When it comes to sex, there are many different ways to do it. And even more ways to describe it. Whether it’s euphemisms for blow jobs, whispered dirty talk that you’ve invented with partners to describe your favourite move, or Cosmo’s creatively named sex positions. Recently we were introduced to the word ‘outercourse’ (thanks, CNN!), and as it neatly describes one of our favourite kinds of sex, we thought we’d write a brief guide. What exactly is outercourse? And what outercourse tips and tricks can you explore in your own bedroom (or living room, or kitchen, or… you get the idea)?
What is outercourse?
Outercourse means simply sex that is non-penetrative. Anything you do that doesn’t involve penetration could be described as ‘outercourse’. That means manual stimulation (hand jobs), oral stimulation (blow jobs), frotting, kissing, playing with sex toys: the list is almost endless.
Generally, when we write about it here, we call it ‘non-penetrative sex’. But neither ‘outercourse’ nor ‘non-penetrative sex’ really works as a label, because they’re both defined by their relationship to what many people consider ‘standard’ sex: i.e. penetration. Outercourse is the opposite of intercourse. Non-penetrative sex is the opposite of penetrative sex, and so on.
It’s a bit of a conundrum, and its born from society’s fairly rigid view that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ way to have sex – that penetration is the pinnacle of sexual experience, and everything else is just foreplay. We’ve tackled this misconception before: sex does not have to be about penetration. In fact, sex is about consensual pleasure, whatever form that takes.
Why is outercourse important?
Firstly, there are plenty of people who will go through life never wanting – or being able – to have ‘intercourse’, i.e. penetrative sex. Everyone’s body works differently, and although there are plenty of people who will achieve pleasure and orgasm from penetration, there will be many who prefer other kinds of stimulation – manual or oral, for example. What’s more, there are many people who are unable to get or sustain an erection, and who therefore can’t take part in penetrative sex. Others may suffer from conditions such as vaginismus which make penetrative sex uncomfortable or downright painful.
Focusing only on penetrative sex can lead to a lot of these people feeling not just left out of sexual discourse, but actually make them feel ‘broken’ in some way. Like they cannot enjoy physical pleasure, because their body doesn’t work in the exact way they have been shown in sex education classes or seen in porn.
Outercourse, aka ‘non-penetrative sex‘, can open up new avenues of sexual exploration for these people, and it can also help us broaden everyone’s sexual horizons by taking the focus off what’s ‘expected’ and shining a light on different kinds of pleasure.
Unusual outercourse tips and tricks
We’re going to skip over the bits you already know – external stimulation, kissing, licking, touching, rubbing together, etc, in favour of the slightly more unusual tips you may not have come across yet.
The Karezza Technique
It’s tempting to look out for the new and unusual sex tips but sometimes, if you want to try something you’ve never experienced before, you have to delve back in time. The ‘Karezza Technique’ was developed by Dr Alice Stockhalm in her 1896 book Karezza: Ethics of Marriage. It might sound familiar to you if you’ve explored the more modern practice of mindfulness.
It works like this: you and your partner lie naked together. It doesn’t have to be on a bed, but it should be somewhere comfortable – a sofa or cushions on the floor would work equally well. One of you lies on your back, and the other lies on their side, with their leg thrown over yours. Make sure your genitals are touching. The idea is to let yourselves lie like this for thirty minutes – relaxed, breathing deeply, and making note of all the sensations. Allow yourselves to become aroused, but don’t move on to doing anything other than lying together and breathing together. The idea is that it helps you get to know your body better, by understanding the more subtle sensations that come when you’re not pushing towards the goal of orgasm: you can just lie and enjoy the feeling of skin-to-skin contact.
The technique is being championed by Lousada and Louise Mazanti, authors of new book Real Sex, who explained in Metro that:
“The point of the exercise is to move away from friction-based sex and to create an awareness of more subtle but equally pleasurable sensations. It’s relevant today because pornography tends to focus on the idea that more intensity means better sex.”
This one is a bit tricky and requires some manual dexterity, but if you’re up for the challenge it’s well worth the effort! First you’ll need a lot of lube – all over your genitals, and you partner’s, and your dominant hand as well. The idea with this is to masturbate your partner while at the same time stimulating yourself.
For instance, if your partner has a penis and you have a clit, wrap your hand around their penis then sit close enough to them that your hand is also in contact with your clit. If they lie down and you sit on top facing them you should be able to position yourself so that the knuckles of your thumb rest against your clit while your fingers grip their shaft. If you both have clits, you should again be able to position yourselves closely so that your fingers touch both of you at once.
It may take some time to manoeuvre, but once you’re in position you’ll be able to both experience the same rhythm – like mutual masturbation, but with an extra connection. Swapping round is also a great way to connect with your partner and understand how they like to be stimulated.
Grinding and sex toys for outercourse
If the tip above was tricky, or you need a little more stimulation than that, couples sex toys like the PULSE III DUO mean you can get mutual stimulation but without the difficulty. PULSE III DUO is designed to wrap around someone’s penis, giving them stimulation through the head and shaft. But it also comes with an external vibrator, which gives stimulation to the clitoris or perineum of their partner.
Moving into the same position (one of you lying down, one on top), the PULSE rests against the penis and provides external vibrations for grinding against – so you get that closeness as well as the intense vibrations.
You can also use toys like the PULSE III DUO in a variety of non-penetrative sex positions – check out our handy guide.
Why you should embrace ‘outercourse’
There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to have sex – only what is most pleasurable for you and your partners. Whether you love or loathe the word ‘outercourse’, stumbling across the word – and the techniques – serves as a handy reminder that sex doesn’t have to be penetrative. With some of the tips above plus manual, oral, and other kinds of stimulation, ‘outercourse’ can be as varied as any ‘intercourse’ would be.