Teasing may sound like something your sibling subjected you to in elementary school, and denial may remind you of the time you lost TV access for a month. But in the bedroom, teasing and denial aren’t child’s play—they’re tools for improving your sex life. Here, sexuality professionals explain how to use teasing and denial during sexy time to ramp up the pleasure potential and even make orgasms bigger, better, and longer than before.
Orgasm Denial, Explained
Orgasm denial, sometimes known as simply denial, is the act of pushing your partner (or yourself) righttttt up to the brink of orgasm, only to pull back before the fireworks officially start.
Orgasm denial is most commonly used as a BDSM tactic to solidify power dynamics or heighten power differentials. Taylor Sparks, erotic educator and founder of Organic Loven, a BIPOC-owned online intimacy shop that sells The Cowgirl explains: As a submissive partner, allowing your more dominant partner to dictate when you orgasm will excite you both, while also giving you what you both want: submission, and control, respectively.
Power dynamics aside, orgasm denial as a way to heighten sensation and sensitivity, learn more about each other's bodies, and elongate play. “By pushing off the ‘finale’ (orgasm), you can play for a longer period of time,” she explains, making orgasm denial especially beneficial to couples where one or more people can only orgasm once, or get tired immediately following orgasm.
So… What Makes Teasing Different?
Admittedly, not much.
The main difference between teasing and orgasm denial is that ultimately, orgasm is the end goal of orgasm. For teasing, orgasm may be a happy side effect, but usually the main point of teasing is to build arousal. Why? Usually, to make penetrative sex more pleasurable.
“When you shift the focus from intercourse to teasing, you open up a whole new page in your pleasure playbook,” says longtime sex educator Searah Deysach. Plus, teasing gives time for arousal to build which can ultimately make the experience more pleasurable. After all, the more aroused you are the better it feels.
Another benefit of prioritizing easing, she says, is that it gets you out of your sex routine. “And anytime you re-focus away from your routine, you have the opportunity to find new erogenous zones and reactions to types of stimulus.” Fun!
Why Are People Into Teasing and Denial?
Put simply, because they feel good!
“There are many ways that teasing and denial can be pleasurable for all parties,” says Deysach. For starters, whether you’re exploring teasing or denial, the result is often a bigger, stronger full-body orgasm!
Both can also be a huge turn-on for people who are interested in experimenting with power play. “If you have to wait to orgasm until you’re given verbal or physical permission, it puts an entirely new twist on your current sexual practice that can be enjoyable and exciting,” she explains.
How To Introduce The Idea of Teasing or Denial
Whether you and your partner decide to explore teasing or orgasm denial or both (exciting!), you need to talk about it ahead of time. Nobody wants to be denied their big finish out of nowhere, after all.
So how can you choose to introduce orgasm denial or teasing into your sex life? Similar to how you’d introduce any new type of play, position, or toy.
First, if you and your partner(s) do not already have a culture in your relationship where you talk about sex generally, it’s time to cultivate that. How? By talking about that well-done sex scene on the tube, gossiping about the position your single friend tried with her Tinder date, or nudging each other during a R-rated romp scene at the movie theaters.
Once, you and your partner have begun talking about sex in general, you might begin talking specifically about your own sex life. Compliments and words of affirmation are a wonderful place to get this ball rolling. For example:
- I love kissing you.
- Babe, that sex we had last night was GOOD.
- I really like when you use your fingers and mouth at the same time.
- I feel so lucky that I get to have sex with you.
Indeed, it might feel vulnerable to compliment your partner about something they helped you experience during sex if that’s not part of your current relationship. But the truth is, people love to be complimented—especially on their sexual prowess. (True, right?).
As you and your partner get more comfortable sharing the things you like about having sex with one another, it’s time to introduce the teasing and denial. For this, try the oreo cookie method. The cookies = compliments and the cream= the suggestion. This formulation helps mitigate the risk of insulting your partner, while also helping communicate your why.
Here’s what this might look like in practice:
- I really love it when you make me beg you before I climax. I think it might be really hot to incorporate that into our play… but you delay when you let me come a little bit longer. I think it could make me feel even closer to you.
