This holiday season, our theme is Simple Pleasures: small wins, solid foundations, appreciation of comfort. Let’s acknowledge our nostalgia for pre-pandemic times and calm our anxieties as we venture (again) into the great indoors. It’s time to focus on making our body home wherever we are.
Sex with him was like swimming in the sea. When we were in bed together, the world stopped; we floated through each other’s bodies. In those moments, there was nothing but the safety of his skin. It was sexy as hell, but it was also deeper: the realization of my body’s desire to be nestled in someone else.
This year, many of us are running on empty. As we approach the winter solstice, the shorter, crisper days and longer nights invite us into hibernation. This is a time to seek comfort in the safety of our own bodies and the touch of our partners.
Sex can be part of this comfort. Partnered or not, we can seek the sheer pleasure of sensation: masturbating, engaging in soothing self-touch, and investing time and energy in making our spaces as beautiful and comfortable as possible. If we’re partnered in whatever way—from a long-term relationship to an intimacy buddy—we can also nourish each other.
This kind of sex—let’s call it comfort sex—can come from a place of horniness or passion, but it can also come from a desire to tuck yourself into a nook of safety and forget about the outside world. At best, it’s the kind of intimacy where there is no line between snuggling and sex, and where orgasms may be long, slow and lingering, or may not be the goal at all.
Comfort sex, however, does not have to mean boring sex. Whether your goal is to be moved to tears by sheer intimacy, to gently drift off to sleep mid-act, or to finally take advantage of this golden opportunity to call your partner “daddy,” here are five ways to make your comfort sex as sweet and hot as winter cocoa.
Commit to Coziness
It’s difficult to commit to our own comfort. If you’re working from home, the temptation to always be “on” can be overwhelming. If you’re a caretaker, it can be difficult to get a moment alone.
If you usually feel too wired to unwind, treat yourself to a sexy staycation. See if the kids can spend time at the house of a friend you’re in a quarantine bubble with. Turn off your phone for the whole day. Tell your friends you won’t be available. Give yourself and your partner the space to stretch out, spread out, and feel the silence and each other.
There is just something so powerful about passivity: the sense of safety in surrender and being served.
If having a neat space helps you relax, put a little time into straightening up, lighting a few candles, or burning some incense. If that doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry about it. The point is to do what you need to do to let go of pressure and effort, and that might just mean doing nothing at all.
Pamper Each Other
Time stops when you enter the bath with a lover. There is something primordial and womb-like about floating in water, naked, soft, and open, with someone who touches you with gentle curiosity.
If you have a tub, and you can both fit in it, bathe together. Add a little essential oil. Cradle each other in the sudsy water. Wash each other very, very tenderly. Wash each other’s hair. Hear the heartbeat of the water running into the bath (and over your genitals) as your partner strokes your wet skin.
If you don’t have a tub, try the shower. Afterward, lean into the childlike ritual. Let your partner wrap you in a towel, dry you off, and lead you back to bed. Let them gently lotion you. Drift into orgasm, or maybe to sleep.
Breathing together is a time-honored sexual practice. In an era when we are desperately trying not to share breath, for fear of shedding the virus, deliberately engaging in this kind of intimate exchange (preferably with someone you are quarantined with) can be even more comforting.
Lay together naked. Stretch out; feel them on you. Then begin breathing together: match each other’s inhales and exhales until you’re at the same pattern. Then skip a breath; as they inhale, exhale; as they exhale, inhale. Fill your lungs. Feel the breath down to your toes.
Sexual positions that keep your faces close—for example, facing each other on your sides, limbs intertwined in a steamy cuddle—can up the intensity of the shared breath. Maintaining eye contact can make this even more intense. You can also always come back to shared breathing at any time during sex.
Comfort sex can be a safe space to explore fantasies that make you feel cared for, loved, and nourished.
This kind of practice can bring a lot of emotions up—including emotions of love, grief, or hunger that you’ve been needing a safe space to feel—and can make you feel very close to the other person. Remember, you can always disconnect and come up for your own air.
I’ll admit it: sometimes I’m a pillow princess. There is just something so deliciously, languorously powerful about passivity. This isn’t so much about the orgasms, as about the sense of safety in surrender and being served.
Comfort sex can be a great opportunity to practice letting go. If you or your partner feel in particular need of receiving care—or simply want to experience the pleasure of attention—agree on giving and receiving roles. The person in the receiving role should feel no pressure or obligation to reciprocate anything, to exert any effort, to respond in any particular way, except to indicate their pleasure and consent.
If you’re in a giving role, be creative. Massage them, slowly, with oil, from feet to head. Feed them something delicious. Play with gentle warmth and soothing cold. Give them sexual pleasure in whatever way they’d like. Props can help: A blindfold, for example, can increase the feeling of surrender; feathers or other textured objects can give them chills.
If you’re in the receiving role, enjoy yourself, and let go of the obligation to reciprocate. And remember, you can always say no or express discomfort, and expect to have those boundaries respected.
The dynamic of surrender can make cozy sex positions feel even more delicious. Think of positions that make you feel embraced and comforted: A stint as little spoon, for example, or a side-by-side tangle. If you feel like being on top, try lying flat as they hold you. Or simply lounge while your partner works their magic.
Act Out a Cozy Fantasy
Comfort sex doesn’t have to mean vanilla sex. It can be a safe space to explore fantasies that make you feel cared for, loved, and nourished. If you have a trusting relationship with this partner, and can negotiate comfortable boundaries, it can also be a safe space to experiment with fantasies that involves power dynamics.
Daddy or mommy fantasies, nurse/patient roleplays, teacher/student roleplays, and massage therapist/client roleplays are some classics that allow us to explore power, but that also enable us to receive care and attention. Or you may have a totally idiosyncratic fantasy that signifies comfort to you—now’s the time to try.
You Deserve Nourishment
We all deserve to be in sexual partnerships—whether for a night or a lifetime—that make us feel respected, listened to, and, above all, nourished.
Because it’s such an intimate exchange of energy, comfort sex can be an opportunity to check in with ourselves and our partners. If you seek comfort in sex but regularly emerge feeling depleted, rather than nourished, that may be a sign that you are in an unhealthy dynamic. Regardless of the roles we play during intimacy, we all have the right to partnered sex that feels truly shared.
If you leave your experiences of partnered sex feeling replenished and energized, that’s a positive sign about your relationship with that partner—and yourself. Ultimately, comfort sex isn’t about “taking” comfort or pleasure from someone else. It’s about connecting with the loving energy inside ourselves in order to create comfort together. By nourishing each other, we are left more abundant.