Let's talk about foreplay for a second, shall we? First off, foreplay before sex is one of the most important parts of hooking up (if not the most important part). It's all the good stuff you do beforehand to get yourself going. It can help relax you, get you in the right mood and for some people (like me, I'll admit) it's the only way to truly have an orgasm. But yet, there are so many couples who prefer to skip this step altogether and go straight to the main event. I totally get having that rip-my-pants-off and take-me-now energy going on, but skipping foreplay all the time is a straight up sin. It's like having your hot cocoa without the marshmallows; sure it's still good, but where is the pizazz? Where is the extra umph that keeps you going and makes you dream about doing it all over again tomorrow?
Well, for those of you who don't actually value the benefits of a good foreplay sesh (and marshmallows, for that matter) there could be several things you're doing wrong that are leading you to believe foreplay isn't all it's cracked up to be. But luckily for you, we've recruited the help of Dr. Kat Van Kirk, a licensed marriage and sex therapist and author of the book The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Life to overcome all of our foreplay woes. Turns out you may not even realize you're doing some of these things wrong.
1. Thinking It's Not As Important As Sex
Your first mistake? Thinking foreplay isn't the all-important Holy Grail of stimulation and fun it actually is. According to Dr. Kat, this misinformed way of thinking tends to come from the fact that we think of foreplay as something before the good stuff.
“The 'fore' of 'foreplay' indicates that it is a less important experience than the main event of penetration.” Dr. Kat told Bustle. “I recommend that all couples move away from that term and begin to embrace the idea of 'sex play'. It is more inclusive of a variety of behaviors (touch, oral etc) and gives it equal billing with penetrative sex.”
No, foreplay is not the chore you sometimes conceive it to be before getting to sex, and if you think about it that way –a s simply sex's opening act – you're never going to truly enjoy it. Taking your time to see it for what it truly is, i.e. playing in any way you two are comfortable with, will make it less laborious. What's more, you'll learn to experiment, making it just as good as all the stuff to follow.
2. Not Giving It Enough Time
Like I said, what is the rush? Unless you absolutely must have a quickie for this reason or that, why not take the time to actually enjoy what you're doing? Dr. Kat says that chemically speaking, foreplay or sex play can give you just as much satisfaction as sex itself.
“Sex play can be just as gratifying as the rest of sex, in fact it can increase anticipation and spontaneity so that arousal and orgasm are improved, while the bonding hormone oxytocin gets released through extended touch,” she said. “Oxytocin increases your sense of connection and overall wellness.”
Taking the time to fully experience foreplay instead of rushing full steam ahead will not only heighten your orgasm, it can increase intimacy in a sense that sex can't on its own. John Mayer wasn't wrong when he said, “your body is a wonderland,” so take some time to explore it!
3. Not Thinking Outside The Box
Foreplay doesn't have one solid definition, and that's something you should definitely remember. Because it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, there are no limits to what you can do together to get the ball rolling. And since your options extend from infinity to beyond, you get to do one of the best things sex has to offer: Experiment.
“When a couple decides to engage in sex play it can literally mean anything from sexting to a little role play in the bar to a foot massage” Dr. Kat said. “Suddenly the world of sex opens up to you and you realize how many sexual things you could be doing to connect with your partner. Sex play can begin well before penetration or it can end with some make out sex in your car.”
The world is pretty much your sexual oyster, as long as everything remains consensual. So why not try that hot wax trick or bring that toy out you've had waiting in your night stand? Use your imagination, because that's what foreplay is for.
4. Lack Of Communication
Not surprised this one came up, are you? Basically, every problem between partners can pretty much be boiled down to lack of communication, and foreplay is no different. In order for things to get really good you have to be willing to tell your partner what you want, and how you want it. Without talking before, during and after it's hard to make things truly mind-blowing.
“Each person in the couple needs to advocate for themselves and what works to get them aroused,” Dr. Kat said. “For instance, if your partner keeps trying to masturbate you but you know that you'd prefer to receive oral, communicating those desires is important. Otherwise, you are never giving your partner the information he/she needs and you can end up feeling resentful.”
Communication also goes beyond words when it comes to sex and foreplay. If you feel uncomfortable saying directly what you want, you can still show encouragement physically or vibe off of physical encouragement from your partner.
“[Partners] need to pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues such as a groan, a tilting of the hips, guiding of their hand. Both partners need to be fully present and paying attention...If a couple can do this while communicating their sex play needs, all of sex tends to be much more fulfilling and tends to last longer,” she said.
5. Having Too Many Expectations
If you go into foreplay feeling like it has to be insanely amazing each time you may set up some expectations that will leave you disappointed and less willing to try it out again next time. Foreplay should always be the most low-pressure part of sex; since you can do whatever you want, for however long you want there are no set standards of what is about to happen, and what should result from that. Imposing standards on your foreplay can make things stale and you'll be less likely to enjoy yourself.
“The spark is more about recognizing the opportunities for when [a couple] can engage in any and all sex play. If a couple can prioritize this, it removes heavy expectations of how sex is 'supposed to be',” said Dr. Kat. “Not getting caught up in having to have an orgasm every time you enjoy a little sex play also makes sex just that, 'play'. It can begin to feel like a game and a little secret the two of you have that creates spontaneity, anticipation and fun like you might've had in the earlier days of your [relationship].”
Bottom line: Foreplay can be anything, but it almost always should be fun. When you have the time, be sure to use it exploring new options and cater to both of your needs. The more you prolong the inevitable gratification, the better it'll be.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions to make him last longer: