Everybody should know- If foreplay is only occurring directly before sex, then you are doing it wrong. I want to challenge the belief that foreplay only occurs directly before intimacy; in those crucial “15 minutes before intercourse”. Foreplay, actually includes the time between sexual encounters. Your entire relationship as a couple is part of your foreplay. ALL your interactions, emotions, and communication are forms of foreplay. Experts tell you foreplay is the 15 minutes prior to sex, based on the statistics surrounding orgasm. But those 15 minutes are a very small part of the equation.


On average women take 14 minutes of partnered sex to reach orgasm, and men take 5.4 minutes to reach orgasm. A woman’s orgasm lasts from 13-51 seconds and a man’s orgasm lasts 10-30 seconds.

Rowland, David L. Et al. -The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Vol 15, Issue 10, 1463-1471

30% of women do NOT achieve orgasm from penetrative sex alone. Many books talk about needing to spend 10-15 minutes stimulating the woman, before engaging in those delightful 5 minutes of invigorating intercourse.

Technically correct, but this isn’t the most effective mindset to have. Little touches, a kiss on the cheek, a little hug, helping with the dishes, laughter, and other positive interactions, all warm you up to being emotionally open and responsive to sexual arousal. This all counts as foreplay. Couples who are generous in affection and include everyday acts of kindness, tend to have more satisfying sex lives. The emotional aspect of the relationship cannot be ignored.

Emotional Foreplay – Mindful & Positive Interactions

Start with mindful, purposeful and positive interactions.

Positive Touch

  • Reach over and take your partner’s hand on a drive
  • Give a little kiss on the neck when they are working at the computer
  • Run your hand lovingly up and down their back
  • Say “I love you!”
  • Bring a cup of coffee, and give a little kiss.

Positive Words

  • Pet names
  • Genuine compliments
  • Saying ”Thank you” and acknowledging when they do something for you
  • Praise for all they contribute to the household or family
  • Affirmations on who they are as an individual (what makes them special to you)
  • Speaking well of them to others (it always comes back)

Feel contrived? It’s really not. Asserting positive touch and words into your relationship, if done consistently, will remove the “You only touch me when you want sex” conversation AND ”You don’t appreciate me”. This is emotional foreplay.

There is that old saying everyone has heard, ”Happy Wife, Happy Life”, and I’ve always felt it was very one-sided. A marriage takes two people, and in order for it to thrive, both have to actively work at it. My husband always says ”No man wants to come home to a b*tch, and no woman wants to come home to a jackass”. It is each our responsibility, to act in such a way that other people want to be around us – especially our spouse! Every parent will tell you, they want their children to be pleasant to be around – but we forget to apply that to ourselves!

S. Smith

When Change is Required – Change Starts With You!

If your partner only touches you when they want sex… change the pattern. Initiate touch and moments of intimacy when no sex is possible. It’s the little things, and they add up. Eg. While making supper with a dishwasher full from the night before, ASK FOR HELP, don’t sulk and wish for them to notice.

“Can you unload the dishwasher Honey? My hands are full”. OR “Honey would you stir this, while I unload the dishwasher?” Gives clarity that you need a hand., and offers a tangible way to support you. Even if they do it reluctantly, give a kiss and say “Thank you”.

Later, not related to the help, walk by and offer another kiss or hug. Nagging and talking about how they never help or only touch when they want sex, doesn’t give specifics. All your partner hears is ”she’s unhappy with me again.”

Do something about it. Be the change you want. Emotional foreplay begins with you, your partner will mirror your behavior. Be clear, be thankful, and ask kindly. Expect to offer prompts, you are establishing a new pattern of communication. Nobody can read your mind.

Home Sweet Home

STORY – In my previous marriage, coming home felt like preparing for an attack. My “Aha Moment” came early in our relationship. I was cooking supper and heard his loud truck pulling into the driveway. It was in that moment I realized, I wasn’t tense or nervous about what attitude was walking in that door. I knew right then, I had found my special person. I determined, I was going to do everything in my power, to make sure he knew it. Knew how much I appreciated him, and the contentment he brought to my life.

When my husband gets home from work, I never start by telling him how rough my day was, what I’m annoyed with, or what I need him to do. NEVER! I want a partner who is happy to come home. Our home is our safe space, our refuge. This doesn’t mean we don’t have things to discuss, or annoyances to share. I just wait a bit, till were both settled in and then we can talk about anything and everything without either one of us feeling under attack.

