How to Have More Sensual Sex

couple in water

If you had to choose your favorite meal in the world, what would it be? Maybe a decadent pizza, with all of your favorite toppings? You open the box…it smells heavenly…you see the kalamata olives, placed just so…and when you put it in your mouth, it feels as perfect as it tastes, with the thin crust crunching in the most satisfying way. You can even hear yourself moan in satisfaction, can’t you?

Welcome to the world of sensual mindfulness, where we apply all of our senses to pleasure. And what we just did with pizza, we can absolutely do with sex and have more sensual sex. Simultaneously. Just kidding.

When sex becomes rote, sensual mindfulness can help make things more delicious — pun intended. So here are ideas for making your next sex sesh a feast for the senses:

1. Sight

To sexify your visual field, think environment. Where are you getting down, and how can it become more inviting? If it’s your bedroom, make it go from functional to sensual with…

  • Soft, glowy lighting: forget the overhead. It’s all about lamps, baby. 
  • Candles: bonus points for body-safe candle wax.
  • Cleaning: it costs nothing, but makes a huge difference in mental relaxation. Be gone, clutter.

    2. Sound

    Moving right along, let’s discuss music during sex. Are you a fan? I am, and as it turns out, most of you are too

    I find that the right playlist can be instrumental (pun intended) in setting the mood, and fortunately, Spotify has done that legwork for us. Here are my fave presets for a sexy time: 

    I genuinely, genuinely dare you not to get turned on, when you listen to one of these. And hey, while you’re tuned in, why not check the Gwyneth Paltrow interview on Sex With Emily? On it, she shares the specific ways she gets sensual (beautiful bath oils, salts, massage), and how she watched women unlock deep pleasure during the taping of her Netflix show, “Sex, Love, and Goop.” 

    3. Smell

    Did you know that smell is the sense most directly linked to memory, and intense emotion? As our most “primal” sense (really: it’s the one with the longest evolutionary history), smell guides our animal side—aka, the side we want in bed. So here are some ideas for a sexy smelling space: 

    • I am a personal fan of incense during sex, but those might be my latent hippie tendencies talking 
    • Palo santo = a spa favorite that looks pretty when it burns
    • Essential oil diffusers that you can put fun scents in, like ylang-ylang: honey, spicy floral
    • Pillow sprays for a quick refresh

    Don’t forget your smells, too. I love rubbing a tiny bit of lavender on my neck, and – personal confession? I kinda like it when people don’t wear a lot of deodorant! Sex is personal and so is the smell. Invite the scents you want.

    4. Taste

    Possibly the most erotic sense (but most underrated) on the sex menu, taste is linked in our brains to reward and danger. When we taste something, we’re unconsciously deciding whether or not to swallow—because the choice could delight us, or kill us. 

    That’s why taste can be so exciting during sex, and a perfect way to make things playful. Here are some ideas:

    • Edible massage oil: rub them down, lick it off
    • Dessert: keep a bite of something sweet nearby, and let them taste it while they kiss you
    • Flavored lube: for your next oral sex

    And if you love the way your partner tastes…tell them. I promise, they’ll be thrilled to be your snack.

    5. Touch

    The pièce de résistance of sex, no? When we do it, thousands of nerve endings (4,000 in a penis, 8,000 in a clitoris) stand at attention. And that’s just your genitals. 

    Touch is the central database of sex, the driver of the experience, the chief sensory input. But touch can also become more intentional, helping disperse pleasure all over the body. Here are some ideas for that:

    • A sex toy to stimulate the clitoris and/or g-area.
    • Experiment with your partner on the type of touch that feels best. Soft caresses? Spanks? Grabbing hips?
    • Take a bath together and wash their hair, giving them a relaxing, aromatic scalp massage while you do so.

    When we involve all of our senses, the sexual experience does elevate: we’re in our eroticism, we’re fully embodied, we’re present and alive. Try some of these sensual ideas out, and see if your sex doesn’t get a little more interesting.