Sensual, Sexual and Erotic. What is the Difference?

Sensual. Sexual. Erotic.

How do you define the following terms?

What is YOUR definition? Not dictionary.com, or the media’s or whatever. What do each of those words mean to you?

 

Sensual, Sexual and Erotic. What is the Difference?

I asked a few friends for their definitions and here’s what they had to say.

“Sensual… is an energy. It doesn’t necessarily need another person to exist. A look or a walk can be sensual. Sexual to me is directed at another person and a bit more blatant. It’s a touch, grope or lick. Erotic is the intersection of the two.” – Alana Gardner

“Sensual – way of communicating self.  There are levels to a person’s sensuality within the expression and experiencing it. I think it’s innate. Sexual – way of being. Sexuality is like the elements.. You get in where you fit in. What might not work for you doesn’t me it works for me. But you have to acknowledge it for yourself, hence my use of the word being. Erotic – sacred. Lately I think of subspace… how beautiful and amazing it can feel. In those moments and many others that usually come with the label of erotic, I seem to be and feel sacred, holy. It’s interesting to say the least.” – Amber Hinson

“Sensual is the mediator between the sexual and spiritual. The bridge that allows us to transcend limitations on both ends of the spectrum. What the spiritual can’t accomplish, the sexual can and what sexual can’t accomplish the spiritual can. Sexual flesh, raw, desire, performance, creation, magic, communion. Erotic, the thread that ties/emcompasses all parts of the holy trinity of aliveness the sexual, spiritual, sensual into one being or essence. How you show up or manifest in the world. Your power.” – Rashida Khanbey, Sensuality Coach and Creator of Woman Untamed

“Sensual is intimacy. Sexual is physical. Erotic is fun…either physical or intimate or both.” – K.S.

“Sensual to me is like the difference between a running down the skin of water versus the down pour and overt splash of sexuality. Erotic is appealing to all senses in an intimate way… A tease of what’s to come.” – Antares Nikki Davinci, Author

“Sensuality is rooted in the senses. It’s being embodied and alive and feeling everything to the max. Sexuality is the primal energy from your pussy & your pheromones. Erotic is sexuality with the taboo, giving a glimpse of that which isn’t usually permitted, that which isn’t the norm.” – Nadia Munla, Health and Sensuality Coach, Creator of the Embody Festival

“Sensual is of the senses. Sexual is relating to the act. Erotic is relating to the thought or feeling about the act.” – Simon

“Sensual – sultry, seductive, yielding to and involving all the senses of arousal. Sexual – raw, primal, innate, instinctive, yielding to and involving chemistry as well as basic arousal needs. Erotic – emotional, exciting, exhilarating, manifestation of sexual desire and pleasure.” – Duchess White

Sensual

Sensual, Sexual and Erotic. What is the Difference?

To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread

~ James Arthur Baldwin

In 2011, during a podcast interview with Megan Monique titled, “What Does It Mean to Be Sensual,” she stated that sensuality played little to no part in her life. I followed up by responding, “I wonder how you define sensuality. Because for me, sensuality is about engaging your senses such as, taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell. For me, sensuality is taking the time to embrace those different things. I think a lot of people when they hear sensuality, they equate it with sexuality. I think they are cousins but I don’t think they are identical twin sisters. I think that you could have a sensual sexuality but the way that you eat your food could be a sensual experience if you let it be.”

To me, I only mean that sensuality is that which has to do with the senses. The main five ones and others. And being a sensual person is all about presence. How you engage your senses? How you tap into them, enhance them and such.

In order to be sensual, one must explore presence, intentionality and pleasure. How do you engage your senses? How do you tap into them and enhance them?

Another time, I wrote, “I define sensuality as the embodied experience of our physical, spiritual and emotional senses. Thus sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. The way I see a sensual dancer performing versus an artist literally going through the motions is that a sensual dancer is present. You as an audience can feel her as she feels the pole. You are so captivated by every step she takes because you can see the embodied affect that the stage floor has on her feet. You can feel the air of her breath because she’s gracefully aware of it too. Why is sensuality frightening? Because when truly engaged it forces you to see yourself and to see yourself in relation to the world and others. It forces you to be aware of the effect things and people have on you and you on them. Some people aren’t ready for that. It’s a cousin of sexuality but it also little to do with it.

