Foreplay is often an important part of starting a sexual experience, whether solo or with a partner(s). It’s an aspect of sex that many people don’t spend enough time on or forget altogether. This podcast with Dr. Kate Balestrieri and Modern Intimacy Clinical Associate, Raquel VanLoon, LPC, CADC, CSAT-Candidate discusses the importance of erotic foreplay and how couples can begin to explore or expand upon their current foreplay regimen.
What is Erotic Foreplay?
Foreplay is erotic stimulation that usually occurs before sexual activity, whether solo or partnered. It is time spent “warming up”, setting the mood, and building desire before sex. Foreplay can look different for everyone so one person’s preferred foreplay techniques won’t necessarily be another person’s cup of tea. The amazing thing about foreplay is there are no right or wrong ways to do it. It can be an exploratory experience between people to play around and see what works for them to get in the erotic zone.
It’s important to note that while foreplay often precedes intercourse, it doesn’t have to. In fact, foreplay is sometimes called outercourse and can be just as pleasurable as the “main event” of sex.
Common Myths About Foreplay
There are many myths and misconceptions about the function and efficacy of erotic foreplay. Dispelling misinformation is the first step towards fostering the type of foreplay that works best for you and your partner(s).
“Foreplay isn’t needed before sex.”
While it’s likely there are some who don’t feel foreplay is necessary to get them going, for many people it’s an important prerequisite. Foreplay is an intimacy enhancer obviously leading up to sex, but it also can play a role in strengthening emotional intimacy as well. For many, if their partner wanted to jump right into penetrative sex without foreplay, it can feel objectifying and doesn’t give each partner the chance to slow down and be present with each other.
Foreplay can be especially important for people with vaginas as they typically need more time than people with penises to get to a level of arousal in order to reach orgasm. That being said, foreplay can be beneficial for everyone despite genitalia.
“Foreplay only happens right before sex starts”
Many people believe that foreplay only happens a few minutes leading up to sex. While that does happen and is common, foreplay can begin hours or even days before any sexual activity. You can start the anticipation well in advance via sexting, role playing, leaving sexy notes for your partner to find, and many other creative ideas. For couples who have busy schedules, it can often be exciting to plan sex ahead of time and start the foreplay process a few days before or the day of.
“There is a set time to engage in foreplay before moving on to intercourse”
There is no “set time” for foreplay as everyone’s sexual needs are different. Some might need five minutes to get in the mood while others might need much more time than that, and neither is wrong! You and your partner get to explore what feels best to you and what is needed in order to have pleasurable sex. If you don’t know how much time your partner needs, you can ask them what usually works best and have a conversation about what you both need to feel ready for intimacy.
“Men don’t want or need foreplay”
There is a common myth that men are inherently more sexual than women and as such, do not need foreplay. In reality, foreplay can be beneficial for anyone engaging in sexual activity, despite gender. While there may be men who don’t want or need foreplay to have a pleasurable sex life, there are many who appreciate the erotic buildup, connection, and pleasure they get to experience with their partner during foreplay. There are also women out there who may not care for foreplay, and it has nothing to do with one gender being more sexual than others, it’s simply preference.
Exploration & Erotic Foreplay
Foreplay is an opportunity for couples to really explore pleasure with each other and see what works and what might need to be adjusted. There is no one right way to do foreplay which means you can get as creative as you want and incorporate your strongest desires and fantasies. You also don’t have to stick with a strict foreplay routine over and over again. Of course if that’s what works best for you and your partner(s), go for it! However, foreplay needs and desires can absolutely change over time and couples can always check in with each other about any additions or changes they’d like to see when it comes to erotic foreplay.
In this episode, Dr. Kate talks with Raquel VanLoon, LPC, CADC, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist – Candidate. Raquel is a Clinical Associate at Modern Intimacy, and earned her Masters degree in counseling psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a specialization in treating addiction. Raquel works with clients feeling overwhelmed with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, stress management, life transitions, trauma, substance use/abuse, building coping skills, body image, and lifestyle balance, to name a few. Raquel meets clients where they are and supports them through getting where they want to be.