Not all people in romantic relationships have sex. Maybe someone isn’t ready. They might not feel the need to have sex or they might be uncomfortable with their body, be unable to have sex the way people expect it to be or be in the process of learning to love their body. There are many reasons why sex can be off the table. And they should always be respected.
Here are 10 of the many ways to stay intimate and connected in a relationship without having sex.
Hopefully these tips are helpful and give you ideas of ways to be intimate without having sex. Just remember, you love your partner for who they are, and sometimes sex is just not in the picture.
It sounds simple, right? But with a subject like sex, discussions can be hard and even uncom- fortable. If you want to have a discussion about sex, it can help to set a time or let your partner know that you want to talk about it. This can help you and your part- ner think about it, for- mulate some thoughts and be ready to be open. Even if the conversation isn’t deep or life chang- ing, remember that the trust you build tightens your intimate bond.
02 Plan a date night
Whether you are in the beginning stages of your relationship, a few years deep or even a decade in, quality time outside of your house or regular routine can be lovely. A dinner, movie night, pancake breakfast, concert or just a nice picnic can give you time to connect or reconnect with your partner. Spending quality alone time can make you feel warm on the inside and remind you of your love for them.
03 Savour the small things
Have you noticed the way your partner looks at you that makes you blush instantly? Or how they are the big spoon first because it helps you sleep faster? Or how they tell you every detail of their day because they want to share every moment with you? These moments can make you fall in love with your partner again and again. These small things can happen everyday but can mean so much. Try finding moments of your own when you’re with your partner. It might put a smile on your face.
04 Write love letters
Getting a hand written, thoughtful letter might sound a bit old school, but the gesture is incredibly romantic and intimate. Whether you write the letter to your partner or vice versa, exchanging love letters is a great way to communicate feelings that could be hard to talk about. It also gives reassurance to your partner that you love them and helps you both remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place.
05 Take care of each other
Having a cold, the flu, PMS or being stressed, anxious or depressed can happen to everyone. Whether you buy cough medicine, run a hot bath or support your partner through rough times, you are creating an intimate bond with each other. Being there and having someone to rely on are essential to every relationship. It’s not always the easiest thing to stay by someone’s side when the going gets tough, but the gratitude, appreciation and happiness you share are incredible.
06 Be physical
Sex isn’t the only physi- cal thing you can do in a relationship. Depending on how comfortable you both are, you can have massage nights, baths or showers. Massaging is a great stress reliever, and it can be nice to have your partner that physically close to you. Showering and bath- ing together can also be stress relieving, and it’s always nice to have someone wash your hair for you! Snuggle in close and relax with each other, or play with each other’s hair. Being physically close is a perfect way to literally feel connected and it creates intimacy and trust with your partner.
07 Help with hormone shots
If you’re in a relationship with someone on testosterone or oestrogen, helping them with their shot—whether giving shots or massaging the injection site—can be extremely intimate. You and your partner are sharing a very personal moment. The person receiving the shot is showing you vulnerability, and you are showing your partner you care and support them.
08 Build a fort!!! (my favourite)
When my partner and I build forts in our living room, it’s so fun! We reorganize everything and make it cat proof. Once it’s all set up, we get to be in a small, comfy space with each other and forget about the rest of the world. Put on some romantic movies (or any movies you and your partner enjoy), get your favourite snacks or wine and spend some quality time together. There’s nothing more intimate than being in a happy bubble where you don’t have to share your partner with their cat.
09 Share physical activities
Go for a walk, run, bike ride, gym workout, zumba or clean your place together! You can have intimate conversations while working out your body, which pumps you with endorphins—just like sex—and makes you feel good overall. Doing this with your partner can make you two feel closer while you share a common interest in be- ing healthy and active.
10 Cook together
While you and partner prepare dinner, you have some time to talk and have fun. This can be a great time to talk about serious issues or everyday things. Either way, you trust each other to make a meal. You are communicating and enjoying each other’s company. You or your partner could even cook a favourite meal while you learn new things about each other.
–Danelle Granger is an aspiring journalist with a passion for feminist and queer issues.