Foreplay, what it is and why it matters?

When you think of foreplay, you may imagine steamy windows and heavy breathing, hands and lips touching everywhere. We easily describe these acts as foreplay. After all, the traditional definition of the word, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “sexual activity, such as touching the sexual organs and kissing, that takes place before people have sex.”

And here’s where the problem lies. This definition of foreplay, this “sexual activity… before people have sex,” implies that sexual activity is, in fact, not sex. Yet when we define sex as only sexual intercourse or penis-in-vagina penetration, we limit ourselves, and our pleasure and connection, in so many ways.

I like to take a broader definition of sex. Sex, as I see it, includes action between two consenting humans intended to create a mutually pleasurable sexual experience. It doesn’t have to include penetration. You don’t have to swap bodily fluids. Hell, it doesn’t even require you to be in the same room!

When I think back to some of the best sexual experiences thus far in my life, most don’t involve penis-in-vagina penetration. And those that do, the penetration definitely wasn’t what got it on the highlight reel. Here are a few images from my own experience:

• My husband’s cock deep in my mouth, his fingers buried in my pussy as we had our first experience with non-penetrative simultaneous orgasms

• An ffm threesome with my lover’s body moving against me

• The first time I orgasmed with a partner, my girlfriend’s thigh pressed between my legs

• My partner and I, with two screens and 2,500 miles between us, touching ourselves for each other

So many exceptional sexual experiences, yet not one of them involved a penis in my vagina. Therefore, they could all be described as foreplay. But were any of them really just foreplay? If someone’s penis doesn’t penetrate my vagina, does it mean we didn’t have “sex”? Is my sexual experience with a person with a vulva less “sex” than that with a penis-owning partner?

I dare say not. Which leaves us with a conundrum, wondering if foreplay still has a role in today’s modern sexual experience?

My answer: Abso-fucking-lutely.

The role of foreplay

When we expand our definition of sex to include things like oral sex, hand sex, and other forms of sexual stimulation, it forces us to reevaluate our idea of what foreplay is and the role it plays in our bedroom. I like to define foreplay as the actions that prepare us, mentally and physically, for sex. It spurs our arousal and makes us want to get it on.

Regardless if you take the traditional definition of foreplay or the modern one, foreplay’s role is still basically the same. It’s designed to get us ready for sex and intimacy. But, instead of focusing solely on what happens before the sexual act, my idea of foreplay is much larger.

Why foreplay matters

Foreplay is vital in both our relationships and sex lives. At the most fundamental level, foreplay physically prepares the body for sex. It increases the blood flow to the genitals, making penises and clitorises enlarge and lubricating the vagina and vulva. It’s designed to make sure sex doesn’t hurt and, instead, brings us pleasure.

But foreplay does more than bring on the visible signs of arousal. Foreplay is also what gets us in the mood. It’s what brings sex to our minds. It makes us want to rip each other’s clothes off and get down to it!

Foreplay creates this passion and excitement by releasing feel-good brain chemicals, including oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals not only make your lover hard or wet, but they keep you bonded and feeling connected in and out of the bedroom.

This flood of chemicals also hones your focus so you’re less distracted by your internal monologue. And with this mindfulness, you can better enjoy your sexual experience and maybe even drop a few inhibitions.

9 ways to increase foreplay

When we expand our idea of foreplay, it opens up our minds beyond the first and second bases of our parents and grandparents. With the right know-how, foreplay spreads out of the bedroom and into the rest of our lives. Check out these examples:

• Send flirty texts during the day

• Leave love notes in your partner’s pockets

• Surprise your lover with dinner

• Take dancing lessons

• Give each other sensual massages

• Talk about different sex acts you want to try

• Shower together

• Read erotica to one another

• Shop for sex toys or lingerie

And sure, nipple play and hand sex can be considered foreplay. But I want to encourage you to be more exploratory than that. Be adventurous. Don’t limit your foreplay to 10 minutes in the bedroom before you have sex.

Pro tips about foreplay

Too often we think of foreplay as specific items we must check off as we make our way to the end goal. Kiss. Check. Kiss with tongue. Check. Hand on breasts. Check. Hand on penis. Check. Hand on vulva. Check.

Foreplay isn’t a series of quick stops that must be made to get you to intercourse. Stop thinking of it as a thing that must be done to have sex. Sex, dear reader, is not about reaching some goal (penetration, orgasm, etc.), but is an experience between two people where intimacy, pleasure, and connection arise.

An intimate foreplay experience

If you want to enhance the foreplay in your relationship, here’s a fun exercise. Set aside some time, say an hour, where you can be private. Take 20 to 30 minutes and spend time touching your partner. Don’t touch their genitals but touch them everywhere else. Don’t strive to give them an orgasm. Climax is not the goal. The goal is to explore your lover’s body. To give them pleasure in new and different ways.

Once the 20 minutes has passed, switch positions, and now it’s your partner’s turn to touch you.

The low simmer

I often encourage folks to strive for what I like to call “the low simmer.” The low simmer occurs when you and your lover have enough foreplay in your daily life that it doesn’t take a lot to get you aroused.

This state is great because it keeps you touching, flirting, and wanting to be near each other. It creates the opportunity for spontaneous sex. The heightened sense of arousal can also increase the intensity and frequency of your orgasm and help reduce the orgasm gap.

It comes down to this – if foreplay is something you don’t think about unless you’re between the sheets, you have a great opportunity to enhance your love-making abilities. Make foreplay part of the daily nurturing of your relationship and sex life and watch it thrive.

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