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Sensation Play & Pleasure Mapping for Couples


couple engaging in sensation play and pleasure mapping

Pleasure is a personal experience. We will never live in our partner’s body and they will never live in ours. We will never know exactly what pleasure feels like in their bodies and they will never know what pleasure feels like in ours – which means that it is our responsibility to provide each other with the map to our own experiences of pleasure. And this is exactly why pleasure mapping through sensation play with your partner is a key element in achieving pleasure-fueled intimacy!


What is Sensation Play and Pleasure Mapping?


Sensation play is the intentional experience of connecting to your senses through the experience of pleasure and play. The experience connects us to our sensuality through association to one or more of our five senses:


  • Touch
  • Hearing
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Sight


Why is Sensation Play & Pleasure Mapping Important?


Erotic sensation play and pleasure mapping is so important because so often the sex and intimacy people experience is disembodied and not present. When the sex we are having is lacking presence, it will also always be lacking in pleasure – as pleasure is the experience of embodied joy. In order for the body to experience the physical sensation of pleasure, presence in the body is necessary. Connecting to our senses grounds us into our body and allows us to be present in the experience of our own pleasure.


Pleasure mapping then uses sensation play to create a personalized pleasure map of your body. In the process of pleasure mapping, the whole human body is used. Refocusing the experience of pleasure throughout the body instead of a simple genitalia experience.


Taking this whole body approach allows you to dive deep into practice of pleasure as a holistic, creative experience not just a vulva, penis, breast or anal experience. Through mapping your own erotic zones on your body, you create an individualized guidebook of the ways in which your body experiences pleasure. A guidebook around the types of sensation you enjoy can then be shared with your partner(s)/lover(s) to enhance your experiences together. 


How to Pleasure Map using Sensation Play


Step 1: Set the scene.


Try setting aside a minimum of an hour with your partner(s) for this exercise. As you are creating the space – ask yourself “What would allow me to drop into a sensual space?” Maybe it’s a candle, music, red lighting, blindfold, a soft blanket, or sexy clothing. Whatever you need to set the scene – do it and have your partner(s) do the same. 


Step 2: Gather supplies.


You can include a myriad of household items for this exercise. Some examples are:

  • A stainless steel objects (place it in the freezer) or ice cube for temperature play
  • Silk, scarves, feathers 
  • Massage oil 
  • Hot wax for wax play
  • Hot towel
  • Blind fold for sensory deprivation
  • Spatula
  • Fork
  • Vibrator/sex toys 


You can also purchase additional items such as:


Step 3: Begin mapping.


Decide who will be the first receiver and who will be the first giver. The giver will take one item at a time and begin to use this item on the receiver’s body. The giver should think of the receiver’s body in sections – lower arm, upper arm, face, neck, upper chest, lower belly, upper thigh, lower leg, etc. Beginning with the chosen section, use the first item on this part of the receiver’s body in differing pressures and speeds.


For example – if you begin with using the fork on the lower right arm, try slow, circular movements, fast elongated movements, movements with little to no pressure and movements with more intensified pressure. Don’t forget to ask the receiver how it feels for their body at every turn and change. After you have utilized every instrument on the sections of the body, take a few minutes for after care and debriefing before switching places. 


As a reminder – the goal of this exercise is to understand various forms of sensation play and pleasure in your body, not to orgasm. Refrain direct genital contact for this exercise so you can understand more about the pleasure capacities of your entire body. Also, get creative and play! This is your time to learn about your body and your partner(s) body. Take this as an opportunity to play together and have fun.


The Benefits of Pleasure Mapping through Sensation Play


Knowing your body and how your body desires to receive pleasure is not only important, but it is imperative to a healthy sex life! This exercise in and of itself is a practice in so many parts of a healthy sex life, including:


  • Attunement: to your body and your partner’s body. The practice of attunement here allows you to experience synchronicity, alignment, and merge with your partner. 
  • Creativity: with ideas for pleasure mapping! A key to fantastic sex is having a depth of space for creativity. Varying the intensity, angles, friction, or tempo, this exercise allows you and your partner(s) to become curious and creative with how you will approach your own pleasure mapping process. You might also explore creativity though role playing or power exchange. 
  • Presence: the receiver’s job during this exercise is to practice being present with the sensations. This practice make room for more embodiment during sex.
  • Self Advocacy: the receiver practices real time self advocacy during every shift of the sensation play. Telling the giver what they like, what they did not enjoy, and what they want more of as they move through the experience.
  • Intimacy: the repeated experience of being responded to. The receiver in this exercise is practicing a cultivation of deep intimacy with their partner as they allow their body to experience responsiveness to their partner’s every move.


Pleasure mapping is an experience in knowing yourself fully, allowing your body to experience pleasure, and practicing non-sexual intimacy with your partner. It is a journey that can (and should be) returned to every so often as our preferences shift. Allow this practice to be a tool for you and your partner to frequent together as you continue to build your relationship.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Rachel Overvoll is a Somatic Sex and Intimacy Coach at Modern Intimacy and author, living in Colorado. She works with clients to move beyond shame, step into safety in their bodies, and to live a life embodied in pleasure. Using her credentials from the Somatica Institute and Kinsey Institute, she works through the mediums of embodiment and self attunement to support clients as they step into the power of their authentic selves.



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