9 New Things To Try In Bed (Without Actually Having Sex)

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foreplay tips

People define “sex” in different ways. But regardless of how we define it, many of us can get stuck on the idea that it’s the main event and everything else is just foreplay.

That can lead us to neglect all the other fun and intimate things we can do in bed. After all, there are nerve endings all over the body, not just the genitals. And if we get focused on just getting to “sex,” we might miss out on the pleasure of everything else. That's why it's best to learn about new things to try in bed.

So, here are some foreplay tips that will boost intimacy in marriage and relationships. These are new things to try in bed that are not typically defined as sex but have just as much potential to increase intimacy and pleasure.

1. Try mutual masturbation.

“Masturbating side by side is not only erotic, it also helps you learn how each other likes to be touched,” says sex therapist Vanessa Marin.

After all, nobody knows your body better than yourself. After watching the techniques you use on yourself, your partner may step up their game, and vice versa.

RELATED: The 5 Stages Of Intimacy (And Why You Need To Know Where You Are)

2. Dedicate a night to each of your needs.

We often think of sex as a barter system, where you and your partner exchange sexual favors. While it’s good to keep things balanced in the long-term, it can prevent you from fully focusing on your own pleasure in the short-term.

To help yourself really soak up everything and learn about new things to try in bed, Marin recommends blocking off one night where your partner’s dedicated to pleasing you. Then, switch and do the reverse.

3. Play with frequently overlooked body parts.

Sex educator Lola Jean suggests this challenge: One of you lies down, and the other touches the body parts they wouldn’t normally think to touch, like the clavicles or elbows.

“For extra credit, have the person laying down go nonverbal, only able to use body movement or noise to try to get their partner to touch them the exact way that they want,” says Jean. “Based on how your partner is responding, you can start collecting data on what types of touch and in what areas they respond well to.”

4. Look deeply into each other's eyes.

Prolonged eye contact is used in tantra to help partners feel emotionally connected.

“It’s a wonderful way to connect with your partner without having to be verbal or physical,” she explains. “You’re probably going to giggle at first since we as humans often find it awkward to hold eye contact for so long. Push past this point until you are able to hold the other’s gaze and start to feel the emotion and communication from their eyes.”

5. Read erotica to one another.

Often, hearing about sex can turn you on just as much as having it. So, take turns reading sexy stories to each other. You can even bring in ones describing your fantasies to see if they appeal to your partner.

“Who said bedtime stories are only for children?” jokes Jean. “Close your eyes and let yourself melt into the soothing sounds of your partner’s voice, or you can choose to put them under your spell with a reading. Cuddles and snuggles optional. Plus, you can knock off some of your reading list!”

RELATED: 5 Things That Ruin Physical Intimacy With Your Partner (And How To Overcome Them)

6. Use a vibrator.

Vibrators aren’t just for masturbation, nor are they just for the vulva, says Dr. Jess O’Reilly. Many people enjoy using them on their partners, and they can feel good on many parts of the body, including the breasts, thighs, penis, scrotum, and perineum.

“It is no surprise that their use is positively correlated with higher rates of orgasm and sexual satisfaction,” says Dr. Jess.

7. Give role-play a try.

“Role playing is the cornerstone of many successful long-term relationships, and some couples report that learning to play different roles in bed actually saved their sex lives,” says Dr. Jess. “This is no surprise given that many of us report some degree of boredom after being with a lover for only 6-12 months.”

So, get creative with these foreplay tips and act out a shared fantasy from sexy videos, erotic stories, or your own imaginations. The sky’s the limit.

“Imagination is fundamental to human existence in terms of development, relationships, community, economy and culture,” Dr. Jess explains. “From children’s make-believe games to the fantasy worlds we explore in blockbuster movies and books as adults, the desire to temporarily escape reality is universal and perfectly healthy. Experimenting with role-plays is a manageable way to allow our imaginations to run wild within the confines of a committed relationship.”

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8. Give erotic massages.

“Physical affection may be the most powerful of all love languages, and we have come to associate intimate touch with deep commitment,” says Dr. Jess. “Women rate affection as one of the most important components of a loving relationship, and researchers have found that couples who caress one another with warmth and care experience a reduction in stress hormones and blood pressure alongside an increase in oxytocin levels. Studies have also shown that touch has an analgesic effect, improves pulmonary functioning, promotes healthy growth, lowers blood sugar, and heightens immunity.”

There are many ways to experience the benefits of physical affection without actually having sex. Dr. Jess suggests a few techniques for an erotic massage: “spider pulls” (place your fingers spread apart on your partner’s skin, then move them together gently, without pinching), raindrops (move the backs of your fingertips softly along your partner’s spine, shoulder blades, and other parts of the skin), and finger stripes (cover your fingers in oil and run them down your partner’s thighs, inner arms, and abdomen).

9. Talk about sex.

Talking about what you enjoy and desire not only can turn each other on, but also is essential so that you know how to please each other. Some conversation-starters suggestions include: “Do you like when I...?”, “Show me how you like it,” “In an ideal world, how many times per week/month would you want to have sex?”, “After you climax, how do you want to be touched/held?”, and, “If I were to seduce you tomorrow, what would you want me to do?”

“We all have a lot to learn about sex, and acknowledging your own limitations while expressing a willingness to learn and adapt will set the tone for your partner to do the same — at their own pace,” says Dr. Jess.

You might find yourself getting in the mood for sex during these activities, but try to hold off for as long as possible. The more you build up the anticipation, the better the final release will be.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Rekindle Sexual Intimacy When Your Relationship Gets Too Comfortable

Suzannah Weiss is a writer whose work has also been published in The Washington Post, Salon, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Paper Magazine, Bustle, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, and more.