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8 Ideas for Intimacy that Don't Go "All the Way"

Updated: Apr 18

couple having quality time

Can I tell you my secret mission? I want every couple to unlock their potential for sensual connection without relying so heavily on the intercourse option. Your relationship will benefit so, so much from having a more expansive view of what it means to connect physically and sexually. Here are 8 to get you started. For all of the following, you and your partner should agree to enjoy external stimulation only, without adding internal stimulation (with fingers, toys, gentials, or anything else) into the mix.


Cuddling releases a flood of oxytocin that builds trust and satisfaction in your relationship. Have you ever played the game Twister? Use that same energy to explore different ways of cuddling with your partner. Legs intertwined? Spooning-style? Head-on-chest? What helps your body feel most connected to your significant other?

Naked yoga

Practice deep breathing as you welcome the sensations of arousal without feeling the need to do anything about it. Watch this (clothed) example of partnered yoga if you're unfamiliar with the concept!

Erotic massage

Experiment with different types of pressure, temperature, and strokes. Imagine that your partner's body is unexplored earth, and you are discovering in awe and wonder.

Textured stimulation

Wearing a fabric of clothing or underwear that suits you, grind or glide your body over your partner's enjoying the sensation of their nearness that is amplified by the friction of fabric between you.

Go for a swim

The weightlessness that one feels in water can create new dimensions for a make-out session with erotic touch. You may be able to try positions of embracing that would be uncomfortable or awkward if attempted outside of the water.

Kissing trail

As your partner lays comfortably on the bed, carpet, or another surface, use your lips to experiment with different types of kisses across their entire body. Focus more of your attention away from the genitals. You'd be surprised at how much your partner's body may respond to their stomach, neck, and inner thighs being kissed!

Sensual dance

Whether you take a formal class (or watch Youtube vidoes) to learn a type of sensual dance (i.e. bachata), or you blast your favorite song and move your bodies as you'd please, sensual dance is a way to ignite the passion within each of you. Don't worry about if you're doing it "right" or "wrong," simply focus on moving in harmony. Increase the eroticism by dancing together in clothing that makes you feel "sexy," or with no clothing at all.

Direct stimulation

The vulva, clitoris, nipples, penis and testicles are all full of nerve-endings meant to enhance the physical aspect of your multidimensional intimate connection. Instead of focusing on producing a specific end-result (i.e. orgasm), focus on how your partner's nerves respond to your touch. For example, stroking the vulva in one area, versus stroking the vulva a little closer to the clitoris or closer to the vaginal opening, may elicit a different response. Each detail of your partner's body matters.

You may also want to try to lay, sit, or stand in different positions as you stimulate one another. Use pillows or blankets to prop you up if needed. The atmosphere of your love-making is just as important as the tactile movements you make.

Sexuality is SO MUCH MORE than intercourse

You're on the beginning of an exploring journey with your partner that will deepen your emotional intimacy and allow for a wider variety of physical intimacy. If you'd like a bit more support talking through your intimate life with your partner, you've got some options! Connect with a sex therapist in your area (tips on how to find the right therapist here), or download my audio course, "Communication 101: Sexual Intimacy." It's all about giving you the tools to integrate a fruitful intimate life that is more than intercourse!


about the author

sade is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the metro Atlanta area specializing in couples and sex therapy. she also provides supportive dating coaching for singles in the United States and internationally.


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