Whether you are out in the dating world or in the midst of a long-term relationship – knowing how to create sexual tension is a great skill to have. You first need to understand though what causes that tension – and how to read the sexual tension signs. We’re here to give you a crash course.

What Causes Sexual Tension?

Sexual tension is created by a state of anticipation as desire and arousal slowly builds. The release may come in the form of an orgasm or from getting the sexual interaction you’ve been longing for.

Sexual tension also arises when two people are attracted to each other, but don’t do anything about it right away. The tension build-up can come in the form of un-acted upon desire, or a barrier that makes it taboo for two people to pursue one another. 

This webinar provides an excellent introduction to learning how to create sexual tension in your life:

The Experience of Sexual Tension – and Its Barriers

When you are young, you experience a lot of tension around experiences of sexual escalation. There might have been a lot of build-up before you got the chance to kiss someone for the first time. Maybe you were waiting with uncertainty if a partner would touch your breast or different body parts. The barrier in these situations is inexperience – an anxious uncertainty about the other person’s readiness and willingness to engage.

Occurrences of sexual tension generally increase in adulthood, and once you more confidently grasp the tools of sexual teasing and seduction. Through experience or concerted study, you become more adept at sex. You understand your partner’s psyche and body better which helps provide more conscious sexual build-up.

As you are interacting with them, you notice they seem to desire you. You return and share your desire with them through subtle cues. Perhaps a hug that’s a little longer than normal. A long glance or holding eye contact. Maybe you flash extra-special smiles at each other, or brush against one another when you pass. Each of these gestures indicates desire that cannot be acted upon further, deepening the sexual tension between you.  

But then there are also barriers. Mostly these scenarios pop up when you are attracted to someone, but are not supposed to be together. Maybe the object of your desire is someone you work with, someone your family doesn’t approve of, or you (or them) are already in a relationship. 

How You Can Create Sexual Tension

One way to create sexual tension is to learn more about sex. It helps you create more anticipation, build-up, and intensity in your interactions in your daily life. And it especially pertains to your partner’s particular routes to arousal.

A requirement of creating the magic of anticipation is patience. It forces you to take your time with your interactions, and never rush the outcome.

Sex coach Julia shows how to create sexual tension

There are two routes to sexual arousal: physiological and psychological. Both can be more deeply imbued with tension if you’re confident about your sexual prowess.

The Physiological Route

If you want to get better at increasing physiological arousal in your partner, learn the art of teasing. Discover which parts of their body are most sensitive. If, for example, the back of your lover’s neck is very sensitive, you can slowly kiss up their back. When you get to their neck, use a combination of warm breath, kisses, bites, and light touches with your finger tips to deepen the arousal in their body. They will feel this in their genitals, even though you are not touching their genitals at all. This build-up is the classic definition of sexual tension. 

In instances of oral sex, avoid going directly to licking or sucking on them. Instead, gently stroke them, or kiss and nibble around their thighs. When you do start with direct stimulation, experiment with very light, teasing licks or kisses. As you tease the body, desire and anticipation builds. People who thrive on sexual tension may even like you to get them very close to orgasm – and then back off, over and over again (this is also called “edging”). It allows them to ride the waves of sexual tension for a long time.

The Psychological Route

The psychological route to arousal can be achieved in two different ways: through playful taunting, and by exploiting the natural tension a barrier creates.

The first route merely hints at a sexual situation. If your partner loves the idea of being tied up, perhaps you leave a length of red silk rope on the bed in the morning. When they see it, they start to think about you tying them up later. As they fantasize about what is going to happen to them, sexual tension builds inside of them. You can up the game by sending a text in the middle of the day saying, “Tonight, when you are in those ropes, your body is going to be completely under my control.” (Advanced hint: Supercharge your game by reading Story of O.)

The second route ignites sexual tension by trying to consciously create scenarios with barriers. For example, when you first start dating, you may want to see a person all the time. Instead, you schedule your dates a bit further apart to increase the anticipation. And although you might want to jump into a sexual relationship with them right away, hold back. Taking your time to slowly move a little closer to sex each time you see them will make the release of your tension ever so sweeter.

What causes Sexual tension

In long-term relationships, you can experiment with building tension through taking physical time apart. The thrill of waiting and anticipating seeing each other again can create a delicious kind of strain. When you come back together again, kick the tension up a notch by approaching your sexual interaction ever so slowly. Learn each other’s psychological and physiological hot spots, and play with them daily to keep the fire stoked.

People who are most excited by tension and longing tend to seek out the experience unconsciously. They form attractions to people with inherent barriers. If you are someone who is always drawn to people in existing relationships, or is getting very aroused by little moments of connection, you may be someone who loves sexual tension.

Sexual Tension Signs That Indicate Success

Want to know if you’ve been successful in your quest? Learn to read your partner’s sexual tension signs. 

The most common sexual tension signs when you are not having sex are:

  1. They blush, flush or start to sweat when they see you.
  2. Their breathing becomes deeper and shorter when you are near. They may gasp.
  3. You read a look of longing or need in their eyes.
  4. They hold their body in a more sexual way, like lifting the chest or breasts.
  5. Their lips or eyelids flutter, quiver or twitch.

The most common sexual tension signs when you are having sex are:

  1. Your partner’s breathing becomes deeper and harder when you touch or say sexy things to them.
  2. You feel your partner’s body getting warmer or starting to sweat.
  3. Your partner starts to clench the muscles that increase or indicate arousal, like squeezing their legs or arching their back.
  4. If your partner is a man, he gets a stronger erection. If your partner is a woman, she becomes wetter and her vulva gets more swollen.
  5. They start to moan or make noises. 
  6. Your partner starts to tilt or thrust their hips.

How Sex Coaching Can Help

With all of this new awareness about how you can create sexual tension inf your life, you are probably ready to get out into the world and start playing.

Or maybe not. If you feel hesitant and unsure how exactly to incorporate this knowledge into your daily life, a sex coach – and especially an experiential sex coach – can be really helpful. You can practice in real time how to create sexual tension through talk, eye contact, touch, playing with closeness and distance, and understanding your own and your partner’s turn-ons. Working with a sex coach is a safe and wonderful way to practice. 

And a last little sex coaching advice: enjoy every moment of delicious anticipation and your eventual release will be so much more intense and satisfying.

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Celeste Hirschman
Celeste Hirschman, MA is the Co-Creator of the Somatica® Method and Co-Founder of Somatica® Institute. She trains coaches in the Somatica® Method of Sex and Relationship Coaching. She has her own private practice in San Francisco, where she works with clients to have profoundly pleasurable and fulfilling lives. She has co-authored multiple academic articles published in peer-reviewed journals and is the co-author of two books, Cockfidence - The Definitive Guide to Being the Man You Want to Be and Driving Women Wild and Making Love Real - The Intelligent Couples Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion. Celeste has her MA in Human Sexuality Studies from San Francisco State University (SFSU) and her BA in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Celeste has taken the Hakomi Pro-Skills Training as well as multiple other trainings on sexuality and relationships. Celeste also has a Certification in Sexological Bodywork from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS).