Dorothy Black thinks it’s time we gave outdated concepts of foreplay the boot.Imagine you’re walking through the Library of Sex. It’s a big place. Now go to the bookshelf marked ‘F’ and find the large and heavy tome entitled ‘Foreplay’. Got it? Great. Now find your nearest trashcan and dump it. Just throw it right in. No hesitation.
Feels better right?
Not sure? Look. Few people knew it was there anyway, so don’t worry about it. Also, it was kinda outdated. So we’re doing the world a favour. Let me explain.
In the olden days (like, at least 10 years ago) the mainstream believed sex meant penetration of the vagina by a penis. Oxford, that most consequential of English language metering, corroborates most drily (and I include this for effect): Foreplay is “Sexual activity that precedes intercourse.”
What used to be understood as the “acts of foreplay” don’t really apply as a separate thing from sex anymore
Dictionaries aside, we’re somewhat more enlightened these days, or at least pretend to be, and have come to understand that sex is really the whole range of sexual acts, an umbrella term really, the ‘there and back again’ from mutual masturbation to oral to penetration.
It’s all that “sexual activity” Oxford’s talking about.
What we used think of as foreplay – “and then he put his tongue on my fee-fee and then I put my hands on his pee-pee and then we ‘did it’” – is really just sex – all of it. The whole 9 ½ weeks of it.
Whether you’re doing it really slowly or pulling a quickie – whether your intention is take your time to build desire to knee-shaking pitch or satisfy a momentary urge – what used to be understood as the “acts of foreplay” don’t really apply as a separate thing from sex anymore.
It is all sex, it’s just different types of sex.
I had this Mr Man once who played a good build up of touching and oral, but was terrible at the actual penis/penetration part – a bit “head down, rabbit your way to victory soldier”. I didn’t walk away from that and think “gosh, he was really great at foreplay, pity about the sex” … it was just all “gosh, that was pretty bad sex”.
Which made sense actually, because we were totally mismatched.
Foreplay is a way of interacting with your partner
I’m also starting to think of foreplay as a way of interacting with your partner. It’s more than just the 1, 2, 3 motions you work through before the big five-minute penetration scene. It’s the whole scope of emotionally and physically intimate acts that you as a couple engage in that creates desire for each other.
Which is why I say great sex starts outside the bedroom.
It’s why great dinner date conversations often lead to sex. Think of those couples who are still enjoying great sex years down the line. They’re able to do so because they’re switched on to each other, are intimately involved with each other’s lives and feelings and practice all those little bonding behaviours that connect them as a couple, the talks, the cuddles, the kisses, the quick hugs and ‘I love yous’.
When a woman complains that her husband doesn’t “perform” any foreplay, what I’m hearing is: “He doesn’t take time with me”, “I can’t communicate what I need”, “I am not satisfied” and “I don’t feel desired”.
None of which has to do with the actual physical act. That’s just an expression of. It has to do with how they’re interacting as a couple. It’s the foreplay principle governing their interaction.
And it’s not great.
This old notion that foreplay is something that happens to women so men can put their penises in a vagina needs a serious overhaul. And the gaping hole left by throwing out the old book on the topic in the Library of Sex is a good place to start.
Well done you.