Sex: The Art of Foreplay

More than a pleasurable sexual activity, foreplay involves emotional and intimate attractions from both sides. Raymond Ehoma explores another side of foreplay.

Kissing girlfriend's shoulder

Foreplay is largely referred to as a range of erotic physical stimulation that takes place prior to “real” sex or sexual intercourse that, in men, stimulate erection and, in women, lubrication. It involves behaviors that are sexually pleasurable and often involve the use of tongue, fingers, hair, breast or a sex toy, to give and receive an all-over body sensory experience through scrumptious kissing, fondling, licking, nibbling and sucking.

When it comes to foreplay, sexual pleasuring, such as oral and manual stimulation, should be considered as self-contained features of a dynamic, ever-evolving sexual menu, of which intercourse is but one. There is, therefore, a need for a deviation from the norm that sex is just about achieving an orgasm—the peak sexual experience—and rather as “the whole” incredibly intimate sexual journey that partners embark on to reach the ultimate pleasure. The pleasure is in the experience of the whole journey, and not just the final destination itself, and none of the activities on this journey is deemed hierarchically superior to the other.

Traditionally, foreplay has been considered as something a man has to do for a woman to get her ready for sex as he presumably always is. This is most probably so because, naturally, men find it easier to get aroused and revel in the pleasures of sex than women who generally need a little more time and manual stimulation to get aroused in order to enjoy sex. While some men can become aroused and get an erection in just a few minutes, women can take up to 30 minutes to reach their arousal peak.

Retrospectively, in a study, about 709 sexually experienced adult female nurses were asked to rank the importance of fifteen different things (such as fatigue, stress and lack of tenderness) that interfered with their ability to reach orgasm.

Foreplay was ranked highest, outranking all others by a good margin. The women considered their men to be overly focused on the goal (intercourse) and tended to hurry through it all. Men, according to the subjects, don’t slow down and take enough time to linger, to be playful, to explore and to help their partners to be satisfied.

On the duration of foreplay, this group of women preferred their partners indulging in foreplay for about an average of 17 minutes. Meanwhile, a re-examination of a research by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the Kinsey Group’s data revealed that about only 7.7 percent of the women whose partners spent 21 minutes or longer on foreplay failed to reach orgasm.

Tips for absolute foreplay pleasure

As observed by Masters and Johnson, during foreplay, both men and women tend to do things that they think would turn their partners on. Really, the key to achieving pleasurable foreplay is to communicate to each other what the expectations and likes of each partner is. It is important to let your partner know, in one way or the other, what feels good and what doesn’t.

1. It starts in the brain
As Masters and Johnson also put it, “Always remember that good sex begins while your clothes are still on.” It starts in the brain. “Getting in the mood” is not just the few moments before sex; it can go on for hours, or even days beforehand. Foreplay, too, begins before you touch one another.

2. Pay attention to romantic details
Set the stage for love in little ways, making sure the room is warm enough, the lighting is right and so forth. The setting you create—candles, soothing music and romantic, loving words—will help harmonize your energies.

3. Experiment with varied touch
Touch is a key element of foreplay because the surface of the body is covered with many nerve endings that transmit pleasurable sensations to the brain. The skin is also the largest sex organ because all forms of pleasure during foreplay are transmitted through the skin. However, some parts of the body, particularly the clitoris, penis, nipples, fingertips, palms, lips, tongues and soles of the feet have more densely packed nerve endings. These sites are sometimes called the erogenous zones—the most sensitive parts of both male and female bodies, and are important areas of exploration during foreplay.

4. Go slow
The essence of foreplay is slowness. Anticipation and growing intensity are important in bringing a woman’s desire to the peak of her arousal, with passionate kissing as a good starting point. Begin by kissing and caressing each other’s bodies, but not the genitals. Massage, caress and kiss her hands, wrists and toes moving gradually towards to her thigh, abdomen and then the outer breast before reaching for the nipples. Always remember to go slow and enjoy the process.

5. Do some exploration
Given the differences between men’s and women’s bodies, it’s natural that each sex needs to learn much about the other’s. Women often go straight for the penis, and a lot of men are oft to complain that women do not grab the penis firmly enough, treating it gingerly. However, if he cannot tolerate too much stimulation of his penis, just like women, many men have sensitive nipples, scrotums and perineum which women can instead spend more time on.

6. Experiment with different rhythms
Tease him or her by arousing your partner, then back off. There is increased anticipation when your partner never knows whether you will continue stroking or if you are going to stop and change pattern. Variety is the spice of life and equally the spice of good foreplay. If you are usually loving, slow and soft, you might want to get a little more forceful, aggressive and dominant to liven things up just a little bit.