11 Positive Interactions -that Demonstrate Emotional Foreplay

  1. Greet each other with a kiss.
  2. Save grievances for after supper wherever possible. (Did you know most family disputes happen right before supper?)
  3. Say ”I Love you” frequently
  4. Mornings -If up at the same time, go to your love while they have their morning coffee. Rub the back of their neck. Ask what the day brings. “My hubby usually slides an arm around my waist and lifts his head for a kiss, and we have a brief good morning chat”-E
  5. Coffee/tea ritual – My grandpa was an early bird, and every morning he placed a cup of tea on my grandmothers nightstand. “So she knows I was thinking about her this morning”-married 70 years.
  6. Before work – share a kiss good-bye, followed by “Have a great day, I love you!‘’
  7. In the car – reach over and pet his hand, or lightly rub his neck.
  8. Evenings while watching TV- “We have our own little spaces, I’m usually on my laptop working. Every time I get up, I go kiss his forehead or lean in for a kiss. AND at some point, I make an effort to put down my laptop and slide in for a little cuddle (even if it’s only for a few moments).” – E
  9. During the day – exchange an “I love you” text, as a stand-alone message.
  10. At night getting ready for bed. – give a little hug from behind or an ass pinch while he’s brushing his teeth.
  11. In bed – “We have a little cuddle and say what’s on the agenda for the next day, always followed with “I love you, good night”, before we roll into our sleeping positions.”-RC

All this has nothing to do with sexual intercourse, but everything to do with foreplay. It’s the little things. The little generosities and friendship rituals that convey love and friendship that lead to better sex.

Importance of Love Rituals

Every couple has their unique love language. Finding what’s unique to your spouse or partner can make all the difference in the world. Foreplay starts with how you speak to each other, small kindnesses, and adequate affection.

STORY –Every evening, on his way home, my husband would bring me a cup of coffee. Suddenly he stopped doing it. After about a week, we were laying in bed and I asked “Don’t you love me anymore?”he looked confused and asked, “Why would you think that?” “Well, you don’t bring me a coffee anymore.” His reply was “Honey, you have about 6 cups going by the time I get home. Your clients bring you coffee all day.” My reply was “I know but they’re not from you.” He answered “So just bring you the damn coffee, even if you’re not gonna drink it?” I answered “Yes!” and he resumed bringing me my coffee.

Bringing me the coffee, although a Little Thing made me feel loved, thought about and appreciated. For me, this is a form of foreplay. This one little act contributes to me feeling emotionally safe and cared for in the relationship.

Once you know each other’s love language and you mindfully incorporate this into your everyday interactions you will already be setting the stage for better sex. Communication and discussing this with each other will also bring clarity. Your partner can’t guess what you want, you need to express it, in the voice of generosity and kindness. Making demands or getting upset when discussing your sex life will only lead to higher levels of dissatisfaction. Sex is supposed to be fun, a way to show your love and appreciation, and to connect on an intimate level with someone you care about.

“Men Make Love to Feel Loved. Women Need to Feel Loved to Make Love.‘’ –Sheila Wray Gregoire

This may seem trite, but it’s true. Try making a small changes to any habits that are frustrating you now. Keep a reminder on your fridge or phone if need be. Or a little sign with a reminder quote. Knowing what you don’t want is the first step. Now focus on what you do want. Build into your relationship these small acts of kindness and they will start to be returned to you. This goes for all your friendships.

Foreplay With Intention to Have Sex

Once relationship foreplay is a part of your daily lives, getting down to the business of sex will be much more fun. Sex does not always include intercourse, in fact the best part for most women is the prelude to intercourse. There are a few ways to go about this to encourage more time on the warm-up. If you’re already feeling loved and sexy 50% of the work is already done. Our brain is our biggest sexual organ after all.

Make sure your partner knows how you like to be loved. Sex doesn’t have to be a big production every time. But there does need to be balance. That’s why I advocate, when negotiating a better sex life, the two quickie one long pattern. It’s just a starting place, but it allows you to have smaller intimate moments combined with longer sessions that are more focused and intentional.

STORY – When we want sex, we have little ways of conveying that. Sometimes during that evening cuddle I’ll mention “If the TV goes off before 10:30 I’m feeling frisky.” or he will start rubbing my feet (because they are always draped over his lap anyway) and I’ll mention, “Oh that feels good, want to rub something else?‘’ Or I’ll start petting him and gradually go for the goods… this is his signal I’m up for it or that I need a little more intimacy.

