the pros and cons of foreplay
or Goldilocks and the Three Bares
Foreplay is obsolete.
In the traditional sense anyway.
Foreplay used to mean the little things, the kissing and sliding and touching, that a man and a woman did before beginning the main event of their penile-vaginal intercourse. Now, however, young, heterosexual, white, able-bodied, and conventionally-attractive partnerings who thought they were the mainstream have discovered that, 1: gay and lesbian couples cannot have penile-vaginal intercourse, 2: 75% of women cannot climax from penile-vaginal intercourse and, 3: penile-vaginal intercourse is the riskiest form of sex. The traditional definition of sex as intercourse has been revealed to be a chauvinist fabrication and, as such, has had to be abandoned.
But now that sex can mean anything, foreplay no longer means anything.
Or does it?
I have recently read a number of calls from sex columnists to discard the word foreplay in support of a broader definition of sex where everything counts. And while I agree, in theory, that ‘proper’ sex can count as so many more things, I still think there is a place for foreplay.
Masters and Johnson’s Human Sexual Response Cycle model, referenced in the pictograph at the top of this post, refers to four basic phases of human sexuality – the excitement (or arousal) phase, plateau phase, orgasmic phase, and resolution phase. What if foreplay, instead of being a specific set of acts, instead was defined as any act that is performed with the intention to excite?
Instead of foreplay meaning anything else that you do besides intercourse, we could instead understand it to mean anything that you or your partner do to begin the initial arousal. When you’re in the excitement phase, turning each other on with your fingertips and tongues, or even erotic words, videos, and texts, that is foreplay. When you move on to the plateau phase, where both of you are already ‘on’ and just enjoying it, no matter what specific thing you are doing, that is sex.
With this in mind, I have discovered something that is true for me, but may not necessarily be true for everyone else.
The amount/quality of the foreplay dictates the level of arousal for the entire sexual experience.
And much like Goldilocks and her bear variations, this can go three ways.
Too little foreplay, and you may find yourself struggling with a low level of arousal throughout the entire sexual experience. It may still turn out to be wonderful and satisfying, but like cold soup that may at least nourish your body, it might be better just a little more warmed up.
Too much foreplay, and you may struggle with a level of arousal that is too high. Again, you may still have great sex, but you may have to pause often to cool off. (Because many women may have no or a very short post-orgasmic refractory period, this may not be a problem for them. There may be no large bear in the feminist version of this fairytale.) But for a man, there is such a thing as the soup getting too warm. And if it gets too warm during the foreplay at the beginning, it may stay too warm throughout the entire experience.
Of course, just the right amount of foreplay makes for a beautifully well-rounded adventure, after which you can both fall contentedly asleep in the baby bear’s bed. Okay, that’s a lot of metaphor stretching, but the point is made.
As a man, it is my responsibility to communicate when I’ve had too little foreplay or when it’s beginning to be too much.
To me, foreplay is intention. When she is intending to excite me, when that’s the point of whatever act happens to be taking place, I usually do get excited. Then when we settle into just enjoying for a while all the excitement we’ve built up, that turns into sex, whatever act we happen to be performing, and the excitement turns into an extended, plateaued high. Then we go back to turning up the excitement, but this time the intention is resolution, and that turns into orgasm.
Intention is hot. Sometimes it gets too hot, and on the other hand, sometimes we settle into enjoying the heat before there is enough heat to enjoy. But just the right amount of intention at just the right times makes fireworks (and memories).