6 New Rules For Foreplay

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today’s topic: how much foreplay is normal.

Q: If I ever initiate sex with my boyfriend, he’ll say yes almost before the words are fully out of my mouth. He’s ready to go instantaneously. I like sex, but it seems like it takes me forever to actually get in the mood. I feel guilty asking him to spend so long on foreplay. Why does it take me so long to get turned on? How much foreplay is normal?

A: Thanks for your question! I think “foreplay” gets such a bad rap. There are a lot of unfair judgments that we as a society make about foreplay, especially with women. We judge women for being “frigid,” and complain about them needing a long time to “warm up.” I’m really sick of hearing this crap, and I bet you are too! Here are six new ways to think about foreplay.

1. Foreplay Shouldn’t Be A Judgment

It’s time we take the stigma away from foreplay. Instead of judging people for needing more or less time, we all need to recognize that however long our bodies need to feel desire is however long our bodies need to feel desire! There’s nothing “wrong” or “right” about that.

Bodies don’t usually go from 0-60 at the drop of a hat. Would you start sprinting from a dead stop? No! You’d do some light jogging and stretching, and you’d make sure your body felt warmed up before you started exerting yourself. I doubt that you’d judge yourself harshly for needing this time (“why do I take so long to get warmed up for a run?!”). It just is what your body needs, and you accept that. Why should sex be any different?

2. You Can Have Foreplay By Yourself

By now you may be thinking, “yeah, but how is my boyfriend able to go from 0-60 all the time?” Odds are he’s not. He may naturally be hardwired to get aroused quickly, but he may also have been thinking about sex before you even asked if he was interested. Speaking in very broad terms, men tend to think about sex more frequently than women. If it was already at the forefront of his mind, that would make it a lot easier to jump at the chance whenever you initiate.

Most people think that foreplay requires two people, but you can engage in foreplay completely on your own. Make an active effort to think about sex throughout the day. Tease yourself with your own thoughts. Pay attention to how your body feels as you move around. The more in tune you stay with your own body and your sexuality, the more heightened your desire will feel. And you just may find yourself jumping at your boyfriend’s initiations!

3. Foreplay Can Happen When Your Clothes Are On

Foreplay doesn’t need to be limited to the few minutes right before you start having sex. One of the best (and most fun!) ways to help yourself get aroused faster in the moment is to string foreplay out across the entire day. Send each other text messages about what you want to do to each other when you’re alone. Think about what it will be like to feel your partner’s lips on yours, or his hands on your body. Build up that anticipation all day long so that you’re dying to see him.

4. Foreplay Should Be Fun!

It’s so sad that most people talk about foreplay like a chore. We treat foreplay like a necessary evil we have to complete before getting to the “good stuff”. It’s not like cleaning up your house before your guests arrive, or waiting in line until you can get into the club. Foreplay is supposed to be enjoyable, for you and for your boyfriend. The actual acts themselves should feel good. Each of you should enjoy bringing the other one pleasure. There should be no need to feel “guilty” taking up time.

5. Foreplay Can Be The Main Event

The word “foreplay” naturally implies that it’s the stuff that comes before the main act (typically we assume that some sort of penetrative intercourse is the main act). This is misleading, because there are a lot of people for whom intercourse isn’t that satisfying, or isn’t even a part of their usual sexual repertoire. Some men like blow jobs or hand jobs much better than intercourse. The vast majority of women can orgasm from manual stimulation or oral sex, but only 30 percent can climax from penetration, so there’s a high likelihood that you can actually get more pleasure during foreplay than during intercourse.

6. Foreplay Is Different For Everyone

If you’re feeling bored during foreplay, it may be a sign that you’re not doing the activities that actually feel pleasurable for you. So many people have ideas of what foreplay is supposed to entail, and lots of couples in long-term relationships tend to go through the exact same foreplay routine every time they’re intimate. This can get boring very quickly!

Try to explore different types of foreplay and find what actually work for you. Maybe having a glass of wine in front of the fireplace is what gets you going. Maybe you need to take a nice long bath alone first. Maybe you enjoy a feisty game of wrestling with your boyfriend. Or reading some erotica or watching porn. Or scheduling sex in advance so you have time to build desire. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to have foreplay, so give yourself permission to explore!

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