Foreplay—the tantalizing, PLAYful activities that people engage in beFORE sex, hence the name—is commonly accepted as something that should happen before intercourse. The questions of whether it does happen, how long it typically lasts, and what people are actually doing, foreplay-wise, are another story.
A 2017 study, surveying 52,588 people to find differences in orgasm frequency across sexual orientations, reported that “women were more likely to orgasm if their last sexual encounter included deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, and/or oral sex in addition to vaginal intercourse.” Only 65 percent of the heterosexual women surveyed said they “usually-always” orgasmed during a sexual encounter, compared with 66 percent of bisexual women, and 86 percent of lesbian women. While the study doesn’t prove that heterosexual women aren’t getting enough foreplay, it does suggest that lavishing your partners with lots of it adds up to more fun in the bedroom. Here, two experts share their best foreplay tips for a much more satisfying sexual encounter.
Don’t treat foreplay like a quick pre-sex requirement.
If you spend a few cursory minutes on foreplay, rushing through like it’s a plate of raw vegetables to nibble at before the meaty main course is served, your partner won’t just feel cheated—they’ll be able to tell you’re not into it, which is a libido killer.
Layla Martin, sex expert and author of Wild Woman in the Bedroom, says the best kind of foreplay puts the emphasis on “play,” setting aside intercourse as the goal. “If you are touching or seducing your partner and you’re thinking, ‘I’m just doing this so we can have sex,’ she’s going to feel that. It’s not going to be sexy, and can even shut her down.” Instead, Martin recommends staying as in-the-moment as possible, taking delight in her pleasure and the sensations you’re both feeling. “It’s counterintuitive, especially because we call it ‘foreplay,'” she adds, “but the sexiest things happen when you aren’t thinking about the future.”
Let her know how much you want her.
Paying your sexual partner sincere compliments will let you know how much you appreciate her, and that might make her feel sexier before your clothes even hit the floor. Martin suggests “telling her how much you desire her,” and how beautiful she is. Knowing that you don’t just want to have sex, you want to have sex with her is a turn-on for many women (don’t you enjoy feeling desired, too?)
Though it may sound shallow, “Let them know you want them as soon you walk in the door by complimenting the way they look: ‘You’re even hotter tonight than when I left this morning,'” says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the Drive Her Wild With Pleasure video course. “And be clear that your craving is rooted in just how desirable they are: ‘I want you, and nothing else will do.'”
Have a hard time finding your words? O’Reilly suggests sending a text during the day, such as “I can’t stop thinking about you.”
Ask what kind of foreplay she likes, and you’ll learn something.
You can always become a better lover, but you’re not a mind-reader. In addition to paying attention to what she responds to, asking is the best way to know what gets her motor running.
“The number one key to being excellent at foreplay is communication,” Martin says. “Many partners assume that all women are turned on by touch, or direct sexual play, but not every women would list that as their first choice.”
Help her get relaxed and ready to play.
After a stressful day full of obligations to others (work, kids, family, you name it), getting intimate may be the furthest thing from her mind. Help her move into a different headspace with a *pressure-free* decompression session.
Breathwork isn’t just for yoga class.
If you haven’t heard of breathwork, it’s defined as “conscious, controlled breathing done especially for relaxation, meditation, or therapeutic purposes.” It can help your partner (and you, if you’re game to try) to reconnect with her body amid life’s stressors and distractions.
“It might sound strange to do breathwork as foreplay, but I’ve taught about 10,000 women how to use it as a way to get excited for sex,” says Martin. “It’s extremely effective because it takes them out of their thinking, controlling, judging, and planning mind, and puts them into their feeling, connecting and sensing mind—which is the path to amazing sex for most women.”
Whisper sweet somethings into each other’s ear.
Maybe (non-dirty) talk sounds less than erotic to you, but it can bring the two of you closer with surprising results. “Feeling intimately connected can be the sexiest foreplay for some women,” Martin explains. Her work with clients involves “a communication practice where they honestly share their desires, their fears and what they love about their partner. “Hundreds of couples have told me this is the best foreplay they have ever tried.”
Kissing: It’s a classic for a reason.
Remember the first time the two of you kissed? If you do, you know that kisses are the ultimate chemistry test, and one of the quickest ways to connect with your sex partner.
O’Reilly recommends a simple yet intense makeout session. “Kiss with passion as you press your entire body against theirs. Allow yourself to really feel the full-body contact, paying attention to the pressure, textures, temperature, and contours of your bodies.”
Use your mouth on her (not just in the way you think).
Hovering your mouth this close to her skin will build anticipation, O’Reilly advises, or try licking her in a sensitive spot and breathing warm air over the slick path you’ve created.