Trusted for 23+ Years
Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert
Foreplay is about creating desire in the mind and body by slowly awakening sexual stimulation through pleasure. When done well, it can stimulate couples in a way that adds to intimacy, lowers inhibitions, decreases stress, enhances health, and of course, increases the physical pleasure of orgasms. That being said, it doesn't have to lead to intercourse, and as long as there's consent, it can be anything that pleases you.
There are various ideas here for you and your lover and so many others that you can come up with on your own as you allow your creative juices to flow. Just remember that as you brainstorm ways to spice things up, be understanding, non-judgmental, and open-minded with one another, as relationships are about teamwork, compassion, communication, and tolerance.
Flirting with one another can be a form of foreplay that can include notes, sexting, and playful comments. Humor is a wonderful way to flirt with one another, so telling one another jokes, making a sexy scavenger hunt, or doing something to make them laugh is a great way to open up intimacy.
Foreplay Gets Your Body Ready For Sex
Small sexual physical acts prime your body for sex. For example, kissing triggers a release of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, which lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels and increases feelings of affection, bonding, and euphoria. (See more information about kissing techniques in our Kissing Guide).
- Using foreplay provides helpful physical responses that can prepare you for great sex.
- Foreplay increases your pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure.
- It lubricates the vagina, which makes sex enjoyable without vaginal pain.
- Foreplay dilates your blood vessels and increases blood flow to the genitals, which causes the labia, clitoris, nipples, and penis to get erect.
The most obvious of the erogenous zones are the genitals, but many other areas on the body are rich in nerve endings that provide a great deal of pleasure when stimulated.
- Areola & Nipples
- Mouth & Lips
- Inner Thighs
- Nape Of The Neck
- Inner Wrist
- Scalp (Playing With Hair)
- Behind Of The Knee
- Navel & Lower Stomach
- Small Of The Back (Sacrum)
- Inner Arms & Armpits
- Palm Of Hands & Fingertips
One of the less obvious erogenous zones we have is through our scalp. Stimulating the scalp through head massage and hair play can be relaxing as well as sensual. Your scalp is rich in nerve endings, so playing with your lover's hair a big turn on for many people.
Legs & Feet
There are various reflexology and acupressure points in the feet, so providing even a short foot massage can relax and entice your lover. You can slowly work your way up the calves and thighs by using your hands and mouth to stimulate your lover.
Used as a complementary treatment reflexology has been shown in studies to provide relief for discomfort as well as provide pleasure. In reflexology, the heels are the area where you should stimulate the genitals. You can also rub Kidney 1 (KI1) and Spleen 4 (SP4), points which are both located on the feet. These are powerful points for balancing energy, and increasing in blood flow and are connected to both the male and female reproductive organs. See our Acupuncture Guide for more information.
Ears also contain a rich amount of acupressure points, and massaging ear lobes and nibbling and kissing them can provide intense sensual stimulation. Some men and women have orgasms just through ear stimulation.
Hands, Forearms, and Armpits
With technology taxing our hands quite a bit, we often carry a great deal of strain in our hands. Providing massage to the muscles in the hands and up the arms into the armpits can be a delicious way to stimulate and relax at the same time as well as arousing.
Back & Buttocks
Stimulating the back through massage, kissing, licking, and even using feathers, whips, and back massagers can be one of the most stress relieving and exciting ways to start a sexual experience. Simple stimulation to the back can create a sense of being nurtured and increase sexual arousal. Adding massage oil that is scented or using massage oil and massage candles are wonderful ways to increase the stimulation to the senses through sensation, scent, and even flavors.
Don't forget that we also carry a great deal of tension in our buttocks and hips, so, including that in your massage is also a treat. If your hands feel tired giving the massage, use a body massager to complement your sensual massage. For more information, make sure to see our guide on How To Give Sensual Massage.
Beyond massage, having foods that seduce the senses, such as chocolate, is a great way to stimulate the brain as it increases serotonin. Feeding one another strawberries dipped in chocolate is certainly seductive, but if you want the health effects rather than the fat, sugar, and dairy, then try having a teaspoon of organic raw cacao powder in a smoothie sweetened with stevia. The stimulation from chocolate occurs in just a matter of minutes, and the effects will last about two hours.
