What Happens When You Read Erotic Literature?
Though the name may seem straightforward, there's tremendous nuance to the genre of erotic literature. It's composed of both fictional and real stories intended to provoke the enjoyment of the senses, particularly in service of lust and desire. In a way, eroticism gathers, includes and humanizes everything related to sensual love, as well as everything that incites sexual appetite.
Erotic literature fosters playful discourse that mobilizes fantasies, evokes the pleasure of seduction and appeals to all the senses to excite the reader's imagination. This is partially achieved by adding theatricality and artistic dimension to sexual acts that may not be present in real life, often stimulating the romantic angle and highlighting different layers of intimate relationships.
Erotic vs. pornographic
It's undoubtedly difficult to draw a distinction between erotic literature and smut. A good starting point is to consider erotica as a medium more concerned with the symbolic, intellectual, affective and psychological components involved in sexuality.
In contrast, pornography is a pure and direct description of carnal pleasures. In pornography, there is no deeper story to guide sexual acts, which instead happen successively without strong ties in between.
Eroticism is often elegant and sublime. Amorous episodes are described in a suggestive way, always making use of metaphors.
"Between eroticism and pornography, there is a very thin line of differentiation," explained clinical psychologist Marilea Jaoude, who is based at the University of Venezuela in Caracas. "We are talking about concepts that are very close to each other. However, eroticism is often elegant and sublime. Amorous episodes are described in a suggestive way, always making use of metaphors. Pornography, on the other hand, is characterized by presenting sex in a direct, open, clear and crude manner."
While it's true the erotic and pornographic currents exalt human sexuality, it's also true the narrative forms are usually considerably different. Whereas erotica suggests, giving rise to one's imagination, pornography directs, without concealment, the sexuality at hand.
What we get out of it
The benefits of reading, in general, are incalculable and have been widely corroborated by scientific research. However, in the case of erotic literature, some findings stand out.
An exploration of one's own sexuality
Erotica can produce curiosity, exploration and discovery. Reading sensual stories is a pleasurable journey that can help a reader discover personal preferences, tastes and limits. In this case, readers often gain valuable insights into human sexual behavior and, as a result, can have a better understanding of their own intimacy and desire.
"Erotic reading awakens sexual desire and personal curiosity," said sexologist Alejandra Placeres, based in private practice in the state of Miranda, Venezuela. "When a reader connects with a story of love and sex, it is quite likely that he or she will seek to replicate it. In a way, erotic consumption will serve as a stimulus to try new experiences and dare to fulfill certain fantasies."
In general, sensual books inspire self-exploration and self-knowledge, which, in turn, helps break down myths and taboos that may hinder maximum enjoyment of sexuality.
Stimulates the brain
Erotic literature can provide serious gymnastics for the mind. An exploration that requires active participation on the part of the reader, who imagines, abstracts, fantasizes and gets directly involved with the story.
This mental and emotional exercise may reinforce neural pathways in the brain because when people read regularly, they force their minds to be more active, and as a consequence, cultural, ideological, emotional and cognitive competencies are fostered.
One of the best ways to relieve stress is to lose yourself in an exciting book. Because erotic reading is intended to induce sexual delight, it often improves mood by way of gratifying effects.
In this sense, reading provides the ideal opportunity to slow down your daily rhythm. Jaoude points out that people who indulge in reading allow themselves to temporarily escape from vigilance, stress and routine.
"Reading as such is a great relaxant and a positive stimulant for the brain," Jaoude said. "For its part, reading sensual content connects us with pleasure, and allows us to release the tensions of everyday life. A good erotic story is an excellent antidote to combat stress and to reconnect with our libido."
In addition, it has been proven that spending time reading helps to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and even relieves the feeling of psychological discomfort.
Renews sexual appetite
Reading tends to be a solitary activity, but sharing a book, story or erotic poem can become a powerful connector between loving partners.
Placeres said therapists have long been using erotic literature to enhance intimacy in couples.
"Reading as a couple has great sensual potential, especially when both people feel affinity and taste for reading," Placeres explained. "In any case, reading stories, telling stories, and even writing racy stories can be a fantastic exercise to ignite desire and passion."
'Reading as a couple has great sensual potential, especially when both people feel affinity and taste for reading.'
Just as erotic books can help a person discover their own sexuality, they can prompt the same discussions in couples. This makes them great for discovering one another's inhibitions and preferences, as well as encouraging moments of seduction, identifying and verbalizing intimate concerns, and overcoming low sexual desire.
Placeres underlined the benefits of couples reading erotica together, but emphasized these conversations don't happen spontaneously. Each couple has the responsibility to start the discussion for themselves, and, Placeres noted, when it comes to talking about fantasies, it is essential to safely differentiate between the accessible and the unattainable, the pleasurable and the harmful.
Increases capacity for empathy
Findings posted in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts indicated that reading romantic fiction was a significant predictor of a person's interpersonal sensitivity. This is potentially because such literature provides access to behaviors, customs, emotions and valuations important to life, love and sexuality. In a way, the characters invite the reader to understand other ways of being and feeling.
"By reading exciting stories, people have the opportunity to put themselves in the place of the characters and become more sensitive and tolerant to the needs of others," Jaoude said.
Erotic literature is much more than a rewarding, accessible and inexpensive pastime. It is a discreet pleasure that helps to cultivate and invigorate bodily enjoyment and intimate relationships.
As the French writer Anaïs Nin once said, "Eroticism is one of the basic means of self-knowledge, as indispensable as poetry." True that.