If you think penetration is a requirement for intimacy, think again, because while it definitely can be intimate, it's far from everything. There are plenty of ways to build intimacy without penetrative sex, confirms sex and intimacy coach Irene Fehr. "Intimacy in the sexual context involves feelings of emotional closeness and connectedness during sexual activity — any activity," Fehr tells Elite Daily.
But what exactly does it mean to be intimate with someone? It's a lot more complex and deeper than any one sexual act, intimacy expert Allana Pratt tells Elite Daily. “Being intimate is about being real, vulnerable, transparent, honest, and fiercely loving," Pratt explains. "It actually has nothing to do with sex, yet can include sex. Penetrative sex is a part of intimacy, yet not required to have a deep, meaningful connection or orgasmic fulfillment.”
If you want to feel more intimately connected to your partner without penetrative sex, it's very doable. Here's what the experts suggest you try with your partner tonight to feel even more closely connected to them. You don’t have to feel as though you're missing out on true intimacy just because penetration isn't a part of your sex play.
Take your time.
If you want to really feel your connection with your partner, Fehr says the first step is to take your time, because it isn't what you do, but how present you are while you do it. “Emotional and physical intimacy (or pleasure) can be heightened by slowing down,” she shares. Penetrative sex can sometimes actually prevent couples from having intimacy, Fehr explains, because it can cause them to be in a rush to reach orgasm and end up not having the time feel totally connected.
“In the process of getting to this physical goal, couples tend to miss out on seeing each other and what comes up for them — such as the different experiences of pleasure, receiving or letting in affection, love, and desire, and whatever emotions that might arise as it’s all happening,” she says. By taking penetration out of the picture, you’re more likely to slow your pace and really witness and experience every moment. “You get to notice the body’s responses to touch and how the pleasure affects you. That in itself is extremely vulnerable and intimate,” Fehr adds.
Explore one another.
Your bodies are magical, and learning every bit of one another is a fun and effective way to build intimacy, says Fehr. “Explore each body part through touch,” she suggests, using massage or different methods of touch. “Explore each body part — hands, face, breasts, arms, legs, feet, inner thigh, buttocks, vulva, penis, and balls — and you have hundreds of different combinations of ways to heighten pleasure and emotional intimacy and let your partner in to see what feels good to you,” she advises.
Communicate openly with one another.
Openness and honesty are gateways to greater intimacy, explains Pratt. “Have you and your partner ever talked about what turns you on? About your sexual fantasies? About how you like to be touched? About how you like to be loved?,” she asks. If the answer is no, she says it's time to start. “Go for a walk, have a ’naked night’, sleep in until noon on Sunday and hold each other and communicate your deepest truths,” she suggests.
Fehr agrees that communication is everything when it comes to building intimacy. “Talking about and imagining what feels good to you in sex is a major aphrodisiac and intimacy builder. You get to let your partner see what thoughts, fantasies, and experiences you actually have," she says. "Share what you like about each other’s touch, how it leaves you feeling, and what you want more of. This can leave you feeling more open to each other and can deepen pleasure once touched in the parts that you’re describing.”
The key takeaway here is that “intimacy isn’t about 'get ‘er in and get ‘er done,' it’s a journey, not a destination,” says Pratt. “It’s about non-judgmental curiosity, it’s about discovering who you are in the presence of someone you love, it’s about sharing your unique expression and receiving theirs.” In other words, if penetration isn't something you're interested in for now (or ever), you won’t need to sacrifice any intimacy. Period.
Irene Fehr, sex and intimacy coach
Allana Pratt, intimacy expert