I am SOOOOO excited to talk about today’s topic! I think foreplay is the funnest part of sex!!!
The idea for this post is partially inspired by an upcoming podcast episode I’ll be releasing in a few weeks. I interviewed an author, GS Youngblood, and at the very end of our interview, I asked him what his Black Belt Sex Tips are.
His biggest tip was about how foreplay begins the moment your past sexual encounter ends, and that foreplay should be done throughout the day, not just immediately before sexual intercourse.
Doesn’t “Foreplay Throughout The Day” sound like so much fun!?
Since this conversation with GS, I’ve thought a lot about foreplay and I have been more intentional about making foreplay great in my marriage. Next week, July 6th, is also International Kissing Day, so something about foreplay sounded appropriate. So today I want to share a few ideas that I’ve learned from my own experience and from others that I admire about meaningful foreplay in sex.
Let’s talk about what foreplay is, how to do it right, why some couples may struggle with foreplay, and end with some specific, actionable things you can do right away to make better foreplay an amazing and rewarding part of your marriage.
What is Foreplay?
In essence, foreplay is about creating and maintaining intimate connection. When most people think of foreplay, they think of teasing, deep kissing, cuddling, intimate talk (or “dirty talk”), and all sorts of arousing touch such as fingering, oral sex, using sex toys, and so on that leads up to sexual intercourse. Foreplay can be defined more broadly though, as anything you do to build and stay intimate in connection with your spouse. Foreplay Throughout The Day is about maintaining an intimate connection with your spouse long before your next sexual encounter.
Foreplay is essential for great sex for at least two reasons: emotional and physical connection.
First is the emotional side: foreplay sets the stage for how connecting and intimate the sexual encounter could be. The way you engage in foreplay sets the stage for what meanings you give to sex. The best sex, in my opinion, is intimate sex where you make love with your heart just as much as you do with your body. The way you engage in (or avoid) foreplay can be telling of the kind of emotional connection you share or want to share with each other.
Second is the physical side: foreplay helps our bodies warm up to the idea of sex. Kissing, cuddling, using words and imagination to share sexy ideas, caressing, and touching erogenous zones prepares the body for sex. The brain sends signals to increase blood flow to the genitals, where you begin to experience physiological arousal: the penis gets erect, the clitoris engorges and the vagina lubricates.
It’s true that most women’s bodies take longer than men to get aroused and prepare for sex. Some research says it takes about 20 minutes on average for women to become aroused enough to be ready for penetrative sex that’s pleasurable. One explanation why far fewer women experience orgasm compared to men could be the lack of foreplay. Adequate foreplay is really important!
I hear some men and women complain that it takes too long for her to get warmed up to sex, but I personally view that as a good thing. What if you changed your thinking to where foreplay is the “main event” so-to-speak? What if the playful touching, cuddling, banter, and sexy talk is so much fun, so intimate, and so bonding that you won’t want to rush it?
Foreplay is Skipped for Many Reasons
Yet some couples skip or rush foreplay for many reasons, which can be a huge turn off. As I’ve thought about why this is, I’ve come up with three ideas. These ideas appear to affect both men and women.
The first reason is that the person doesn’t know what foreplay is or doesn’t see value in foreplay.
This reminds me of that scene in the comedy movie Three Amigos. The antagonist, El Guapo, captures the fair maiden Carmen and takes her to his fortress. It’s El Guapo’s birthday and he plans to seduce her. While imprisoned, Carmen’s fellow prisoner, Conchita, is talking to Carmen:
Here’s the audio clip from this scene in the movie:
[El Guapo has kidnapped Carmen and taken her to his fortress]
- Carmen, tonight you are to be El Guapo’s woman. I am going to give you some hints about lovemaking with El Guapo.
- Carmen: I would rather die first!
- Conchita: Tell me, Carmen, do you know what foreplay is?
- Carmen: [Carmen shakes her head, trembling slightly with fear] No…
- Conchita: Good! Neither does El Guapo.
So don’t be like El Guapo.
The second idea why I think many avoid or rush foreplay is because foreplay is inherently intimate, and they’re afraid of the closeness that intimacy requires. It’s too exposing for them to handle.
You see, being very intimate with someone means letting someone else, that matters to you, into your heart. It requires you to be emotionally naked. Intimacy is also a willingness to really care for someone else and a desire to penetrate their heart as well. As you can imagine, intimacy isn’t for the faint of heart. Great sex and foreplay require courage.
