Language note: This article and the terms used within are intentionally gender non-specific, as we intend for this piece to be broad in gender application. The words “penis” and “vulva” are used with absolutely no gender specificity assigned to the terms. We would like to acknowledge that not everyone with these general demonstrations of physiology uses the same words to describe their parts and that not all bodies appear the same or function in the same way. It is our intention to be mindful and inclusive of trans, enby, GNC, gender expansive, 2-Spirit, and intersex experiences, as we want the information contained within to benefit as many expansive identities as possible.
We hope that you enjoy reading this article, and that it helps you to find new ways to experience and or give pleasure! We welcome feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Is Slow Sex?
Slow sex is when we are deeply present and connected to the moment-to-moment sensation. It takes the focus away from orgasm, restructuring the common (and harmful) conception that orgasm and or ejaculation is always the end goal in any kind of sex.
Becoming more mindful in the bedroom and tuning into the present moment can transform the way you touch yourself and a partner(s). You may become more intentional, which can help your body and mind to relax, and which in turn has the potential to bring even more pleasurable experiences into the bedroom.
The Benefits Of Slow Sex
Many of us want to experience more pleasure, and a key to cultivating this is to be more in your body, rather than your head. This sounds simple in theory, but is actually something that most of us find very hard to do with our busy lives, endless to-do lists and the looming pressure to perform and please our partner(s).
So how do we re-train our mind and body to experience slow sex, and why is it worth exploring? Let’s start with some of the potential benefits.
First Up: A Quick Look At Tantra
It is almost impossible to speak about slow sex without also talking about Tantra, which is a whole new (ancient) way to deeper connection and profound pleasure.
To many people’s surprise, Tantra isn’t about sexual techniques at all, but instead, it encourages us to become deeply sensitive to how we are feeling with an emphasis on the importance of intimacy during the sexual experience.
Tantra is the Sanskrit word for “weaving” and “to expand” and just as with yoga, in Tantra breath is considered life force energy and the vehicle to heightened states of arousal. We can learn to circulate orgasmic energy throughout our whole body via the breath, leading to potential full-body orgasms.
A full body orgasm is where we experience orgasmic pleasure throughout the whole of our bodies, like a warm, tingling sensation that washes over us.
Did you know that there are over 30 erogenous zones on the body, and yet, when we’re aiming to arouse or be aroused, the majority of us go straight to the genitals?
In the practice of Tantra, we are encouraged to start seeing our whole body as an instrument of pleasure, not just our genitals. While you don’t need to practice Tantra to enjoy this sentiment, there is plenty we can pull from this idea.
Instead of rushing to hand jobs and penetration, just imagine how delicious it might feel to awaken all these pleasure points across the whole of your body and stimulate all of your senses for heightened sensitivity and arousal. Slowing everything down means that we become aware of every little sensation of pleasure we discover, stimulating and awakening all of our erogenous zones and slowly building up to new orgasmic peaks.
Add in slow, deep breaths to circulate this goodness all around your body and if you’re feeling compelled, add some sounds in the form of a deep sigh or two to enhance the experience.
The sex lasts longer
Many people who have a penis may feel the pressure of lasting longer in bed, as a lot of mainstream porn and many other cultural signifiers often lead us to believe that one has to stay hard and have the ability to go for hours in order to be a “good lover.”
This is a potentially harmful and inaccurate conception, and sex is about so much more than penetration! Slow sex invites us to play with long and more varied action which may or may not be penetrative as well as slowing down every other aspect of sex. Slow kissing, slow non penetrative touching, slow penetration with a penis, dildo or fingers and or gentle caresses can make slow sex a more sensual and intimate experience…as well as increasing the likelihood of lasting longer.
Increased heights of arousal
Stress can be one of the biggest mood killers, and is often a result of living busy lives, worrying about how to please our partner(s), and the pressure of keeping our sex life fresh and exciting.
When we have a preconceived idea of what sex should be like or what we “should do”, intimacy can very easily become about performance. This can result in a disconnection from our bodies as we are no longer present in the here and now but instead are thinking about what do to next.
When touch is done with full consent and in a slow and intentional way it can have a relaxing effect on our body and our mind, which may help us become more receptive to sensual stimulation and help to build or increase arousal. With each touch done with purpose and care, we tend to feel more relaxed which has a calming effect on our body and our mind. This in turn helps us become even more receptive to sensations in our body, which are key for increasing our arousal and or enjoyment.
When we slow everything down, we can perhaps feel our bodily sensations more clearly. Taking time to intentionally and slowly touch yourself or a partner(s) is a great opportunity to learn more about your own or another’s pleasure, to investigate how the body responds to different types of touch. We can then start to communicate the type of touch we enjoy to each other, creating a beautiful feedback loop that can intensify moments of intimacy and connection.
We may be far more likely to open up about our desires
When we attend to our partner(s) in the way that slow sex often encourages us to do, we may be more likely to feel safe, which then may support us to open up about desires and fantasies too. And if we don’t know these yet, it can offer a safer space to discuss that too!
Talking about our likes and dislikes is so important when co-creating what we really like in the bedroom, yet many people can shy away from figuring out or expressing their sexual needs out of fear and shame. By leaning in to expressing or exploring your desires and encouraging your partner(s) to do the same you can expand your sex life in a way that feels authentic and exciting.
Being truly present allows us to really see our partner(s), and for us to be seen. This in turn can lead us to connect in a deeper way as our focus becomes more on authentic pleasure and what makes us feel good in the now (knowing this can and may likely shift over time and from moment to moment), for both ourselves and our partner(s), rather than focusing on our own performance and what we’ve been led to believe sex “should” look like.