He has his signals too… usually, an ass pat when I’m making supper, or lingering and helping out, or cuddling from behind with little kisses on my neck. Or he cuddles up to me when I’m working on my computer (his signal to put it down). I know he needs some physical intimacy and wants some attention.

In the prelude to intercourse, your partner should know your erogenous zones, physical and emotional. For some ladies, this is long lingering kisses, nibbles on the neck, petting or rubbing the lower back, a foot rub, a glass of wine, or a snuggle. For others, it’s a bubble bath, a bit of time alone to unwind, their partner taking care of the kids for a bit or putting them to bed. Other women verbal cues are important. “Honey I’m looking forward to eating that pussy later.”, or “I’ve been thinking about you in that lingerie all day.” or “Your ass sure looks good in those yoga pants.” Can be effective. Foreplay isn’t a one-way street either, our partners are just as busy and stressed as we are. Your partner might need: a cuddle, or “You smell good.” Or “ I’m sure looking forward to the big D tonight.” He may also need to relax, be petted or snuggled up to, to even feel safe suggesting sex to you.

We each have the way we like to be made love to. Some prefer variety others require a specific pattern. But rarely do both partners always want it the same way all the time. We all remember back in the days when we were in the “newlywed stage” where we seem perpetually turned on. Everything your partner did was new and exciting.

STORY –One woman told me, how after a couple of weeks of no sex due to illness, when they made love again for the first time, how disappointed she was that it was a quickie. “I was expecting him to be like a kid in a toy store” she said. “All excited about how his new toy would work. I shaved, and prepped and brought out the lingerie, thinking he would be excited do the fun stuff.”

Of course that hadn’t been conveyed to him, so her expectations were simply not his reality. He was tired, wanted to be careful with her due to just recovering, and just wanted a little reconnect. They discussed it after (not during). “You can bet your bottom dollar the next time we played, he pulled out all the bells and whistles” she said, with a laugh.

18 Tips for Better Foreplay

Great Sex starts with better foreplay. Now we’re finally down to the foreplay directly before sex; those crucial 15-20 minutes before orgasm that the statistics keep touting.

  1. Spend time petting down the body, and connect full length; skin to skin.
  2. Stimulate the nipples and clit/penis intermittently
  3. Caress in-between going for the “good bits”, Don’t only stimulate those. Go back and forth.
  4. Verbally express something sexy about your partner. ”Oh, you smell so good”, or “Your skin is so soft”, or “Damn you’re sexy”, go a long, long way.
  5. Verbalize with words or sound when you like something or you want them to continue a particular movement. “Baby don’t stop mmmmm” is quite effective.
  6. Don’t always start naked. The strip tease gives incredible visual stimulation, as does leaving a piece of lingerie on.
  7. Set the mood with lighting or candles, music or other pleasure triggers.
  8. Don’t be afraid to use toys, flavored or sensitizing lubes, a blind fold…be creative.
  9. Start in a new position, or even before heading to the bedroom
  10. Shower together and soap each other down.
  11. Slow down when kissing. Linger and take your time.
  12. Breathe in tandem. Slow and deep.
  13. Kiss between playing with other body parts
  14. Start with a massage, or even incorporate oils or lotion into your petting session. Try to convey you’re not in a hurry.
  15. Kiss and touch non-erogenous zones, like running your hands down your partners arms and sucking or kissing their fingers
  16. When doing oral sex, alternate techniques until its time to go for the orgasm.
  17. Stimulate her clit BEFORE and DURING penetration
  18. Run your hands over other body parts when giving a BJ

In conclusion, foreplay is really the entirety of your relationship, but having a good repertoire of technique’s, to alternate between, can keep thing fun and playful. I leave you with a few quotes to ponder:

“The marriage bed is usually a pretty accurate picture of what else is going on in the marriage.” Kevin Leman

“Yes, sex involves our bodies. But it doesn’t involve only – or even primarily – our bodies. It’s so much more than that.” -Sheila Wray Gregoire

“Intimacy is not something that just happens between two people; it is a way of being alive. At every moment, we are choosing either to reveal ourselves or to protect ourselves, to value ourselves of to diminish ourselves, to tell the truth, or to hide. To dive into life or avoid it. Intimacy is making the choice to be connected to, rather than isolated from, our deepest truth at that moment.” -Geneen Roth

“There is a correlation between the number of days since a man and sex, and the number of things he is willing to do for a woman.”-Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“You always gain by giving love.”-Reese Witherspoon

For more information on foreplay see article on Orgasms