Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Debby Herbenick Ph.D., M.P.H.

The Pleasures of Sex


What Your Feet Have to Do With Better Sex

The surprising way your feet can lead to more pleasurable, connecting sex.

Posted May 30, 2010

In the quest for sexual pleasure, we too often focus squarely on one another's genitals as if those few square inches hold the only key to ecstasy. Paying attention primarily to these parts may work fine for casual flings, but even in months-long affairs, not to mention long-term relationships, sex runs the risk of turning stale unless partners pay attention to each other and to more than just the vulva, penis, or anus.

One of my favorite poems by Pablo Neruda is called "Your Feet." It has beautiful lines about why he adores his lover's feet; not because of how they look, but because of the way they carry and support her as she walks along the earth (and, of course, that they ultimately brought her to him).

Once, I secret messaged on Twitter a link to this poem to my own partner, who notoriously made fun of my bony feet—my feet pokes him at night as I wrapped my leg around him and fell asleep. Always the sensitive one, I told him that I wanted him to love my feet the way he loved the rest of me—if not for their boniness then for the way they carried me home to him day after day. [Even Neruda's lover, if this translation can be trusted, had "feet of arched bone... hard little feet." Like me.]

Is it any wonder, then, that I want to sing the praises of feet and how we neglect them in our sexual and romantic lives? 

Feet are sometimes seen as dirty and it's not unusual for people to feel embarrassed about their feet or even to pull them away or hide them from the eyes of someone they're attracted to. I once pulled mine away all too quickly from a person I liked, only because my feet were previously mocked. It's too bad. 

There are myriad ways to enjoy each other's bodies. For example:

  • Give your partner a foot massage. Wash them gently with a warm towel first, then slather massage lotion on his or her feet, making sure to rub the tops and the soles and also in between the toes
  • Dress your feet up in stockings. Knee highs or high heels and make them festive for sex play
  • Bathe together, taking turns to wash and scrub each others' feet, perhaps with a pumice stone and soft body wash
  • Take care of your own feet so that they look and feel their best. If you're prone to tough skin, your dermatologist might be able to prescribe a cream to soften your feet. If your feet are only mildly scratchy or thick in places, then scrubbing with a pumice stone and sleeping with socks over cream-slathered feet may help them to feel soft and sensual
  • Drag your soft feet over your partner's back. Not with your full weight, of course, unless your weight is proportionate to your partner's
  • Paint your feet with henna. Use intricate designs either professionally or with a home kit. I had my hands and wrists painted in India a few years ago and it gave me a new perspective 

Any part of your body can be attended to in a way that enhances your relationship, your love life, or your sex life.