When you think of sensuality, no doubt your mind immediately goes to something sexy: a striptease, a lap dance, a sexy outfit your partner wears, or that thing they do with their tongue (you know that thing!).
Sensuality is so much more than just sex, though. Understanding the difference is the first step toward forming sensual connections with your partner long before you bring sex into play. In the long run, those sensuous, intimate connections will make your sex SO MUCH BETTER!
Sexuality vs. Sensuality: What’s the Difference?
Merriam Webster defines sexual as «of, relating to, or associated with sex or the sexes». Pretty clear, right? Basically, being sexual with your partner means doing something related to or associated with sex.
Sensuality, however, is a bit different. It’s defined as «of or arousing gratification of the senses and physical, especially sexual, pleasure.» Notice how sex is included, but it’s not the only part of sensuality. There is so much more to sensuality than sexuality, and understanding the distinction between the two is critical.
Sex is about the physical act, but sensuality involves all the senses—touch, taste, feel, seeing, and smell. It can also involve an emotional connection on a deeper level, one that you don’t feel with the nerve endings on your skin or genitals, but that you feel deep down in the core of your being.
How to Be Sensual Without Being Sexual
It’s hard to know where the line between sensuality and sexuality is, so we’ve come up with a few simple tips to help you be more sensual with your partner long before you get sex involved:
Touch your partner’s head. It’s strange, but there is something undeniably pleasurable about physical contact with someone’s head. There is a noticeable intimacy when you scratch your partner’s scalp and hear them moan in delight and close their eyes. That same intimacy can occur when you brush your partner’s hair, shampoo or condition it in a bath or shower, or simply help them to style it. Physical contact with your partner’s head can be very sensual without any sexuality involved.
There is something deeply sensual about the physical contact between two people. Snuggling doesn’t have to lead to sex (though it often does), but it is an excellent way to encourage more sensuality between two people.
Massage. Massage increases blood flow through your body, which means all the important «sexy parts» can be stimulated from within. However, the physical contact between your hands and their body (or vice versa) can be very arousing. Turn down the lights, put on soft music, and oil up your hands to give them a full-body massage. Even if it never turns sexual, it’s highly sensual!
Couples’ meditations can be a way for the two of you to connect physically, mentally, and spiritually. The physical contact between your bodies during the meditations will help to bond you with that person, and the mental exercises will help you to connect on a deeper level than ever. It may sound strange, but it’s an absolutely fascinating way to get to know your partner in a whole new way.
Try aromatherapy. Your sense of smell is the sense most closely linked to your cognitive function, which is why aromatherapy is such a popular way to relax, de-stress, or boost your mood. There are many smells that can tantalize your senses and make you feel sensual, even if you and your partner never touch. It’s worth giving aromatherapy a try—those essential oils can be powerful aphrodisiacs!
Bring food into the mix.
You always hear about «sexual food play» in the bedroom, but we’re not talking about sex here. Instead, treat food as a way to satiate your sense of taste and smell. Mix and match flavors, textures, and sensations. Many aphrodisiac foods can be highly sensual when combined in the right way, and eaten at the right time in the right environment.
Kiss. Kissing doesn’t need to turn to sex, but there’s a reason that it usually does: it’s highly sensual. Your lips have more highly sensitive nerve endings than most of the rest of your body, which is why you get that tingling sensation when your lips meet your partner’s. Make it a point to kiss more throughout the day—none of those quick pecks as you rush out the door, but longer, slower, lingering kisses. Don’t go full French or try to suck the other person’s face off, but use your kisses to communicate your feelings for your partner. A good kiss can be the single most sensual thing in the world!
Being vulnerable and exposing the truth of who you are is an incredibly beautiful thing. We are so accustomed to interacting with people that have their emotional walls up that it’s hard to remember that there is always truth hidden beneath. When someone finally does open up, it forms an instant connection. That emotional connection is one of the most sensual things, as it establishes a bond of feelings that no other physical sense could ever match. It can be scary to think that someone else will know you so well, but that feeling of vulnerability can actually be highly sensual.
Sensuality involves sex, but sex isn’t the all-in-all. You can be sensual without ever bringing sex into things, and spending more time engaged in sensuous activity will make your sexual activity a whole lot better. The tips above will get you started, but there are so many more things you can do and explore to connect with your partner. Think about ways you can engage all of their senses—both their physical senses and their feelings on a deeper level—and get creative with your sensuality. It can make a world of difference in your relationship!