Cultivating Intimacy Without Sex: Activities and Ideas For Lovers

Photo by Andre Furtado

Is it possible to have intimacy without sex?

Romantic and sexual relationships often are paired with sexual intimacy. However, if sexual activity is limited or unwanted for any reason, there are many ways you can have intimacy without sexual intercourse. The definition of sex varies depending on the individual, but for the purpose of this article, we will define sex as any touch that is meant to elicit a sexual response, especially genital stimulation.

If you are abstaining from sex for mental, medical, or religious reasons but still desire to show affection to your partner, here are some things you can try to cultivate physical intimacy without sex.

How can I be intimate with my partner without sex?

Other physical activities that do not require sex but are physically and emotionally intimate can be hard to think of since we often skip right to the final destination in our minds, but there is a lot in between!

First, you might want to write a few lists of things that bring the two of you emotionally close that are not sex. This list can be broad, ranging from outdoor activities like walking, hiking, or urban exploring, to having intellectually stimulating conversations over drinks or coffee. It can also include shared hobbies or new activities that you want to try.

Try to think of ways you can incorporate different forms of physical touch into these activities.

Touch can include:

  • Holding hands

  • Cuddling

  • Caressing arms/hands.

  • Gentle kisses on the forehead, top of the head, or extremities.

There are a few other things you can do that can cultivate intimacy with physical components that are not necessarily sexual but could be gentle, loving, and erotic.


Giving your partner or your partner giving you their undivided attention with their body, mind, and hands can be incredibly intimate. First, set their scene. Dim the lights, make your surroundings comfortable, and play gentle music. Maybe light soothing-smelling candles or an oil diffuser. Maybe include wine, tea, or water to get into the mood. Speaking to them in soothing tones about something. Cuddling before or after your massage.

Body painting

This can be accomplished in many ways and you don’t need to be an artist to do this.

If one partner really likes physical touch, and the other is less enthused, try having one partner be the painter, and the other be the painted. One partner lays down and exposes their back as a canvas for the other partner to paint. Of course, using body-safe non-toxic paints. And the other partner can choose to paint whatever they want while being gentle and respectful of their partner's body.

Some other ideas for painting with your partner could be one person posing nude while the other person paints them on a canvas. If you aren't artistically inclined, that's ok! This isn't about making "great art" this is about appreciating your partner's body while cherishing time together. Focus on enjoying the moment and the journey, not the end result.

You could also try finger painting together. Dig up that messy inner child and spread out on the floor and let your hands dance along with the paper. It can be very freeing and enjoyable to create silly art alongside your partner.

Dance like no one is watching

You don’t have to have a crowd, a dance floor, and a DJ to dance to, your kitchen or living room and a small speaker will do. Try slow dancing with your partner in your own style. Drape your arms around each other and lean your forehead on their shoulder or chest. This can be fun, cute, and romantic! Pick your favorite songs and jam out together if you want. Make it work for you in whatever way you want and get creative!

If you want more advice on sexual intimacy, communication, and improving your sex life, check out the Lover app. It’s an FDA-approved sex therapy app designed by doctors to help you resolve intimacy issues and get better at sex. Try our turn-ons game to get inspired and learn more about your partner, or visit our community section for personalized advice.


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