Sex is an experience. It can be explosive! Magical! Outstanding! But sometimes, it can feel like there is something lacking; as though a puzzle piece is missing to make up the whole, vivid picture. When you or your partner takes a few seconds to touch before moving on to the main course, it can certainly dampen the mood and dullen the lustre of the moment. While not everyone needs lengthy petting sessions before moving on to intercourse, many people do. If you have ever found yourself thinking "I wish we had done this beforehand," or "oh I wanted more of that", then the issue could be that there just wasn't enough foreplay to get you from 0 to 100, and that can significantly change your overall experience.
What is foreplay?
Foreplay involves physical, sexual, mental and emotional activities and actions of arousal. In some cases, it can act as a precursor to sexual intercourse and penetration. For some, it is just as good as having sex, as penetrative sex is no longer considered the be all and end all of pleasure. Foreplay is the flirting, kissing, touching and teasing that builds sexual arousal and readies the body and mind for sexual activity, whatever that may look like for you and your partner.
Some people may think foreplay is boring, which may be perfectly valid for them, but a large majority of humans not only enjoy it, but also need it to get the ball rolling on their arousal. So, for those who are cynics or are just curious, why foreplay?
- Foreplay fosters intimacy. Intimacy is so important in any relationship, but especially in romantic and sexual relationships. Intimacy is a connection between two people that grows with time, effort and trust. Being vulnerable and open can be difficult, but when you both bring this type of emotional intimacy to the table, it will make everything that much more intense. If you feel an emotional disconnect from your partner, sex will not fix that. Physical intimacy is also very important. Not to be confused with sexual intimacy, physical intimacy includes the small things that help to build into sexual intimacy - hand holding, cuddling, gentle touching. It is the sweep of a finger along the jawline. It is the soft touch of lips against a cheek. Without knowing how to touch your partner you won't be able to get everything out of being sexually intimate with them.
- Foreplay builds trust. When you and your partner know that the other is perfectly fine with and encourages taking the time to indulge in foreplay, it shows them that you have put them first and foremost in your mind - that you are not just looking to get to "the good stuff", but that every moment you spend with them is the good stuff. It allows you and your partner to loosen up, to release the tension in your bodies, it makes you both trust that you are committed to taking care of each other.
- Foreplay increases arousal. It is important to make a distinction here between emotional or psychological arousal and physical arousal. In many cases both (or all) people involved in play will need some level of both types in order to smoothly and effectively move from foreplay into intercourse. Past scientific studies show that, on average, foreplay can cause physical arousal within ten minutes in men's and women. However, to stimulate and tantalize the mind may take more time, effort, and creativity. It is important to know your partner well - the things they like, the things they don't like, and their limits when it comes to what you can do with and to them. Touching, talking, teasing will all help to increase arousal and are all considered methods of foreplay.
- Foreplay is fun. And the most obvious - foreplay is actually really fun! Tempting, teasing, touching - something as simple as warm breath against the nape of one's neck, softly spoken words that elicit a shiver - it is a heady feeling watching and feeling someone else's body react to you in such a beautiful way. If you think it is a waste of time, that is a clear sign that you just might not possess the emotional or sexual maturity to be physically involved with someone, and you may want to reevaluate your intentions. Even in more casual interactions, foreplay can be a great way to enjoy someone for the first time, even if it is the only time. Remember though - not everyone likes every kind of foreplay. Read the queues that your partner gives you. If they move away from you or flinch, these are signs that they may be uncomfortable. Hesitance and reluctance is not what enthusiastic consent looks like. It may mean you need to go slower, or sit and have a talk about what they want and are comfortable with if you haven't done so already.
Not really sure what constitutes foreplay or how to effectively arouse your partner? Do not stress. Every human is different. What worked for one person, or what works for you, may not work for others, and so sometimes it can be a little intimidating. But do not fret! There is something out there for everyone.
Sexting / Dirty Talk
Sexting is a great way to discreetly engage in foreplay throughout the day, especially if you do not have a lot of time together and want to get the ball rolling. You can talk about the way your partner makes you feel, the things you would love to do to them when you can both be alone, all the naughty ideas that cross your mind about them, even some risque bathroom stall photos to remind them of what they will be getting to see and touch later that day. Sexting can be such great brain porn. Alternatively, when you are together, dirty talk can have an effect on you both. Try to steer from the cheesy lines that could deflate you or your partner's arousal. The great thing about naughty words is that they usually stay inside our heads. We don't have much opportunity to say them out loud so they manage to keep their novelty, especially if you get creative with your descriptions and pay attention to the things that really get you and your partner going. There is something about even this small taboo that can get the heart beating harder and make your breathing just a little bit more ragged. Some people enjoy being called filthy names, some people enjoy the concept of belonging to someone and use simple words like "mine" and "yours" to turn each other on. Some love being complimented and to hear about what their mere presence does to your body. Find what awakens their desire and expand upon it.
This can fall in line with sexting and dirty talk, as well. Roleplay is a fun way to include different types of foreplay and to lower inhibitions because it gives you a set scenario to play. You know what is expected, you have a guideline on what to say and do and so it gives you a sort of sexual freedom by lessening the fear of saying or doing the wrong things. Taking on roles and acting out a scene is a more psychological thrill, which is a necessary prerequisite for sex for many people. How you approach the scene and your roles and what you do with it can really allow your creativity to shine, which can be such a turn on.