While we like to promote healthy foods, you can, of course, make a sensual feast of naughty foods to enjoy with a spread of ice cream, strawberries, cherries, chocolate, honey, and other things that you can drizzle on one another. Just make sure to keep sugar out of the vagina as a yeast infection is not a fun way to follow up with great sex. See more foods that enhance sex In our Sex & Nutrition Guide & Sex & Herbs Guide.
Breasts, Chest & Neck
The breasts, chest and neck are sensitive and can offer sensual sensations when massaged, kissed, and licked. You can use stimulating massage oils and lubricants on these areas as well for added sensations. In addition, using honey powder to dust onto the skin and lick off can be a pleasurable way to enjoy one another without a sticky mess.
Sex Toys & Foreplay
There are so many creative and sensual things you can do with sex toys. From vibrators that delight every inch of your body to feather ticklers, we have you covered when it comes to healthy, body safe sex toys. Make sure to explore all the fun items we have in our store to delight your senses, such as stimulating and flavored lubricants, nipple toys, sex pillows, sex restraints, massagers, and more.
Roleplay can include various fun adventures, from pretending to be strangers at a party or bar to playing a naughty maid or teacher. You can also integrate BDSM role play with dominant and submissive roles. Roleplay scenarios typically involve these roles, where one lover has power over the other—student/teacher, cop/offender, employer/maid, etc. Roleplay fantasies also incorporate strangers who have an affair with one another or have anonymous sex.
Before you begin roleplay, negotiate your roles, establish boundaries, and set soft and hard limits. Also, have an aftercare plan of what you will do afterward to continue your bonding, such as cuddling, watching a movie, etc.
Doing a slow sensual striptease for your partner with sensual lighting and music can be a playful way to get your lover's attention. See our Striptease Guide for more information.
The best way to do a great striptease is to:
- Practice ahead of time
- Assume a confident persona
- Pick seductive music
- Dim the lights
- Tie your partner down
- Take off your clothing slowly
- Make eye contact
- Teasingly touch yourself
- Take off underwear last for a grande finale
Showers, Baths & Hot Tubs
Water can be sexy, and bathing one another or sex play in a hot tub can be a great way to make things feel more sensual. Before you try to have sex in water, keep in mind that natural bodies of water, such as lakes, are pretty dirty and can contain parasites to try to avoid vaginal and anal penetration in them. Also, penetration in water can wash away your natural lubrication, so planning for penetration after foreplay in the water may be a good idea. See our Water & Sex Guide for more information.
Sensory play is sexually stimulating your lover's senses. It can include a variety of things, the most popular of which is when you blindfold your partner and tease them with various textures such as feathers, whips, and silk or with temperatures such as ice cubes, warming lubricants, and your tongue.
Sensory play can include things such as:
- Having sex in front of the mirror for visual stimulation
- Locking eyes during an orgasm
- Talking dirty to one another for auditory stimulation
- Using sounds such as toning for auditory stimulation
- Using textures, temperatures, and other sensations for tactile stimulation
In a sexual behavior survey of more than 350,000 people from 41 countries around the world, the following information was compiled about foreplay:
- On average, people spend 19.7 minutes on foreplay. Men claim to spend 20.2 minutes and women spending 18.8 minutes.
- Worldwide, foreplay seems to last longer in those who are younger. Those aged 18-20 reportedly take 21.6 minutes, 21-24 year-olds take 19.1 minutes, and people over 55 take 17.3 minutes.
- The British spend the most time on foreplay (22.5 minutes), followed closely by the Germans (22.2), the Irish (21.8), and the Spanish (21.7). Thais spend the least amount of time (11.5 minutes). Also ranking pretty low were Hong Kong (14.2) and the Vietnamese (15.2).
- The United States ranked No. 17 out of 41 countries. The survey says Americans spend an average of 19.7 minutes on pre-intercourse foreplay.
Have Fun Together
One of the best things about sex is that it can be enjoyable. Try doing things that encourage smiling and laughing before sex. A sense of humor and the willingness to try something different can help set the mood. Having a pillow fight, wrestling or tickling match, and watching something funny together to help lighten the mood can be a great place to start.
