The Guided by Glow app
A 2019 study found that people who were more “sexually mindful” tended to “have better self-esteem, be more satisfied with their relationships and … be more satisfied with their sex lives.”
It makes sense, right? After all, if you’re trapped in your head, how can you fully absorb and appreciate what’s happening in your body? Plus, anxiety and stress hormones do not play nice with sexual pleasure. They can reduce lubrication and arousal, stymie erections, and make an orgasm next to impossible.
While audio erotica apps like Dipsea and Quinn tend to focus on sexy narratives, Guided by Glow’s sessions are guided experiences that leave room for the listener to get into the story, rather than become someone else. This, Player says, is why the voices guiding the sessions are anonymous, and descriptions tend to leave out details about other people in the story, such as hair color, eye color or skin color. This way, listeners can put just about anyone into their guided fantasy. Sessions are also split to half heterosexual and half same-sex fantasies. Player says they are also working on a section for nonbinary listeners.
When I asked Player whether there was a "formula" to the sessions, she agreed there was. Just like a meditation or favorite yoga class, there's a rhythm here that listeners can learn and get comfortable with. The sessions start by inviting listeners to drop into their bodies. Next, they bring in imaginative auditory elements like weather or waves or the entrance of a person. Then, the sensory seduction begins, moving listeners gently towards, well, climax. This part is also open-ended, gently inviting the listener to imagine an ending rather than listening to one that's already been scripted.
The experience has also been described as ASMR, or audio sensory meridian response, a pleasurable tingling sensation that some people feel in response to certain auditory stimuli. While ASMR isn’t sexual, it typically is intimate, and often features soft voices, whispers and scratching or tapping sounds, among other stimuli.
“When you hear a super relaxed breath or the lick of the lips between a breath it’s … powerful,” Player said. “But it isn’t something we intentionally set out to do - it just creeps in there.”
Guided by Glow is available for Android and Apple devices at https://guidedbyglow.com.