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Foreplay is considered any sexual activity before intercourse. That said, intercourse doesn’t need to be the grand finale or even on the menu if you don’t want. Great foreplay is plenty hot when done right.

So many reasons! Foreplay triggers physiological and physical responses that make sexual activity enjoyable and even possible.

Physiological

Yes, foreplay feels good, but it goes deeper than that. Engaging in foreplay helps build emotional intimacy that can make you and your partner feel more connected in and out of the bedroom.

Not in a relationship? Not a problem! Foreplay also lowers inhibitions, which can make sex hotter between couples and virtual strangers alike.

And if stress has put a kibosh on your libido, a little foreplay may do the trick.

Kissing, for example, triggers a release of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. This chemical cocktail lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and increases feelings of affection, bonding, and euphoria.

Physical

Foreplay literally gets the juices flowing by increasing sexual arousal — which isn’t to be confused with sexual desire, though it can do that, too.

Sexual arousal causes a number of physical responses in your body, including:

  • an increase in your heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure
  • dilation of your blood vessels, including your genitals
  • more blood flow to the genitals, which causes the labia, clitoris, and penis to swell
  • swelling of the breasts and erect nipples
  • lubricating of the vagina, which can make intercourse more enjoyable and prevent pain

In terms of sex, foreplay is usually defined as erotic stimulation preceding intercourse.

Take intercourse out of the equation and foreplay’s defined as an action or behavior that precedes an event.

What that “event” entails may not look the same to you as it does to someone else — and that’s perfectly OK.

Intercourse doesn’t have to be the main “course” or even on the menu if you don’t want it to be.

Foreplay can hold its own and be all you need to reach orgasm. As a matter of fact, research has long shown that many people with vaginas don’t orgasm with intercourse alone.

So, as long as there’s consent, foreplay can be and include anything you want.

You have to start somewhere, right? But who says you need to be in the heat of the moment or even the same room to get started?

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If you know you’re getting together later that day or even in a few days, you can use foreplay to get the party started and keep it going. Here are some ideas to get you, well, started.

Leave a note

You don’t even need to be creative to get them going with a note!

A note left on their pillow or hidden in their gym bag that implies that you can’t wait to get down and dirty later should do the trick.

Sext

Texting is easy-peasy and can be done on the fly.

A quick text telling them what you’re going to do to them or how hot it makes you when they [fill in the blanks] is sure to get things stirring south of the border.

It also lets them know you’re thinking about them, and who doesn’t love that?

Meet up for dinner or drinks

Footsies under the table, a quick make out sesh in the restroom or parking lot, or a cheeky peek at what you’re wearing — or not wearing — under your clothes.

These are just a few ways to turn pre-fun dinner or drinks into foreplay.

Roleplay

Turn foreplay into an opportunity to live out your wildest fantasies by engaging in some roleplay.

Pretend to be strangers headed for a one night stand when you meet for dinner or drinks. Or how about playing doctor and naughty nurse? You decide!

Kiss like you mean it

Don’t send them off or greet them with a peck. Instead, lock eyes, press your body against them, and kiss them long and deep.

Use your tongue and your hands and make sure you moan just enough to get them excited about what’s to come.

Tell them it’s pre-game time

No need to be coy when your end game is to get them naked and do the unholiest of holies.

Tell them in as graphic a manner as you can muster that there’s nothing you want more than to get them hot and hard/wet and keep them that way all day and night long. Schwing!

Want more than just the wham bam? You can set the mood for foreplay and any other action you want with the right moves.

Light some candles

There’s nothing like candles to set the scene for all the sexy things.

Tea lights are inexpensive, so stock up and light them all around any and every room you might get busy in.

Did we mention how flattering candlelight is on the skin?

Put some music on

We all have a song or two that touches us deep in our special place. Find out what theirs is, throw in yours for good measure, and make a playlist of others.

Barry White’s “Let’s Get it On” and Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You” are a couple of classics. “Earned It” by The Weekend is another popular track, and “Animal” by Nine Inch Nails is a hot one — and my personal fave.

Dance

Two bodies pressed against each other and feeling each other’s hot breath on your cheek as you sway to the rhythm of sexy tunes. ‘Nuff said.

Striptease

You don’t need a pole or even great moves to do a striptease. Dim the lights and take your clothes off slowly with an expression that shows no fear. Confidence can totally be faked, BTW.

Put out an erotic spread

Set up a picnic on the bed with a spread of some sexy goodies that are made for sharing.

Juicy strawberries and cherries with some whipped cream and chocolate sauce for dipping are perfect for feeding — and licking off — each other.

And chocolate’s a natural aphrodisiac. Bon appétit!

Make out

Kick it ol’ school and just make out. Do it on the couch, in the back of a cab, or pressed up against the window.

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If you’re already well on your way and feeling all the special feels, it’s time for outercourse. Yes, that’s a thing!

