Sexual Playfulness

Playtime is typically considered as a domain for children. Yet for adults, fun is also an important component of having a healthy and happy life alongside other essential ingredients such as nutritious diet, regular exercise, relaxation and friendship.

The benefits generated by play mentioned in the latest issue of Breathe magazine include letting go of the struggles of the day, improving the immune system and getting in touch with the happiness to be found by living totally in the moment.

Because it is completely natural and by its nature uniquely and intrinsically rewarding, playtime is a way to enjoy yourself and the outside world, waking you up to the joy of living.

If you have lost touch with the ability to play and have fun, it is important to remember that play is more of an attitude than activity. Openness, mindfulness, spontaneity and seeking out novelty are the key traits of a playful mindset.

This opens up a wealth of possibilities for different activities to be considered as play including opportunities for enhancing your sex life.

Sexual Playfulness

In their book Enduring Desire, Barry McCarthy and Michael Metz extol the virtues and value of couple sexual playfulness suggesting that moments of playfulness, light-heartedness, teasing and humour are hallmarks of contented partners.

According to these authors, the special nature of sexual playfulness serves several relationship purposes because it promotes:

-        Bonding with recreation

-        A deepening of exclusive intimacy

-        Relaxation, trust, security and safety

-        A deep valuing of your relationship - feeling exceptional and special to each other

-        Tension release and a way to resolve conflict (such as gentle teasing to soften an issue)

-        The freedom to be yourself and to express your creativity

-        Sexual flexibility and variety

Sexual playfulness not only enriches the sexual mood but gives special meaning to your relationship. It enables couples to experience sex and their relationship in a distinctively personalized and exclusive way. Sexual play is the unique, private communication system that only you and your partner share through special interactions.

Integrating sexual playfulness into real life

Most couples are sexually playful at the start of their relationship.  As they settle into a regular routine of sharing not just their bodies but also their lives however, this playful attitude and touch tends to drop off and sexual predictability settles in. Many fall into the trap of an ‘intercourse-or-nothing’ approach which then leads to limited affection outside of sex.

This mindset inhibits sexual desire but playfulness can open up a whole range of intimate, erotic and sensual experiences as well as help keep sexual desire alive and vital.

Whilst playfulness certainly has a role when you are actually engaging in sexual activity, day-to-day living with its responsibilities, joys, and stresses provides built-in opportunities for playful yet subtle interactions all of which can create unique couple intimacy and enhance relationship satisfaction.

Getting started….

Playfulness is a behaviour you encourage, nurture and expand. So, if you would like to revitalise your relationship and sex life by including more playfulness into your repertoire but are not sure how to start, here are examples of what other couples do (mentioned in Enduring Desire) which might give you inspiration:

-        When we’re alone at home, sometimes we put on slow music and dance romantically

-        We play in the jacuzzi, mixing genital and non-genital touching

-        We take showers together and will sometimes wash each other with sexual overtones

-        We ‘accidently’ touch each other ‘sexually’ while doing normal everyday things

-        We play “footsie” under the table when we dine out

-        We have nicknames for each other’s private body parts

Don’t forget that play is essentially more of an attitude than whatever activity you choose to do. So rather than getting bogged down in over-thinking, just take a risk and do something (however small) to get started. This will (hopefully) encourage your partner to do the same.

The freedom to enjoy sexual play is not only good for your physical and mental health but a very important relational resource, all of which are convincing reasons for putting playtime back on the agenda.


-        Breathe Magazine. Issue 08, GMC Publications.

-        Metz, M. & McCarthy, B. Enduring desire: Your guide to lifelong desire. Routledge, 2011.