Sensual Sex: How To Use All Your Senses In The Bedroom
Bring more sensuality into your bedroom. Explore ways to engage all your senses in sex and erotic play.
From what we’re taught in sex-ed, to portrayals in porn and popular media, it’s easy to get the impression that sex means penetration—perhaps with stops along the way for making out and manual or oral stimulation. But sex can be so much more!
Tuning in to the sensual aspects of sex, can bring a new level of richness and intimacy to sex play. It can also be a creative way to take things slow, accommodate an injury or disability, or heal from trauma, allowing you to be sexual together in a context where intercourse isn’t necessarily the end-game.
Tuning in to the sensual aspects of sex, can bring a new level of richness and intimacy to sex play.
Focusing on each of the five senses is a great way to bring more sensuality into the bedroom. If you’re ready to incorporate new ways of being intimate with a partner, read on for some simple suggestions.
Talking dirty, putting on music to set the mood, encouraging our partner with moans, gasps, and screams—sound is something many of us already incorporate into our sex lives. Talking dirty can be a wonderful way to build tension and amp up arousal without ever laying a finger on your partner.
Tell them what you love about their body, what you’re feeling, what you’d like to do to them or have them do to you. If you find yourself tongue-tied when it’s time to talk dirty, reading erotica to your partner can be a super-sexy way to incorporate aural pleasure—without the pressure of having to come up with something yourself!
Music is nearly universal in its appeal and power to evoke feeling. Check out a sexy playlist on Spotify, or make your own.
What it’s great for: Particularly for those in long-distance relationships, sound can be a great way to stay connected. For people who want to get to know their partner better, exchanging fantasies, reading to each other, or trading sexy playlists can be a wonderful way to get closer.
Eat together! Fruit—sweet and juicy, with many varieties resembling vulvas— is one of the sexiest foods there is. Slowly savoring a ripe peach while letting its juice drip down your chin—while your partner watches, of course—can be just as erotic as a strip-tease.
Drizzle each other with honey or paint each other with chocolate, and revel in the combination of sweetness and the natural saltiness of their skin. Yum! Just remember, don’t put these on the genitals because they can cause yeast infections.
Talking dirty can be a wonderful way to build tension and amp up arousal without ever laying a finger on your partner.
What it’s great for: If you want to experience something deeply sensual with your partner, but aren’t quite ready for genital play, taking pleasure in food and a variety of tastes together can be extremely sexy. For people who have experienced body dysphoria or struggled with their body image, enjoying food in a sexual context can be a liberating way to redefine their relationship with food and their bodies.
Watching porn together is a classic way to enhance a sexual experience and spark conversation around preferences, boundaries, and new things you might like to try. Beyond porn, though, there are numerous ways to have a sexy visual experience.
An erotic coloring book can be a fun way to explore new sexual territory in a low-stakes, playful context. Playing dress-up, or experimenting with different makeup looks, can allow you and your partner to explore diverse roles, play with gender, and bring a sense of fun to your sexual expression.
What it’s great for: Like sound, sight can reach across distance: if you have a phone or webcam, you can put on a show for your partner, no matter how far away you are. For gender-diverse individuals, exploring different looks with your partner can be intimacy-building, and increase your confidence. Sexy coloring or drawing is a wonderful way to spark conversation around what turns you on and what you might like to try without the expectation of full-on intercourse.
Scented candles, essential oils, and perfumes all have their place. But there are many ways to bring your sense of smell alive during sex play.
Although many of us have been taught that natural body odors are offensive, in reality, the wealth of pheromones and other volatile compounds in your partner’s sweat, breath, and genital aromas can be among the most powerful aphrodisiacs in existence! Close your eyes and inhale your partner’s unique aroma - because smell is so closely tied to emotion and memory, you may be surprised by what it evokes.
What it’s great for: Reveling in the natural scents of your partner’s body, and witnessing them enjoying your own, can be a tremendously powerful way to unlearn body shame and unlock new horizons of sensual pleasure.
There are many ways to enjoy sexual touch—from massage to sensation play. Gentle stroking with fingertips or a toy, even playing with your partner’s hair can all be great ways to share pleasure and build intimacy.
Sensual touch away from the genitals can be especially suitable for people who are uncomfortable with genital touch—because they’re experiencing body dysphoria, processing trauma, recovering from an injury, or simply aren’t interested—being touched in a caring, sensual way by a partner who isn’t expecting the encounter to end in intercourse can be tremendously healing.
What it’s great for: Having a safe place in which to experience sensual touch without the pressure to have penetrative or oral sex can be affirming, healing, and intimacy-building.
Close your eyes and inhale your partner’s unique aroma.
Even if you usually want sex to result in intercourse, exploring diverse ways to experience sexual pleasure can enhance your sex life and your bond with your partner (and yourself!).
Myths and facts
Setting the record straight.
At O.school, we know that few things are one-size-fits-all. Read on for insights from Pleasure Professionals and other experts:
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Sex Ed Videos
Previously recorded streams we love.
How To Give An Erotic Massage
Do you want to wind down and get in the mood for sexy times? How about a sensual massage to calm the mind and arouse the body.
The gift of touch is something that both partners can enjoy. A sensual massage may be given to your partner as a simple gift in and of itself – as in, “no strings attached, boo, just want to adore you and your bod" – or as a pre-show to a longer production.
Not only does touch signal trust and affection to your partner, it also has the added benefit of releasing the neurochemical oxytocin – also sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” – which can actually strengthen the bonding experience of both partners.
Pay close attention to the temperature of the room … Comfort is key.
However, a poorly delivered massage can garner a thumbs-down rating, so you may want to keep the following tips in mind to deliver a masterful massage performance and a memorable 5-star massage that is both relaxing and stimulating.
