We’re so programmed to think that sex is defined by penetrative intercourse. Even if we feel more open-minded, we find ourselves saying things like, “Well, we did a bunch of ‘things,’ but we didn’t actually have sex.”
We’re here to break down that definition and say that anytime we engage sexually with someone and exchange energy, pleasure, curiosity, and/or love, that’s sex, baby. And Liz Goldwyn, author and host of The Sex Ed podcast, thinks the benefits of non-penetrative exploration are pretty amazing.
“Sex is so much more than penetration or an orgasm. It is whatever you want it to be,” Goldwyn tells us. Read on for our favorite benefits of non-penetrative sex.
Understanding that sex can be rewarding even without an orgasm is game-changing because it can completely let go of the expectation that we will orgasm. More often than not, that expectation puts pressure on the big O, adding an extra layer of stress to achieve it, and thus contributing to the challenge of getting there. It can make an orgasm feel like a responsibility that we owe to our partners, rather than something we can play with and discover together.
Builds sexual fire
When we feel that the only way to achieve intimacy is via penetration, we often miss out on the discovery process racing to that finish line. We don’t get the chance to see what kinds of things turn our partners on, tease one another, and build that lasting sexual tension that keeps the spark alive and burning, looking forward to the next moment alone.
Deepens connection to our bodies
We can put so much pressure on ourselves to please our partner, we forget that this intimate act is an act of self-love, as well. Goldwyn tells us that something like mutual masturbation is a great tool to explore yourself and get turned on watching your partner explore themselves. Seeing how one touches themself can be incredibly erotic, all while the balls are totally in each of your own courts … one might say.
Increases trust and closeness
When we feel physically appreciated and admired by our partner without the expectation of intercourse, it can make us feel valued, loved, and more open. And it’s not just penetration that releases that sexy love hormone, oxytocin. Any kind of play in the bedroom can get the pheromones flowing and promote deep romantic bonding.
No penetration, no problem. Goldwyn points out that non-intercourse sex vastly (if not completely) reduces the risk of pregnancy and STI transmission, depending on what you do.
Creates sexual confidence
When we feel more open and trusting and safe in the bedroom, we find ourselves less reserved and more fearless and active. This confidence helps us to explore ourselves and our partners more deeply, finding new ways to turn each other on and be creative in ways we didn’t know we could.
“Dry humping, good old-fashioned kissing, and dirty talk are great ways to learn what turns your partner on!” Goldwyn shares. And this feeling of trust and confidence doesn’t just exist behind closed doors. It bleeds out in the rest of our lives and relationships, as well, giving us a resonant feeling of love, satisfaction, and self-assurance that is ultimately empowering.