More examples of sensuality? Think about a sensual eater versus someone who simply gobbles their food down. A sensual eater tastes their food. They notice the texture of it and the color of it. The more sensual they are, the more important their passion for food becomes. Or a sensual woman versus one that’s not. A sensual woman knows her body. She knows every strand of hair. She knows the details of her hands. She takes pleasure in certain fabrics and smells and colors. Some people couldn’t bare that.

Sexual

Sensual, Sexual and Erotic. What is the Difference?

Sexuality is the soul of the creative process and that erotic expression of any kind is a personal revolution. 

~ Susie Bright

In 2012, I wrote a blog post titled, “What is Sexuality.” Granted, one blog post is not going to define such an expansive and fluid and controversial term. Still, I wanted to share my perspective of it. I broke down what sexuality encompasses into 15 general categories. I believe it is ignorant to think that sexuality means sex only. Therefore sexuality includes but isn’t limited to sexual identity, gender, anatomy & physiology, sexual acts, thoughts & fantasies, desires & longings, reproduction & birthing, contraceptives & birth control, disorders, deviances & crime, diseases, menstrual and erection stages, fetishes & sensuality, history and self identity, social relationships & culture.

Every human has a sexuality. Every human is sexual. What that does not read is every human is having sex and loving it. Sexuality itself, isn’t taboo. It’s god given. It’s divine. It’s innate. It is tied to creativity. It is a part of our life force. It is essential to our survival. This is why sexuality is important. It is part of what it means to be human.”

In response to my list, the following dialogue happened while creating a specific segment of  a curriculum for my program, Wild Magical Woman with my guides.

A.F.: When I was first reviewing the full list and saw “sexuality”, it was the one I dismissed entirely as one to contribute to. I feel utterly and completely incapable of giving this one the thought it deserves. If ever there was a facet of the Wild Woman that eludes me, it is this one. That said, I’ll try. That list is why I’ll try.

Later, we brainstormed what kind of archetype “sexuality” could be labeled under. We came upon the word, “The Self.”

  1. a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one’s own self.
  2. a person’s nature, character, etc.: his better self.
  3. personal interest.
  4. Philosophy. the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc.
    the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience.

AF:  I like “The Self” even more now for Sexuality. I can’t break away from similar words that encompass the source of one’s power and being: Fount, Source. Self still feels good.

Sheena: The “Self” as a name for the “sexuality” archetype keeps resonating with me. I don’t want people to think sex or sexual. Those are only one aspect of sexuality for me. Self-identity and what it means to be human in this body…that’s sexuality. Not just who I fuck and what my fantasies are. “The Self” as the archetype name for “Sexuality” is so simple and perfect but yet so deep.

A.H.: It’s also empowering in a way none of the other [archetype categories] are. Others are powerful, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve noticed that even if we identify with the others they still have to come from another place or source. It makes beautiful sense to me at the heart of it all is Self. It’s taking ownership of who you are. Allowing yourself to explore and discover the different pieces of you and accepting them. Good or bad. Like when you tell someone to say, “I love myself.” You expect them to understand that it’s Agape type love… unending, highest form and it’s for them because they are worthy of it.

Erotic

Sensual, Sexual and Erotic. What is the Difference?

We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the EROTIC as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way. 

~ Audre Lorde

I have found over the years that many people struggle with defining “the erotic.” Often times its seen as the “taboo” side of sexuality and sensuality. It is connected to BDSM, fetish and kink. I have heard all sorts of definitions. I asked a group of the guides from my Wild Magical Woman program to help me muse and articulate what we meant by “erotic.” What does it mean to be an erotic person?

Sheena: If you had to define or explain eroticism without any reference to sex, sexuality and such

A.F.: Erotic as different from Sensuality? Or can I describe it as sensuality. I have all kinds of impressions on sensuality but not erotic.

Sheena:  I don’t think you can be erotic without being sensual but you can be sensual without being erotic. Same with spirituality and sexuality in a sense. You can’t be erotic without having tapped into aspects of sexuality or spirituality. But what can be spiritual or sexual without knowing the erotic? To me, it’s more to do with powers, energy, and magic. A woman doing hip circles to bless the earth in a spiritual ritual….erotic. she isn’t simulating sex. She’s aligning a lot of the other archetypes into a harnesses power that fuses ritual and soul knowledge

A.M.: I think erotic is all sexual, sensual and spiritual. It’s a blended dance of all those energies. It’s like you want to crawl inside a person’s soul and masturbate.I heard that on American Horror. To me that’s eroticism. It’s full blown energy upon a lover that you like, love, lick, suck, bite, grind, slap, choke, groan, moan, grasp into a chaotic bliss out elixir. There’s no beginning to the end. You’ve lost all the directions on how you began.

