Warming Up: Part One on Foreplay

Something that’s been on my mind lately has been foreplay. Not just because I’m a particularly libidinous individual, but also because I’ve had someone ask me about it. I wanted to write something like a guide for properly going about foreplay, but I thought it would be important to first define what it is (at least, what I think it is) and why it’s important. So consider this a part one in my writing about foreplay, because while I think having some solid actionable tips are fun, having a better understanding of what it is and why it’s important first will make those tips more useful by putting them in context.

The definition of foreplay that I’ll be using runs something like this: ‘The sexual or sensual acts leading up to/warming up for the primary sexual event.’ This is admittedly a broad definition and I’m sure a lot of people would have fun with pointing out that many things which are not traditionally considered foreplay would fall into that category. Nonetheless, I think it’s worthwhile to have a definition like this, which allows for a wide variety of sexual acts to be considered the main sexual event. This definition also doesn’t put penetration at the center of sexual encounters, making it a more useful term for those people who, for a variety of reasons, cannot or will not have penetrative sex.

Now that I’ve got my definition down, why is foreplay important? There are a few reasons, some of which are mental and some of which are physical. For the physical side, foreplay provides a time and space for people to get ready for the main sexual event. In the same way that athletes stretch and warm up their bodies for their athletic event, the participants in the sexual encounter also need to be warmed up. Physical arousal takes time for any person, and going through gentler preparation can help for a more physically intensive event. For cis women about to have penetrative sex, foreplay might include oral sex or fingering so that they can become aroused enough. For cis men, foreplay might also include oral sex, as well as things like fingering or kissing. By engaging in foreplay, people become physically aroused enough to go on to their main event, whatever it might.

Foreplay also has a mental component in addition to people being physically warmed up enough. During the time people engage in foreplay, they can also ask questions about how they’d like the main encounter to go. The participants involved might have already discussed what it is that they want to do, communication every step of the way is important, especially when approaching the actual act. These warm up acts also allow the parties to get into a good mindset for whatever it is that they plan on doing. It might seem frivolous that someone might need warm up for something such as an evening of missionary sex or oral, but the truth is that it’s important for everyone involved to be ready for how performing these acts will feel physically and emotionally.

Questions about foreplay are everywhere. How much is enough? What counts as foreplay and what counts as sex? The answer is pretty frustrating: It’s up to you and your partner or partners. If you decide that a blowjob is the main event and everything up to it is foreplay, then that’s your decision. Similarly, if you decide that ten minutes is enough foreplay for penetrative sex, that’s also your decision. Some people really don’t need much to get ready while others need a slower, longer session to be able to get into it. It’s frustrating to be told nothing is certain, I understand that. But I’m afraid that’s a part of the human experience. I could say 20 minutes is the minimum amount of foreplay, but it would be arbitrary and not true for a lot of people who need more time or for people who find that they’re more than ready with just under ten minutes. The most important thing here is to communicate with whomever you’re with and asking if they’re ready to move on to whatever you’ve decided to do next. If you’re communicating honestly and openly with your partner, foreplay should be a fun and sexy way to get ready for whatever your main event is.


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