How often do you hear these trite quips about sex:
“Women want more foreplay”
“Women need more foreplay than men”
“Maybe there just wasn’t enough foreplay”
As sex educators and experts in erotic touch, we hear things like this all time. Lack of foreplay is constantly cited as the scapegoat for mediocre sex. As if it were salt, present only to enhance the main dish.
We’re here to declare Death to Foreplay. And you’re invited to the after party.
Foreplay. Fore – Play. As in “before” the “play” – the prelude to the big event.
When you think of foreplay, what activities do you include. Quick, make a list.
Here is our short list:
– Full Body Touch and Caress
– Eye Contact
– Full Body Contact
– Talking and Laughing
– Licking the Body
– Stimulation of the Genitals with Hands
– Oral Sex
That last one is tricky, right? Many people consider Oral Sex full-on sex, on par with vaginal or oral intercourse. Other people consider it far more intimate. (We like to call this “The Hierarchy of Orifices”)
But for most people, the Foreplay Activities List would look pretty similar.
We say it is time to put an end to “Foreplay”
What bothers us here as experts in arousal is certainly not the activities on that list.
What is essential is that all of these activities, plus penetrative intercourse, are considered as equal opportunities for pleasure, a range of activities that we humans can do with our bodies in different combinations for the most possible sexual pleasure.
What is essential is that we end the notion that all of these activities are just a prelude to “the real thing” and that only certain acts “count.” These turns of phrases may have been relevant when we were teenagers, but as adults we need a sexual language that better serves our reality, right?
When couples start keeping track of “what counts” there is a fundamental break-down in intimacy.
The goal of an erotic relationship, for most people, is mutual pleasure and fulfillment. Most of us want our lovers to feel loved, cherished, desired, satisfied and turned on. And most of us want to feel the same things – sexy and satisfied.
Think for a minute about your erotic goals – what kind of sex life do you really want? Consistent? Exciting? Comforting? Raw? Seductive? What words come to mind. Make a list!
Now that you have a sense of what kind of sex life you want, think about what kind of sex that life includes.
What is working now:
What I want more of:
What I want less of:
In our work with thousands of men, women and couples, we’ve never seen anyone list simply: I Want More Vaginal Intercourse and Anal Sex.
Most people can’t even imagine a sex life comprised exclusively of penetration. So why do we take this whole realm of erotic touch, all the ways we pleasure one another, and dump it in this frumpy category of “Foreplay”
Here’s just one theory: the language we use to talk about sex is weighed down with baggage from a puritan past, when pleasure was something to fear and be ashamed of, not something to be embraced and harnessed for good!
So if our collective goal is to experience the sex life of our dreams – whatever that looks like for you – then we need to expand our experience of erotic touch. Forget Foreplay – what we need more of, what there is never too much of, what we could ALL use, is more TOUCH. Quality, skilled touch. Erotic Touch.
There are some metaphors that just work for sex so we’re going to run with a couple. Use whatever imagery works for you and your life.
Many people think about being aroused and turned-on as being “hot” – once we are “hot” we are in the zone.
It is often thought that men can swing faster between “hot” and “cold.” The theory goes that men can be turned on by just about anything, and are ready for sex whenever there is a willing partner around. Think of an instant tea kettle – push one button and you’ve got a shot of hot water.
Women, on the other hand, are thought to be like a big pot of water – it takes a long time to get her “hot” but once she has been brought to a boil, there is a long lasting heat.
How true do those metaphors feel to you?
We think most people, male and female, experience a combination of the classic gendered stereotypes. Most of us experience a mix of what scientists call “spontaneous desire” and “responsive desire” – sometimes we are turned on and aroused seemingly out of nowhere, other times we need to be seduced and have our arousal drawn out of us.
So many factors influence our ability to feel turned on and ready for sexual intimacy. To name just a few big ones: health, finances, stress, family, ambient temperature.
Here’s what we know for sure:
Most people want to get “hot” more often.
Very few people like the feeling of being sexually “cold”
Our proposal: Cultivate a relationship where you both are kept “warm” so when the mood and opportunity strikes, it is way easier to get “hot.” To follow our pot of water metaphor, we believe it is possible to keep a huge cauldron of arousal at a slow simmer, fueling your relationship and ready to be brought to a boil when occasion calls.