You've probably heard of classical conditioning. It's a learning principle studied by psychologists made famous by Ivan Pavlov and his salivating dogs. The principle works like this:
A neutral stimulus (something that we don't respond to in any discernible way) is paired with some bodily response. After we repeat that exposure a few times, that stimulus will cause the bodily response.
This is the mechanism responsible for many of the things we respond to sexually. Here's a classic example of classical conditioning:
Jimmy has a girlfriend (Jenny) that loves garlic. Jimmy and Jenny kiss a lot. That gives Jimmy an erection. Since the neutral stimulus of garlic is paired with Jenny's kiss repeatedly, Jimmy eventually gets an erection when he tastes garlic... even when Jenny is nowhere to be found.
Ta-da! Jimmy has developed a garlic fetish.
You can use this phenomenon in many different ways. Let's say you want a stimulus that reliably puts you in the mood. This can be handy if you have a busy schedule, kids, or anything else that may require you to get in the mood quickly. Use a good neutral stimulus like a particular song or the scent of a certain candle. All you have to do is pair that stimulus with sex. It doesn't even have to be partnered sex... just masturbate to the song or scent of the candle. The key- you want to reach orgasm in the presence of that stimulus.
The pairing does take some time. You may have to repeat the process three to six times before the effect starts to take place.
Here's another useful application. For whatever reason, some dudes report not liking the smell or taste of their significant others' vagina, which makes them less likely to perform oral sex. Since that's just bad lover etiquette, the dude can remedy this by classically conditioning himself to be turned on by the smell and taste of his significant other's vagina. How? A good method would be to masturbate to the smell of her used panties. If the smell evokes a negative reaction, just wait to smell them immediately before the point of orgasm. After all, that's the good feeling we want to associate with the smell.
This same idea can be used for women that object to the taste of semen, too. No need for the dude to be eating pineapple 24/7 just in the hopes his significant other will go down on him.
As you can imagine, you can use this phenomenon to develop other sexual responses, too. Want a leather fetish? Pair the smell of the leather with masturbation. Want to become a masochist? Pair pain with masturbation. The list is virtually endless.
The Negative Effects
There is a down side to using classical conditioning as a means of achieving arousal. When one stimulus is used all the time, other stimuli tend to weaken. This is why some people that watch a lot of porn seemingly lose the ability to get aroused by their partner... they spend too much time getting aroused by porn.
Turning the Negative Effects Upside Down!
The solution is pretty simple- add variety. By using a variety of stimuli, you avoid the "one trick pony" caveat.
What Happens if It's Too Late?
What if you already have developed a powerful classically-conditioned sexual response to only one stimuli?
No problem, we can do what is known as higher-order conditioning. All we have to do is pair a new stimuli with the old stimuli that we've come to rely upon. Let's say we only get turned on by porn to the point where that's the only thing that gets us aroused. The trick is to pair the porn with another stimuli we want to turn us on... like our partner. We just watch porn with our partner a few times. Within a few sessions, our partner will once again turn us on.
But what if our partner isn't down with watching porn?
We can use an intermediary stimulus that our partner won't object to. Let's go back to the candle example. Before we watch porn, light a specific scented candle. Watch the porn, masturbate. Repeat this a few times. Eventually the candle scent will turn us on. Now add the candle to sex with your partner. In the beginning, it will be the candle that causes the arousal. After a few sessions, arousal will once again be caused by the partner!
Classical conditioning is a great tool to add to your sexuality tool box as it can be used for a variety of reasons. It's a great problem-solving tool with endless applications. Play around with the idea... it can be a ton of fun. If you have an adventurous partner, the possibilities are endless!