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For many couples, struggling to be sexual often has more to do with style, speed, and disconnection than a lack of desire. Couple’s sex lives often break down because they neither develop a mutually satisfying sexual style, dialogue, nor an understanding of their partner’s body and sexual response.

After a while, sexual encounters become fewer and fewer. For many couples, the time they take from becoming nude and penetration is far too short.

Sensate Focus is an exercise that forces couples to focus on sensation and pleasure rather than orgasm.

What is Sensate Focus?

Sensate Focus was created by the renowned sexologist Masters and Johnson in the 1960’s to help couples build or re-build their sexuality to a satisfying and pleasurable place. Sensate works by dividing sexual contact into five increasingly sensual and erotic touches. By doing so, couples are forced to slow down and allow the sexual energy to build improving sexual function and pleasure.  We also gain insight on how to provide the most pleasure by learning how our partner likes to be touched.

The Five Stages of Sensate Focus

Stage 1- Non-Erotic Sensual Touch

Objective: To learn to provide and receive as much pleasure without touching erogenous zones like breasts, buttocks, and genitals.

  • You may use any part of the body to touch your partner except the erogenous parts.
  • No orgasm or masturbation in the presence of your partner during this stage.
  • Be creative and communicate what you like and what you don’t like.

Stage 2- Erotic Sensual Touch

Objective: To learn to touch your partner’s whole body and provide them with as much pleasure as possible without an orgasm

  • In this stage you may touch your partner anywhere with any part of your body.
  • You may pleasure your partner but not to orgasm or ejaculation.
  • No orgasm or masturbation in the presence of your partner during this stage.
  • Be creative and communicate what you like and what you don’t like

Stage 3- Mutual Masturbation

Objective: To learn how your partner brings themselves to orgasm in order to provide them more sexual pleasure. No one knows how to do you better then you.

  • You each take turns masturbating in front of each other.
  • It helps to break taboos, builds sexual trust, and can teach your partner so much about how to better please you.
  • You may use any part of either of your bodies however your partner is not to help you in anyway.
  • It’s ok if you cannot achieve orgasm or this feels strange. This stage is vital in teaching your partner how to best please you.

Stage 4- Orgasm without Intercourse

Objective: To bring your partner to an orgasm without anal or vaginal intercourse. You may use any part of your body to bring your partner to orgasm including genitals, however no penetration.

Stage 5- Penetrative Sex

Objective: To have Intercourse to orgasm.


  • Set aside at least 15 minutes where you won’t be disturbed
  • Each stage must be done successfully at least two times before you can move on to the next stage.
  • Each completed stage must be done before adding the next stage. So if you are on stage 3, each time you do stage 3, stages 1 and 2 must be done as well
  • Set a sexy mood
  • If you need to orgasm after stages 1 and 2 you may do so, just not in the presence of your partner.
  • When giving, I want you to focus on whatever pleasures you feel while touching your partner; maybe it’s the person’s skin texture, smell, taste, etc…
  • If you are receiving, give instruction but in a nice way. Remember this is about learning and discovering. If you are being touched in way you don’t particularly like, just tell them what you rather them do under the confines of the stage you are in.
  • Dress in sexy clothing or your birthday suit.
  • You can do this exercise several times a day if time allows but each encounter must be separate encounters.
  • Toys are welcome.
  • Use any safe sex precautions you would normally use.
  • Schedule time and hold each other accountable for being there at the scheduled time.
  • Be verbal, communication is the key to great sex. You can even talk dirty to each other at any stage.
  • Remember, even in stage 1, we want arousal to happen. Allow it to happen. (Men who are afraid of “blue balls”, you can masturbate once you are done)

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David Fishman

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