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I want to be intimate with my partner, but I don’t want to have sex. Is this possible?

Yes, it’s possible to be intimate with someone without having sex (vaginal, anal or oral). As you get to know a partner, you will discover lots of things that feel good and make you feel closer, but that don’t necessarily include having sexual intercourse. These can be physical things, like touching and kissing, as well as non-physical things, like talking and sharing experiences together.

Intimacy is when two people can be themselves and share their thoughts, feelings and emotions and be vulnerable without being afraid they will be laughed at or judged. Intimacy is an important element in a healthy relationship that involves sharing a feeling of emotional closeness with another person. When we have emotional intimacy, it’s more comfortable to have physical closeness with that person. This is known as physical intimacy; it’s not necessarily sexual.

Sex can be a part of an intimate relationship, but friendships and other relationships can be intimate and never sexual. Even romantic partnerships can be intimate and not include sex. Intimacy can take a while to achieve; it usually occurs in committed, long-term relationships, romantic or otherwise. Intimacy between two people who trust and care for each other can be wonderful.

The most important thing to do is talk with your partner before things get physical. Be very clear about what kind of touching is allowed and what’s off limits. So, is kissing OK, but not other touching? Is touching above the waist OK, but not below? If you do not want to have sex but want to be physical, make a promise to each other that things will stop at a certain point. Then agree that both of you are responsible for sticking to those limits. The last thing you want is for sex to “just happen,” which is how some people end up facing an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

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