Here are some things to try next.

Massage

The power of touch is real, and a sensual massage works wonders on the body and mind. Light some candles and get out the oil, or use a massage candle that does double duty and can be very Fifty Shades-esque.

Start at their feet and work your way up, being sure to hit their sensual pressure points and linger wherever they want you to.

Erogenous zones

Your partner’s body is a smorgasbord of hot spots just waiting to be touched. Kiss, lick, and nibble your way through all of their erogenous zones.

Skin on skin

Dry humping, it turns out, isn’t just for horny teens. The sweet anticipation of two bodies rubbing against each other in various states of undress just can’t be beat.

Verbalize

Talking about what you want during sexy time doesn’t just work as foreplay; it also ensures that you each get what you want and need in bed. Tell them what turns you on and what you want to do to them.

Toys

There’s more to sex toys than huge cock-shaped dildos.

Vibrators of any shape and size can be used externally on every erogenous zone you can think of.

There are also finger vibes and nipple vibes you can use to take foreplay to another level.

A hot soapy shower

Hot wet skin and hands sliding across each other’s bodies as you lather each other up with soap? Yes please! A hot bath works, too.

Sensory play

Not that all this kissing and dry humping isn’t going to tickle the senses, but you can take it to the next level with a few props.

Blindfold your partner and tease them with different textures and temperatures with things like feathers, ice cubes, and your tongue.

Use things you already have that might feel good against the skin, or buy a seduction kit online.

Ready for your main course? Make it a full-on feast o’ fun with these ideas.

Oral sex

Start away from the genitals and let your lips work their way down. Your mouth’s going to do most of the work, but don’t let your hands get lazy! Use them to caress other parts of their body while you pleasure them orally.

  • Make it hot. Don’t neglect the lesser known, but oh so pleasurable, bits while you’re down there: the clitoral hood, which is the flap of skin over the top of the clit, and the frenulum, the little wrinkle of skin on the underside of the penis where the shaft meets the head.
  • Keep it safe. Get some flavored condoms and dental dams for safe oral sex. Yummy and sexually responsible!

Vaginal penetration

Vaginal penetration doesn’t need to be the ultimate goal — it can be a stopover on the way to any other sexual act that you’re both into.

You can do it with fingers, sex toys and strap-ons, or a penis or a combination.

  • Make it hot. Doing it doggy-style gives the penetrating partner easy access to the receiving partner’s G-spot. And the view, well that’s a bonus.
  • Keep it safe. Lube is a must no matter what’s doing the penetrating. A warming lube will literally make penetration even hotter.

Anal penetration

Take it slow and enjoy some anal play if you’re both into it. Do it with your tongue, fingers, butt plugs, or a penis. Don’t skimp on the lube!

  • Make it hot. Doggy seems to be the position du jour! It gives the penetrating partner easy access to all the other parts that they might want to love on at the same time, including the clit, penis, perineum, and prostate. Reaching these could get the receiving partner closer to an anal orgasm, too.
  • Keep it safe. A hot soapy shower together gets you ready for anal play in every way. It’s also the perfect time to tease the opening with your tongue or a finger before going all the way.

Some people just don’t seem to care about foreplay.

Yeah, being a lazy or selfish lover could be part of the problem, but it might just also come down to a lack of confidence in their skills or a lack of information about the how’s and why’s.

Talking about what you want in bed isn’t always easy, especially if you’re worried about hurting or offending your partner.

Here are some tips to make it a little easier:

Start on a positive note. Instead of mentioning what they’re not doing, begin by telling them what they do that feels good and how you want more. For example: “I love it when you kiss my neck before we have sex. I could let you do that to me all night.”

Don’t lay blame. Telling them your body’s craving something different will go over a lot better than telling them they’re not satisfying you.

Show and tell. Sometimes a person needs a little extra encouragement. The next time you hug or kiss, hold them a little longer and gently guide their hands along your body while telling them how good it feels. Watching a video on tantric sex together might also give them a little nudge in the right direction, especially if not wanting foreplay has to do with a lack of know-how.

Ask them what they want from you. Tell them how much turning them on turns you on. Follow with asking if there’s anything they want you to do more of. It’s a great way to open up the dialogue so you can both share what you want.

Tell them why it’s important to you. You might need to lay it all on the table and make them understand why you need foreplay.

Some points that might be worth mentioning:

  • it helps you get wetter/harder for sex
  • it helps you orgasm or have stronger orgasms
  • not everyone gets aroused at the same pace and some need more time than others
  • it helps you feel closer to them
  • it increases body awareness of pleasure zones

What sex and foreplay look like to you doesn’t need to line up with what you see in the media.

You don’t have to follow a certain order or agenda to enjoy either! It’s like having dessert before dinner — it’ll be delicious no matter when you have it.


Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.