Romance And Love Articles
Foreplay is to sex what stretching is to a workout: easy to skip but essential for great results.And it's a lot more fun than stretching.
Good foreplay is the way we smooth out our differences - slowing the man down a little, speeding the woman up a little, and meeting (hopefully) in the middle.
And it's not just humans who do it. Most mammals will bite, scratch, nuzzle, smell, mount, urinate upon and otherwise make intimate contact with their partners for minutes, hours or even days before intercourse.
We, too, do better when we work up to sex slowly, which is why time spent flirting, touching, caressing and kissing is time well spent.
Why is it so important?
Because women take longer to achieve orgasm than men. "A man's sexual responses are like a lightbulb: you turn it on, and it goes from cold to hot almost instantly," says psychologist and sex therapist Jude Cotter.
"When you turn it off, it cools right away. But a woman's responses are more like an iron: you turn it on, wait for it to heat up, then wait ages for it to cool."
Technically speaking, there's some evidence to suggest that women's sexual responses in themselves aren't any slower than men's - it's just that women need more foreplay because it's harder for them to orgasm through intercourse alone.
Is it my fault may partner takes so long to become aroused?
Women generally do take longer to become aroused, but here's a sobering thought: women can climax in minutes when they masturbate.
Is it just women who need foreplay?
No. Not only is foreplay important for establishing intimacy and understanding, it's essential for good, strong erections.
Many men also find that prolonged foreplay enhances their orgasm. And the older a man gets, the more important foreplay becomes to his sexual performance.
"Men need a lot more direct genital stimulation as they get older to achieve the kind of erections they did in their youth," says sex therapist Shirley Zussman.
Why are men so poor at foreplay?
Surprisingly, it's nothing to do with our laziness, but because we're so goal-orientated we tend to neglect the very thing women crave - tenderness.
This probably has a lot to do with how we're taught to behave as boys. "Men learn while growing up that touching, hugging and kissing are feminine needs and that 'real men' only like intercourse," says sex therapist Lonnie Barbach.
How long should it last?
Only you and your partner can tell. It could be ten minutes, it could be two hours. But in one sex study 709 nurses said that, on average, they liked about 17 minutes of foreplay. That may seem a long time, but the rewards are rich. And who are we to doubt the word of nurses?
How do I know if it's working?
Just in case you don't recognise the signals by now (or you're 15 and have eluded our censor controls), here are the unmistakable signs that your foreplay is succeeding...
Can I improve my technique so we both have a better time?
Psychotherapist Doreen Virtue says you already have the two most important tools you need (no, not that) - your mind and your body.
The trick is knowing how to use them to cultivate the skills of a great lover. Begin your quest by reading our guide to men's foreplay - then get her to read our pages dedicated to women's foreplay.
Foreplay Guide for Men
Don't rush in
"The main thing men forget is that it takes women longer to get in the mood," says sex therapist Shirley Zussman.
"Men can move more or less directly from watching football to having sex but women are much more aware of setting, surroundings and mood. They need to be romanced a little and have more transition time."
Slow everything down. Begin your seduction on the sofa, dedicate time to kissing, undress slowly - the more time you spend working her up into a lather the better, for both of you.
Use kind words
Since women respond more to verbal rather than visual stimuli, talking is one of the best ways to arouse a woman. It's also a way of letting your partner know that she can take all the time she needs.
"During foreplay, women are often thinking about how they look, whether they can please you, whether they're desirable," says psychotherapist Doreen Virtue.
And here are the three best words you can say to a woman during foreplay: "Take your time." It may sound stupid, but you're giving her permission to relax and enjoy herself. It's effective, and she'll appreciate you for saying it.
Ignore the obvious goal
A main complaint women make about men's approach to foreplay is we're too genital-orientated.
"What men should remember is that women require more non-genital , whole-body-touching sex," says Zussman.
"Gentle touching is evidence to her that he cares about her as a person. She needs that before she can become fully aroused."
Make a pact with yourself that for a full ten minutes you won't even go near her vagina. Concentrate instead on the other nerve rich areas of her body such as the breasts, mouth, neck, armpits, buttocks and earlobes.
Learn to tease
Anticipation is a powerful aphrodisiac. Here's one trick that will work brilliantly for both of you: lie on your side facing your partner, with the tip of your penis just touching the entrance of her vagina.
This allows you to kiss, fondle her breasts and stroke her buttocks while gently teasing her with your penis.
Resist the urge to penetrate, though, until she wants, or hopefully begs you to.
Know her body
After all these years studying the female body you might think you know it inside out. But here's a three-minute masterclass.
While we might enjoy them, only one in ten women actively play with them during masturbation, so don't automatically expect her to respond to your attentive breast worship. She certainly won't respond kindly to it just before her period - this is when they are at their most tender.
If they're not erect yet, don't clamp or twist them. Instead, use the flat of your palm to rub her entire breast in a circular motion. Start lightly and increase the pressure as she becomes excited. Once they are firm, take them between two wet fingers and slide back and forth. Don't squeeze.
This bud of concentrated nerve endings is a lot more sensitive to touch than the penis, so don't bash or tweak it too hard with your fingers. And don't plunge a finger deep into the vagina - most women find this a real turn-off, not to mention uncomfortable.
HER INNER LIPS
These are much more sensitive than the outer ones, especially if stroked along their inner surface. In one sex survey 84 per cent of women masturbated by stroking them, along with the clitoris.
Men, particularly those in long-standing relationships, tend to forget how pleasurable kissing is. Instead, it becomes nothing more than a signal that says "I want sex now", says sex therapist Lonnie Barbach. Next thing you know, you're limiting kissing because you donıt want your partner to assume it's a prelude to sex.
Escape this downward spiral by kissing her more throughout the day. Then, when it does come to sex, make sure kissing is at the forefront of your foreplay. Use your tongue to explore her entire body and be gentle. Remember - many women would like less tongue. Try instead to use the tip of it to play with the tip of hers.
Get an A in oral
For a polished performance try these simple tricks:
USE A PILLOW
"A pillow under your partner's rear end provides better access to her genitals," says Paul Joannides, author of The Guide to Getting It On (Vermilion, £14.99).
Put your hand on her perineum, the area between the vagina and the anus, and press or massage it. It's one of the most erogenous zones for women.
'SING' TO HER
The clitoris responds best to constant, gentle vibration. A good way to achieve this is to hum quietly as you lick her. "A well hummed aria can push some women into orgasmic orbit," says Joannides.
Most men simply work their way down a woman's body - mouth, breasts, belly-button, and so on.
But look at it from her point of view: if she knows exactly where you're taking her the journey's no fun. Whisk her off on a mystery tour instead:
TRY OVERLOOKED BITS
Her eyelids, inner thighs, the backs of her knees, behind her earlobes, and the tops of her breasts (not her nipples).
USE SMALL SUCKING KISSES
Add pressure with the tip of your tongue.
AFTER KISSING, BLOW ON THE AREA
It's probably the only time she'll enjoy catching a chill.
Keep your kit on
When you were a teenager you were probably fully clothed for much of the sex you had. Not only was this necessary (other partygoers wanted to use the toilet), it was fun.
Once there's no one to catch us in the act, though, we're all too eager to strip off and get down to business, which automatically speeds up foreplay.
Instead, take time to peel off - and make the most of the clothes you've still got on. "One oral sex variation is to go down on your partner when they're still wearing underwear," suggests Joannides. "Reach under the material with your tongue, push it to one side for access or pull it off with your teeth."
Here's a final rule: if it feels corny, do it. That applies to both men and women, but in different ways. For women, it feels corny to dress up in lingerie or costumes, but men find it very stimulating. By the same token, the things that men feel corny doing - lavishing compliments on their women, snuggling and cuddling, waiting on them hand and foot - are highly effective forms of foreplay. "Many men say they don't know what to do to make their partners happy. Well, they do. They just can't imagine doing or saying it. If you feel embarrassed saying something, you now know that it's probably the thing that'll make her day," says Virtue.
Foreplay Guide for Women
Some women think men fall down on foreplay because they're clumsy, selfish or orgasm-obsessed. This may well be true, but according to sex therapist Shirley Zussman, women are as much at fault for not communicating their own needs. "Many women still have a great deal of difficulty in communicating what they want and need sexually - if she doesn't know what she wants, his chances of satisfying her are greatly reduced." You don't have to tell him where to put his fingers, where to blow and what to lick, but guiding with your hands works wonders.
One of the most common complaints from men when it comes to sex is that women don't grab the penis firmly enough when handling it; they treat the man's genitals as gingerly as they do their own. If you're unsure what's firm and what's painful, get your partner to place his hands around yours while you masturbate him and allow him to adjust the pressure. The same goes for playing with a man's testicles. They may not be as delicate as you think.
Stimulate his G spot
The good news is he does have a G-spot. The bad news? You'll need to insert a lubricated finger into his bottom to find it. If you do this and press towards the front of his body you should be able to feel a small knot. This is the prostate gland and, for many men, having it massaged or stroked can intensify orgasm. There is another way to get to it, though. The area just below the testicles that leads to the anus is extremely sensitive to touch and can deepen the degree of sensation, particularly if pressed lightly. By doing this you're essentially massaging his prostate externally.
Give him something to see
Letting your partner watch you masturbate is one of the most intimate sexual acts you can share with someone. But letting him see how you stimulate yourself works on two levels. Not only does it give him the best possible lesson in how to arouse you, it will pander to his need for visual stimulation. To charge this scene even further, tell him that he can watch but not touch, or create a fantasy scene where he's spying on you without your knowledge.
According to Samuel Janus, co-author of the Janus Report on Sexual Behaviour, although women have traditionally felt more uncomfortable about talking dirty, times are changing. "Women no longer swoon at obscenity," he says. "And this represents a great change for relationships that women can feel free to express intimate sexual feelings." This is all the permission you need to describe in detail what you're doing, what you're about to do and what you'd love him to do to you. Men love running commentaries. Just ask Murray Walker.
Feed his eyes
The older your partner, is the more likely foreplay is going to be an important part of sex for him too. But here's something you should know: he might want to use more pornography in his foreplay. "Older men are more quickly aroused by the visual than they are even by manual stimulation of the genitals," If you don't like the idea of looking at pornography together, make the prelude to sex a real performance and allow him to look at your body, try dressing up, anything that provides a little extra eye candy.
Open the toy box
The majority of sex toys are bought and used by women (70 per cent of Ann Summers' customers are women after all) but that doesn't mean you have to keep them all to yourself. "Vibrators are generally associated with women," says Anne Semans, author of The New Good Vibrations Guide To Sex (£16.99, Cleis Press), "but men can enjoy them too." If you have a vibrator, draw it up and down the shaft of his penis, under his testicles and against his nipples, before getting him to experiment with it on you.
You'll never be able to pull his pud better than he can but don't let that stop you trying. Here's a few tips to help you on your way...
If your partner has a foreskin, gently pull it back as far as it will go and hold it there while you stroke the shaft with your other hand - this can heighten penile sensitivity. Try this during oral sex too.
ADD A LITTLE TWIST
For extra sensation incorporate a slight twist to your downward stroke. You can do the same during oral sex by tilting your head and rotating your tongue.
HAVE A SWELL TIME
Move your hand firmly down the shaft of the penis and when you reach the base squeeze tightly. This temporarily prevents blood flowing back out of the penis, causing it to swell and increasing the sensitivity of the head.
FIND HIS FRENULUM
The frenulum, the little piece of skin connecting the shaft to the head of the penis (on the underside), is the most sensitive part of his organ. Flick this area with your tongue during oral sex or gently rub it with a lubricated finger during masturbation.
TRY DIFFERENT TEXTURES
Experiment with a few different textures against his penis - a silk hanky, talc, honey, a leather glove or sandpaper. Well, maybe not the sandpaper, but you get the idea.
Be a tease
The reason men don't like foreplay is that they're mental sprinters; totally focused on the finishing line. What you need to do is slow him down by putting a few hurdles in his way. Work your way down his body, giving him a total-body tongue-bath but avoiding his genitals at all costs. The objective? To make and keep him hard for as long as possible without actually touching the penis. He'll appreciate the wait.
e head girl
Three tips for fantastic fellatio...
"Clever women let gravity carry their saliva down a lover's penis," says Paul Joannides, author of The Guide to Getting It On (Vermilion, £14.99). "They can also use it as a lubricant for pumping the bottom part of the penis with one hand while doing the upper part by mouth."
BLOW HOT AND COLD
Altering the temperature of your mouth can make oral sex even more interesting for him. Try sucking ice cubes or sipping a hot drink before you go down on him. Better still, alternate hot and cold in one session.
MAKE EYE CONTACT
The opening at the tip of the penis is also worth exploring with your tongue. Gently open it by squeezing the head of his penis with your finger and thumb.
All these great tips and advice will make foreplay more erotic and plenty more pleasurable.