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A Guide to Foreplay

In the sexual wellness space, many practitioners have the ‘Ick’ with the word foreplay – it suggests certain time-sensitive experiences done before the “main event” i.e. penetration. This is, of course, very heteronormative, boring and reductive. F*ck that kind of foreplay.

What if we kept the concept of foreplay, but redefined it as something more than those beginning moments of going down on someone, fondling bits or dry humping for a few minutes.

What if we practice foreplay as the time spent before any sexual experience – where we coregulate nervous systems, drop in with each other, get a sense of shared desires, communicate and connect on a deep somatic and embodied level. It's prettyyyy safe to say people aren't getting enough of that kind of fun.

In Esther Perel's words, foreplay is the "energy that runs through an entire relationship". Deej Juventin, one of my incredible supervisors, has also said foreplay is "getting our nervous systems in sync". Let's learn some ways to tap into this connection:

Emotional foreplay: For those who enjoy deep emotional connection, really tuning in and taking the time to connect with their partner, co- and self-regulate, explore the emotionality of the connection.

Intellectual foreplay: For lovers of intense and stimulating discussion, the intricacies of the mind and even humour. Sapio-sexuality refers to attraction based on intelligence, using intellect to connect and arouse.

Physical foreplay: A classic – taking it slow, teasing, hovering, knee-grazing – touch techniques. I like to redefine physical foreplay to be more about how to touch in the lead up to a sexual context (i.e. brushing hair behind the ear, a deep hello/goodbye kiss, a hand on the lower back) and redefine oral, fingering, anything that isn’t penetrative sex to be outercourse.

Why do we use the term outercourse? Because oral, touching and kissing isn’t just the before act before penetration. Outercourse is sex, and for many it can be the main event.

Sexual/Erotic foreplay: This refers to leaning into the sensual – the embodiment of sexiness or flirtiness – without necessarily referring to physical acts. In Esther Perel’s words, “Foreplay is the art of anticipation. It’s the art of being simultaneously present and transported.” Examples include sexting, letting your partner know what you want to do, sex/dirty talk, erotic embodiment and how you speak/touch/engage and look at each other.

Gorgeous lead image via @clairetabouret

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