Sensual Sex vs. Erotic Sex: Do You Know the Difference?

Indeed, there are different ways to have sex. In fact, sex doesn’t even need to involve penetration at all. Sex can be anything you want it to be! And knowing this is a good thing. It takes one away from the notion that penetrative sex with climax is the end goal, which it really isn’t.

sensual sex vs erotic sex difference

When it comes to your sexual style and how you achieve it, it really is like a dance between lovers. Each partner needs to be on the same page when it comes to their preferred sexual style. 

For example, if one partner prefers rough sex as opposed to sensual sex, the sexual connection may be difficult to attain. Yet if two people seek and find pleasure in the same kind of sexual style, a shared moment of euphoria can be experienced.

With that, when you’re getting hot and heavy with your partner, do you prefer sensual sex or erotic sex? Yep, there’s a difference!

Today we’re going to look at these different kinds of sexual experiences, noting the differences and similarities. Truthfully, you may be surprised to learn what each actually entails.

What is Sensuality?

Sensually, defined by Oxford Languages, is “the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure”. It’s also “the condition of being pleasing or fulfilling to the senses”

But dictionary definitions aside, what is your definition of sensuality? What things do you do or practice that make you feel sensual? 

Sensuality can be felt in a number of different scenarios, be it with a partner or solo. It’s like an energy that’s undeniable, passionate, and sacred, whilst engaging in all of the five senses. Like a kind of mindfulness that is intentional and allows you to be fully present in the moment.

Wearing a flattering and beautiful piece of lingerie can make one feel sensual, for example. How one admires themselves, feels the soft material, adores the colour, and feels a sense of beauty that’s only for him or herself. 

Equally so, receiving a massage from the one you’re with can also be sensual, as you feel their hands on your body, smell the massage oils, and really engulf the present. 

Eating could also be considered sensual. Think about someone who simply scoffs down their meal as opposed to someone who takes the time to really devour it slowly, appreciating every bite, the smells, the textures. These are all valid definitions of sensuality. There is no one-size-fits-all, as it’s more an experience that’s unique to an individual. 

What is Sensual Sex?

With that, what would we consider sensual sex to be? Well, just as any sensual experience encompasses the five senses, sensual sex is about embodying the moment. Taking the time to feel a partner’s soft skin, smell their body, taste the sweetness of their lips, listen to their moans and uninhibited sounds, really soaking up the lust in the present. 

Sensual sex means putting away all distractions, and being so caught up in the experience that there are no worries or anxieties about the past or the future. 

It’s when there’s a level of sexual connection that awakens the body. This kind of sex requires both partners to be in-tune with one another, feeding off of each other’s desires, and verbal and physical body language to determine what kind of stimulation they crave. Being able to do this is the first step in being able to really thrive in your sensual sex experience.

What is Eroticism?

Oxford Languages defines eroticism as “the quality or character being erotic,” and the “sexual desire or excitement.” Let’s be honest, that doesn’t really tell us much. In fact, with this definition, it’s difficult to decipher between sensuality and eroticism. So, let’s dive a bit deeper…

In an analogy, eroticism is something experienced by humans. Animals, for example, just like us humans, have sex, but animals are not able to experience eroticism. Which leads us to the conclusions that sexual activity is transformed by eroticism. It is eroticism that drives and captures one’s sense of vitality and vibrant energy through sex.

And just like sensuality, eroticism can be experienced sexually, or in a different context. Looking at a beautiful piece of art, for example, could give one an erotic feeling. It’s fuelled by our own imagination, fantasy, and creativity, and encompasses a level of playfulness and curiosity. 

When we start to embrace eroticism, we can begin to explore and enjoy new sides of our sexuality, and this doesn’t even require a partner. Self-pleasure is the perfect opportunity to increase your level of eroticism as you explore and satisfy your needs. 

In layman’s terms, things such as sexual fantasy are a great way to heighten your eroticism. Tapping into your sexual desires and fantasies allows you to maintain eroticism, which is vital for sexual arousal.

What is Erotic Sex?

Erotic sex is when one feels free and open to exploring their sexual desires and fantasies. Oftentimes, when someone does not know what they find to be erotic, they may not be able to distinguish what they really crave, be it sex or simply connection. 

Interestingly, many of us have been taught that erotic sex means crazy, wild, and perhaps kinky. We see it all the time in porn videos, and oftentimes these kinds of clips are even called “erotic films”. We’ve associated the term “erotic” with sex, when, actually, erotic is the feeling that drives us to want to have sex. 

And with this understanding, could erotic sex loosely be defined as actually experiencing, experimenting, and enjoying parts of your sexuality that make you feel turned on and aroused? For example, you may have a fantasy or a strong desire to have a threesome. Being open and taking control of your sexuality by actually having said-threesome, is eroticism in motion. 

Again, each person’s ideas and experiences of sensuality and eroticism are different, making it somewhat difficult to accurately define what sensual sex and erotic sex actually is. 

Yet, if we simply have to sum it up: sensuality can be said to encompass all of the senses, while eroticism is a matter of our mental capabilities, how our mind perceives things to be erotic and arousing.

Written by: Helena Lorimer

Helena is a sex-positive freelance copywriter in her early 30’s from Cape Town, South Africa. She’s travelled and lived in various countries in Asia and Europe for almost a decade, and continues to live her dream — traveling the world independently as a copywriter. Having written for various companies and magazines within the industry, she has extensive knowledge in the field of sexual health, the escort industry, and sex toy marketing.

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