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Foreplay: Everything You Need to Know

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You know what they say, the key to good sex and satisfaction from both partners is a heavy amount of foreplay, and while that may mean something different to every couple, there are some basics that are essential to a good foreplay session.

There is a lot to know about foreplay and a lot of different techniques that can be used, so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you get started. Keep in mind that general advice you find online can't substitute for intimate conversation with your partner, it can help you get a feel for what might work well for you both.

What is Foreplay?

Foreplay is anything that leads up to sex, whether that’s kissing, touching, or anything else that gets you and your partner aroused. It’s an important part of sex because it helps to get both of you in the mood and can make sex more intimate. Plus, foreplay provides psychological and physical benefits for both partners in terms of suspense as well as time for the body to prepare for sex through lubrication and erection.

Foreplay has different meanings for different couples, but there are overlapping themes. For some, foreplay might be playful and involve a lot of kissing and teasing. For others, foreplay might be more about getting each other aroused through touch. Ultimately, it’s about doing whatever gets you and your partner ready for sex.

Physiological Benefits of Foreplay:

The body responds to sexual arousal in a number of ways. For women, blood flow to the genitals increases, the vagina begins to lubricate, and the clitoris swells. For men, blood flow to the penis increases and the testicles rise.

Both men and women also experience an increase in heart rate, faster breathing, and increased blood pressure. As arousal builds, these effects become more pronounced. Stress levels lower as happiness chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins are released.

Inhibitions, judgment, and self-consciousness also start to fade away as the body releases chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. All of these changes prepare the body for sex and make the experience more pleasurable.

Another important benefit of foreplay is that it gives the body time to become aroused. For women, this is especially important because it takes longer for the vagina to become lubricated. This is why foreplay is often essential for women to enjoy sex. Women also benefit from the psychological effects of foreplay, like feeling more relaxed and less inhibited.

For men, foreplay is important because it gives the body time to become erect. This is because it takes longer for blood to flow to the penis and for the penis to fill with blood. If men try to have sex before they’re fully erect, it can be painful and difficult. Foreplay is also important for men because it can help them last longer during sex.

Psychological Benefits of Foreplay:

Foreplay also has important psychological benefits. It helps couples bond and feel closer to each other. It can also increase sexual desire and make sex more enjoyable. Foreplay can also help people feel more comfortable and relaxed with their partner. This is especially important for people who are shy or have anxiety about sex. Foreplay can help them feel more comfortable and less anxious.

Foreplay can also help increase communication between partners. This is because it can help partners learn more about each other’s bodies and what they like. This can make sex more enjoyable for both partners.

Bonding: Couples who engage in foreplay often report feeling a stronger emotional bond with their partner. This is because foreplay can help increase communication, intimacy, and trust between partners.

Increased Sexual Desire: Foreplay can also increase sexual desire. This is because it can help partners get to know each other’s bodies and what they like. It can also help build anticipation for sex. When people know what to expect, they often feel more excited about sex.

Improved Sexual Satisfaction: Foreplay can also improve sexual satisfaction. This is because it can help couples bond and feel closer to each other through increased communication and intimacy. Foreplay can also help increase sexual desire and make sex more enjoyable.

Relaxation: Foreplay can also help people feel more relaxed. This is because the body releases chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins during foreplay. Oxytocin is often called the “cuddle hormone” because it helps people feel bonded and close to each other. Endorphins are often called the “feel-good” hormone because they can help people feel happy and relaxed.

Shyness and Anxiety: Foreplay can also help people who are shy or have anxiety about sex. This is because it can help them feel more comfortable and less anxious. The build-up of sexual tension during foreplay can also help reduce anxiety about sex, as it can help partners focus on the pleasure they are feeling rather than any anxiety they may be feeling.

6 Facts About Foreplay

There are a lot of common misconceptions about foreplay, so here are some facts to set the record straight:

1. Foreplay is not just about sex, nor does it have to lead to sex.

When it comes to foreplay, one size does not fit all. There is no specific duration or order of events that qualifies as foreplay – it can vary greatly from couple to couple, and even from day to day within the same relationship. What’s important is that both partners feel comfortable and aroused, and that they are both on the same page about what is happening.

But foreplay doesn't have to be something that always leads to sex. In fact, sexual teasing may sometimes be its own form of longitudinal foreplay. What that means is the playful back-and-forth between partners can last for hours or even days, without ever culminating in intercourse. So, if you and your partner are both enjoying the playful banter and physical contact, then you're already engaging in foreplay, even if sex never happens.

2. Anyone can initiate foreplay.

Foreplay doesn't always have to be initiated by the person with the higher sex drive. In fact, anyone can take the lead in starting foreplay, regardless of their libido. All it takes is a little creativity and imagination. What matters is that both partners are enjoying themselves and feel comfortable with the level of intimacy.

3. There is no “right” way to do foreplay.

Again, foreplay is different for every couple, so there is no one right way to do it. The important thing is to experiment and find out what works for you and your partner. There is no need to stick to a script – the best foreplay is often spontaneous and unplanned.

4. Foreplay can be the main event.

Sex doesn't always end with penis in vagina intercourse. Orally stimulating the vulva or penis, using sex toys, or simply enjoying each other's naked bodies are all valid and enjoyable forms of sexual activity that can stand on their own, without leading to intercourse.

