom.
Why is ASMR a turn-on for some people?
Once you find your trigger, “ASMR can be a relaxing, calming sensation that increases feelings of social connectedness,” Poerio says. It can even cause your heart rate to slow down, she adds.
And though ASMR was never intended to be sensual (after all, listening to someone munching on chips or giving someone else a scalp massage hardly makes you want to rip your clothes off), adding ASMR to your sexual experience can help you feel zen-ed out and open to other ~sensations~. It’s an ideal way to get yourself into the relaxed headspace to get intimate.
“The key aspects of these interactions are trust and safety; usually conveyed through a gentle disposition, a soft or whispered voice, predictable hand movements or hand sounds, eye gazing, and appropriate light touch,” says ASMR researcher Craig A. H. Richard, PhD, a professor at Shenandoah University. These are all things that translate very nicely in the bedroom.
Can ASMR be hot for everyone?
Well…not everyone experiences ASMR in the same way.
There are a two major reasons for that, Richard says. “The first reason may be that they haven’t discovered their ideal trigger yet,” he says. Richards recommends putting on some headphones and checking out a bunch of different ASMR videos online, or just taking note of what sounds give you the feels IRL (the crinkle of a tea bag as you open it, the soft sound of laundry being folded). You can also try to lightly run your own fingers across your skin or your partner’s and see what that does for you.
The second reason: You just might not be able to experience ASMR at all. In some cases, people don’t respond to the common triggers at all, in others, they find find ASMR annoying, says Poerio. And sometimes, “people can experience feelings of calm and relaxation from videos, even if they don’t experience the tingles,” she adds.
That said, plenty of people can experience it, so don’t psych yourself out upfront.
What types of ASMR triggers can I bring into the bedroom?
It’s really up to you. “Each person will react differently to different sounds [and visuals],” West says. She recommends heavy breathing, listening to the sound of buttons opening, lightly scratching nails across your skin or clothes, whispering, or even listening to your partner taking a bath or shower (the “sound of water can be a relaxing ASMR,” West says).
Gotcha, now how do I make all that sexy?
While listening to or watching running water might give you chills, it’s not exactly hot. Still, there are things you can do to turn your ASMR experience into a sexy one.
For starters, West says it’s important to talk to your partner about what works for both of you. You might find that you’re both into whispering or soft scratching, or maybe you’re into totally different stuff. Whatever your triggers, you can tweak them and turn them into sensual experiences for the both of you. It’s all about how you bring these triggers into the bedroom.
Here are a few things you can try:
- Whisper your fantasies. Get in bed together and take turns whispering your hottest fantasies to each other. “When you are apart, you could also try sending recordings of you whispering your fantasies, so that a sense of excitement begins to build until you can enact these fantasies in real life,” she says.
- Focus on the sounds during oral. “Oral sex produces sounds, as well as physical sensations, and these sounds can be a turn-on in themselves,” West says.
- Gently rummage through a drawer. Got a designated sex toy drawer? West suggests softly rummaging through it while you look for a tool to create aural pleasure and build up anticipation.
- Trace patterns on skin. You can use a feather, paddle, or your fingernails to gently work your way across your partner’s body.
- Play erotic ASMR in the background. Sure, most ASMR isn’t erotic, but there is some out there. You can buy erotic ASMR sounds (which lean heavily on soft moans and other sex noises) or look them up on YouTube and play them while you and your partner get busy.
A lot of ASMR—and ASMR sex—is trial and error. So, if you don’t get intense feelings of pleasure on the first attempt, keep trying. Once you hit your trigger, you’ll know it.
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