Outercourse is about cultivating more connection with your body. It can mean different things to different people, but involves sexual activity without intercourse. The past few years left many of us feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or maybe a little bit anxious. Outercourse can help us to resensitise our bodies through meditation, massage, foreplay, breathwork, and soul gazing. We consulted a range of experts in sex, intimacy, and pleasure and found three easy ways to help your libido bounce back after burnout.
"[Outercourse encourages us] to move away from goal-oriented intimacy and towards experience-oriented intimacy."
Whether it's a stiff back and neck from working from home, the anxiety our bodies absorb from the news cycle, or getting stuck in the same routine walk to the coffee shop, trauma can weigh on our bodies as much as it can weigh on our minds. Outercourse encourages us "to move away from goal-oriented intimacy and towards experience-oriented intimacy", sexologist Madalaine Munro tells POPSUGAR. Goal-oriented intimacy is all about that delicious moment of pleasure called the orgasm. But when our experience with sex and pleasure is focused on the destination instead of the journey, we can get stuck in our thoughts and be less connected to the sensory experiences of our bodies. Similar to tantra and somatic sexology, outercourse "allows us to explore what we like beyond the framework of how we view intercourse and orgasms, and discover new pathways of pleasure", says Munro.
"Sex is so much more than the physical act. It's about the emotional intimacy that we must build first and foremost to really experience deep, connected, and loving intimacy."
Trauma and stress aren't the only things that can hold you back from being completely present in the moment. We also have social media, technology, and porn to thank for that. It's no secret that the digital world is shrinking our attention spans, and the glamourisation of porn has distorted how we perceive our own pleasure. Instant-gratification culture also has an effect on how we receive pleasure. Access to fast food and fast fashion has normalised our entitlement and impatience. Even dating has sped up with the help of apps, and a simple swipe right is all it takes to match with your next love interest. It can seem like there is quite a lot working against our being present in the moment. Luckily, we can always slow down and reacquaint ourselves with our body language, no matter how loud the world can become. Certified sex expert Isabelle Uren recommends creating "an attitude of curiosity towards your body and your pleasure response to take any pressure off what you should or shouldn't feel, as this pressure can dampen your experiences".
The difference between outercourse and foreplay is intention. With outercourse, it is the focus of sexual activity, whereas foreplay builds up to penetration or intercourse. Experience-oriented intimacy is about "consciously building up arousal and entering into prolonged states of pleasure", says Emma Spiegler, a certified love, relationship, and sexuality coach. "It might seem counterintuitive to build intimacy in a nonsexual way, but this is key to creating more connection with your body, and your partner's body, in which you feel able to communicate what feels good and what isn't feeling good for you. Sex is so much more than the physical act. It's about the emotional intimacy that we must build first and foremost to really experience deep, connected, and loving intimacy."
3 Ways to Resensitise Your Body, According to Sexperts
- Meditation: "Practice reconnecting your brain and body with breathing techniques," Uren says. "Take deep breaths and feel your breath moving through your body, paying attention to the expansion that happens with each breath. Use your breath to guide energy to different areas of your body — for example, you can breathe down into your pelvic floor and genital region to direct energy and awareness to these areas."
- Mood: "Appeal to all your senses to awaken your whole body," Uren says. "Sex and masturbation usually focus on our sense of touch, but incorporating our other senses puts us into a state of high-sensory alert, allowing us to feel more of the good stuff! Some of my favourite ways to engage the senses include lighting scented candles or diffusing essential oils, experimenting with temperature play, mindfully eating some chocolate or fruit, listening to a sensual playlist or audio erotica, and putting on a sexy outfit in front of the mirror."
- Massage: "Focus on nongenital touching and massage. Your skin is receptive to many different types of touch, and there are so many sensitive sweet spots all over your body," Uren explains. "Take the time to really explore your whole body with stroking, tickling, light scratching, grabbing, and massage. Many people find the neck, collarbone, sides of the body, inside of the elbow, and inner thighs are very receptive to sensual touch."