A lot of people confuse sex with intimacy. Sex can be wild and sweaty without any intimacy at all. It can also be loving and gentle and intimate. This guide is going to show you how to have passionate, loving, gentle, intimate sex. In total, you’ll learn 17 intimate sex techniques, 7 positions and a lot more.
If you’re busy, sex might have become routine and you might not feel as though you’re achieving the closeness that you desire. This happens inside as well as outside of the bedroom, but it doesn’t have to stay that way!
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Let’s start with the ingredients to intimate sex.
What Makes Sex Intimate?
You might think it would be easy to define intimate sex, but the truth is that the details vary from person to person or couple to couple. For many people, an emotional component is a must for sex to have intimacy. However, others can experience a type of intimacy even with more casual sex.
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Some people might argue that all sex is intimate. After all, you’re stripping down your clothes and sharing pleasure with someone. The sights, sounds, touch, and even smell you share during sex can be quite intimate. Yet others cannot manage to be fully vulnerable during more casual encounters, so the sex doesn’t feel as intimate. You may even struggle to have truly intimate sex with a long-term partner if there’s strife in your relationship.
This is all a way of saying that there’s no way to paint a picture of what intimate sex is for every person or couple, but if we were to describe it more generally, we might say that intimate sex happens when you share not just pleasure but a connection with another person because you allow yourselves some level of vulnerability.
If you can experience intimacy without being emotionally invested, more power to you…Just make sure you’re on the same page with your partner.
Now that you understand what intimate sex is, here are some things that can make sex feel more intimate
(Remember, these factors aren’t necessarily required, but they may explain why you struggle to experience intimate sex or why sometimes sex doesn’t feel as intimate as you’d like)
17 Intimate Sexual Activities
What makes sex intimate varies from person to person or even couple to couple. Here are some of the most common elements of intimate sex, however.
- Vulnerability: To be vulnerable, you must be open and honest, whether that’s about what you like sexually or how you feel about your partner. Indeed, things such as talking with your partner, making eye contact, and telling them you love them are vulnerable. But so is taking off all your clothes, leaving the lights on, not covering your stomach, and allowing your body to look or sound however it will during sex. Being vulnerable means letting down your guard and showing your partner that you’re human, too, imperfections and all.
- Eye contact: Gazing deeply into your lover’s eyes just makes you feel a sense of connection and increases intimacy. Without it, you might feel a bit objectified. This is why a lot of people prefer Missionary style and other sex positions where they’re facing their partners. Check out our most popular sex positions with demonstrations here.
- Kissing: Some people even have a rule that they won’t kiss people who are no-strings-attached partners. The counterpart is that kissing is a must if you want sex to feel intimate. If you’re avoiding it during morning sex, keep some mints and a glass of water on hand. Read this post on how to kiss to brush up on your skills.
- Oral sex: Similar to kissing, oral sex is an activity that many couples reserve only for romantic partners and not just one-night stands.
- Sensate focus: If you want sex to feel more intimate, a practice known as sensate focus might help. Originally designed as a treatment for sexual concerns at the Masters & Johnson Institute in the 80s , this practice offers a judgment-free way for partners to get to know one another’s bodies through touch.
- Full body contact: You can have sex without looking one another in the eye, without kissing and without touching anywhere other than your genitals, but that’s not very intimate! Full-body contact facilitates connection. Press your breasts to his chest, wrap your arms around his neck, run your nails across his back or arms, rub his legs with your leg and foot, so on and so forth. Make sure that you’re touching in at least two places at any given time, and you’ll definitely feel like you’re having intimate sex.
- Sensual massage: To build on the last point, sensual massage is a form of intimacy where you’re having some serious skin-to-skin contact with your man. It works excellently as foreplay, and it doesn’t necessarily have to lead to sex if you don’t want it to! However, when it does, you can be sure it’ll be good sex. After your man has rubbed his hands down every inch of your body, oiling your skin with a high-quality massage product, you’ll feel more relaxed and ready for sex than ever!
- Caring for your partner’s desire: A key difference between casual and relationship sex for some people, especially men, is how much they care about their partner’s pleasure and orgasm. Unfortunately, the default is often that men have an orgasm, and women don’t; they often don’t even have enough foreplay to get in the mood. While it’s expected that women will perform oral sex, men often don’t, and foreplay can be practically nonexistent. This can even carry into relationships if your partner is selfish or inexperienced. So simply having mutual care can make sex much more intimate (and enjoyable!)
- Saying “I love you”: For many people, this is the ultimate way to make sex feel intimate. Express your adoration for your partner. Let him know if you’ve missed him and how good it is to be this close to him. Compliment his skills in bed or just for being your man. It’ll make both of you feel great.
