Ace intimacy

Art by Natasha Farnsworth via
Art by Natasha Farnsworth via

Intimacy doesn’t have to be sexual

By Rebecca Peterson, Staff Writer

When people think of intimacy, often the corresponding image is a sexual one. However, this doesn’t account for the very real experiences of people who don’t experience sexual attraction, who are sex-repulsed, or who are simply choosing to remain abstinent. If you identify as asexual, or if you’re dating someone who chooses not to have sex, here’s a list of intimate activities for you and your partner to enjoy!

  1. Massage

Massages are not inherently sexual, or things would get awkward every time someone goes to visit their chiropractor. It can, however, be incredibly intimate, because you’re doing something that makes your partner feel good, and listening to their guidance to help your hands relieve their achy and tired muscles. Depending on your level of comfort, massages can range from the classic full-body deal to a simple shoulder rub at the end of the day. Even just playing with your partner’s hair while watching a movie can show how much you care for them—and honestly, who doesn’t love having their hair played with?

  1. Music sharing

One of my past relationships was with a musician. We both loved listening to music, playing music, and writing music, and while our relationship never really went anywhere past casual dating, I had some incredibly intimate moments with him that had nothing to do with sex. We would take turns picking pieces of music that we wanted to show each other, usually from YouTube, ranging from classical to electronica. Then we would lie back on his bed and just listen, beginning to end. Sharing your favourite music with your partner is not unlike showing part of your soul—often our favourite songs tell more about ourselves than words ever could.

  1. Body paint

No, I’m not talking about the edible body paint you can buy from Victoria’s Secret around this time of year. I saw a post online last year where an artist used his girlfriend’s back as a canvas to paint a beautiful watercolour sunset, and all I could think of was how incredibly intimate an experience that would have been for both of them. It worships your partner’s body, and can translate into a sexual experience or a nonsexual experience, depending. Even just doodling some flowers on your partner’s arm, or a little happy stick figure on their hand, shows them that you care for them, and gives them something cute to look at for the rest of the day.

  1. Journal sharing

Especially good for couples on the go who don’t have a lot of time to spend together, having a journal you can trade back and forth gives your partner a window into your thoughts. You can put in little doodles, poems, stories about your day—even what you had for lunch if you’re so inclined. Getting to read someone else’s journal is always a fun experience, and you can even comment on what your partner’s written with sticky notes. This also creates a piece of memorabilia that you can keep for years.

  1. Reading out loud

Imagine this: a dark room, candles lit, hot chocolate in hand, and curling up with your partner and a good book. Maybe it’s poetry, or maybe you just want to reread Harry Potter for the five thousandth time. Having a story performed for you or performing one for someone else creates a world you can both step into together.

  1. Plain ol’ cuddling

Two years ago I worked a night job that started at 11 p.m. and ended at 7 a.m. I would say goodnight to my girlfriend of the time and head off to work, and eight hours later I would come home exhausted. There’s no real way to climb into bed with someone without waking them up, but she didn’t mind. Both half-asleep and a little delirious, we’d curl up together and talk—sometimes for a few minutes before passing out, sometimes for hours. It was always something to look forward to during long nights spent working for minimum wage. It’s human instinct for most people to seek contact and warmth, and whether your relationship is a sexual one or not, not having to sleep alone is a perk.

Intimacy is an incredibly subjective experience for every person and every couple. What might be considered intimate for some, won’t be as personal for others. The best way to build any kind of relationship is to communicate with your partner, discuss your needs as well as theirs, and find your own kind of intimacy in the middle ground.