- I love when you stop right before I’m about to come. Have you ever thought about me doing something like that with you? I love the way you look when you orgasm and I think it could make it even more intense for you.
- I loved the way it felt when you came inside me last time we had sex. I read online that delaying that orgasm could lead to even more pleasure for both of us. I’d love to feel you release inside me.
Exactly How to Explore Teasing and Denial With A Partner
Are you and your partner(s) ready to implement either of these sex-tivities? Keep these tips in mind.
1. Establish ground rules
“Before you explore this for the first time, set up some boundaries with your lover,” says Deysach. That means coming to a mutual understanding around what is and is not on the table, as well as what you’ll do if you need to press pause (or stop) mid-way through.
You should be able to answer the following questions all ahead of play:
- Who is being teased and who is doing the teasing?
- What sex acts, tools, toys, pressures, and intensities will be used during play?
- What barrier methods and birth control methods will be used and when?
- How will you communicate when you’re ready to orgasm or bring the other person to orgasm?
- How will you each communicate if you need to pause or stop?
Echoing that last point, Deysach notes that it’s helpful to set up a safe word ahead of play. “For instance, if you say Red Light at any time during the action, your partner stops what they are doing and you take time to reconnect as a couple,” she says.
2. Understand W-H-Y you’re doing this
This information should be addressed during the aforementioned conversation(s) you have ahead of play, but to emphasize: Knowing why you’re exploring teasing or orgasm denial will help you figure out what the evening is going to look like.
Notably, how you explore orgasm denial in the context of a power exchange is different from how you’ll explore it in the context of prolonged (vanilla) non-penetrative play.
“If your objective is to infuse a bit more fun into your sex life, you can also make it a timed game,” says Deysach. “One option is to see if someone (or all of you) can go X number of minutes before you orgasm.. If you can, then you win!”.
3. Explore what turns your partner(s) on
To be frank, in order to help bring your partner to orgasm—or help them experience pleasure— vis a vis teasing, denial, or touch, you need to know what makes them feel good. Or, be prepared to learn!
To learn that information, you might ask the following:
- Can you show me how you touch yourself? I want to try touching you like that.
- Do you prefer it when I use one finger or two?
- Does this sensation [demo] or this sensation [demo] feel better?
- What are you craving right now?
- Do you want to be on your back or stomach?
On the flipside, if you're the partner who is being teased or denied orgasm, don’t hesitate to verbally and non-verbally cue your partner into what makes you feel good! After all, unless your partner is a professional mentalist, they’re probably not a mindreader.
4. Implement sex toys
“Vibrators can be a great way to really up the ante in orgasm denial because vibrators can make orgasms so easy to have and pleasure so easy to achieve,” says Deysach.
If you have a vibrator with a pulse setting (like the Le Wand Grand Bullet) she recommends starting there. “These settings, for some people, can provide delightful frustration as your body gets into a groove and then the toy switches up the sensation before you have a chance to orgasm,” she says. “Then, when you are ready to bring it home, switch the toy to high and ride your orgasm out.”
5. Also: Lube!
It’s worth mentioning that the typical teasing and orgasm denial sesh lasts longer than the average sex session. That means even if you’re penetrating a hole that can usually naturally lubricate (the vagina), odds are it won’t be enough to last the length of your play.
You’re going to need to incorporate some of the store-bought stuff. Try out a water-based lubricant like Le Wand Natural Water-Based Intimate Lube or an oil- based lubricant like Woo Coconut Love Oil.
Explore: Why sex educators love using coconut oil as lube!
How To Practice Orgasm Denial On Your Own
Not only can orgasm denial and teasing be done during masturbation—but sexuality experts recommend it. “Exploring orgasm denial on your own is a great way to become more familiar with what brings you pleasure, as well as the signs your body is getting close to orgasm,” says Sparks.She recommends outfitting your space with candles and romantic beats before stripping down. Then using your fingers to help get yourself in the mood. Finally, you can edge yourself with a hand-held vibrator or a rideable vibrator like The Cowgirl to build your orgasm over time.