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Blindfolds: A Classic Sex Accessory

Differences in male and female arousal help explain the appeal of the erotic enhancement

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"Blindfolds can deliver wonderful sexual enhancement — especially when worn by women." — Alamy

En español | When it comes to the popularity of sex toys, blindfolds take a back seat to vibrators. But if you're so inclined, blindfolds can deliver wonderful sexual enhancement — especially when worn by the woman.

Why? One reason involves differences in male and female erotic arousal. Sexologists agree that of the five senses, sight is what turns on a majority of men. Hence lingerie: Men see it and love it. (Men's preference for visuals also explains why pornography sites rank among their top Internet destinations.)

Sexologists also agree that the majority of women get most turned on by what they feel: cuddling, hot baths, sensual massage, spa treatments, warm fuzzy robes and the sensation of silk. When women wear blindfolds, they can usually focus more deeply on how exciting the loving touch of a partner feels. This likewise means they can enjoy it more.

As a result, lovemaking with the woman blindfolded can be a win-win. He sees her extra-aroused; she revels in being touched.

Another reason a blindfold can enhance sex is that it's new and adventurous. This novelty raises your levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which governs libido. Boost dopamine and sex feels more exciting. Of course, many couples have sex with their eyes closed, but there's a big emotional difference between voluntarily shutting one's eyes and being blindfolded.

Blindfolds are also a bit kinky. They're a classic element of domination and submission play (D/s), as well as bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM). Surveys suggest that only 1 to 2 percent of American couples are deep into these erotic variations — the sort depicted in Fifty Shades of Grey — but many people find themselves aroused by the light, playful kink of blindfolding.

Women are not the only ones who enjoy being blindfolded. Some men enjoy it, too, which is fine and normal, and can be just as sex-enhancing as the other way around. Have fun however you like. But deprived of sight, men can't see — and feel aroused by — their lovers' bodies, which is why most blindfold play involves men placing them over women's eyes.

Some women would rather not be blindfolded, thank you very much. If the woman in your life is similarly disinclined, respect that; no one should feel pressured into sex that makes them uncomfortable. But women who are open to blindfold play usually say that it deepens their enjoyment of loving touch.

Because sight deprivation enhances erotic touch, try combining blindfold play with slow, sensual, whole-body massage. You don't have to be trained in massage. Just touch your lover gently all over with your hands, or a feather, or a silk scarf, or — well, use your imagination. For additional enjoyment, try a massage lotion (available at bath and body shops). And if you'd like to improve your massage skills, I recommend Erotic Massage: The Touch of Love by Kenneth Ray Stubbs.

Blindfolded sex amplifies not just touch, but the other senses as well: hearing, smell and taste. Many lovers say they can delve deeper into music when blindfolded, or experience more enjoyment from fragrances and flavors. So surprise your blindfolded lover with scented candles or massage lotions, juicy fruits, shrimp cocktail or anything she (or he) likes.

Meanwhile, if you feel at all curious about D/s or BDSM but have never raised the subject, blindfold play may open a door. Blindfolds are a safe, nonthreatening way to expand your erotic horizons.

Blindfolds are easily portable. They weigh next to nothing, require little space in luggage, and allow you to enjoy some sexy spice wherever you go.

Finally, blindfolds are discreet. Sex-toy catalogues offer elaborate leather models with metal buckles, but a man's tie — or even the sleep masks sold at pharmacies — works just as well. If visitors see a tie on your sofa, they're unlikely to suspect anything. And if they see a night mask, you can always explain it away by saying, "Why, that's just paraphernalia … for my afternoon nap!"

Michael Castleman, publisher of the website GreatSexAfter40.com, writes about sex for AARP.

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