- Condomless sex and ejaculation: For some people, nothing is more intimate than sex without a condom. It’s what you do when you’re committed or actively trying for a baby. Moreso than sex, feeling a partner cum inside you (also known as a creampie) can be the epitome of intimate lovemaking.
- Using names: There’s something super hot about hearing someone moan your name in bed, but it can also be very sweet and intimate too. It lets you know that your man is present with you in the moment.
- Holding hands: While holding hands can seem relatively PG, it’s a great way to feel closer during sex. Reach down to your partner when he’s going down on you or entwine your fingers in his as you ride him.
- Talking and laughing: There are a number of people who take sex a bit too seriously. They go at it like it’s a job. There’s no talking and maybe no appreciative moans at all. And for them, there certainly isn’t any room for laughter. But we think all those things are exactly what makes intimate sex so damned intimate! Talk with your man. Laugh with him (but not at him)! You’re still the same person when you’re undressed in the bedroom as you are outside of it. There’s no need to compartmentalize sex from the rest of your life. It helps keep you happy and healthy, and it’s important for many relationships!
- Sharing fantasies: If you think that sex talk and sharing your fantasies isn’t intimate, think again! What’s more intimate than telling someone your secret desires and the thoughts you have when masturbating? Sharing those fantasies with your man can certainly be thrilling, and knowing what he desires can make you feel closer to one another.
- Slow it down: Sure, quickies are great when you don’t have a lot of time or energy, but they’re not necessarily the best if you want sex and intimacy. So slow things down. Make out and dry hump plenty beforehand. Take your time taking off one another’s clothes. Plant kisses along every part of his body, paying attention to his erogenous zones. Don’t just jump into penetration. And when you do finally get there, make your movements slow and languid. Revel in the feeling of your man inside of you, on top of you. Memorize every detail of his face and body. Move your hips in a figure of 8 or circle rather than quick up-and-down movements. If one of you is too close to orgasm, pull back and slow down. Return to just kissing.
- Cuddle: There’s a stereotype about women who like to cuddle after sex, but many men like it, too. Cuddling and physical contact releases oxytocin, the “cuddle” hormone, which helps you to feel bonded. That’s definitely good for intimacy! You can lie your head on your man’s chest and listen to his heartbeat. Plus, there’s something nice about not having to jump out of bed and right back into the real world. Cuddling provides you with that buffer before you have to deal with kids, chores, and whatever other obligations that are waiting for you on the other side of the bedroom door! And some people find it to be an excellent method of BDSM aftercare. More on BDSM aftercare here.
- Pillow talk: Along with cuddling goes pillow talk, that satisfied and sometimes sleepy or silly talk that you do with someone when you’ve had truly intimate sex and don’t plan to grab your clothes and rush out the door.
You don’t need to do all these things to achieve sexual connection, and you don’t necessarily have to aim for intimate sex every time you strip down. For some people, intimate sex might mean the difference between “making love” and having sex or just fucking. For some people, the sort of slow and sensual sex that you see in the movies is the most intimate. More on that here.
Intimate Sex Positions
Because everyone defines sex that is intimate differently, not everyone considers the same sex positions conducive to intimacy. However, many people do consider sex positions where you can make eye contact or kiss as sexually intimate.
Others find closeness in positions where they can make as much physical contact as possible. When you can achieve all three, such as in Missionary position, you might have hit the trifecta of intimate sex positions.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that sex positions need to be any of those things, as the following list of intimate sex positions indicates.
- Cowgirl -In Cowgirl, you can still make eye contact, kiss, hold hands, and press your body close to your partner’s. When your man is on the bottom, he can wrap his arms around you and hold you close as you lean forward.
- Spooning – While kissing and eye contact aren’t possible in this sex position, your bodies are pressed so closely together that you can practically feel each other’s hearts beat, and that’s a strong sign of connection!
- Lotus – In Lotus, you’re face-to-face with your partner and almost impossibly close to them. It is a tricky sex position that won’t work for every couple, but it’s worth a shot if you’re rather agile.
- Face to Face – Try sitting on the edge of a bed or sofa while your man should get on his knees in front of you to penetrate you. You’ll need furniture of the right height, but when you get it right, this position is so intimate!
- Slow Dance – If your heights line up, you can try penetration while standing face to face. This is a more difficult sex position that you may not be able to maintain for long, however.
- Back Seat Driver – Any time you’re in your man’s lap and can press your back against him or feel his breath and kisses on your neck and shoulders, you’re bound to feel close. This position does exactly that.
- Mastery – Finally, check out this position where you straddle your man’s lap while he sits.
And if any of these sex positions fail to strike your fancy, you can also check out our ultimate list of sex positions, which features over 100 positions!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Intimate Sex
You might assume that the only people reading this article or who desire intimate lovemaking are women, but you’d be wrong. Plenty of men desire and enjoy intimate sex.
