10 Things You Should Know About Sexual Tension

It can happen when you least expect it. Maybe the coworker who you never thought twice about suddenly makes your stomach do backflips when you’re around them. Perhaps being around your best friend of five years has recently caused you to feel awkward around them.

Sexual tension can be fun, sometimes. Other times, it might feel confusing. Let’s look at ten things you need to know about sexual tension that can help you determine what to do next.

What Is Sexual Tension 

First, let’s talk about what sexual tension really is. You might think it’s simply a feeling of attraction, but sexual energy is more than a crush; it’s a two-way magnetic feeling between two people who want to be sexually active with each other but can’t for various reasons. 

In essence, it’s different from regular attraction because it’s contained in an unspoken realm. Rather than an attraction that’s out in the open for both people to acknowledge, sexual tension remains an invisible element in the room between two people and those around them. 

Here are ten more things to keep in mind as you determine whether you’re experiencing sexual energy and decide what to do with it.

1. Sexual Tension Can Be Positive or Negative 

Sexual tension can happen for several reasons. You may experience it with someone who seems sexually appealing to you. If you feel positive sexual energy, you may find yourself daydreaming about being with them and find ways to be around them physically.

It’s worth mentioning that sexual tension isn’t always a pleasant thing. Sometimes you might feel an unwelcome tension with someone that makes you feel overwhelmed or upset. This person could be a stranger or someone with whom you’ve been sexually active in the past. 

If you’re in the middle of a scenario where you continue to feel unwanted sexual tension, you can get help to untangle some of the emotions that come up. 

2. Your Heart Rate Increases 

Whenever you feel attracted to someone, a few things happen on the physical level. For one, your heart rate increases. This sensation might be something that happens without you realizing it, or it might be a noticeable pulsing feeling that causes you to need to take a moment to calm down. 

3. Your Palms Sweat 

Here’s another physical sign of sexual tension. When you’re around a particular person, you may notice that you’re extra sweaty. As your body releases this rush of attraction chemicals, it may sweat. This happens because your body is confusing fear with arousal, so it begins preparing for danger physically. 

4. You’ll Have Nervous Laughter 

When you feel sexual energy with another person, you may notice that your laugh or voice changes. Their voice and energy may also change, causing you both to smile and laugh almost inappropriately because of your unspoken, shared attraction. 

You might feel awkward about this nearly uncontrollable response, but when you’re trying to build tension and attraction, sharing moments of laughter can be a good thing.

5. You’ll Feel Butterflies in Your Stomach 

Why do you feel butterflies in your stomach? You obviously know that there are no bugs in your abdominal cavity, yet the feeling can take you by surprise all the same. Science explains that this natural response is a reaction to extra adrenaline that may be coursing through your body.

When you feel this, take a moment to evaluate the emotions you experience with the butterflies. If you’re experiencing negative sexual tension, your body may be reacting in a way to keep you safe from a perceived danger.

6. You’ll Be Aware of Their Presence 

When you feel sexual energy with another person, do you always seem to know where they are in a room? Whether you consciously see them walk through the doors or make their way to speaking with other people, you may notice your mind keeps track of someone you find attractive.

7. You Might Hold Prolonged Eye Contact 

Eye contact is a sign that can help you determine whether you have authentic sexual energy with another person. Do you feel them glancing at you in odd moments? Maybe you both find yourselves establishing eye contact for slightly longer than what’s socially appropriate. 

If you feel a positive sexual connection to someone, establishing eye contact is a terrific way to determine whether to address your tension and bring things to the next level.

8. They May Check You Out or Vice Versa 

You probably can’t help this sign of sexual tension. Whenever you find someone appealing, you’re going to want to look at them and notice the details of what they’re wearing. If you share sexual tension, you might feel them checking you out in return. 

9. You’ll Feel Awkward Holding Conversations 

If you’re trying to determine whether you’re experiencing attraction or mutual sexual tension, evaluate your conversations with someone. Do they seem put together and neutral when you speak? Do they seem more nervous than usual and out-of-their element? Slightly awkward conversation can sometimes indicate that you both want more from each other under the surface. 

10. They May Lean Toward You 

One last sign of sexual tension is body language. How does the other person stand when they talk to you? Do they turn away as if you’re bothering them, or do they seem to position their body toward you? Better yet, do they avoid being close to you, or do they find small ways to touch you?

These are small clues, but they can be huge giveaways if they occur repeatedly. Keep an eye out, and you might discover your feelings of attraction are reciprocated.

How To Manage Tension 

Not all tension is equal. When you’re feeling sexual tension, you might feel confused about what to do with those feelings. You don’t have to feel trapped or overwhelmed by these feelings; you have several options for resolving the tension to something manageable that benefits your life. 

Pursue Something More With Them

Let’s say you’ve realized your best friend of five years would make a good partner. If you’re feeling positive sexual energy with them, consider pursuing something deeper with them. You can increase the tension by finding small ways to hint at your attraction, or you could broach the issue and discuss how you feel. 

The tension stage can be enjoyable, but pursuing a relationship can bring unexpected joyful moments, too.

Stick To Your Boundaries 

Maybe you’ve been feeling unwanted sexual tension with someone off-limits to you. One party may be in a relationship. On the other hand, they might be someone that brings back unpleasant memories for you.

If you know you don’t want to pursue something more with someone, consider creating boundaries that allow you to live your life on your terms. 

Here are some ways to create boundaries if you’ve never done it:

  • Determine what kind of interactions are okay for you, and avoid those that aren’t.

  • Talk to your partner about what kinds of communication/ physical contact are acceptable outside your relationship.

  • Know which environments cause you to feel more uncomfortable, and avoid them. 

Seek Help If You’re Bothered by Tension

It can be uncomfortable to feel unwanted sensations of attraction or sexual tension with someone. Though you might feel overwhelmed or afraid of these feelings, you have options for dealing with them. 

Talking with a trained mental health clinician can help you navigate your confusion. During your sessions, your therapist can assist you in identifying your values and what you look for in a relationship. It’s one step you can take to invest in yourself and create the life you want.

At Mood Health, we make it easy to access mental health care from the comfort of your home. You can make an appointment to meet virtually with an experienced talk therapist this week. 

During your first meeting, you’ll talk about your goals and explain a bit about what’s been going on for you recently. Then, your provider will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan so that you can meet regularly and continue to grow toward your goals.

You’re In Control of the Tension 

After taking a closer look at sexual tension, you might be starting to see your situation represented in some of these facts. Sexual tension can be fun. But know that putting yourself and your comfort first is essential. What matters is that you feel good about the dynamic between the two of you.



The Effects of Adrenaline on Arousal and Attraction | Mckendree University

Butterflies In Your Stomach | A Moment of Science | Indiana Public Media

Love, Actually: The science behind lust, attraction, and companionship – Science in the News | Harvard