If foreplay for you means a few hurried twirls around the clit before penetration, or even worse, is something you don’t do at all, you’re seriously missing out. Now we don’t say this about a lot of things. There are plenty of techniques and positions you can forgo and still have an amazing sex life, but good foreplay is crucial.
But before we find out why, let’s take a quick step back to understand what we really mean when we talk about foreplay.
What is foreplay?
Foreplay, also called "outercourse", is traditionally understood as any sexual activity that happens before sexual intercourse. Foreplay includes a huge range of activities like kissing, caressing, cuddling, sharing fantasies, touching, talking or massaging each other.
We often think of foreplay as an appetizer before the main course. A little taster to whet your appetite for the main event. But this is the wrong way to look at it. First up, foreplay doesn't always have to lead to intercourse. And secondly, intercourse doesn’t have to be the main dish.
Defining foreplay as "sexual activity... before sex", implies that any other sexual activity besides penetration is not sex. But when we define and understand sex only as penis-vagina penetration, we’re limiting ourselves. This phallocentric viewpoint also limits our pleasure in many ways because it makes our sexual encounters center on the penetrative act that in our minds "must" happen.
But sex can involve a wide range of activities. And it doesn't have to include penetration at all. There are so many non-penetrative activities which can be classed as sex: oral sex, phone sex, handjobs, breast stimulation, nipple play, kissing… the list goes on.
So perhaps a better, broader way to think of foreplay is that it’s a way of building sexual pleasure, which may or may not be followed by orgasm, penetration or any other particular sexual activity.
Why is foreplay so important?
Foreplay builds sexual arousal and pleasure
Apart from giving us pleasure, which should be at the center of any sexual activity, foreplay is essential for so many reasons. One of these is that foreplay builds sexual arousal and pleasure through physical and mental stimulation.
Physically, we experience changes like increased blood flow to the genitals, causing the penis and clitoris to enlarge, and lubrication in the vagina and vulva. And by increasing arousal, the vaginal muscles pull the uterus upwards, making more room in the vagina, which helps make sex more pleasurable.
Another example is the hormones the body produces. For example, when we kiss we release oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. All these hormones that make us feel good reduce our stress levels and help us to be present in the moment and enjoy sex more.
Foreplay increases desire
But foreplay isn’t just about the physical and visible signs of arousal. Foreplay is also what gets us in the mood. It's what makes us think about sex. It’s what makes us want to rip our clothes off and get down and dirty with each other.
Desire can arise spontaneously, like when you’re in a new relationship, but that’s not the only type of desire. Once the exciting honeymoon period is over, you’ll need to harness the power of responsive desire. We feel responsive desire when we’re not really in the mood for sex at first but once we get aroused by foreplay we start to feel our libido kick into gear.
Foreplay helps you to connect to your partner
Foreplay can also help us feel closer and more intimate with our partners, which increases arousal even further. So from an emotional point of view, the arousal that is born and grows from doing any sexual activity is a form of connection. Foreplay can also help you to discover your body, likes and dislikes, as well as to communicate that with your partner.
Learn more with Emjoy
As you can see, foreplay isn't just an optional apetizer before a main meal. It’s a crucial component of sex that can help you to be more intimate with your partner, experience more pleasure and get you in the mood for some sexy, sexy loving.
We’d like to finish off by reminding you that whatever foreplay looks like to you, sex is about pleasure, not just about reaching orgasm. You can have sex without or without orgasming, but it should always feel good.
If you’d like to find out more about foreplay, and find new ways to spice it up, don’t miss our Foreplay audio collection, created by Emjoy’s in-house sex expert, Mia Sabat.