When Justin Lehmiller surveyed over 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies, romance and intimacy was one of the common themes. Most women and men reported having fantasies based on passion and romance [2 p 72]. Furthermore, Lehmiller writes that “the vast majority of both men and women (more than 70 percent) said that they rarely or never have fantasies about emotionless sex [2 p 87].” While fantasies and experiences aren’t identical, they do overlap, and this indicates that men want emotional and intimate sex as well.
And you can check out a few quotes from men on Reddit if you don’t believe us.
I really do like eye contact, but I like even more to feel her breathing on my neck and ear, to feel close to each other, during sex, sometime I like to just slow down for a bit, make my thrusts strong but slow, and just embrace each other… – magic8ball_x
Or this one:
It’s the feeling of being in complete control of someone else’s pleasure.
It’s the feeling of having someone else be completely in control of your pleasure.
It’s the feeling of blood pumping through every part of you.
It’s the fact that it’s hot, really hot, you get sweaty or if it’s winter you don’t feel cold.
It’s feeling their skin on yours.
It’s reaching down and grabbing her waist and feeling like you’re holding her entire being.
It’s looking directly in her eyes and knowing that she wants it too.
It’s the sounds she makes because she can’t help it.
It’s making sounds you’d never be comfortable making anywhere else and seeing her react.
It’s wanting to put your mouth on every inch of her.
It’s teasing but knowing that the teasing will come to an end.
It’s feeling like you are in one of those ridiculous romantic sex scenes but somehow it’s not ridiculous.
It’s feeling like that person is yours.
If you’re lucky, it’s watching someone you really care about experience something amazing while you do too; like you’ve both just tasted your favourite flavour of ice cream for the first time.
It’s not wanting to be anywhere else afterwards.
It’s feeling sleepy and just surrounding yourself with that other amazing person who you just did that amazing thing with.
It’s falling asleep feeling like the sexiest, greatest person who ever lived. – WaltimusPrime
And those things outside of the sex matter to men as well:
We hooked up but we literally spent so much time just by ourselves in that room in the bed talking cuddling and everything. That was more intimate for me than screwing the entire time (which was still just as awesome!)…hell we woke up in the morning just kind of being all cutsie and spent more time together before we had to get up. Makes the sexual side feel healthy that way as well. Makes me know theres something more than just trying to get a nut off. – [deleted]
We tell you all of this to remind you that one of the most effective intimate sex tips is simply to talk about sex, but that goes for pretty much all sex.
What About Simultaneous Orgasm?
The media would have you believe that not only is simultaneous orgasm the most intimate way to have sex, but that it’s the best way to have sex, but…
That’s just not realistic!
Don’t get us wrong: an orgasm can feel great and release a whole lot of tension. It’s worth it for women to learn how to orgasm, but you can still experience pleasure and sex without orgasm.
Plus, making orgasm your goal, simultaneous or not, can actually make it more difficult to orgasm, especially if you struggle to have an orgasm or cum consistently. Although it can sometimes happen accidentally, both of you will need to be aware of your bodies if you want to plan to orgasm at the same time. It’s possible but difficult, and you don’t want sex to feel like a chore or disappointment if it doesn’t happen.
In fact, we often recommend focusing on pleasure and connection over orgasm. Sex, like so many things in life, is about the journey and not the destination, and there are so many other things that can make sex feel intimate.
Intimate Sex Doesn’t Have to Be Vanilla
If you prefer your sex on the kinky side, you might fear that intimacy must be vanilla sex. Or you may already realize how intimate kink, bondage, discipline, and related activities can be. Journalist Michael Castleman describes it well:
But [BDSM] aficionados call it the most loving, nurturing, intimate form of human contact and play. People can have sex without conversation, negotiation, or any emotional connection. But in BDSM, the players always arrange things in advance with clear, intimate communication, which creates a special erotic bond.
While that’s intellectually true, reading about BDSM isn’t like doing it. Handing over power to someone or taking control and caring for someone’s needs and pleasure can be intensely intimate. The trust required to stay safe when it comes to BDSM means you’re unlikely to do it with just anyone.
The science backs up the connection between intimacy and BDSM, too. One study found that couples felt greater feelings of relationship closeness and intimacy after play .
Roadblocks to Intimate Sex
The Menstrual Cycle – Consider the role your menstrual cycle can play as well. For some women, they may feel emotionally closer to their partners during parts of their cycle, or you might experience an increase in libido. Either of these things may lead you to desire more intimate sex or cause your sex to feel more intimate.
