Written by Kate Pauley






Are you doing foreplay wrong?


I’ve been doing a lot of research into desire recently.  This question of “how to keep the desire alive” looms over long term relationships.  There are books, podcasts, research articles, blog posts about this question, and still we as humans seem to be grappling with this.  In my research the other day, I came across a statement that really struck me.  The statement was this:



“Foreplay begins the moment that sex ends.”



I will let that sink in a moment.  Foreplay begins the moment that intercourse ends.



Now the reason that this really struck me is because I, like many, believed that foreplay was the touching/kissing/flirting that began about 20 minutes before sex.  The definition listed on Google is “a sexual activity that precedes intercourse.”  And so, yes, foreplay can be something that takes place right before  individuals desire sex, but so much changes when we shift our view of foreplay from the short game to the long game. Thus, I actually prefer to use Wikipedia’s definition of foreplay: “Foreplay is a set of emotionally and physically intimate acts between one or more people meant to create sexual arousal and desire for sexual activity.”


Let me back up.the foreplay


I often have women come into my office and make statements like, “I’m just not really interested in sex anymore” or “I don’t know why, but I just don’t ever seem to desire sex.”  They tell me that when their partners go to make a move (ahem, foreplay), they know where it is going to lead, and they just are not interested.  Right here, this is the problem.  The only time that some couples are participating in foreplay – “building desire and sexual arousal” is right before one partner wants to have sex.  And by that point, sometimes, the other partner is completely shut down sexually, walls are up, and they have no interest in going there.


Now, imagine partners who view foreplay as the long game, and attempt to build sexual arousal and desire throughout the hours/days/weeks/months between sex.  These couples, who view foreplay as beginning the moment that intercourse end, stay much more connected and attracted to one another.  Right after sex they may cuddle and share some kisses, the next morning they might flirtatiously comment on their partner’s performance the night before, maybe someone sends a coy text message midday, that night, they may get silly and squeeze a butt cheek as their partner walks by.  All of these acts are considered foreplay, but they don’t have the expectation of sex following immediately.  They become a natural way of engaging with one another and staying connected, slowly building desire rather than trying to cram it into a 20-minute time period.  Now, when this couple goes to have sex, both parties have had time to build arousal for their partner, the desire and longing is there, just like at the start of a relationship.


So, how can you let foreplay be a long, fun, sultry game of arousal?  Here are some ideas:

  • Look into each other’s eyes
  • Let your partner catch you checking them out from across the room
  • Flash that sweet, sexy smile
  • Get dressed up and be a tease
  • Plan a date night
  • Send flirtatious texts throughout the day
  • Praise your partner
  • Take a “to-do” off of your partner’s plate
  • Give a massage or a foot rub
  • Hold hands
  • Buy your partner a card, flowers, or their favorite snack
  • Throw a wink your partner’s way
  • Land a kiss on your partner’s neck
  • Turn a peck into a make out


Keep in mind that the goal of these acts is not to immediately have sex, but to begin building desire in your partner slowly, so that when you go to turn it up, the fire is already lit.


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