If you think of foreplay as just the short window of time it takes to get your clothes off before sex, you are definitely doing it wrong. Foreplay isn’t just something you have to get through to get one or the other person in the mood — it takes work. But it’s the fun kind of work! If you’re feeling a little disappointed in your sex life these days, there are ways to make foreplay the focus of sex and turn your orgasms around. HelloGiggles talked to Wendy Strgar, a sex therapist and author of the book Sex That Works, and she gave us some pretty grim news.
According to Strgar, the average sexual act lasts only 7-12 minutes! That means we are not spending enough on foreplay, or as Strgar defines it, “the moments when the arousal mechanism in the limbic brain gets to align with the blood flow to the genitals.” Quite simply, foreplay is totally necessary.
According to Strgar, more foreplay is obviously better.
Of course, foreplay is also just sex. A lot of acts many of us assume are “foreplay,” like oral sex or fingering, are sex acts. (Remember, sex doesn’t always end in penetration.) But even those acts take some time to get into. When we talk about focusing on foreplay, it’s more about a focus slowing down and paying attention to yourself and the other person.
Here are some of Strgar’s tips for being more conscious about your foreplay game.
1Go through the nose.
No, don’t do it in the nose (or do, whatever, we don’t know your life). But invest in some of those fancy scented body oils, Strgar says, “Awakening our arousal mechanism does not happen in the genitalia, but in the limbic brain, which is co-located with olfactory where our sense of smell is processed.” Which means a scented oil and some massage or hey, even a scented candle and some mood lighting if you’re not into body oils, can help turn you and your partner on. Strgar suggests adding a whole 10 extra minutes to get your smell on.
2Be really aware of your fingers.
Obviously, a lot of sexual acts involve the hands, but only if you know how to use them. Don’t worry: You don’t have to learn any new tricks to get better at touching someone. Just bringing and awareness to your hands and fingers can do the trick. “Inattentive touch,” Strgar says, is a total mood killer — think about all the times you were with someone who didn’t really know or care about what they were doing. Not hot, right? Really paying attention to what’s happening and playing around with touch is the way to go.
Here’s the thing: Orgasms are great, but that’s not all sex is about. Sometimes our bodies just can’t get there, often due to a lack of foreplay, because we’re so focused on the finish line. Strgar says,
“We all worry about successfully climaxing, of being able to get to the golden ring of orgasm, but by placing our attention there, we miss the juicy and most compelling parts of coupling.” She adds, “Becoming more comfortable and curious in the early give and take of sexual foreplay is how we cultivate a veritable harvest of passion and even sometimes orgasmic pleasure that will surprise us.”
What’s not to love about that?
4You’re going to have to communicate.
Obviously, all of these steps mean one major thing that way too many people don’t do when it comes to sex: TALK. If you want things to slow down, introduce some oils or props, or change things up, you and your partner are going to have to talk about it. How that happens will look different couple to couple. Strgar says you can do something as simple as setting a goal with your partner (just so you both know what’s going on.) “Even if it’s just an additional five minutes each time you are intimate, [setting a goal] is an easy way to train your focus on the moment and away from the ending.”
Focusing on foreplay doesn’t really mean you have to change your whole routine. Just being more mindful about it and focusing on turning each other on — instead of trying to get each other off — is all it takes.