A Complete Guide on How to Foreplay

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A Complete Guide on How to Foreplay


I’ve been writing about sex online for nearly a decade, and, as such, I have noticed there are some questions a lot of people consistently hit up the internet for answers to. One of the topics that folks seem to have many about is foreplay! Read on to learn the answers to some of the internet’s most burning foreplay questions!


What is foreplay?

Foreplay is defined as the sexual activities that precede intercourse.

I’m going to be perfectly honest; I don’t like the term “foreplay.” Why? Because it implies that there is one activity that is “sex” (usually penis-in-vagina intercourse), and anything else is just an add-on that happens en route to the “real sex.” 

Not everyone’s sex life includes intercourse and but they are still “having sex.” A sex life without intercourse can include oral stimulation, manual stimulation, playing with adult sex toys, and more. The problem with the term “foreplay” is that it categorizes all of those activities as not sex, and that’s just wrong.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m assuming some folks who got here by googling “how to foreplay” or something similar would still like some answers. Have no fear; I’m still going to walk you through some of the things we call foreplay and address some more of those popular Google search questions!

How do you foreplay for the first time?

This is one of those questions that gets asked A LOT on the internet. So, let’s talk about it, if you are brand new to sexual activity and embarking on your first exploration of great foreplay, congratulations! You are about to have a whole lot of fun! But how do you do it? How do you start? What does it even entail? Don’t panic; we’re about to talk about all of that and even give you some suggestions to try out! 

As we have already stated, foreplay tends to be defined as any sexual activity leading up to penetrative intercourse. It can include kissing, massage, breast and nipple play, manual stimulation (stimulating the genitals with your hands), oral sex, or even using foreplay sex toys. That said, it’s important to remember that a satisfying sexual experience can come from any of those activities, even if you have no plans to explore penetrative sex. Specifically, manual stimulation and oral sex get lumped in with foreplay when, for many folks, they are the main sexual event. It all depends on what the sexual encounter in question looks like; who does it involve? What do they enjoy? 

There is a lot more to sex than just penetration. 

An excellent place to start is to think of good foreplay as anything that turns its participants on. I’m about to give you a list of potential foreplay activities but remember this list is neither exhaustive nor a checklist you need to work your way through. These are just suggestions. Also, remember that foreplay isn’t always made up of distinctly sexual activities. For some people, conversation, a delicious meal, playing a sport, or any other activity that gets their motors revving could be considered foreplay. 


Do Some Kissing 

For many of us, kissing is the starting point of sexual interactions, and for a good reason! This basic expression of affection and attraction can run the gamut from chaste to super-duper hot! Start slow and let the tension build as your kisses get longer and deeper. If you are so inclined, you can even get French with it! While you are kissing, open your mouth and allow your tongues to touch for the classic french kiss. Heads up, this is a place to proceed gently. Having someone's tongue shoved into your mouth without warning can be a bit jarring so maybe start off by briefly tickling the inside of your partner’s mouth with your tongue. From there, you can explore different movements and techniques to see what feels good for both of you. 


Make Out Like Teenagers

Remember when you were young -- and maybe hadn’t even had intercourse yet-- and you would make out for HOURS? This is a thing we kind of forget about as we get older, but it can be a really fun foreplay technique. Take your kissing and add in some touching, nuzzling, maybe a little neck kissing or gentle biting (tread lightly, as that can leave marks that a lot of people don’t want), and you’ve got yourself an old-school makeout session! 


Give (or get!) a Massage

Massages are not inherently erotic or sexual, but they sure can end up that way!  Whether it’s a neck massage, a foot massage, a back massage, or something else entirely, it can relax the recipient, forge a physical connection, and get everyone in the mood. Turn up the sensuality with a massage candle or some luxurious massage oil. My foreplay tip here is not to skimp on the sensual massage! Lots of folks use the term “massage” as an excuse to touch someone else’s body, then  do a little quick, half-hearted rubbing and jump ahead to sexier activities. I say if you offer someone a massage, and you genuinely want to deliver sexual pleasure for them, make sure you give them the message for real. 


Breast and Nipple Play

Nipple stimulation can be sexy, powerful, and fun for all involved. Nipples can be very sensitive; in fact, some folks can orgasm in response to nipple stimulation. Fun, right? So, where to start? You can start off by using your hands for some gentle touching and rubbing of the breasts as well as caressing, pinching, and flicking of the nipples to get a sense of how intense your partner likes their stimulation. Then you can use your mouth to suck, lick, or gently bite the nipples (with permission. Please ask before you bite someone’s nipple.) If you want to head more towards the BDSM side of things, you can check out nipple clamps or suction devices.


Dirty Talk

Some folks believe that sexy time is not time for talking and to each his own, but I’m here to tell you that dirty talk can be an amazing tool for heightening sexual arousal. So what constitutes dirty talk? It can be pretty basic like “you’re so hot” or  “that feels amazing,” or you can explore telling them what you want to do to them or have them do to you in detail. If you are with a partner you have been with before, reminiscing about past adventures is a quick and easy way to deliver some quality dirty talk. Bonus foreplay tip: check in to see what your partner thinks of as hot dirty talk before you start monologuing. A lot of folks think “dirty talk” is synonymous with degrading talk, and having someone call you a “dirty whore” when you are expecting them to talk about how much they want you is jarring.   


Get Your Grind on!

This is another one that will, for some folks, feel like a throwback to adolescence by grinding or dry humping can still feel awesome as an adult! Grinding one’s clothed genitals up against a partner, whether it’s their leg, hands, genitals, or, really, anywhere that feels good, can be really hot. For folks with clitorises, that indirect stimulation can be a big turn-on and possibly even lead to orgasm. 


Try Your Hand at Manual Stimulation 

This is one of the sensual foreplay activities that, for a lot of people can be the main event rather than just an opening act. Manual stimulation can include penetrating a partner -- vaginally or anally-- with your fingers or stimulating a penis with your hands (aka a handjob) or a penile male masturbator. Add some lubricant for a slick, sexy, sensual manual stimulation experience! Another person's hands being all up in your businesses can raise some questions for vagina owners and penis owners alike. Even a pro masturbator or partner may wonder from time to time how deep is a woman's vagina? Or even how to tighten vaginal walls? 


Oral Sex

Just like manual stimulation, oral sex can, for many, be a very satisfying sexual main course, but it can also, of course, be a fun way to enjoy each other’s bodies prior to intercourse. Wherever it fits into your sexual routine, oral sex can feel amazing. Use your mouth to stimulate your partner’s clitoris, penis, anus, and more. Don’t let the word “oral” fool you, though. Adding some hand action to your blowjobs, cunnilingus, or analingus can take things to a whole other level!


Add-In Some Toys

Want some more ways to play? Good news, we offer amazing sex toys for couples to stimulate penises, clitorises, vaginas, nipples, anuses, prostates, and more! We even have sex toy furniture to mix up your usual foreplay. Have fun selecting toys you think you will both enjoy, and then experiment to see what works. You might find that the right toy can take your foreplay from overture to grand finale! 


Get Kinky

Foreplay is a great place to introduce and explore some kinky elements. Trying out a blindfold, some restraints, spanking, and more can help you get on the road to a super-sexy encounter! Just make sure everyone is onboard for getting kinky. 


"How long do girls want foreplay?"

This is another commonly googled question, how long should foreplay last? The answer is that girls (or women, or people with vaginas and/or vulvas), much like any other form of human being, are all separate individuals and, as such, all have different wants and needs. I know that if you were googling the phrase above, you were probably hoping for some very concrete answer like “everyone with a vagina needs 12.75 minutes of foreplay,” but that answer doesn’t exist. Sorry. 

Don’t despair, though, because of the fact that there’s no right answer here also kind of means that there’s no wrong answer! It all depends on what works for the partner in question and what other activities they want to engage in. 

For folks with vaginas, a couple of things that can happen during the sexual arousal process:

  • The vagina and vulva become lubricated
  • The labia and clitoris become swollen due to the increased blood supply.
  • The vaginal canal expands


Please bear in mind that while any and all of these things can happen, they won’t happen for every single person every single time. Additionally, the absence of these responses does not necessarily mean someone is not excited or into what is going on. Arousal non-concordance is the official name for stuff like when we are sexually excited, but the vagina is not lubricating. It’s common and people want to know what causes vaginal dryness? Sometimes it can be the same for people with a penis, the arousal is there but the penis is not getting hard. 

That said, all of those responses can help make penetrative intercourse comfortable and enjoyable for folks with vaginas, so it’s a good idea to at least provide the stimulation that can trigger those responses. Another important aspect of comfort for vagina owners is self-confidence. Being confident and comfortable while being aroused is not as easy as it seems. Sometimes simply knowing how to make your vagina smell good can increase relaxation. As for how long to focus on foreplay, multiple studies have shown that it can take folks with vaginas between 10 and 45 minutes to become fully aroused.  

My best advice is to focus on the specific partner you are with at that moment rather than looking for a universal answer insofar as to how long foreplay should last. Take your time, check-in with your partner, find things you both enjoy, and have fun with it!

Want to take your foreplay to the next level with a fun new sex toy? Find all the right kinds of adult sex toys for every taste at PinkCherry – because when it comes to fun and pleasure, we have one of the widest selections on the internet.


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Written By: JoEllen Notte

JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, sex educator, and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead as well as for Glamour, The BBC, Bitch, PsychCentral, and more. JoEllen is the author of The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having.