The Dual Control Model – Take Control of Your Sex Life

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According to Emily Nagoski, the author of Come As You Are The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, one of the keys to transforming your sex life is learning to turn on the ons and off the offs. Easier said than done, huh? Well, struggle a little less by learning about the dual control model to take control of your sexuality. 

What is the Dual Control Model?

The dual control model consists of two systems; the sexual excitation system and the sexual inhibition system. These two systems work together to figure out the sexual relevancy of your environment and tell you to either be “turned on!” or “turned off!”

The sexual excitation system, often referred to as the accelerator subconsciously scans the environment for sexual stimuli (such as things you see, touch, and smell) and signals the brain to turn the genitals on! 

On the other hand, the sexual inhibition system, often called the “brakes,” works unconsciously and simultaneously alongside the SES system to scan the environment for turn-offs. This system is a tad more complicated, and just like a car has two types of brakes, so does it. 

The first brake (aka. the brake pedal) scans its current environment for sexual performance consequences (things you see, hear, smell, taste), and if it finds them, it sends a signal to the genitals to turn off. This system is responsible for keeping arousal at bay when; the risk of contracting an STI is high, there’s no protection, or people might hear.

The second brake (aka. the hand brake) is associated with the fear of performance failure and will not completely hit the “TURN OFF!” button; nonetheless, it will make it a hell of a lot more work to get where you’re going. This brake commonly gets triggered by the worry about not cumming, or staying hard. 

How does this help my Sex Life?

Two put it in layman’s terms; these two systems control our sexual arousal and every single person on this planet has a system with different sensitivities, including you. So, that magic key to unlock the door to better sex is learning how your sex functions. In other words, figure out what hits the brakes and what steps on the gas. 

If you feel completely lost on how to start this journey, check out the Sexual Temperament Questionnaire. 


Learning about the dual control model has made navigating my sex life all the easier. It’s no longer me angrily berating myself with “why can’t I get aroused!” now, I shift into detective mode, and say “Do I need fewer offs or more ons?” and sometimes it’s both. Regardless of the answer I always think to myself I need to share this with the world. So, even if you don’t read Emily Nagoski’s book, I hope the dual control model finds you.

Enjoy this material? Need more convincing to read Come as You are? Read my article on The Sexual Response Cycle.

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