Be Positive & Nurturing
Partners should give of themselves to have sexual balance. Letting your lover know how much you want them through genuine flattery is a great way to open up to the possibility of sex. Saying things such as "I find you so attractive when I feel your body next to me, the warmth of you, the softness of your skin makes me feel so close to you."
The movie with the famous lover Don Juan DeMarco had some rather great lines to describe the ultimate foreplay mentality:
"Have you never met a woman who inspires you to love? Until your every sense is filled with her? You inhale her. You taste her. You see your unborn children in her eyes and know that your heart has at last found a home."
"Have you ever tasted a woman until she believed that she could be satisfied only by consuming the tongue that had devoured her? Have you ever loved a woman so completely that the sound of your voice in her ear could cause her body to shudder and explode with such intense pleasure that only weeping could bring her full release?"
"Women react to me because they sense that I search out the beauty that dwells within them until it overwhelms everything else. And then they cannot avoid their desire to release that beauty and envelop me in it."
Providing an atmosphere of appreciation for your lover is a great way to get them in the mood. After a hard day of work, there is nothing nicer than having a sitter for the kids, a hot bubble bath with a glass of their favorite beverage waiting. How about little love notes throughout the house, or even a massage in a candlelit room? Using creativity and playfulness is to get someone into a relaxed mood, feeling appreciated, and ready to share an extraordinary sexual experience is the ultimate foreplay approach.
The Body & Mind
Often there is a sense of sex equaling genital contact right away. Start with the simple idea that pleasure is the goal, not the orgasm. The act of playing with their hair by simply twisting and softly pulling back on it, to massaging their feet are great examples to provide your lover with the introduction of the physical pleasure you wish to share with them.
It is why the Fifty Shades books were so popular as they explore teasing, patience, and making time for sensual play, not just through intercourse. There is a seduction process even to the sexual acts, and it is something that we often deny ourselves, thinking that it is not that important when it is the small things that make the whole thing memorable.
Good Sex & Body, Mind & Spirit
Who we are physically is intertwined with all of who we are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We are not just physical beings, and even though we may not choose to have in-depth conversations with someone, it does not mean we are not sharing our essence with another. Sometimes just a look or touch from someone can mean so much to us and move us deeply. See our articles on Mindful Sex and Tantra for more information.
With so much going on in our hectic schedules, it is easy to let weeks pass without quality time together. Arranging a special time together is crucial to keeping your partner open to you and sexual play. Doing things together through a simple walk while holding hands, playing non-sexual games together, cooking together can increase intimacy. Connect outside of the bedroom, and don't forget the importance of making things memorable. It makes seducing your lover easier and more fun.
Relive A Good Memory
The earliest days of your relationship tend to be the most erotic. If you can, do something you used to do at the beginning of your relationship and enjoy a blast from the past. Go to places that mean something to you, have meals that you used to enjoy on your first dates, listen to music that used to play when you were first dating, look at photographs of fun times you have shared, and reminisce of the things that you loved doing together to find ways to bring back the spice.
Express Your Desire For Foreplay
If you find that your partner is dragging their feet participating in foreplay, let them know it's important to you. Stay positive in your approach rather than mentioning what they are not doing. Say something like, "I really love the way you kiss my neck and put your hands on me. It makes me want to have sex with you."Make sure to ask them what they enjoy and desire and say things such as:
- I want to make you feel good and give you pleasure, tell me what you love.
- Foreplay makes me feel closer to you.
- Foreplay gives me stronger orgasms.
- Foreplay helps me get more aroused for sex.
- Not everyone can get aroused as quickly as others, and it helps me achieve that.
Having A Difficult Time Connecting?
If you find foreplay or connection difficult, you may want to try things that simply do not involve sex to reconnect emotionally first. Set a time period where with a rule that you are not allowed to have any physical intimacy. Instead, focus on doing fun things together that are not sexual. Sometimes, the idea of not being able to be with your partner can also make it more enticing to have to wait. Building emotional intimacy in the meantime will help intensify sex when you finally do allow yourself to return to it.
Learn More About Sex Techniques
Don't be afraid to try something new in bed to seduce your lover. Many people are bored having sex the same way every time. Try new positions, foreplay, and intimacy building techniques and rediscover one another over and over again. See more Sex Tips throughout our site.