We talk about games a lot around these parts, but there is a reason for it. The act of games, of play, is so so important in all aspects of life, and especially when it comes to sex. Games are much like roleplay - they take away a bit of the pressure in making the first move by deciding what that first move should be. It (and your lartner) gives you permission to try something new. Games can provide guidance without the anxiety that can be associated with getting guidance. And there are many to styles to choose from. If you want to try some kinky foreplay, there are games that include sensation play, blindfolds and bondage.
Aphrodisia Erotic Game ($49.98 USD) available here at Kissy Games.
If you want to be instructed on what you should do to each other, there are card games that give you a new act and experience with each card drawn.
Naughty Thoughts Card Game ($8.00 USD) available here at Kissy Games.
And if you or your partner doesn't feel comfortable with it, you can just toss the card aside and try the next one without necessarily feeling self conscious about it.
Environment and Atmosphere
Where you are and what is going on around you can factor into the overall experience. Create an environment where you can focus on each other - meaning no loud noises, no extremely bright lights, and in some cases, no worry that you will be discovered. These can be very distracting - loud sounds make it harder for you to hear each other and you don't want to miss out on that shudder in their breath or the soft moan that sends chills down your spine. Bright lights can cause headache and can bring insecurities to the surface, and being caught can draw attention away from you and have your partner focussing on whether they hear someone coming down the stairs or opening the bedroom door. It also makes them very conscious of the sounds they make (though this can be very arousing for some). Being in the dark can be nice, but being in absolute darkness may not be very helpful because then neither of you can see each other and you end up being two bodies in the dark (though this may be a concept some would like to play with). Even with having one of you blindfolded, a part of what is enticing about that is that one of you can see everything, which is as much a part of the experience as being the one blinded and waiting on bated breath. Dim lighting, maybe some candles in places where they are not causing a hazard, even some soft music in the background can set the mood. Also taking the time to make these little changes will really show your partner that you are trying to make them comfortable and that you are putting in the time and effort.
Doing things like slowly removing your partner's clothes allows for a chance to be sensual. Look into their eyes while you unbutton or lift their shirt. Lay soft kisses on the areas of newly exposed flesh. Play with different ways you can use touch, including the absence of it in some cases. Run a finger along their arm, move in close like you are about to kiss, but instead just barely brush you lips against their skin, breathing slow warmth against them, maintaining an element of surprise as they wonder how long it will be for you to touch them.
Massage Seductions ($20.00 USD) available here at Kissy Games.
Some people enjoy a sensual massage where one partner is naked and the other rubs warm, scented (or unscented) oils over their body, from neck to toes, front and back, spending time gently but firmly rubbing and kneading places like the lower back, insides of thighs, chest and breasts, and of course, the genitals (though do not use the oils for penetration unless it specifically states it can be safely used for that). You can tease your partner by touching close to but not directly on the more intimate parts of their body.
Remember, you can do any one of these things or any other style of foreplay, or even a combination to get you both into the proper headspace where you feel that intense desire to want to be with each other.
Be Invested and Present
The worst feeling is having someone do something to or with you just because they think you want it, and not because you want to. Be invested in your partner and what you are doing. Do not feign interest because it will only result in them pulling away. Enthusiasm is so important. People want to feel wanted by their partners. Enthusiasm shows you want to be there - you want to touch them, you want to please them and be pleased by them.
Focussing on just one area of the body can be counterproductive. Show your partner that you are happy with and enjoy every inch of their body and they will be more comfortable with exposing themselves and being vulnerable with you, fostering trust and emotional intimacy, taking things to another level. Keep in mind to be sensitive. If there is an area of the body that they really do want you to avoid, then the respectful thing to do is to not draw focus to it. Instead work with them outside of the sexual environment to boost their confidence and work on whatever trauma they may have regarding that area.
Kissing is so, so important. Sharing someone's breath, the intimacy of tasting your lovers mouth on yours, is so simple yet so very erotic. Kiss different erogenous zones and watch your partner melt - the neck, the jaw, the thighs, insides of elbows, and lips. But be sure not to be too aggressive. Find a rhythm that works for both of you then let the intensity increase organically.
Use Toys and Masturbation
First and foremost, using a toy does not mean you or your partner is not good enough to stimulate the other. A toy is just another tool, like your hands or your mouth. Think of it as an extension of your own body and focus on the fact that using it and wielding it can give you a whole other perspective on how you and your partner like to be touched. You can even watch them use the toy on themselves for a time, drawing on the energy that they build with their rising pleasure. Mutual masturbation can also be a fun way to tease each other and to learn from one another - watching you both pleasure yourselves the way you like can draw out feelings of embarrassment, but when you both engage in the act you can focus on each other and how absolutely stunning you both are in the throes of pleasure. Plus side! You get visual tips on how your partner pleasures themselves and can use that the next time you touch them.
Talk About It
There are so many ways to engage in foreplay. The most important thing to remember is that you are supposed to be enjoying yourselves. If one or neither of you is pleased with it, then move on to something else. It is also important to communicate about your wants and needs, and to encourage your partner to do the same. When someone tries to give you a bit of direction and says, "not like that, like this", or "I like that but this way is better," do not take it as a blow to your ego or as failure. Pleasure is a lot about give and take. It is hard to be aroused when your partner is not, and vice versa, so take the tip and put it to use.
While foreplay is not always a requirement, it can be that missing link to getting everyone involved to a frenzied state of arousal. And like everything else with human sexuality it can take some time to really iron out the... kinks... and find something that works for you and your partner. It could also be that you oth have great sexual chemistry and easily know what to do to push the other's sexual buttons. Whatever the case may be, keep in mind to do what works for you both, and to enjoy your time with each other, whether that means cuddling, kissing, masturbating, orgasms, sex. Find what makes you happy and go for it!