I’ve coached a couple in the past where the wife, who generally avoided sex, relented to her husband’s initiating. She didn’t want any foreplay but wanted him to jump right into intercourse, a quickie you could say. She had a hard time tolerating the emotional exposure of intimate sex and didn’t want to be seen – seen naked. Once she came to understand her inherent value and learned how to have more peace with her body image she was able to relax and enjoy and foreplay became more natural. She also learned to trust her husband with her vulnerability and sex became more intimate. This increased their quality of sex 10 fold.
My third idea is that anxiety about sex interferes with foreplay. In my own marriage there was a time where I wanted to avoid foreplay because I was anxious about my sexual performance. I was too goal-oriented, and felt like I wasn’t a good enough lover if my wife didn’t have an orgasm every time or if I couldn’t last long enough. It was tempting for me to just “skip to the end” of sex to avoid the anxiety of our sexual encounters which could leave me feeling like a failure. I set my expectations waaaay too high, and based my happiness on things outside of my control. As a result, our sexual encounters were no longer about intimacy where two friends married to each other come together to share goodness. Instead, sexual encounters were about me trying to manage my wife’s feelings about me, and whether or not I was doing a technique correctly to please her.
The solution for me was to change the way I thought about foreplay. Once I did, my performance anxiety evaporated. When I chose to be present with my wife, this amazing woman in my life, who is strong and my equal, I no longer needed to worry about caretaking her emotions about me and I could let go and enjoy it! Paradoxically, this “letting go” of expectations lead to waaay better sexual encounters filled with pleasure and deep connection that we had been missing before.
Foreplay Done Right
I want to reiterate that foreplay is about building a connection and maintaining connection with your spouse. But foreplay isn’t only for immediately before sexual intercourse! I have four principles of foreplay that can lead you to better connection and these principles can be done throughout the day too!
The first principle is to relax. We sometimes forget how important relaxation is as a precursor to good sex. When your mind is at ease, you’re able to be open to give and receive connection from your spouse. When your body is relaxed, it’s able to send blood to your genitals.
When you let your mind be overly taxed about stresses from kids, family drama, work, bills, etc., it’s difficult to ease into connection with your spouse. Your body is in self-preservation mode, which is antithetical to connection mode. So it’s important to learn how to step away from the pressures and stresses of everyday life and relax.
How do you relax? Some people find baths or massages relaxing. Movies, music, dancing, simply talking or journaling to empty your mind. Whatever you find relaxing, incorporate more of it into foreplay.
The second principle is the power of touch. Touch is a powerful language. Whether you know it or not, you’re always communicating something when you touch another person. Even the absence of touch communicates something.
If you and your spouse are reading this together, reach over and touch each other right now. How did you touch each other? What kind of touch was it – where did you touch? What did that touch mean? Was it paternal / maternalistic (“there there, pumpkin”)? Was it erotic or sexual? What meanings did you get from that touch?
If you want to try this on your own, try touching your spouse while thinking about sports, work, finances, or something else stressful. Then, touch your spouse while thinking about how much you like them, how much you adore them, or while thinking about something you find very attractive or appreciate about them. Even though your “touch” is the same touch, there’s something different communicated in that touch because of what you’re thinking as you touch them.
Affectionate touch throughout the day is another way of communicating that you value your spouse. Don’t forget or underestimate the value of non-sexual touch too. When you touch them non-sexually you can communicate that you value all of your spouse for who they are, not just because you get sexual gratification alone from them.
This principle hit home to me one Sunday. My wife and I were sitting together at church. We had a weekend where we had come together in very positive ways and I had very strong feelings of gratitude and admiration for her. She later told me how arousing it was for her just by the way I put my arm around her, held her hand. She could sense my energy and desire for her, and she thought it was pretty hot!
I hear complaints from wives that say the only time their husbands touch or kiss them is when they’re interested in sex. These husbands are missing out on a huge opportunity to stay connected with their wives and experience foreplay all day.
Erotic and arousing touch is also super important. Erogenous zones are parts of the body that respond well to arousing touch. Your body has over 1,000 erogenous zones! The most obvious ones are your genitals, lips, neck, and nipples or breasts. And there’s firm touch, light touch, licking, sucking, tickling, rubbing, squeezing. Try them all! Touch each other with your hair, chest, penis, or other part of your body too.
