Non-Penetrative Ways To Be Intimate

I spent a lot of years not being able to have penetrative sex with my partner and, at the time, that felt like a big deal.

Penetrative sex is often considered to be the pinnacle of sex by modern society.

It’s the benchmark of heteronormative sexual interactions and some people won’t even consider sex to be sex unless penetration occurs.

That’s pretty fucked up, in the grand scheme of things – not just for those with sexual dysfunctions (like Vaginismus) but also for those with sexual trauma, for queer individuals, and for those who just don’t enjoy penetration.

Because, news flash, penetration is not needed to have a damned good time with someone. Just ask an impact-centric kinkster who has been spanked in to submission. It’s possible.

But this article isn’t a rant about the standards that society sets for sex. Instead, it’s a brief guide of the many ways that you can be intimate with your partner without having to engage with penetration. Because intimacy is so much more than an object going in to an orifice.

What Is Intimacy?

Intimacy is a hard one to define. It’s generally agreed to involve something of a personal or private nature and to involve familiarity and closeness. But, by virtue of that, intimacy is difficult to keyhole.


Because intimacy is such a personal and private thing it’s a state of being that is incredibly unique and specific to those who are involved.

What is intimacy? It’s a state of being where you are willing to share and show your most vulnerable intricacies with someone else and to invite them to share in that moment with you – bringing their own self in alignment with you in order to achieve an amalgam that no one else will be privy to in exactly the same way.

A friend of mine described it as “subliminal contact” but sensation can certainly be involved, though it’s fair to say that the awareness in intimate sensations goes far beyond the physical. It’s a mutually shared moment where words don’t necessarily need to be spoken in order for a connection to be deeply forged or shared.

Intimacy is, therefore, much more than penetration and can be achieved through so many physical actions or sweet gestures.

These suggestions are, as such, nowhere near comprehensive, but I do consider them to be solid ways to achieve potentially intimate moments.

Getting Physical

Physical touch is an important thing. Our brain chemistry can actually change when we share in meaningful physical contact with someone.

But here we’re not talking about just kissing, cuddling, or holding hands.

All of those are important and valid ways of being physical, but so are things such as massage, running hands through hair, or simply exchanging a gentle grazing encounter when passing over the wet dishes to the one wiping them up.

Increasing daily physical contact in small (and not overly obvious) ways can help people in relationships feel more physically connected and intimate with each other.

It’s a fine line, and boundary discussions might be involved, but it can be a very rewarding endeavour.

Sending Thoughtful Messages

We communicate so much online that the tone of discussion (even between lovers) can often seem superficial or mundane in nature and this can diminish some of the intimacy that comes with correspondence between partners.

This is hard to counternavigate but it starts simply – by fostering more thoughtful and truly considerate messages.

Check in on those that you care about. Send messages that are more personal and show that you have thought about them specifically. Then, of course, there are those little outbursts of sincere affection where you share just how much you value someone and what they mean to you.

Increasing these messages will allow you to gradually regain some digital enrichment and foster intimacy through the way that you interact online on a daily basis.

There’s nothing like the heart flutter that you get when seeing a message pop up from someone you’re truly intimate with.

Focus On Arousal

When engaging in sexual interactions there can sometimes be a focus on the goal (orgasm) and a neglect of the build up (arousal).

But what about if you mutually decided to ditch the goal and just focus purely on building arousal.

How do you engage in arousal? Do you get close to your partner/s? Gently and lovingly help then undress? Share in deep eye contact?

These beats will definitely be personal but the importance is to think ‘arousal’ and not rush for that end game.

Yes, the movie was an exciting finisher for an 11 year cinematic endeavour, but it was the movies beforehand that made it so meaningful. Think about that.

Simply Be

Life is busy. We’re busy. And in that business intimacy can go out the window.

Relationships don’t dissolve from too much passion but, rather from that passion being incompatible or simply fizzling out over time. It comes from the intimacy fading.

Don’t let that happen.

Carve out time to spend with your partner. Time where you’re simply with each other.

It could be as simple as eating together, or as committed as a few nights a week where it’s just ‘you’ time.

That time is just spent with you in an area together just enjoying and experiencing in each other’s company.

Sex is great, penetration can be great, but relationships come from those in-between moments too. So don’t neglect them. That is where the intimacy lies.

So There You Have It!

These are just a few ways that intimacy can be fostered without penetration (or even sex, necessarily) coming in to play – all the while remembering that intimacy is more about how you interact together rather than just when.

Do you have intimacy in your relationship? If so how do you personally cultivate it? Because, yes, intimacy is like a plant that needs constant care and attention in order to flourish and blossom. Each plant will need different soil and care routines but, at the root of it all, we all need intimacy in order to be enriched.