There's a common misconception that spicy activities like kink toys, sex toys, and sex games are only for couples whose routines have gotten stale, but this couldn't be further from the truth. "Playfulness is essential to passion, connection and pleasure," says sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Jess O’Reilly. "Couples who are playful are often more connected, passionate, and sexually active."
Dr. O'Reilly goes on to point out some of the benefits of the best sex games, including "learning more about one another’s desires, boundaries, fears and fantasies; seeing one another in a new light and make new discoveries; creating tension and excitement to fuel passion; exploring new fantasies, scenarios, positions and sexual exploits; [and] laughing and enjoying one another’s company."
Ahead, we've spoken to sex experts and educators about the importance of sex games, how to incorporate them into your sex life in a safe and fun way, and, of course, about which sex games should be added to your shopping cart ASAP.
Establishing Boundaries Within Sex Games
Sex games often involve prompts that call for one or both partners to divulge certain thoughts or preferences, or to engage in certain sex acts. Given these circumstances and the desire to keep the atmosphere light-hearted, it's easy to feel pressured into doing something one doesn't want to do. Dr. O'Reilly reminds us, however, to "always have a PASS card on hand. If the game doesn’t provide one, you can make one. Take it out at the beginning and leave it on the table knowing that you can use it—without judgment—anytime."
If a literal card isn't your style, Marla Renee Stewart, MA, a sexologist and sexpert for Lovers, suggests saying something like, "I don't think I'm ready for that today, but let me think about it and if we play again next month, I'll be more ready to possibly take it on. Now choose something that I'm ready for..." Angie Rowntree, founder and director of ethical porn site Sssh.com, adds, "In a scenario where you are playing a game together, you need only say something like 'Let’s pick another card' or 'Let me spin again.' If your partner asks you why, there’s nothing wrong with saying 'I’m just not comfortable going there but let’s keep playing.'"
And if your partner is being a bad sport? Rowntree doubles down, saying, "Don’t ever feel bad about sharing your boundaries and hard limits, because consent is key in any sexual exchange." Your partner(s) should be invested in ensuring your pleasure and comfort, and Dr. O'Reilly says that if your partner continues to coerce, guilt, or otherwise gaslight you into doing something you don't want to do, "consider focusing on the relationship itself—on your own or with a therapist who can help you to address the ways in which you communicate and support one another."
Sex Games for Casual Partners
Sex games can be an excellent way of getting to know a new partner, or of capitalizing on the levity that often comes with casual and short-term relationships. "For couples who might not be familiar with each other’s preferences, games that get you asking questions are great," agrees Rowntree. "If nothing else, you get some laughs together—but really, games are a great way to learn new things about each other and explore new territory free from the inhibitions that might have prevented you from asking them to 'go there' or 'do that.'"
Below, check out some of our favorite sex games to pull out the next time you call up your casual boo.
Sex educator Tara Jones specifically recommends this product, which, per the brand, is made for partners at any and every stage, "whether you've just met or you've been together for years."
"Silly, funny games are great for groups or newer couples who want to ease the tension and enjoy the ride," says Dr. O'Reilly. "This one is a great option if you’re down for a good time."
Stewart calls this game "spectacular" for its ability to prolong foreplay, and says that its light-hearted exploration makes it "very good for lovers who like to play sexually with friends, as well as those who are in a short-term relationship."
Sex Games for Serious Couples
Sex educator Tara Jones tells us that she always recommends sex games for long-term couples as a way of reigniting or keeping alive a sense of passion.
"There are two types of sexual desire," she explains, "spontaneous desire during which you become horny and then decide to act upon it or not, or responsive desire where arousal is felt after the sexual interaction has begun. For example, an instance where you weren’t horny before kissing but now that you and your partner are making out, you’re in the mood. In long term relationships, responsive desire becomes more and more common, and without random bouts of horniness, there needs to be more of an effort to remember to initiate sex at all. Proposing playing a sex game is a thoughtful way of letting your partner know you’re still interested in them sexually, even if you don’t randomly jump their bones."
Stewart agrees, referencing three primary benefits for couples engaging in sex games: "They help you to spend quality time together and get to know each other in a different way;" they release hormones that help you "chemically and emotionally bond with your lover'" and those increased bonds "facilitate you into being more physical with your lover."
"Inspiration games offer suggestions to help spice things up (perfect for long term couples)," says Dr. O'Reilly. "I like this scratch card version."