5. Foreplay can happen anywhere, at any time.

You don't need a special occasion or a specific location to enjoy some fun and intimate foreplay with your partner. In fact, sometimes the best foreplay is the spontaneous kind that happens in the moment, without any planning or preparation.

6. Foreplay doesn’t have to be physical.

While physical touch is certainly a major part of foreplay, it doesn't have to be the only element. Talking dirty, sending sexy text messages, or even just looking at each other with desire can all be forms of foreplay. Take a look at some of the non-physical ways you can turn up the heat.

The Best and Most Popular Foreplay Methods

Learning is growing, and when it comes to sex, there's no such thing as too much information. So here are some of the best and most popular foreplay methods to get you started.

1. Get Physical

This one is a no brainer. The more physically involved you are with your partner, the more turned on you'll both be. This means everything from kissing and touching to playful wrestling and tickling. The more you touch each other, the more aroused you'll become. But as you'll see from the other methods on this list, there's more to foreplay than just physical contact.

Keep in mind, for many women, sex is very psychological. This means that using your words, sounds, and body language to turn her on can be just as effective as physical touch.

2. Using Your Words

Dirty talk is a great way to get each other aroused without even touching each other. It can also be a way to spice up your sex life if you feel like you've gotten into a bit of a rut. Knowing your partner's fetishes, fantasies, and turn-ons can be a great way to get them aroused.

Teasing your partner with things they want to do to you or things you want to do to them is also a great way to get each other going. And if you're feeling a little shy about talking dirty, there are plenty of resources out there to help get you started, including books and online resources. Just keep in mind, practice makes perfect.

3. Fantasizing Together

 Fantasizing about sex with your partner can be a great way to get each other aroused. This can be done through sexting, phone calls, casual conversation, or even just daydreaming about each other. Fantasizing about sex with your partner can make the experience even better when you finally get to act out those fantasies.

Talk to each other about your wants and wishes, things you may be willing to try, and things that are off-limits. Fantasizing about sex is a great way to get to know what your partner likes and doesn't like.

4. Watching Erotic Videos or Reading Erotic Stories

A lot of couples watch porn together, and some even are into reading smut stories. These forms of erotica can be a great way to get each other aroused. Why? Because they give a visual or written representation of what turns you on, and you and your partner can imagine yourselves in their places. This is a great way to get each other going if you're feeling a little shy about talking dirty, or want to touch each other with watching. Either way, it's a great way to get each other aroused.

5. Roleplay

Roleplaying is a great way to spice up your sex life and add a bit of excitement to your relationship. It's also a great way to get to know your partner in a new and different way. Whether you're pretending to be strangers in a bar or taking on new identities in the bedroom, roleplaying can be a fun and naughty way to add some variety to your sex life.

Look up some scenarios online or make up your own. Just make sure you're both on the same page about what's going to happen before you get started.

6. Sext When Apart

One of the best things about technology is that it's made sex more accessible than ever before. Sexting is a great way to keep the spark alive in your relationship, even when you can't be together in person.

Sexting can be anything from sending each other sexy photos and videos to flirty texts and messages. It's a great way to stay connected and keep each other aroused when you can't be together. Roleplaying can also be done over text, so if you're feeling extra naughty, you can both get turned on from afar.

7. Get Visual

Another great way to turn your partner on is to get visual. This can be anything from watching them masturbate to sending them sexy photos or videos of yourself. Visual stimulation is a great way to get each other aroused, even when you can't be together in person.

8. Try Massage

A soft, sensual massage is a great way to get your partner in the mood for sex. It's also a great way to relax and bond with each other. If you're not sure how to give a massage, there are plenty of tutorial videos online. 

What if Your Partner Isn't Interested in Foreplay?

We're all interested in different things. For men, foreplay is less needed for a fulfilling sexual experience, but for women, it's pretty important. If your partner is not interested in foreplay, you could try to talk to them about it and see if they're willing to experiment. 

You can try:

Explaining why it's important to you: "I really enjoy foreplay because it helps me get aroused and feel close to you," is a good way to start the conversation. Good sex involves not only communication, but also compromise. If your partner isn't interested in foreplay, maybe they would be willing to engage in other activities that turn you on.

Suggesting new activities: If your partner isn't interested in traditional forms of foreplay, maybe they would be willing to try something new. Suggest something that you're both comfortable with and that you think would be fun.

Temporarily trying something else: If your partner still isn't interested in foreplay after you've talked about it, you could try focusing on other activities during sex. This doesn't have to be a permanent solution, but it can help you both enjoy sex until you figure out a way to incorporate foreplay into your sex life.

Do the show and tell method: A way to get your partner more interested in foreplay is to simply show them the benefits firsthand. This gentle way of seduction tantalizes all the senses, so it's bound to get them worked up in no time.

Explain the physical benefits: If your partner doesn't know that foreplay helps you enjoy the physical sensations of sex more, then tell them! Foreplay can increase lubrication, blood flow, and flexibility, which all lead to more pleasure during sex.

Talk about the mental benefits: In addition to the physical benefits, foreplay can also help you feel more emotionally connected to your partner. It's a great way to set the mood and build anticipation, so you can both get more out of sex.

The Bottom Line

Foreplay is vital for many people. When it comes to sexual activity, foreplay allows people to enjoy the physical and mental sensations of sex more. If your partner is not interested in foreplay, try to talk to them about it and see if they're willing to experiment. Most of all, practice open communication with your partner to ensure that you're both getting what you need out of sex.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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