Intimacy Without Intercourse? Yes, It’s Possible!

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Intimacy is a very important aspect of any romantic relationship. Some people get hung up and say, “the intimacy is just gone from our relationship”, when that may not always be the case. The sex may be gone; that’s a very common occurrence, sadly…but maybe not all of the intimacy is gone. Intimacy doesn’t JUST refer to having sex…it’s any act that brings you physically and emotionally closer. There are many romantic, loving, and sexy ways to be intimate with your partner that don’t just involve f*cking. If you and your partner do any of the things described below regularly, congrats! You’re being intimate with each other, and that’s good for your mental & emotional health as well as your relationship! If you don’t already do these things with your partner, try adding them to your routine (ideally with plenty of sex) to bring the two of you closer than ever before!

Kissing

On your next average day with your partner, keep a mental count of how many times you kiss each other. Maybe count on a busy weekday and a more low-key weekend day just to compare. Either way, that count might be shockingly low…so start working on increasing it! Kissing is a great way of sharing your intimate feelings with your partner when time is in short supply…and it can even be done in public! Not every kiss has to be this glamorous, glorious, movie-worthy moment…even just a quick solid liplock with your partner is enough for you to transfer your energies to one another to get those happiness hormones flowing. Experiment with tongue vs. no tongue, but try and maintain a healthy balance of both! Gentle surprise kisses on the hands, neck, ears, and forehead are also incredibly intimate and flirtatious…and they can be a huge turn-on which may lead to something more with your lover!

On the opposite end of that spectrum, you might actually kiss your partner so often, you don’t think of it as a way of being intimate anymore. If quick pecks are constant and automatic every time you’re around each other, it can quickly begin to feel disingenuous. Revive your kissing game and make it more intimate with a game of Creative Kisses, which gives you exciting new styles of kissing to try. You can also sweeten the deal with a chocolate body paint that you paint on your lover and kiss or lick off! Yummy! Make sure to focus on making certain kisses, like goodnight & good morning kisses, into a special and important ritual between the two of you, and they will never feel boring again!

Cuddling

Whether it’s in bed, on the couch while binging your favorite new Netflix series, or on a blanket under the stars, cuddling can do amazing things for your own well-being and your relationship’s. Physical closeness with your partner helps you reconnect emotionally in a way that even sex can’t do alone…that’s why cuddling is so often seen as sex-adjacent, but it doesn’t have to be! Just propping each other up on the couch while you watch a movie is sufficient! Just focus on making sure your bodies are touching and you’re both comfortable, then relax and enjoy!

To keep your cuddles meaningful and intimate, it’s ok to have your favorite positions, but switch things up from time to time as well. Are you always the little spoon? Take your turn as big spoon! Do you always cuddle on the same side of the couch or bed, or in the same positions? Change it up every now and then. When the mood is right, cuddle time can also take a playful turn into tickle torture, a pillow fight, or a battle for the remote, and laughing together is good for all couples!

Body Worship

If you’re not familiar with this term, body worship is essentially a sex game in which one partner is made to observe, admire, adore, kiss, caress, lick, or suck various features of the other partner’s body, including but not limited to the genitals. It is often incorporated into BDSM scenes as an act of the submissive, but it can be totally freestanding (and totally voluntary), too. Not strictly a part of the kink community, body worship can absolutely be enjoyed by more “vanilla” lovers. That being said, it can also be an opportunity to truly enjoy any of their body parts you fetishize. Have a thing for your lover’s feet? With permission, gently suck on their toes. It might surprisingly be a turn-on for both of you!

Make it even more fun with a kissable massage cream or passion gel, and a blindfold for the one being worshipped so they don’t know what’s coming next (although it’s extra fun to watch, too). You love your partner, and you love your partner’s body, so show them! It is fun for both the giver and receiver of the worship, and it’s a HUGE self-esteem booster to have your lover just touching and admiring your body like that, and when our self-esteem and sexual confidence are through the roof, it makes it easier to be intimate with our lovers. And since ideally at least one partner is naked during a body worship session, it can easily transition into sex if you want it to!

Hugging

Today is National Hug Day, so what better time to celebrate the importance of a hug? Hugging is beneficial both in romantic relationships as well as platonic ones. Exchanging hugs, even between friends and family members, has shown to be beneficial to our brains and the chemicals they excrete to affect our moods. When a hug is shared between lovers, that effect is multiplied. I’ve always said that a good hug from my partner “feels like it makes all the broken pieces stick back together”…they really are that powerful! And due to the pandemic, the “huggers” among us are likely feeling starved for touch right now…hugs from your partner might be the only ones you are getting, so make them count!

Enjoy hugs of varied length and strength with your partner, and engage in hugging regularly. It really is one of the most emotionally healing intimate acts we can engage in as humans, and the mood boost that comes with it is a huge payoff. Get creative with your hugs, too! Side hugs, over-the-shoulder from behind hugs, half hugs, “bro hugs”, and bear hugs are all solid options. Put on some music and start swaying together during a nice long hug and you have an impromptu slow dance, which can be great for bonding with your lover as well! Never underestimate the power of a hug!

“Outercourse”

This is an umbrella term for “sexual acts that are not penetrative sex”. Some definitions exclude sex acts with ANY kind of penetration, including by fingers or toys, but if it’s sexual in nature (more so than the other categories discussed above) but not penis-in-vagina or penis-in-anus, it probably counts! Outercourse can sometimes be simply a practical option to replace penetrative sex, whether due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy prevention, or even just time or location constraints…maybe you don’t want to have sex in the guest bedroom at your aunt’s house, but an intimate massage would feel perfect! If not for practical reasons, it can also just be fun to switch things up from time to time!

The next time you want to be intimate with your partner, but can’t or don’t want to have penetrative sex for whatever reason, Outercourse can be your go-to alternative. Hand jobs, oral sex, erotic massages, mutual masturbation, stripteases, or even just grinding your bodies together in a sexy, steamy heap all count, so there’s lots of room to be creative. You can even get toys involved, like a wand that will tantalize and tease your lover with powerful, rumbling vibrations on the outside, but no penetration!

the author

Kristin T.

A former teacher & trusted relationship expert, Kristin writes science & health-conscious advice that she hopes can help everyone enjoy sex & intimacy more.