Not in the Mood? Here’s How to Get Intimate, Without Sex

Sex isn't everything. Sex is simply one of hundreds of ways to connect intimately with a lover. You can open up new ways to cultivate deep connection without sex being the go-to.

1 min read
Not in the Mood? Here’s How to Get Intimate, Without Sex

Sex isn’t everything. Which might sound odd coming from a sex educator writing for a sexual wellness brand. We obviously love sex over here. Love talking about it, teaching on it, and sharing luxe products to help you have better sex. But, it’s time to take sex off a pedestal.

One of the most common reasons people come to work with me is because they have lost their libido. If they’re in partnerships, they often feel guilty for not craving sex because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. It’s rare that they don’t crave to connect with their partner, but they’re just not craving sex at the time. Which often leads to them shutting down any intimate behaviour that could be interpreted as sexual, or leading to sex. Which in turn leads to a total breakdown in any type of intimacy within the relationship altogether. Sound familiar?

This is such a common pattern:

Lose interest in sex → avoid ‘sexual’ advances → lose a sense of intimacy and connection → breakdown of relationship

But, by understanding that sex is simply one of hundreds of ways to connect intimately with a lover, you can open up new ways to cultivate deep connection, without sex being the easy go-to.

Phases of Desire

Sex has so many benefits - it’s fun, liberating, provides pleasure, enhances sleep, boosts your immune system, lowers stress levels and offers a way to connect deeply with yourself or your lover. But, it's normal to go through waves of sexual activity and desire.

Everyone throughout their life will experience varying phases where our desire for sex just isn't there, and it can be all too easy to get down on yourself (or your partner) for not wanting sex all the time. But remember: you're not broken or wrong for not being into sex all the time.

Having an ebb and flow in your libido is completely normal and natural - in fact, sometimes it’s evolution's way of protecting you. If your body senses that you’re highly stressed for a period of time, it interprets the current conditions as unsafe to raise a child, and so naturally will decrease your sex drive to limit the chance of procreation. It’s actually quite smart, and considerate. But as we know, the stressors of today’s world aren’t quite the same as those of our ancestors back in the stone age. 

Along with stress, several things can impact our desire for sex, such as:

  • Phases of our menstrual cycle
  • Diet and exercise
  • Different seasons of life
  • Career transition
  • Relationship issues
  • High stress
  • Grief
  • New parenthood
  • Mental health challenges
  • Body image issues
  • Illness
  • Medication

Considering all of these factors, it’s incredibly common to go through different  phases with varying levels of desire, or sexual seasons, if you will. Sometimes you're horny af all the time, other times sex isn't even on the radar. This cyclical nature is totally normal and nothing to demonise yourself for. I promise it’s not just you.

For some people, sex simply isn't much of a priority, and for others on the asexual spectrum, sexual desire isn't something they experience at all.

But, just because you might not be 'in the mood' for sex, doesn't mean you can't connect. There are hundreds of ways you can cultivate connection and intimacy with yourself or your lover(s).

Exploring non-sexual intimacy

Make a meal together
Getting messy in the kitchen by creating something delicious is a great way to spend time together and work as a team while have some fun and laughs 

Cuddle & chill
Hugging is scientifically proven to increase our serotonin levels - the ‘feel-good’ hormone. So, get your daily dose by getting your cuddle on. When you know there’s no expectation for it to lead to sex, you can relax and enjoy it even more.

Gaze lovingly
One of the  most profound practices for cultivating deep connection, eye gazing is simply the act of silently looking into one another’s eyes. Allow yourself to truly be seen by your partner, it’s really special.

Get deep - in conversation
Being able to speak passionately about things close to your heart, to open up and be vulnerable is such an intimate experience. Try using the 36 Questions in Love to get the conversation flowing.

Savour in a massage
This is a beautiful way to connect physically, again without the pressure or expectation for it to lead anywhere sexual. Indulge in one another’s touch and take pleasure in connecting this way.

There’s something very intimate about sharing a bath together (well, provided the tub is big enough!). Being naked together doesn’t automatically have to be a sexual thing. Instead, melt into the moment, have a cuddle and some chats over a glass of wine and soak in the bliss of connection.

Hold hands
Such a simple gesture, but it can create a sense of connection, safety and stability. It’s a small way of saying, wordlessly, that you care, you're here and you’ve got them.

Tick off the to-do’s
Running errands together may seem like the epitome of domestic hell, but it’s actually a simple way to spend some time together and make the mundane more special.

Soap it up in the shower
Again, getting naked and soapy may seem like a classically sexual act, but it’s simply another way to bask in one another’s bodies without it needing to go anywhere. Let it be light and fun, or indulge in a make out sesh.

Adventure time
Make time for fun and play by planning short trips away, or epic date nights. Do that activity you’ve always talked about and make some memories together.

Make out
Rediscover the joy of kissing by experimenting with different styles of kisses, varying speed, pressure, and tongue techniques. Inquire about your partner's favourite way to kiss and be kissed, and share your preferences as well. You might find that these intimate moments bring you even closer than if you had rushed toward intercourse.

Intimacy over Sex

An important thing to note is that just because some intimate activities may seem sensual or somewhat sexual in nature, it doesn’t mean they have to lead to sex.

There’s a societal assumption that once we pass our sexual debut , it's almost as if all those pre-sex activities that we used to engage in get pushed to the sidelines, rushed through or placed down the hierarchy of importance.
It seems there’s a societal assumption that, after our sexual debut (aka 'losing our virginity'), activities like kissing and making out often take a back seat, as if they're merely stepping stones on the way to intercourse. There's an unspoken assumption that any romantic or intimate act is solely a prelude to sex, as if orgasm is the ultimate goal of intimacy.

I challenge you to reframe the purpose of intimacy as a gateway to connection and relational satisfaction, not merely to sexual satisfaction.

Try taking things back to the basics, and indulge in a make out session with your lover, with absolutely no pressure or expectation for it to lead anywhere else.

I also encourage you to speak up and state your needs, desires and boundaries. Let your partner know if you're up for a make out sesh, a cuddle or a massage rather than sex instead of shutting down a chance to connect intimately altogether.

It's vital to recognize that sex is just one facet of intimacy, and it's okay to prioritise other forms of connection at times. By embracing the full spectrum of intimacy, you can create a more profound and fulfilling connection with your partner(s). Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to intimacy, and what matters most is open communication, respect for boundaries, and the willingness to explore various avenues of connection.

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