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Cultivating Intimacy Without Sex: Activities and Ideas For Lovers

Photo by Andre Furtado

Romantic and sexual relationships often are paired with sexual intimacy. However, if you are abstaining from sex for mental, medical, or religious reasons there are many other options that can help bring you closer physically.

Is it possible to have intimacy without sex? The easy answer is yes. But, it will require you and your partner to set aside time to do activities that may feel new to you.

Physical activities that are gentle, loving, and fun can be a great way to bring you closer together.

The definition of sex varies depending on the individual. Still, for this article, we will define sex as any touch that is meant to elicit a sexual response, especially genital stimulation.

Ways To Show Affection Without Being Sexually Active

The easiest thing you can do is incorporate touch into everyday activities. If physical touch isn't your love language, you might have to find ways to show affection that doesn't make your skin crawl. But, it's important to note that even the smallest touches can convey tons of emotion.

First, you might want to write down a few 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. 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.

Here are a few examples of simple physical contact:

  • Holding hands

  • Cuddling

  • Caressing arms/hands.

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

  • Gently place your hand, arm, or head, on your partner's body while watching TV or before bed.

Now let's dig into our top 3 suggestions for non-sexual physical activities that will help you and your partner cultivate intimacy.


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 candles or set up an essential oil diffuser.

Maybe include wine, tea, or water to get into the mood. Speaking to them in soothing tones about something or cuddling up afterward.

Body painting

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

If one partner likes physical touch, and the other is less enthused, try having one partner be the painter, and the other being 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.


No skill is required, your kitchen 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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