How Do Sensuality vs. Sexuality Overlap and Diverge?

Sensuality vs. sexuality — is there a difference? While people tend to use those terms interchangeably, they represent separate but equally important concepts. The overlap between the two allows each to bolster the other’s benefits, especially when it comes to involving more sensuality in your sex life. 

Gaining a better understanding of sensuality and sexuality can help you bring your whole self to every experience, every time. 

What Is Sexuality?

We often think of sexuality as being just about who you prefer to sleep with, but it’s so much more all-encompassing than that. Sexuality encompasses almost every aspect of who we are — our attitudes, values, feelings, experiences, etc. 

Examples of Sexuality

Because sexuality is so multi-faceted, many different components are involved. For example, sexuality can refer to:

  • Intimacy - The ability to be emotionally or physically close to another person. Intimacy can be monogamous, platonic, ethically polyamorous, etc. While it’s part of sexuality, it isn’t always inherently “sexual.”
  • Sensuality - We’ll talk about this in more detail next, but sensuality is pursuing pleasure by using the senses. Again, sensuality doesn’t have to be “sexual,” as music, art, and even food can be sensual. 
  • Sexual Agency - Sexual agency refers to how power plays into your experience of sexuality — your internal sense of power and your power and influence over others. 
  • Sexual Identity - Sexual identity is the aspect of sexuality we traditionally think of first. Your sexual identity is who you are as a sexual being, including your gender identity (the gender you feel like on the inside), gender expression (how you present yourself on the outside), and sexual/romantic orientation (who you are sexually or romantically attracted to).
  • Sexual/Reproductive Health - This component of sexuality refers to the physical health of the sexual and reproductive biological health systems and how well you are able to take care of and maintain them. 

What Is Sensuality?

As we said, sensuality is just one facet of sexuality, but it is definitely a crucial one. When discussing sensuality, we’re talking about our level of acceptance, awareness, and enjoyment of both our own and potentially other peoples’ bodies. 

Think about what your sexual experiences would be like if you didn’t use any of your senses — it would be a wholly disconnected (and likely highly unsatisfactory) experience. 

Examples of Sensuality

Sensuality is present in everything we do on some level. Because it relates to how you choose to connect with and use your senses, you can make everything you do sensual if you act mindfully. 

Have you ever moaned after tasting something delicious? Closed your eyes and swayed to your favorite song? Those are completely non-sexual sensual experiences. The world really opens up in a beautiful way when you fully engage your senses. 

How Can Sensuality Improve Sexuality?

Because sensuality is a component of sexuality, connecting with your senses can absolutely help improve your experience of your sexuality. The act of sex should be so much more than just penetration.

Slow Kissing

Kissing often gets relegated to something you do during or between other sexual acts, but when was the last time you made out with your partner as the main course? Taking the time to enjoy kissing your partner, with no goal other than to enjoy intimacy, is an excellent way to increase the level of sensuality in your relationship and make you feel even closer.

Eye Contact

Eye contact is a powerful tool. As part of a 1989 study performed at Clark University in Worchester, Massachusetts, researchers paired up strangers and asked them to look at each other in different ways (at the other’s hands, superficially, or directly into their partner’s eyes). 

The pairs that were asked to gaze into each other eyes reported that they felt a sense of mutual attraction and affection for each other, even with no pre-existing relationship between them. 

If simple eye contact can do that for total strangers, imagine what it can do in a loving partnership! 

Public Affection

We know that the idea of public displays of affection makes some people uncomfortable. We’re absolutely not saying that PDAs are a “must” if you want to increase the level of sensuality in your relationship, but if you’re open to it, doing a little more of them can definitely give you a boost.

When we talk about publicly displaying your affection toward your partner, we don’t mean that you should give them a lapdance at the bar (although that’s okay if it’s your thing and the people around you are consenting and not uncomfortable). 

Simple, relatively “small” displays of affection like just holding hands with each other, walking arm-in-arm, or a short kiss can invigorate your intimacy and remind you why you love your partner so much (and that they love you just as much). 

Use Your Words

Sure, your partner probably knows that you love and care about them. After all, you’re still together, right? What more do they need?

Love and commitment are implied in a long-term relationship, but you should never underestimate the power of your words. It’s the difference between knowing that you’re loved and being told that you’re loved — it feels good to have the person who means the most to you explicitly tell you that they love you (and why they love you so much). 

Do the same for them — take the time to say “I love you” before leaving for work or going to bed, or just text them that you love them in the middle of the day for no reason at all. It’ll be more appreciated than you know. 

Creative Touch (and Ways To Engage Your Other Senses)

Some of the most sensual experiences are the ones that are new to both you and your partner. Not knowing what to expect and getting to enjoy it for the first time with someone you care deeply about heightens all of the senses so that you can experience it on a much more intense level. 

Don’t believe us? Take this theory in the bedroom. It’s all about the gratification of the senses, so think of ways to explore that through sexual activity. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Hearing - You can use your sense of hearing in the bedroom in multiple ways. Start by creating a playlist that you can use just for sexual encounters (there are plenty online if you need a little inspiration). You can also pay more specific attention to the sounds that happen when you’re getting intimate — your skin interacting, your partner’s moans, etc. Or, tell your partner exactly what you want to do to them, and then be waiting for them when they get home to do it. 
  • Sight - We don’t take enough time to visually appreciate our partner’s physical body during intimacy; it’s usually far more focused on the physical sensations. The next time that you and your partner are getting undressed, spend time taking them in. Tell them how hot they look, and wear something you know drives them wild.
  • Smell - You know that smell that just turns you on when you smell it? Why not incorporate that into your sensual experiences? For example, scented candles have come a long way from smelling like flowers. Now, candles smell like leather, firewood, tobacco, and nearly anything else you can imagine. Light a few of them before getting busy. You can also draw your partner a warm bath with some essential oils, or just make sure you have your favorite perfume on. 
  • Taste - If you’re doing it right, you already involve your tongue in your intimate activities. To make that a more sensual experience, be more mindful about what you’re tasting when you use your mouth. Involve different tastes in the bedroom. We don’t recommend avoiding flavored lubes, though, as they can increase your risk of vaginal infections. And, for the record, our Sex Oil is safe for oral play, too!
  • Touch - It’s strange to think about, but your skin is your largest organ. It’s covered in different receptors constantly taking in the world around them and sending signals to the brain about how to process it. The skin can detect temperature, texture, vibration, and many other types of sensation. Capitalize on that by touching your partner (and having them touch you) with different objects of varying temperatures and textures — ice cubes, silk, and maybe even a little light spanking. You can even try an arousal oil or breast oil to heighten the sensations further. It’s like a whole different experience. 

Conclusion

There is no sensuality vs. sexuality — the two concepts are intertwined in a way that helps them support each other in a beautiful, fully satisfying way. If you’re looking for a way to take your sex life to a whole new level, focus more on how you use your senses in the bedroom. 

Being more mindful about what you’re smelling, tasting, hearing, touching, and seeing can help you truly enjoy your partner and your sexual experiences more than ever before. 

Sources:

Overview of Vaginitis | Merck

Why Gazing Into a Partner’s Eyes Boosts Intimacy and Sexual Pleasure | Psychology Today

Skin layers | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

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