Musings on how to have sex without having sex.


People have sex in various ways. The most obvious way is to do it the way we all know. However, at times this is not the best option.

This memo is about things we can do instead.


Men and women sometimes have sex, and sometimes cannot have sex. The reasons may be different, from having a lack of security to being unable medically.

The need for having sex still remains even if the most obvious solution is not the most viable option. Unless satisfied, the need for sex negatively impacts work performance, social interactions, mental health, among other things. This memo explores various surrogates.

The definition.

What is having sex? Answering this question substantially would require a lot of research in psychology, sociology, and physiology, which I am unable to conduct. I think that sex is (a) form of communication, (b) requires two entities of opposite sexes. The working definition adopted in this document will be: "complimentary cooperation".

Types of cooperation. I divide cooperation into complimentary and substitutive.

  • Substitutive cooperation is a type of cooperation you find in a case when a job needs to be done by several agents, maybe playing different roles, but these roles are generic enough so that cooperating agents can switch roles.
  • Complimentary cooperation requires that the roles be so different that they cannot be easily switched.

One actor can compliment the actions undertaken by another actor. This classification is not binary, but rather a continuous spectrum.


  • Example 1: a game of tennis.

Both players are doing exactly the same job, and are completely replaceable. This is a very substitutive cooperation.

  • Example 2: driving a car with a paper-based map.

In this example, one person is driving the car, another person is finding the route on the map. If both people can drive and both people understand the language the map is written in, this is a substitutive cooperation. If someone can drive, and the other one can read the map, this cooperation becomes much more complimentary.

  • Example 3: a father is registering a child for school classes.

This is not a cooperation at all. Even though classes cannot happen without the signature and the student, this paired activity is not cooperative.

  • Example 4: a massage.

An example of a semi-substitutive cooperation. One can play the role of the other, but not vice versa.

Sex surrogates. So, for sex surrogates we want to find cooperative activities that are as complimentary as possible, but are still not classified as explicitly sexual. This document attempts to create of several such activities. Not all of them are equally good, but pull requests welcome. Some of these surrogates will be just dating ideas.

Clarity Some of this activities can be forced to be substitutive, and remain complimentary only as long as both partners are happy keeping them this way. This is a drawback, but a minor one.

The list.

Playing Fortnite-style network computer games. Complimentativeness: 70%; Cooperativeness: 60%.

For example, one player can specialise in driving cars, and the other one in shooting or whatever. 2vsW paradigm lets people feel the sense of shared interest. The drawback is that sometimes the contribution is hugely unequal (i.e. when one can play well, and the other one can’t).

Playing Portal-style, or Ibb&Obb-style games. Complimentativeness: 60%; Cooperativeness: 70%.

These are 2vsM games. The contribution is always equal, but the specialisation is often not that big. No living human enemies.

Waltz and other dancing. Complimentativeness: 90%; Cooperativeness: 90%.

One of the best surrogates. Sex roles are almost never switched. There is a shared goal.

Going somewhere with split responsibilities. Complimentativeness: 70%; Cooperativeness: 70%.

This is the aforementioned case of “one drives, the other one navigates”. Not so cool in the age of GPS.

Joint scientific work. Complimentativeness: varies, Cooperativeness: varies.

We write a research work together. You propose a theory, I measure the data. You clean the data, I write the data analysis code.

Playing/Singing in a band. Complimentativeness: 90%, Cooperativeness: 90%.

An excellent choice. If you can play anything.

Playing tennis, ping pong, chess. Complimentativeness: 30%; Cooperativeness: 70%.

Mentioned above. Not a very good option actually.

Rock climbing. Complimentativeness: 40%; Cooperativeness: 90%.

If you can lift anyone.

Sport that requires assistance, like stretching. Complimentativeness: 30%; Cooperativeness: 90%.

These are that kinds of sports that can be done alone, but are just much better together. Stretching is one of the example, when your own muscles are just not convenient enough.

Writing and editing. Complimentativeness: 50%; Cooperativeness: 90%.

Don’t let uncooperative people edit your text, hence high cooperativeness. Complimentativeness is arguable.

The drawback is that this is a very hard thing, so feels more like a job than a leisure. Still, can help you placate the sexual instinct if no other options present.

Paired programming. Complimentativeness: 30%; Cooperativeness: 50%.

Despite the low scores, one of the best feelings in the world. If you both know programming though. One person is writing the code, the other one is commenting and suggesting improvements, and spotting mistakes.

Developing the same software project. Complimentativeness: 70%; Cooperativeness: 70%.

Works especially well if you have spaghetti code. Unfortunately, can be hugely imbalanced. Also becomes less sexy the better programmers you become.

Tandem-bicycle. Complimentativeness: 70%; Cooperativeness: 70%.

A better version of the “driving together”. The stronger partner is probably better at the back seat.

Reading a play role-by-role. Complimentativeness: 30%; Cooperativeness: 70%.

Not an activity you can easily invite someone to do, but if you share a common fondness of some author, it may work.


This entry is for the activities that are either not that good, or are too explicitly sexual, but it’s still worth mentioning them.

  • Massage. Low cooperation.
  • Shibari, Kinbaku, Artsy bondage and the like. Too sexual.
  • Drinking coffee together.
  • Going to a museum, cinema, lecture, party together.
  • Language exchange. Meh, didn’t work for me.
  • Shooting and bringing the ammo. (A Russian joke.)
  • Cooking together. (A Chinese thing.)
  • Sewing together. (And other crafting.)