I want to put in a plug for kissing. You see, kissing is so underrated! Do you kiss a lot during sex? How about outside of sex? Do you ever sit down to make out, just for the thrill of deeply kissing each other? When kissing do you put your awareness into how your spouse’s lips feel on yours, the smoothness of their tongue in your mouth, and so on? Has it been a while since the two of you really kissed each other? Give kissing a serious try!
The third principle is the use of language. Heat up the bedroom using intimate language. Intimate language could include things you wouldn’t normally say to just anyone. You might develop your own code words, pet names, or slang you use for each other only.
Part of foreplay is using our minds, imagination, and words to arouse. It helps open the mind to possibility. This is why romance and erotic material work well for some couples. It helps take your mind out of the mundane and into the creative, connecting, and exciting sexual realm.
Modern Family Season 1, Episode 3 has a scene where the husband and wife, Phil and Claire, decide to celebrate valentine’s day by pretending to be strangers meeting for the first time, with Phil trying to pick up Claire. They agree to meet at a hotel bar.
While pretending to be strangers, Claire makes a flirtatious move. Phil lets Claire know he’s a married man. Claire asks Phil what a married man is doing flirting with her at the bar if he has a wife at home. He first tells Claire that his beautiful wife always has lists and lists of things to do. Claire then gives some advice that Phil should do the things on the list then to get more of her attention.
That doesn’t go anywhere. He starts over and then tells Claire that she’s so wonderful he can’t possibly do to her what he’s about to do to Claire. That gets Claire really excited. And she excitedly proclaims, “Jackpot!” showing he had found the right thing to say.
What words or themes get you hot and bothered? What language gets you excited and aroused? This is where “dirty talk” comes in, which by the way, isn’t dirty at all in my opinion. Sexting can get really exciting too. The best part is you can use your mind and imagination here. You can use language to paint a scene that you’re at a beach or some other location. Or sometimes being confident with some naughty or cheeky words you wouldn’t normally say to someone else might be just the thing you need to get you mentally and emotionally aroused for sex.
The fourth principle is to put the PLAY in Foreplay!!
Sex is really a place for adults to go to play. There’s so much about being an adult and in a marriage that’s mundane. Having a place where you can let your hair down and don’t have to be so cleaned up is part of any healthy sexual relationship.
Play MATTERS. Play opens your mind and soul for connection. Children learn best when it’s a game. Same can be true for adults. Can you and your spouse really play in your sexuality together?
Making sex more playful is why my wife and I created the Intimately Us app and other bedroom games. I recall one of our most memorable nights of fun early in our marriage, we came up with a bunch of Minute-to-Win-It competitions, but did them bedroom-style. – Mittens on hands unclasping bras, tied a string to a banana and had to roll an orange across the floor, used lipstick and chocolate syrup to see how many kisses we can plant on each other’s body in a minute, etc. We laughed soooo hard!
There’ve been times we played with glow-in-the-dark body paints, played a stripping game, or played Sheets & Ladders.
Another way to play is role play. This is the adult version of when you’d play cops & robbers or princesses as kids. This is like what Phil and Claire did in that Modern Family episode I mentioned above. It can be really fun to try on different story lines and just PLAY with each other! When you’re playful, you engage with your creativity, and that creativity is super sexy! For more on this topic, check out episode #79 of the Get Your Marriage On! podcast where we do a deep dive on role play sex.
Sometimes incorporating themes or dynamics you find particularly arousing into your play can make foreplay more exciting. For example, some people respond really well to romance: the rose petals on the bed, the soft lighting, slow dancing barefoot, and sweet music playing in the background. Others really like the idea of just being taken and dominated by someone self-confident. Some find doing something “naughty” or forbidden is arousing. Figure out what you and your spouse resonate with and incorporate those things into your play.
I want to emphasize that the energy you bring to your play is far more important than the activity itself. If you go through the motions of foreplay reserved and tentative, it’s not going to be much fun. Put your heart into it and focus far more on your energy than your technique.
Troubleshooting Foreplay Issues
Now that we’ve talked about four ideas on how to make foreplay great, let’s troubleshoot a few common issues I hear from couples.
The most common one I hear from wives is: “I take a long time to get aroused enough for orgasm and my husband must be bored”. There might be some truth to it: but the thought of “I take a long time” is just your way of looking at the situation. Most husbands would say their absolute favorite part of a sexual encounter isn’t the pleasure derived directly from the experience but the pleasure of experiencing their wife open up, blossom, and receive sexual pleasure. Most husbands listening to this are probably nodding their head.