KC: In response to Sheena’s question of how do we think about erotic in a non sexual way…maybe it lies at the intersection of power and sensuality? I think this is a good source to draw ideas from a non-sexual oriented elements of eroticism: http://www.metahistory.org/guidelines/EroticUses.php

Sheena: I get what you’re saying A.M. but I’d like us to imagine being erotic beings without lovers. Imagine you cant define it in relation to someone else. I think this is why so many take issue with the word. (Not that I see it as an issue) But they relate it directly to sex and expression…a deep one…but sex, nonetheless. They think erotica and such. And it may be common but its also not how I’d like us to use it. Its more in line with how Audre defines it. Its not about sucking, licking and biting your lover. If we all were single and could never have sex again…or there was a village of celibate women in a jungle…in my mind, they’d still be erotic women. How?!

A.M.: This takes it much deeper. So, perhaps is “erotic energy” and “sexual energy” the same or different? Erotic energy isn’t used as much as sexual energy. So, alot of these energies gets lost in translation.

Sheena: We can “sense” that a woman is erotic by how she walks or exhales or engages with us…and we have no idea about her sex life or even her sensuality. We sense her energy, we can feel the way she lives embodied…but why is it that we’re labeling her erotic? (Things I wonder). This is along the lines of what I mean, ‘The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects – born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony. When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the life force of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.’ Erotic is a lifeforce. A power. An energy. Not a sexual expression. And I believe most of us, including my self SELDOM scratch the surface of what this is truly about. We experience glimmers of it. But the historical way women live the erotic…..has been for the most part shut down.

K.C. – Erotic. A connection to one’s vitality, living in desire, bursting with life, energetically open, in touch with life’s rhythm mystery and charm,
and trusting of life.

Sheena: As it relates to dance, this is what I wrote on EROTICISM. And I think a lot of what we explore here is on EROTICISM. “This is now why I dance. I use this movement…both sensual and sexual…to tap into my spiritual and creative eroticism. Women and Men have been doing this since the beginning of time. They have used their bodies to connect with spirit and the earth and each other. They have used movement to align their chakras and uncoil their kundalini. They have used their bodies as a vessel for a higher knowing. Centuries ago, women were dancing because they were in communion with the earth and with spirit. That is why I dance. I dance because I’m tapping into my soul.”

What does it mean to be a sensual AND a sexual AND an erotic person?

Sensual, Sexual and Erotic. What is the Difference?

A sensual person lives for the embodied experiences they encounter with their physical, spiritual and emotional senses through an intentional life of presence and mindfulness while exploring pleasure. Sense can include but are not limited to sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. How do you engage your senses? How do you tap into them?

.
A sexual person accepts their god-given, divine and innate fluid nature that has multiple complexities. They explore self-identity and expression as a way of being human. How do you engage and explore your sexual identity? How do you engage and explore your gender? How do you engage and explore your desires, thoughts, menstrual cycle, fetishes or social relationships, for instance?

An erotic person lives for the embodied experience of being present in their life force. S/he uses their power and energy to connect with spirit, earth and others. They are connected to their vitality, living in desire, bursting with life, energetically open, in touch with life’s rhythm mystery and charm, and trusting of life. How do you engage your erotic nature?

Also, check out…

Without connecting it to a lover or expression of the act of sex, what does it mean to be a sensual AND a sexual AND an erotic person?

Related posts:

About
Sheena LaShay is a Wild Magical Woman, Intellectual Sensual Shaman and Cultural Provocateur. Keeping it simple, you could say she's a Writer and an Erotic Artist.
Comments
  • Cinnamon M
    Reply

    I believe we all embody all three! Different expressions at different times. Pole dancing provides confidence and strength which allows me to exhibit each one–sensuality, sexuality and eroticism.

    http://www.allthingspoledancing.com

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

I look forward to hearing from you!

Not readable? Change text.
0

Start typing and press Enter to search