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Don't Want Sex? 10 Ways To Be Intimate Without Having Sex

Don't Want Sex? 10 Ways To Be Intimate Without Having Sex - Sh! Women's Store

During a recent workshop, we found that the majority of the guests were off sex. All the way off. Not even near a clit-tickle. For sex educators, this can be a conundrum! Do we carry on and talk pleasure as planned, or do we go with the flow and let the guests lead the conversation? (Maybe to the first and definitely yes to the latter.) 

[It's perfectly ok if you don't want to have sex, whatever the reason, of course. Let's face it, we probably all have times in our lives when we're not feeling it.]

In this instance, the guests at this particular workshop were women living with or beyond cancer. When you know this, the lack of interest in sex makes a lot of sense. Being poked and prodded and looked at and studied and feeling scared and sick is not conducive to feeling sexy. For many of the women, even the thought of sex was a turn-off. When asked: 'Would you like to have sex?' one woman, rather emphatically, said 'NO!' It was a funny moment in a serious conversation, but it got us thinking...

We started bouncing around ideas of intimacy without the fear of it leading to sex.

Once locked in a place of not wanting to touch or be touched, it can be hard to open up to being close again. Keeping connected, when going through a dry spell, is key. Just the simple act of touch boosts oxytocin ( the 'closeness hormone'), helping to keep feelings of separation at bay. Below are our tips on how you can feel close to a partner without getting naked.

10 Ways to Be Intimate When You Don't Want Sex

Holding Hands

Holding hands is something we do with folks who matter to us. A warm hand holding yours is a lovely way to feel connected without the added pressure of what might come next. Hand-holding can happen on the sofa in front of the TV, on a walk or in the car on the way to the supermarket. It requires little effort, but the payout is big - safety, connection and love. 

Foot Massage 

Having your feet massaged (or indeed massaging someone's feet) is another way to feel connected without having sex. Warm water, a fluffy towel and a foot cream are needed. Slow, steady movements from the giver and total trust & relaxation from the receiver create intimacy.

A note for the giver: A friend mentioned that their partner would assume they're trying to get laid and would thus refuse the massage. So surprise them. Don't use it as a precursor for sex. Massage their feet for their pleasure, and don't expect anything in return. 

Going On a Date

Going on a date is a way of reconnecting without pressure. For example, a meal in a favourite restaurant if you like talking, or sitting silently in a dark cinema if you don't. Make a pact to not discuss work, kids or bills - focus on the food or the film, and treat it like a date in your early courtship. Get to know each other again. 

A personal favourite is an outing to the seaside. Sitting on the warm sand and getting some vitamin D is a treat. Throw in a fish & chips lunch and we're happy bunnies :) 

Making a Pleasure Map

This is an exercise you can do by yourself or together with your partner. Grab a piece of paper and some coloured pens. Create a mind-map of non-sexual things you take pleasure in. It could be things like a long shower, drinking tea in bed or reading a book. From your map, pick three activities and incorporate them into your weekly routine for the next 6 months. The aim is to do pleasurable things without the pressure of it being sexual. 

a pleasure map with a selection of things to do


Having a Night In

Spend an evening watching a favourite flick or find something new on Netflix. Put your phones aside, get cosy with pillows and duvet, and enjoy the film together. Love a glass of wine or a bowl of popcorn? Get some! 

Think of it like a sleepover with a close friend - chilled and pressure-free. 

Trying Something New 

Write a list of places you'd like to visit (within reason - it needs to be doable) or a new experience you'd like to try. Hop on a double-decker and explore the city, try a cat cafe or go to an exhibition. If it will bring you pleasure or spark your curiosity, it's a great way to spend a day. 

Exchanging Gifts

We heard about one couple who decided to buy each other four themed gifts for Valentine's Day. (It doesn't have to be V-Day - it can be any day.) This seemed like such a lovely idea that we wanted to share it. They set the themes, and then each partner interpreted as they saw fit. Here are four examples that spring to mind: 

  1. Something sexy (scented candles)
  2. Something cosy (a fluffy blanket)
  3. Something to wear (new pj's)
  4. Something to use together (a cookbook)

None of these gifts are explicitly for sex, so there are no expectations. Take some time to really think about your partner and what they like. 


Dancing can be intimate, invigorating or silly. If you have the spoons to go out, do. If not, stay in and take a few steps in the kitchen. Switch on the radio (lucky dip!) or create a playlist with music that moves you. Grab onto your partner and sway for a few beats. 

Researchers have found that dancing can improve mood, combat depression, boost brain function, foster happiness, and even improve relationships.


Cuddling can start small, with a head on a shoulder or a gentle lean-in and build up to a full-on bear hug. This isn't a bump-and-grind moment (though it can be if you want it to be), it's a moment for closeness. Wrap your arms around each other, and hold tight for a while. 

The brain releases oxytocin and counters the production of the stress hormone cortisol during physical closeness. This helps promote feelings of safety, security, and relaxation.

Writing Love Notes

Writing each other small notes of love is a wonderful way of keeping the intimacy going without much effort. From 'thank you for making me lunch' to 'I love the way you massage my shoulders when I'm tired,' love notes are small keepsakes that brighten anyone's day. 

love note


Don't know what to write? Apply some lipstick and leave a kiss on the bathroom mirror instead. As long as the sentiment is there, words are not always needed...

So there you have it, 10 ways to not have sex - but still keep a connection with your partner. Do you have more suggestions? Drop us a comment below xx

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