Stewart specifically recommends this game for long-term couples, commenting, "This card game is good because it helps you to have sexual goals with your lover, especially if you've been in a rut. It has 30 days of daily activities that you and your partner can initiate. It has really great reviews and it helps you to look forward to something each and every day!"
Rowntree recommends this game for couples who are looking to heighten the emotional and physical intimacy. "Our Moments is great for couples regardless of how long you have been together," she explains, "because the game is structured around asking questions to foster intimacy—many of which you might not have even thought to ask in the course of your usual small talk."
Adventurous Sex Games
If you're interested in trying something new, like kink, group sex, certain sex toys, or role-play, it might be nerve-wracking to come up with a new sexual repertoire all on your own. Games, therefore, are a great way to start to gain inspiration and try new things with your partner.
Games are also excellent if you know you want to get raunchier, but aren't sure how. "Sex games present a chance to do or experience things that you or your partner might not have even thought of, or considered otherwise," says Rowntree.
Below, some of the best games for the sexually adventurous.
"If you want a game that will help you to push the boundaries and experience new sensations with lots of variety," says Dr. O'Reilly, "consider the Dirty Deeds." Angie Rowntree adds that this game is great when you or your partner "want to try something a little kinkier but don’t want to overwhelm all at once."
Dr. O'Reilly also recommends this unique game, which she says "encourages you to slow down, set the mood and be in the moment."
According to Rowntree, this game "will excite your inner nerd with the multi-sided die—but trust us: the 'quests' you’re going on in this game are much wilder than your regularly scheduled tabletop session. With 96 foreplay options and 24 sex positions, you’ll be up all night long, so use lube and hydrate!"
Foreplay is somewhat game-like in and of itself, being that it's characterized by teasing, but it can often be rushed or passed over. For that reason, Jones finds sex games to be a great way of prolonging anticipation.
"Foreplay is all about delayed satisfaction, and that anticipation can be so sexy when you view it as a crucial ingredient in the sexual interaction instead of something to be rushed through," she says. "Anticipation lives in the excitement phase of the sexual response cycle, the first stage preceding orgasm. It’s the key to breaking out of a routine, which in the context of sex tends to be all about getting to the goal (or climax) as fast as possible. Instead, we want to slow it down, and savor each moment. Games can be a great way to do that!"
Marla Renee Stewart says that this "is a good game for folks who like a little snack with their sex. This game is for both long-term and short-term couples because it helps people get to know each other in a fun way with foreplay. And per the reviews, the candy tastes great, too!"
Dr. O'Reilly suggests the incorporation of "intimate conversations" into your foreplay games, explaining that "games that get you talking about feeling, fears, dreams, fantasies and vulnerabilities are a great place to start whether you’re in a long-term relationship or you’ve just met. Use Your Mouth is perfect. It’s created by a therapist & sexologist and receives rave reviews."
This game has 4.8/5 star rating, with review after review extolling the game's ability to organically produce conversations about sexual preferences, turn-ons, and kinks. One reviewer writes, "Sex is difficult to talk about for some people and the cards are a good way of getting the conversation started" regarding the truth cards, while another adds, "As for the dares, we only got through a few, so that should tell you how good they are."
Tara Jones loves the idea of using trivia as a sex game, pointing out that it "requires minimum planning, during which your partner may only take steps towards you if they answer each question right, and once they reach you, they may do what they like."
Sex Games for Getting Down to Business
Foreplay is fantastic, but there comes a point when it's time for the main event. And if you're looking to turn that into a game that you'll remember for ages to come, try a game like the ones below.
Customers love this game for its out-of-the-box prompts. One wrote, "Super fun game that helped me and my partner connect even further and made oral even [more fun] than before."
"Feeling like you need an erotic escape without hitting the airport or filling up the gas tank?" asks Rowntree. "The Sex Around The World Couples Board Game presents you with 36 unique sexual experiences to try that are taken from cultures around the world and also throughout human history."
Rowntree recommends this card game for those interested in discovering more sex positions, explaining that they "give you various scenarios (i.e. she wants a g-spot orgasm, we want a quickie) and then plenty of tips for “nailing” each position so you both end up satisfied."
For more, visit our Sexual Wellness section, where we unpack topics around consent, kink, sex toys, and more so you can have your safest and very best sexperiences yet.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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