Why Foreplay is Important for Better Sex
“Foreplay helps to maintain intimacy. Physical intimacy but also emotional intimacy,” says urologist and sexual health expert Dr. Jennifer Berman. Not only is it a great way to enhance sex for both you and your partner (regardless of your gender), it can also improve your relationship outside the bedroom, says Berman.
Research has shown building up desire through this pre-sex routine, strengthens a couple’s abilities in the bedroom as well as providing both parties better, more intense and pleasurable orgasms. This applies when the couple is together and even during solo sex. A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research had male and female participants masturbate to orgasm while being monitored. Both sexes reported that their orgasms were more pleasurable when there was a greater buildup of sexual arousal and desire beforehand.
For couples, the researchers looked to see how variation affected overall sexual satisfaction. Surveying a wide range of couples – ranging from 16 to 64, the researchers found variation in sexual routines greatly increased orgasm frequency and intensity as well as enhancing overall intimacy between the couple. The variations found to have the greatest effect on the couple were further refined to foreplay techniques – kissing, caressing and cuddling to oral sex and manual stimulation, then once a couple was having sex, the positions for vaginal intercourse all helped the couples last longer and reported greater sexual satisfaction.
On the topic of a desire for lasting longer in bed is not just a male thing, it’s actually universal. Through these studies, it revealed both men and women wished they spent more time on intercourse and foreplay. In one survey of 152 couples, the two sexes even reported the same ideal duration of about 18 minutes. (The average they reported it lasting in real life was closer to 13 minutes.)
When a relationship is new and fresh, a couple’s excitement and passion for each other is easily maintained as everything is new. Routines are not set and each time they have sex they are learning new ways to stimulate their partner, as well as experiencing new pleasures together. For long-term relationships, foreplay is critical. “Over time, when life gets in the way – our kids, our work, our stress, financial whatever it is – being able to maintain a connection, an intimacy with our partners, is really, really important and foreplay helps to do that,” says Berman.
Just as the expression implies “it takes two to tango,” improving your foreplay ability and routine requires both parties in the couple to participate. As we mature in our sexual abilities we learn our likes and dislikes as well as what usually works for our partners. However, in a committed long-term relationship, the starting point for improving foreplay is each person knowing exactly what they like and this comes from masturbation.
“What I tell my patients is that they need to understand their body, their anatomy, their chemistry, their physiology in order to be able to enjoy sex,” says Berman. Both partners need to be open to discovering what they like and hearing what the other likes because everyone has different preferences.
Then once in the act of foreplay and even during sex, you must learn to read your partner. This is another form of communication and one that sexually satisfied couples understand. The sounds and body language of your partner during foreplay and sex will tell you what they like and dislike. Stopping mid-session for a lecture on what and where to touch are definite “don’ts” and are a sure way to ruin the mood. If you do miss some signs, don’t worry and discuss it with your partner afterwards when it’s a non-threatening time. Improving your sexual routine is work-in-progress and will always be evolving.
Of course, paying more attention to foreplay isn’t the only way to have successful sex but, for most people, it’s important in the big picture. What really matters is that both partners are sexually satisfied because that will benefit the relationship as a whole. So, if your partnership thrives on occasional quickies, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, just so long as you’re making sure that’s truly fulfilling for both you and your partner.