It's one of the great sex myths: Women want foreplay; men just want play. But according to an ABC News poll, 80% of both men and women say they have "the right amount" of foreplay in their sex lives. Not only that, a study conducted at the University of New Brunswick indicates that men want more foreplay than they're having.
"Men do not hold exclusive franchise rights on goal-oriented sex," writes Susan Crain Bakos in her book What Men Really Want: Straight Talk from Men about Sex . "Foreplay has come to mean the sexual work men do for women to prepare us for intercourse. The assumption is that he doesn't need any preparation. One man described foreplay as 'the period in which she holds him off while he revs her up."
But if that's true, why does Cosmo field questions about how to get a man to slow down on the race to intercourse, while Men's Health readers are asking 'How can I make my wife more interested in quickies?'
1. Play and tease.
So when a guy dives under the covers for some oral action, his foreplay clock is ticking up, while his girlfriend's hasn't even started.
"My boyfriend and I used to have hot sex," said Amy,* 27, "There was tousling and playing and teasing. We still have great chemistry, but now when he's in the mood, he seems to think he can just roll over and stick it in. His idea of foreplay is sticking his hand on my crotch."
Sound selfish? While a woman might interpret this as an indication that her guy doesn't care about her pleasure, he may think he's following the golden rule: Do unto others as you'd have done unto you..
"We like all kinds of touching, but nothing feels better to a guy than having your hand wrapped around his cock," says Will, 35. "So when we're sticking our hand in your panties, we're just trying to make you feel good."
2. Talk to your partner.
Like sorting out any kind of relationship difficulty, communication is key. Whichever partner wants more lead-in time to intercourse needs to speak up, preferably before clothes come off and you're both more vulnerable. And after you make the problem clear (you're not getting enough foreplay), tell him all things he does that make you crazy with lust. Not only will he know what to do, you'll keep his ego intact.
"We may seem like thick-skinned, unemotional buffoons," said Will, "but criticizing our sexual prowess cuts deep. If we're trying hard to please you and you tell us we're doing something 'wrong,' we're not going to be all that excited about keeping up the effort."
Sex expert Dr. Ava Cadell suggests another approach: once a month exchange a wish list of three foreplay ideas you think will "heighten" a sexual experience for you. You can either put "More Foreplay" at the top, or spell out specific requests, like a bubble bath or a sensual massage. Making it an intimate game not only communicates what you want and spares his ego, you'll learn what turns him on.
3. Don't fake an arousal.
But bruised ego or not, forget about faking arousal. Moaning and groaning and allowing penetration before you're ready sends signals to him you like what's happening, and the pace at which it's happening. If things are going too fast, it's better to stop him by saying, "This is wonderful, but I'm not quite ready yet. But I'd love it if you kissed my thighs/breasts/neck more... that's amazing..." When he reaps the reward, he'll catch on.
"Guys with lots of experience tend to like foreplay," wrote one sex columnist, "because they realize that hot foreplay often leads to hot sex."