Responsive & Spontaneous Desire
Taking the time to understand your body and routes to arousal may totally transform your sex life!
Spontaneous desire is when you experience desires in an instant way. It can be an out-of-nowhere experience where you all of a sudden feel turned on, or it can be in response to minimal (perhaps even surprising) stimuli: passing someone cute in the supermarket, smelling something nice, hearing a song. Spontaneous desire, as the name suggests, just appears, with little to no effort on the part of the person experiencing it.
The amount and type of stimulus needed will vary from person to person, and for an individual it may change from day to day depending on all kinds of factors, from hormones to a depressing news cycle.
Spontaneous desire is, erroneously, often held up as the standard model of desire: this is how many of us are led to believe desire should function, when in actual fact many people require more physical and mental stimulation before getting in the mood. A cultivation of sorts. This is what is called responsive desire. The amount and type of stimulus needed will vary from person to person, and for an individual it may change from day to day depending on all kinds of factors, from hormones to a depressing news cycle. If you are someone who needs a lot of kissing and cuddling to feel aroused, or a long sexting session, or a bath, or anything else, I would like to tell you that you are not broken and your desire is not faulty: it is probably responsive!
John Bancroft, PhD, senior researcher and former director of the Kinsey Institute, has studied how arousal develops, and his research pinpoints something important: we need to be aware of our own arousal before we can really feel aroused.
Becoming aware of your own arousal will be easier for some people than it is for others. Even though responsive and spontaneous desire has not been linked to physiology, there can be some clear signs for people with penises to become aware of their arousal as they perhaps start to become erect. With vulva owners, the stiffening of the clitoris or the lubrication of the vagina may not always be as obvious. Nor have people with vulvas been socially conditioned to be as aware of these responses, with typically less education (even on an anecdotal level) available on vulva-bodies arousal process, not to mention the almost total lack of LGBTQIA+ education available.
How To Incorporate Slow Sex Into Your Sex Life
Learn about the physical aspect of YOUR pleasure
Book in a sensual playdate with yourself and spend time stimulating your nipples, ears, neck, feet, or the insides of your thighs (if you don’t already know you don’t like touching yourself in these places). You may discover something unexpectedly turns you on. Get creative with where you’re focusing your sexual attention on the body and see what comes up. And remember to take deep, intentional breaths. When you think you are going slow, go slower.
Often, we think of masturbation as a release of tension. But your self-pleasure practise can have so much more for you to experience. When you slow down enough, you may find that you can open up to even greater pleasure and perhaps orgasmic bliss.
Think of masturbation as less about “let’s hide away and do this quickly” and more about having a longer pleasure-based experience, where you take the time for self-discovery and tuning in to the sensations in your body through the power of your breath.
Want to have more powerful orgasms? Then try simply to be present to the touch and how it feels. If you get close to coming, slow everything down, breathe deeper, relax your body and tune in to how you are feeling as the pleasure builds. You can then bring the intensity up again if you decide to speed up the touch, but see how you can be more mindful in your every touch, aware of all the sensations in your whole body, rather than focusing solely on the genitals. Eventually, if you do choose to come, the orgasm has the potential to be so much more intense!
Practice mindfulness outside the bedroom
Pleasurable sex starts before the bedroom (or bathroom, or kitchen…), and to help you prepare for the tantalising experiences of slow sex, take the time to practice slowing down and become more mindful in your everyday life.
Perhaps you can take a few minutes to meditate in the morning or before going to bed, make it a habit to check in on how you are breathing during a normal working day. Take breaks to have five deep, slow breaths. Explore how the reset helps you to become more aware of how you were feeling before as well as how you feel after taking a moment to breathe.
Practising being mindful in our lives will likely help you tap into these relaxed states with much more ease, and can give you a jump start for deeper, more intense pleasurable experiences during sex as well.
– with others
Eye contact is a very powerful way to connect. Next time, before you even touch your partner(s), take a few minutes to sit opposite each other and meet their eyes whilst energetically sending love, admiration and gratitude between you.
Prepare your space
Taking the time to prepare what you’d like the room to look like can be a powerful and perhaps sacred ritual that helps you connect and get in the mood way before your lovemaking has even started. Think candles, fresh bedding, incense, lighting, music, and whatever else you feel may bring in additional or perhaps elevated sensations.
Set the scene by turning off all your distractions, treat yourself to a hot shower and feed each other with some sensual food to play with as you awaken your senses.
Just as with yoga, in Tantra breath is considered life force energy and the vehicle to connection and bodily communication.
To engage in a practice of synchronized breathing simply sit in front of your partner, place your hand on their chest and let your partner do the same, take a few breaths into your belly and when you feel ready gently start to match your breathing.
This can be done before, during or after lovemaking.
The endless joy of non-goal oriented sex (not coming)
Slow sex and choosing from time to time to not focus on coming can really help us let go of any pressure to “perform” which makes the sex more pleasurable, relaxing and explorative. When pleasure is the central focus with no goal beyond that pleasure, we may be able to inhabit and discover more spaces of authentic satisfaction.
Being present allows us to explore sex with a beginner’s mind, meaning that we can come to sex and touch without preconceptions of what it should or shouldn’t be like. Exploring each touch like it is for the first time has great potential to make sex more intimate, mindful and connected.
Slow sex also often encourages us to engage in more intimate conversations which then likely cultivates more desire, attraction and freshness in relationships with others and with ourselves – it’s a win-win!
Asa Baav (she/her) is the founder of Tailor Matched, a matchmaking agency for the wild at heart and the nationwide thought leader in sexual and romantic compatibility. As a matchmaker, coach, and educator she is on a mission to help busy professionals create deeply satisfying romantic relationships, inside and outside the bedroom – no matter where they are on their dating and relationship journey.