Let’s talk about foreplay.
If we look at the etymology of the word, foreplay literally means before play, as in something playful taking place ahead of another event.
In this sense, we experience foreplay everyday. Singing and dancing around in our underwear before getting dressed in the morning. Laughing and cracking jokes with our co-workers before the meeting starts. Watching the cold-open of our favourite episode of The Office. We experience play in lots of big and small ways in our daily lives, and this play allows us entrance into deeper conversations, more detailed story lines, or the seriousness of being an adult in dress pants. It’s fun, and it helps us feel safe and secure.
The dictionary’s definition is… problematic.
In the dictionary, foreplay is defined more specifically as the sexual stimulation of ones partner, usually before sexual intercourse. This is a pretty specific understanding of before play.
I’ve got to admit, I really hate this definition. I think it is part of why our culture struggles with trying to determine whether foreplay is over- or underrated; it pigeon-holes foreplay into the confines of being valid only if it looks like one thing: the POV blow-job that starts off every porn video on the internet.
This is why it can be so hard to have a conversation with your partner about foreplay. Why “I just need a little more time warming up” doesn’t always land. Your partner is already manually stimulating your clit, isn’t that the exact definition of foreplay? And sure, I guess it is. But is that what we really need in order to be ready for sex?
Foreplay is like stretching.
Foreplay helps build a sense of safety, security, and love. It plays a huge role in allowing us to feel vulnerable enough to have sex. Whether we have been with our partner for 3 dates or 30 years, without foreplay we can arrive at sex feeling anxious and distracted, maybe capable of engaging in intercourse but not fully present. Think of foreplay as the stretch before a long run; you’ll feel better if you do it, just trust me.
Foreplay leading into sex, when engaged in with a spirit of play, can look like any number of things. Yes, it could be the dictionary definition of your partner manually stimulating your clit. But more often than not, foreplay is going to begin before you even start taking clothes off. Maybe it’s a foot rub; maybe it’s your partner playing with your hair. Maybe it’s making out like 14 year olds pushed up against the bedroom wall. These are actions that yes, make you feel sexually attracted to your partner. But even more importantly, they are actions that make you feel safe and loved.
So, is foreplay overrated?
That’s a pretty big question; who is rating it? Is foreplay overrated for you? Well, that’s probably a question only you can answer. If you’re showing up to intercourse ready to ride, then all the power to you and also can you teach me, please?
But in all seriousness, the general consciousness of the internet cannot rate foreplay as over- or underrated. It is important to ask for it, if you feel you need it. And it’s important to give it, if it’s asked for. Tell your partner how you rate foreplay. I’m a 9/10 on the foreplay-is-important-meter, but I have friends who are steadfast 3’s. It’s all cool. Just make sure to get what you need, because you deserve it.
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