gay touch pleasure sex intimacy coach non sexual

4 steps to create intimacy through non-sexual touch

Touch and sex are not the same thing - although they often get conflated. Follow these 4 steps to create more intimacy using touch that's sensual but non-sexual.

When a friend told me recently that he’d booked a massage because he was desperate for some full body, skin to skin touch, I asked him why he didn’t just ask his husband for some touch.

‘The trouble is’, my friend confided, ‘whenever we try to massage each other it always leads to sex, and that’s just not what I want right now’

Why touch and sex get conflated

We live in a world where there are many taboos around touch, but where we are also bombarded by sexualised imagery and narratives.

As a result sexual interactions are one of the few opportunities most people get to experience full body touch; so it’s no wonder that many of us have come to believe that touch and sex are inextricably linked.

But they don’t have to be.

Non-sexual touch can create just as much intimacy (if not more) than sexual touch. (And there’s  also a good argument for why you might even achieve better sex through non-sexual touching).

Intimate touch vs. functional touch

Just as there’s a difference between touch and sex, there’s also a difference between functional touch and intimate touch.

It’s true, booking a professional massage might go some way towards meeting a need for full body skin contact. But most massage therapists are trained to avoid touching intimate areas, or perceived erogenous zones.

Yet there is a space somewhere between functional touch and sexual touch which activates many of the hormones (like oxytocin) which are essential for our wellbeing.

There’s something very special about experiencing touch which includes intimate areas, but which doesn’t have any agenda for outcome the way sex often can.

This kind of non-erotic intimate touch can feel incredibly nurturing – and is actually often what many of us are seeking from sexual touch.

4 steps for using non-sexual touch to create intimacy

If, like my friend, you want to experience more intimate touch that doesn’t lead to sex, but have no idea how to make that happen, here’s a practice you can explore with a partner:

  1. Create some dedicated time for it. Make a clear agreement with your partner or playmate before you start that this is not a space intended for orgasm. Removing any expectations of goals or outcomes is a crucial first step to reframing the experience of touch!
  2. Take turns offering touch to each other. Ask your partner: ‘How would you like me to touch you for the next 3 minutes?’ If you feel comfortable doing whatever touch they request great – get going; if not negotiate until you find something they want that you’re willing to do. When the 3 minutes are up swap places.
  3. Set a timer and only touch one way at a time. Don’t be tempted to skip this part – having a structured, timed format like this helps take away any fears or distractions you might have about being ‘allowed’ to focus on your own sensation or pleasure when it’s your turn, and makes it much less likely that ‘one thing will lead to another’. For the next 3 minutes it’s all about you – and both of you know the other will get their turn!
  4. No mind reading. Only touch your partner the way they’ve asked you to. While you’re touching you can ask ‘how can I make this even better for you?’. When you’re being touched listen to your body – if you want to be stroked slower, cuddled harder, or massaged deeper, ask for it!

Want to take it further?

It’s important to start small and simple. Don’t try to get too sexy too quickly. You might even try starting clothed for a few rounds to help slow things down so you don’t get carried away!

As you become more relaxed and comfortable you might include more intimate or sensual touch if that’s what your body wants. But remember, this is not about following arousal or having sex.

If you notice you or your partner are getting too turned on try pausing for a few minutes, or going back to touch which feels more neutral. Remember your agreement from Step 1!


If you don’t have a partner and would like to explore or practice this with me get in touch