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Sensate focus is an exercise to help you and your partner build intimacy and set aside performance anxiety in your sexual relationship. Its purpose is to bring you closer to one another in a physical and emotional way. It is an exercise that may be useful for couples who are looking for ways to enjoy being intimate together, or simply need some direction or refreshment in this area.  

To start, this exercise is going to require a few hours, several times per week, so make sure you set aside enough time not to have to rush through it. You can also gather a few accessories, which may include sensual music, candles, lotions and oils to set the scene.

The idea behind these exercises is to allow you to become more comfortable talking about your sexual relationship, as well as to improve your sexual enjoyment. Sensate focus will teach you to be more present with one another during your lovemaking, allowing you to gain more satisfaction from your sexual relationship.

woman lying on bed in room

One really important part of this exercise is that you refrain from sexual intercourse with one another. You may be wondering how you’re going to improve your lovemaking without being allowed to actually engage in it. That’s a great question. Keep reading. In fact, the conclusion of this exercise will end in lovemaking, but it is the buildup of activities leading up to it that you’re really going to focus on.

During the first part of the exercises, you’re going to schedule 3 times during the week when you can have an uninterrupted hour of time (example: after your child is in bed). Lock your bedroom door and insure you will have no interruptions (turn off phones, etc.). Mutually agree on who will be the receiver first and who will receive second. The goal of this exercise is for the receiver to be fully present and for the giver to learn about the receiver’s body, likes, and dislikes.

Begin with a hand, face, or foot caress, mutually agreeing on which you would prefer before beginning. This part should last 20-30 minutes, then switch roles. The giver’s job is to caress the selected area. This is a time for experimentation. Explore all areas of the selected body part, using different strokes and pressures. This part can use objects such as flowers, feathers, cloth, ice, or lotion. Be creative. Do what you would like to do, whatever you are curious about; this is your chance to experiment with different types of touch. Do not base your touching on what you think your partner likes, but what interests you.

The receiver’s job is to remain interested and focused on the sensations. If other thoughts come into your mind, gently push them back out. Remain intent on the sensations, lying back with your eyes closed. Focus on the pleasure of receiving. During this time, periodically tell your spouse if something feels particularly good to you. If something is uncomfortable, gently tell them that you are uncomfortable, and they will change their approach. After 20-30 minutes, switch roles. The giver now becomes the receiver, and vice versa. At the end of this time, each partner should spend 5-10 minutes talking to your partner about what the experience was like for you (how it felt to give and receive, sensations or thoughts you experienced, etc.). This is not a review of the other’s performance; partners should discuss their own perceptions. Ensure that you mention particular experiences you enjoyed. Talk together about the thoughts that you have about it, and feelings that were aroused during the exercise. As your partner talks, listen to them carefully.