Bring The Foreplay Out Of The Bedroom

I don’t usually use the word foreplay because I think that it reinforces the idea that penis-in-vagina intercourse is the goal of sex and that everything else is there to lead up to it. In my experience, those beliefs encourage male-female couples to get so focused on intercourse as the definition of successful sex that they often lose track of enjoying all of the other ways to experience pleasure and intimacy. The idea of foreplay leading to intercourse also contributes the idea that you have to have a penis and a vagina for there to be “real sex.” That’s part of why gay men and lesbians often get asked “who plays the man’s/woman’s role?” If we had a more expansive view of what sex is, we’d see that that question is meaningless.

So I usually avoid talking about foreplay. Of course, lots of people need some prep time to be able to have intercourse. I find that it helps to talk about it in terms of warm-up because it’s a lot like warming up before working out. You need to get the blood moving and stretch before going for a run. The same thing can apply to any kind of sex, especially penetrative sex. But somehow, there’s a difference in many people’s minds when it’s phrased as warm-up rather than foreplay.

Having said all that, I was in a conversation with someone about dating and flirting, when I realized that there is a place for foreplay. It’s just not in the bedroom. The time for foreplay is before you start playing.

One of the most sexy things you can do is bring the foreplay out of the bedroom. I’m not talking about getting hot and heavy on the couch, though that can also be fun. What I mean is that before you take any clothes off, before you even kiss, you can start the foreplay by building passion, connection, and vulnerability. You can do it with your words and your interactions over dinner, you can flirt by text message, you can leave romantic or sexy notes on your partner’s car. The more you can raise the erotic heat before you even get together, the better.

Of course, this needs to be calibrated for the relationship. Things that work for an established partnership can seem intrusive or creepy if you do them on a first date. But on the flip side, when things are new, it’s usually a lot easier to get all flirty with each other. Once the new relationship energy wanes, it often takes more intention to keep things fun.

There are a lot of experts who suggest adding sexual novelty, like role playing or trying new sex acts. That can be a great way to discover pleasures that you might not have known you’d enjoy. It can also be a way of avoiding the more challenging questions of how people in established relationships create intimacy in the face of too much familiarity, and how to enhance passion when you see each other every day. So here are three places to start.

Find new things to talk about

One of the ways that people get to know each other is by sharing their interests, their desires, and their hopes. I don’t mean talking about the kids or whose turn it is to do the errands. Those are certainly important things to discuss, but they’re also the everyday conversations that are easier to have. Instead, ask your partner about the things that interest them. What lights them up? What makes them smile when they tell you about it? What touches their heart? What excites them? Those are the topics that you want to talk about because talking about the things that you’re passionate about can transition into other things you feel passion for. Like each other.

Talking is also one of the most effective ways to share the things that feel vulnerable to you. Although modern society usually thinks of vulnerability as weakness, it’s an important part of intimacy. Demonstrating your willingness and ability to take off your armor is one way you can let your partner know that you’re a safe person for them to be vulnerable with. And trust me- sex is much better when there’s room to be vulnerable.

Share appreciations

One of the sexiest things you can say to a partner is something you appreciate or admire about them. It works for at least two reasons. First, being seen by someone else and truly appreciated creates a container of safety that makes room for the vulnerability that feeds deep passion. When you know that your partner sees you and appreciates you, it becomes much easier to drop into connection. Second, it puts you in the frame of mind of giving your attention to your partner. The more you do that before having sex, the more you can do it while having sex. And that is seriously sexy.

Offer small touches

A lot of people in established relationships seem to stop touching each other except when they’re having sex. OK, so there might be a peck on the cheek when you come home from work, but if that’s all there is, there’s a lot more you can do. Holding hands, giving a neck rub, resting your hand on their leg while watching TV- making touch part of your pattern means that your bodies can communicate with each other, even when you’re not having sex.

If you feel awkward about it, try taking a class on massage or read a book about it. Your hands are incredibly versatile, adaptable, and sensitive. They can bring more pleasure to your partner than you might realize, and smaller touches like stroking their arm while eating dinner can communicate that so easily. Touch seems to come more easily in new relationships because of all of those delicious bonding hormones. But that just means that we need to be more intentional about doing it later. If you start thinking about foreplay as something that happens before date night, it can help you shift into a sexier frame of mind and make the transition into romance much smoother.

Is That All?

Of course, there are lots of other ways to bring the foreplay out of the bedroom. Dressing up sexy for each other (underwear is optional for that). Talking about fantasies or desires you’d like to explore. Giving someone a gift or leaving a romatic card on the kitchen table. Flirting or sexting with your sweetie can be lots of fun. And if you’d prefer to not send a sexy photo of yourself, find one on tumblr and send that instead.

The whole point is that if you start heating things up before you get into bed, there’s much more opportunity for passion and pleasure. It takes a little creativity, but once you bring the foreplay out of the bedroom, you’ll see that pays off for everyone.