Wives, remember that you’re worth all the time and attention in the world. You don’t need to be overly concerned about your husband’s thoughts interfering with your pleasure, as that’s out of your control. Let him deal with his own boredom or whatever he is struggling with and let your body bask in the pleasure and attention as long as you like. Remember, it’s a delight to most that you take as long as you do. Sex wouldn’t be as fun if it was over so fast!
The second issue I hear is, “I feel pressure from him – I know he wants sex, and I feel guilty that it’s been a while, so I’m just going to give him sex to get him off my back.” And this could go both ways – husband to wife or wife to husband. Having sex out of obligation or to appease the other changes the meaning of the sexual encounter to something transactional instead of something intimate: about connecting, playing together, and experiencing pleasure. In this situation, both people in the marriage need to look at their dynamic and see how they are contributing to a system where these other meanings such as “sex is a duty” or “I use sex as a way to manage my spouse from getting grumpy” are taking priority over heartfelt connection and play. If you would like coaching on this matter, let me know!
The third issue I hear is that a husband or wife feels awkward asking for more foreplay. We want sex to feel spontaneous, effortless, like the movies! Where our spouse reads our mind and can go with the flow and we both land in blissful satisfaction. The reality is we need to learn how to express our desires because we can’t read minds.
I sometimes get asked how to ask a spouse for new things or to change things without hurting their spouse’s feelings. I can understand – you’re asking your spouse to change their behavior, and sometimes a sensitive spouse can take requests for more foreplay or different foreplay personally, as if they’re not doing a good enough job. The problem I see is that husbands or wives tend to put too much emphasis on “not hurting their spouse’s feelings.” If you think about it, you’re not getting what you need because you’re overly concerned about managing what your spouse will think and/or feel. It’s hard to enjoy the sexual encounter when your mind is on high alert trying to do emotional gymnastics to keep your spouse’s feelings in check along with your own. Let their response be their responsibility. But of course, please use tact. And be gentle and kind when advocating for things you need that will make the sexual experience better for the two of you.
10 Creative Foreplay Ideas
Now that you see how much fun foreplay can be, would you like some specific ideas and suggestions on what foreplay activities you can try and incorporate into your marriage?
In preparing this podcast episode, I asked our Instagram followers what their favorite foreplay activities are.
Here are the Top 10 foreplay activities wives say they like:
- Chatting, conversation and talking about our day
- Kissing and making out. Kissing everywhere. Especially “My husband telling me what he loves about my body while he’s kissing it”
- Receiving oral sex
- Use of vibrators and toys
- Massage & caressing
- Snuggling & spooning
- Eye contact
- Flirting, laughing together & being a little silly
- Finger play
- Nipple and breast play
Here are the Top 10 foreplay activities that husbands said they like best:
Not surprising, half of the list are things that have to do with her pleasure:
- Receiving oral sex
- Giving oral sex
- French kissing and making out
- Challenges and games
- I get more pleasure pleasing her during foreplay than receiving
- Massage & touch
- Manual stimulation
- Showering together
- Playing with my wife’s clitoris. I enjoy touching her more than being touched.
If you don’t have the Intimately Us app, I highly recommend you download it. It’s free and has tons of foreplay ideas for making sex fun & exciting! There’s also the companion chat app for couples, Just Between Us, for keeping intimate conversations and pictures private and secure.
Conclusion: The Goodness Of Sexual Connection Can’t Be Overstated
Foreplay is essential for emotional and physical reasons. Foreplay is very intimate, sometimes more intimate than sexual intercourse itself. It’s no surprise that some people avoid foreplay because it’s intimate and anxiety inducing, but with practice the foreplay can be so good that it becomes the main event!
In practice, foreplay begins the moment your past sexual encounter ends. Foreplay is about connection, and by making the effort to stay in connection, you’ll experience foreplay every day. You can learn to relax, touch, use your words, and play together to create better connection through foreplay.
In conclusion, the goodness that comes from sexual connection can’t be overstated. I’ve experienced first hand over the last few weeks many of life’s challenges. The goodness that comes from the deep friendship of my amazing wife Emily has helped me find joy, healing, and peace. We see each other, eye-to-eye, and meet each other where we’re at. The connection and bond is strong, playful, and invigorating.
Thank you for reading. Please share with a friend, they’ll thank you for life 🙂
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