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Foreplay Part 1: What Is Foreplay?

What is Foreplay?

Foreplay is all of the things (sexual and non-sexual) that people might do to get in the mood and turned on for sexual activities.

Foreplay vs “Real Sex”

Stereotypically (i.e. pop culture, media, etc.), ‘foreplay’ has meant the things that people (specifically cis-hetero couples) do in order to get ready for “real sex.” So, again, this stereotypically has meant spending lots of time on making out, masturbation/fingering, or oral sex in order to make sure that someone’s vagina was lubricated and aroused enough for penetration by a penis.

But clearly this does not apply to everybody! Not everybody has or is interested in penetrative vaginal intercourse (aka penis-in-vagina sex). And we wouldn’t say that oral sex or mutual masturbation aren’t real sex – They’re plenty real! All of the blog posts in our Foreplay Series are going to work on expanding the stereotypical definition of ‘foreplay.’

So let’s get started!

Foreplay and Communication

Whether planning ahead or talking about it in the moment, it’s key to communicate with your partner about what turns you on and what you’re in the mood for. This includes saying what mood you’re in, what feels good and what doesn’t, body language, and maybe moaning to indicate how you’re doing. Consent is also necessary in the activities that lead up to the sex that you have, and the only way to get consent that is to talk about it. Here are some things to think about in regards to foreplay and communication:

  • Having the Conversation: Talking about the foreplay that you do with your partner(s) opens up opportunities for flexibility and creativity. These conversations can be chances to share turn-ons, give feedback on what has worked in the past, or even to bring ideas from things you’ve researched about on your own. Keep in mind, though, that your partner(s) might not be interested in what you’re bringing to the table. If you suggest something and they’re not into it, take ‘No’ for an answer. If necessary, get clarification if something’s a ‘No never,’ or ‘No, not right now,’ but respect your partner’s wishes either way.
  • Plan Ahead: If you’re looking to do something more involved or time-consuming, it could be worth having a conversation about it ahead of time. That way you can make sure you have everything you need, you’ve blocked off the time required, etc. Doing this kind of early prep can also help “spontaneous” sex go more smoothly, which can take away stress and let partners be more in the moment. Beyond just being practical, talking about it ahead of time can be sexy too! Think of it as another type of foreplay; it can be really fun to build up excitement!
  • Love Letters and Sexting: Communication doesn’t just have to be this formal thing that looks like planning and talking about foreplay interests. It can also be fun and flirty! Writing love letters/emails or sexting in advance of any romantic activities can be a good way to build anticipation and get people in a sexy mood. Please note, though, that if you or your partner(s) are under 18, it is illegal to send or ask for nude pictures. So you might have to keep your sexting PG-13 or text/words only.
  • Moans and More: You can also give feedback during foreplay, letting your partner know what feels good, what doesn’t, or if you’re ready to move on to your desired sex acts. If people are looking for tips on how to get better at dirty talk, a great start can be just describing how you’re feeling, what activities or sensations are working for you, and what you’re going to do after the foreplay. For more on giving feedback in the moment, check out our blog post about moaning .

Remember that just because you’ve talked about something doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. Partners are allowed to change their minds about foreplay or sexual activities at anytime.

Check back for Foreplay Part 2 coming out next week! We’ll have more tips and ideas to help expand our definitions of foreplay, and how it can work in your sex lives!

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