There isn’t a lot of research into these things; although one survey found that women who are in the most fertile phase of their cycles rate the intimate act of kissing as more important than other phases . It’s most important to be in tune with your body and desires to notice any patterns just like you would with mood changes. Feelings of intimacy can vary during the day , so you can try having sex in the late afternoon, evening, and early morning for more intimate experiences.
Medical Conditions – Medical conditions or medications that turn down feeling/emotion or dull your mental state could have an impact on how your sex feels. It may be worth talking to your doctor about concerns such as depression and mood disorders or medication if it’s impacting your sex life.
No Connection – If you’ve ruled out any physiological issues that might be getting in the way of your intimate sex, it may be time to look at your relationship and partners. If you’re not having sex with the same person or haven’t developed a rapport with a partner over time, then it might be harder to achieve sexual intimacy.
Brand New & Casual Relationships – Research shows that sexual satisfaction increases over time for women in relationships . On top of this, some people struggle or refuse to be vulnerable with casual partners, perhaps rejecting your efforts to connect, and this can be another barrier to intimacy in bed.
Selfish Partners – Similarly, if you choose partners who are selfish and do not pay attention to your needs or pleasures, your sex might not feel particularly intimate even if you’re in a long-term relationship with someone. Because sexual compatibility is so important, it’s okay if this is a deal-breaker for you.
Relationship Issues – And if you don’t feel secure, happy, or loved in your relationship, your sex life might suffer as a result. It could be a recent fight that’s let you with unresolved feelings or resentment that’s been boiling underneath the surface, but it can leave you feeling disconnected and unsatisfied.
Studies have found connections between sexual and relationship satisfaction , and if either partner has an anxious attachment style there is also a connection between sexual and relationship satisfaction .
Your Mind Says Yes, But Your Body Says No & Vice-Versa – Finally, your body can be game but your mind not be ready to play ball, which means no intimate sex position will help. If you’re struggling to get out of your head during sex, which can squash the feeling of intimacy, you might benefit from mindfulness practices.
These practices can help you get wetter [9 p 111], feel more satisfied with sex [10, 11, 12], and improve your sexual function [13, 14]. Mindfulness also has benefits outside of sex, and can include some relief from stress and anxiety [15, 16].
Related: How To Get Wet For Sex FAST
One researcher, Dr. Lori Brotto, studies mindfulness. She describes how a 12-week course consisting of online modules that promote mindfulness through brief daily exercises was able to increase participants’ “sexual and emotional intimacy in addition to their communication skills when compared to the control group [9 p 191]. All in all, mindfulness can be a great tool when dealing with any type of sexual dysfunction.
Learn more about mindfulness from Dr. Brott herself, in our podcast interview about mindfulness.
There are a variety of intimate sex techniques to ensure you have good sex depending on what’s holding you back, but ultimately, it’ll be easier to learn how to be intimate in bed if you understand what sexual intimacy means to you.
This guide to sensate focus can help you increase intimacy in the bedroom.
Learn how good sex can bring you closer to your partner in this article from Psychology Today.
If you struggle to be intimate during sex, Dr. Brotto’s book Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire might be helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ #1 – Why doesn’t sex feel intimate for me?
We’ve covered a few barriers to intimate sex above: a selfish partner, relationship issues, being anxious or too in your head, or focusing on your genitals and not your full body. Sexual intimacy requires a certain amount of vulnerability from both partners, so if one partner isn’t open, that experience may feel a little flat.
Work toward finding the right partner, including foreplay, being in the moment, and focusing on the journey of sex to increase connection.
FAQ #2 – How can I be more intimate without having sex?
Although this article focuses on sexual intimacy, there are many ways to be intimate without sex. In fact, some people view sex as only for pleasure’s sake and prefer to share intimacy in other ways. Nonsexual intimacy expands on vulnerability and openness.
Talking about your hopes and dreams, discussing your insecurities, allowing your faults to show, and supporting one another through difficult times. Sex talk can increase intimacy outside of the bedroom, too.
Physically, intimacy can take the form of talking, cuddling, kissing, holding hands, and bathing and grooming one another.
FAQ #3 – How can I be intimate in a long-distance relationship?
Your sexual and emotional intimacy will look a bit different if you’re in a long-distance relationship. Fortunately, thanks to technology whether through your phone or computer, there are more options than ever to achieve various types of intimacy. Phone calls can be especially intimate, or you can use video chat to add the visual component.
Both of these mediums can be used for sexual activity, and you can record audio or video content to send to your beloved.
Sex toys that you can control over the Internet or with a cell phone can add an element of physical intimacy even when you’re apart, and you can play sexual games with your partner to feel closer.
Of course, you don’t have to be high-tech. Don’t forget about sending physical letters, complete with photos and a spritz of your scent to activate his senses. Sometimes having physical evidence in the form of a gift or scrapbook can be more impactful than constant daily chatter over text or Snapchat.
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