Anna Gragert
May 04, 2016 8:00 pm
NBC Studios

On the surface, sex is a simple, natural act that promotes love and togetherness. Yet, when you look at all the myths surrounding intercourse, things can get downright overwhelming. You start to wonder, “Am I doing it right?” and “Is there something I’m missing here?” This is especially the case when it comes to foreplay.

Foreplay, the precursor to sexy time, can be a bit confusing. After all, it can feel as though there’s a lot resting on foreplay, on making your partner feel turned on and ready for sex. To make this easier on us all – especially because foreplay is supposed to be fun – we’d like to take the time to bust some foreplay myths.

Myth #1: Foreplay is not required. Sex should be effortless.

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Sexual health expert Dr. Jennifer Berman reveals that foreplay won’t only make sex better for all involved, it will also enhance one’s relationship outside the bedroom. “Foreplay helps to maintain intimacy. Physical intimacy but also emotional intimacy,” Dr. Berman told Men’s Journal. “Over time, when life gets in the way – our kids, our work, our stress, financial whatever it is – being able to maintain a connection, an intimacy with our partners, is really, really important and foreplay helps to do that.” 

Myth #2: Foreplay must start in bed, right before sex.

“A woman will feel more connected to a man – and more ready for a fantastic sex session  – if she sees he has a sensitive side as well as a hot and passionate one,” explained sex expert and psychologist Dr. Pam Spurr. This means that foreplay doesn’t always need to proceed the act of sex. It can involve sultry eye contact when cooking dinner, a massage in the middle of the day, and anything else that allows your partner to feel loved.

Myth #3: Oral sex and foreplay are the same thing.

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There’s a reason oral sex and foreplay aren’t synonyms. That’s because foreplay doesn’t need to involve genitals in order for someone to get turned on. “Find her ‘lust lines’ to boost her skin sensitivity,” advises Dr. Spurr. “Ancient oriental beliefs state that women (and men, too) have a lust line running from the earlobe down the side of the neck. This is why when you gently stroke her earlobe and then plant little kisses on the back of her neck she gets tingles right down to her clitoris.”

Myth #4: Foreplay should only occur for [insert amount of time here].

In 2012, the University of New Brunswick conducted a survey to see how both men and women feel about foreplay and they found that “the ideal duration of foreplay and intercourse were significantly longer than the actual duration for both genders.” In other words, it’s all about communication and telling your partner what you want. There’s no perfect amount of time when it comes to foreplay – it all depends on the couple, the moment, and the mood.

Myth #5: Men don’t need foreplay.

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It’s a common misconception that foreplay is solely for all the ladies out there, but Dr. Charlie Glickman told Pop Sugar otherwise: “Some men find that they prefer, want, or need some sort of stimulation in order to get an erection. It’s actually quite common, even though there’s a widespread belief that if a guy is turned on, he’ll immediately get hard.” A Lovehoney survey, which questioned 2,000 people, also learned that men feel the need to spend more time getting their foreplay on.

Myth #6: Men don’t want foreplay.

Back in 2006, Men’s Health and Cosmopolitan teamed up to interview 6,000 men and women about all things sex. What they uncovered was this: only 1.4% of men said that their partner “wants too much foreplay.” As a matter of fact, a study in the Journal of Sexual Research discovered that both men and women aim to participate in foreplay for about 20 minutes before sex begins.

Myth #7: Foreplay is just about our bodies.

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In her publication The Book of Love, sex and relationship therapist Dr. Laura Berman reveals that foreplay’s definition is flexible. It all depends on one’s sexual preferences, which means that it can involve talking, teasing, texting, and more. Incorporating certain colors (red has been proven to make men perceive women as sexier), flowers, candles, and music can also help to enhance the experience.

Myth #8: A woman’s ability to orgasm depends entirely on foreplay.

Along with the myth that men don’t need foreplay, there’s the myth that women need it every single time they have sex. Female sexuality researcher Meredith Chivers states otherwise. She measured women’s genital blood flow while they viewed sexual images. What she found was that it took women only 5-10 seconds to respond after they began watching an erotic film. Yes, women may need more time to mentally warm up to sex, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t enjoy quickie every now and then.

Myth #9: Keep doing what works for you – over and over and over again.

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“A regular steady touch is much more likely to work for a man than a woman,” sex and relationship expert Susan Quilliam told WebMD. “But if something works for your partner, don’t keep doing it for the next 30 minutes. The skin gets used to it and the sensation stops.” However, if your partner is about to climax, it’s recommended that you keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing.

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