Non-Sexual BDSM Play


To many the thought of “non-sexual play” seems equivalent to bread without butter…or mac without cheese. Yes, it’s possible but why would you do it? Where’s the pleasure in that, the enticement?

I mostly hear this from people who are new to the scene. I attribute this to the fact that most of what you see and read in the vanilla world about BDSM is connected to sex and sexual fetish. Mainstream reports or people that want to sell books want to make it titillating to sell more and get more viewers. So it makes sense that many newbies come in with an expectation that it’s always sexual and, if it’s not, why do it?

First I need to break down sexual vs. non-sexual the way I will use it for this article. I am going to be very literal. Many people would argue that every scene, all play, is sexual. If it turns you or the other person on, it’s sexual. Well, first of all, not all play is about sexual arousal. However, that is a discussion for another day. For my purpose I am using non-sexual play to mean that no sexual acts are performed during the scene. No “naughty bits” are touched, no kissing, etc. Does this mean there may not be any sensual energy? Of course not. The energy between play partners is not fully connected to the physical acts performed during the scene. If two people are attracted to one another and there is sensual energy (or even sexual energy – because energy is different than physical touch) then there doesn’t need to be sexual play to feel that. It may even increase arousal and desire if there is no sexual physical touch – because it acts as a huge tease in a way. You may be left wanting more and perhaps your play with that partner does in fact, become physically sexual in nature the next time you get together.

However, let’s take this to another level. Two people playing in a non-sexual way who don’t have attraction toward one another, no sexual or sensual energy between them. This scenario can really boggle minds! I will break this down to two different situations. One is where there is still arousal, however, it has nothing to do with the partner and is actually all about the play, or implement(s), that is being used. Someone may get really turned on when they are being hit by a heavy flogger and it wouldn’t matter if the person wielding it was a giant green slimy ogre. So long as the ogre was skilled at using the flogger. The other situation is when the play really doesn’t have anything to do with arousal at all but instead the purpose is perhaps cathartic release, punishment, or maybe for a demo or performance where the mind is focused on how the scene looks and the technical expectation rather than pure enjoyment.

Often I see it where the person who can’t comprehend how non-sexual play could be enjoyable needs to actually experience non-sexual play to finally wrap their minds around it. Often it’s how I described above where they play with a skilled Top who is good at using toys the s-type loves, yet there is no sexual acts as well as no sexual attraction. They enjoy the scene and maybe experience pleasure from the implements, subspace which is a natural high and/or a cathartic release and they finally get it. How non-sexual play can be absolutely amazing and satisfying in its own way!

Have you had a wonderful non-sexual scene? Please share in the comments section below!

Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.


  1. Every time i play it is nonsexual. I enjoy the play no end, but there is no sex in it or resulting from it. My body may respond in WAY that is considered sexual, but that isn’t why i play. That isn’t the reward. Why can’t people (other than you, Jenn) understand that? I’ve had people tell me i am lying to myself, that i am being dishonest with myself and others. Bullshit. Play is what i love to do, what i live for sometimes. The Energy exchange is powerful and immense and perfect when i am playing with someone i like to play with. But it ain’t sex or sexual. That’s something entirely different. *sigh*

  2. Ever since I entered the play party scene I have done nothing but nonsexual scenes. Both of the ladies I have done scenes with are in relationships. Their Dominant partners enjoy their ladies top me. I have reached subspace several times. It is a longer lasting and better high then any orgasm I have ever experienced. One day I will find the right partner for things to get sexual. Until then I enjoy things they way they are.

  3. anniebear says:

    I definitely shared in this misconception when I first started playing in the scene. Now non-sexual play the norm for new play partners at least for me. I found it to be a comfort that it turns out it’s not always or deliberately about sex. If any potential play partners tell you they cannot play without getting sexual then you should find another person to play with.

  4. Yeah, most of my play is not about sex at all. Sometimes I do it for the pure enjoyment of having power over someone, or making someone else happy, or just for the joy of doing something that wouldn’t be considered polite in vanilla society. I find, especially if I go to Femdom events that the play is more about connecting with other ladies in a friendship- it’s not even about the sub I’m playing with.

  5. Yes I can understand the confusion. I wonder if providing a basic vocabulary listing with definitions could clarify. Similar to the ‘real’ vs ‘fake’ discussions… It seems we become caught up in our personal definition and expectations of a concept. Perhaps the problem lies in the BDSM community needing a separate dictionary? For now, let’s all use the terminology as defined by good ol Marrian Webster and apply those frameworks to scenes.

    What are the widely published (accepted) definitions for:

  6. I am in a new non sexual relationship. I enjoy the relationship because he fulfills a need I don’t get with my sexual partner. I am aroused bUT we have rules , his not mine, that say not sex. I have a husband of 20 years who can’t give me this. My Dom tell me what clothes to wear, what to eat, when to speak and not. Rewards me with compliment’s and praise. Punish”s me for my disobedience. It’s amazing and fun. We are exploring the other ways we can expand without sex.

    • Would you mind sharing some of the rewards and punishments that you use in your nonsexual relationship?

  7. I’m in a non sexual dynamic. I am both a little and a sub. Little me is non sexual and I am married and have two kids so play with Miss is strictly non sexual also.

  8. Roger Bacon says:

    Do I HAVE to participate in non sexual Kink, and BDSM to be considered healthy? If I refuse to do any non sexual Kink ,and/or BDSM, and my sole purpose for BDSM, and Kink is for sexual gratification in one way, or another, and for fetish indulgement, and that my only interest in BDSM, and Kink is to find partners, and perhaps even a life long partner who we will fullfill our every desire on, and it is ALL about sexual interests for us, and gratification, then is there anything inherently wrong with that? Is there anything inherently wrong with me for only being interested in BDSM, and Kink for sexual purposes? Will I be hated, judged, shamed, and shunned by everyone in the BDSM community for being a sex maniac who literally sexualizes every aspect of my life? Is there anything wrong with choosing that life style? Does that make me a limited bore who needs to change? Does that make me bad, or mentally ill, or unhealthy, or an unenlightened fool who needs fixing, or am I fine exactly as I am?

    • Roger Bacon – nowhere in my article do I say that a sexual BDSM dynamic or play is bad or unhealthy. This article is only meant to normalize non-sexual play as an alternative. If your play and dynamics are all about sex and your partners are consenting to this then it sounds like you’re good to go! 🙂

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