Getting The Right Massage Ambiance
Creating an environment conducive to comfort and relaxation is an absolute must to any good massage.
Choosing Your Massage Venue
While a bed may be the most comfortable place to have your partner recline, a full-length couch or futon will work just as well as long as the ambience is calm and pleasing. Some people find it hard to relax if they’re surrounded by chaos, so make sure the area is as clutter-free as possible.
Pay close attention to the temperature of the room. If it’s too hot, you’ll both likely end up sweating before the action begins - and not in a good way. If it’s too cold, your partner’s muscles will contract rather than relax. Comfort is key.
Make sure the lighting is soft. You don’t need to run out to buy a dimmer switch for your lights, a simple bedside lamp works well (placed on the floor if it’s too bright by the bedside).
Candles are another perfect way to set the mood for massage. Not only may they offer a nice aroma to the room, the soft flicker of candles casts a lovely glow over both of you. Check out the benefits of massage candles below.
You’ll want to do a sound check before the fun begins. This would include turning off cell phones. Some people may find the quiet sounds of a babbling brook or rain relaxing, but others may find them a tad too cheesy.
Ambient music or soothing R&B may be a better choice, as long as you play something that you both find appealing. Whatever you decide on, like the lighting, you want the noise level to be soft and low.
Massage Equipment And Supplies
These are the things you’ll want to have ready to go:
Get Your Hands Ready
The full and comfortable use of your hands is crucial to giving a sensual massage to your partner. So, you’ll want to make sure that you haven’t spent hours laboring in your local community garden right before a massage.
Candles are another perfect way to set the mood for massage.
One of the most often overlooked aspects of mastering a memorable massage is checking the state of your nails. By no means do you need to hit a salon for a top-dollar manicure. Simple personal grooming, like making sure your nails are neatly clipped, is really all that is necessary.
Some people like to add a little variety to their basic massage by adding stone massagers (for deeper tissue stimulation) like the Contour Ceramic Massage Stone). You can get creative with light touches using ticklers or feathers to get their senses piqued before adding lubrication into the mix.
Using massage oils will lighten the friction between you and your partner in order to make for a more comfortable experience. Thankfully there is a wide variety of massage oils out there to choose from. Warming oils, cooling oils, edible oils, scented oils, and natural oils are all readily available. Touch Me Massage Oils come in a variety of fragrances that are sure to please. Silicone lube is also great for massage.
If you’re not a big fan of using oils, massage lotions are great alternatives. They’re less likely to stain than oils; just keep in mind that lotions tend to absorb more quickly than oils and may need to be reapplied often. Knead Me Massage Lotion is designed for longer-lasting massage than standard lotions.
Massage candles like Ignite Me Massage Candles act as fantastic multitaskers when it comes to sexy massages. Not only do they provide the perfect lighting and fragrance to your massage, they also provide the necessary lubrication as well. Win-win-win!
Massage candles are soy-based candles that burn at lower temperatures to prevent burning the skin. You simply blow out the flame and drizzle the melted wax on your partner for a sensual massage.
Protecting your bed or couch from oily spills is a good idea. A soft beach towel or bath sheet is preferred because it will provide a greater area of protection, but a bath towel or anything that covers your massage area will work.
Silicone lube is also great for massage.
Of course, if your massage leads to sex there’s other protection you may want to consider too. The main thing to remember there is that massage oils will break down latex condoms and other barriers, so either use a silicone lube for massage oil, or make sure you have non-latex barriers on hand that will not be damaged by oils.
Best Sexy Massage Techniques
Whichever body part you are focussing on, be mindful of the pressure your hands are exerting and remember to check in with your partner for useful feedback. Try leaning in and whispering, “How does this feel?”
Massage Touch And Pressure
Light, soft touches convey care to your partner, while stronger, deeper rubbing provides a feeling of security. Make sure that your hands are as flat as possible and that your fingers stay relaxed to protect your hands from cramping and fatigue. Using your lips to caress their skin can give your fingers a quick rest and can be arousing too.
Massaging The Head And Face
It’s likely that your partner’s face, ears, and temples haven’t been given a lot of attention for quite some time. Use gentle, lingering touches in these areas. If you’re face-to-face, don’t be shy of a little eye contact. This assures your partner that you are interested in their pleasure and focused on them.
The Neck And Shoulders
Start under their ears and slide gently downwards. Deeper strokes using your thumbs and fingers along the neckline and shoulders are great for tension release.
Massaging The Arms And Hands
Try massaging the muscles in their upper and lower arms, and then their hands and fingers. The center of a person’s palm are especially sensitive to touch. If you’re in the mood for a little dirty talk, while you lovingly caress their fingers you may mention, “Because I enjoy your fingers on my body, I want to show them some special attention.”
Back Massage Techniques
When focusing on your partner’s back, the most comfortable position for you will be straddling them, seated on their ass, or hovering over it. Try long, firm strokes starting at their shoulders, down their back, and to their buttocks before using your fingernails or fingertips to lightly caress their sides on your way back up. This can send delicious tingles up their spine. Test out different strokes and pressure levels to see which work best for the both of you.
Massaging The Legs And Feet
Some partners don’t like having their feet touched, so before pressing your way into that area, ask permission first. Some areas of the legs, like the inner thighs and the backs of knees, are super sensitive to sensual touch, so explore these areas and see how your partner responds.
After Your Sexy Massage
Sexy massage is wonderful way to show your affection to your partner as well as bond with them emotionally and physically. After a nice massage session, take a little time to bask together in the atmosphere of calm and relaxation.
You may want to cuddle for a little while or take a luxurious bath or warm shower together. Of course, you also may want to turn up the heat and progress to sex too, whatever you’re in the mood for!