You’ve probably heard the “oven” metaphor of sexuality. Men are like microwaves, as they get hot immediately, whereas women are like ovens— they need to be preheated and tend to warm up slowly.
It’s a fine rule of thumb—if not exactly scientific—but to extend the idea, there are just so many ways to use that oven. You can broil, bake, roast, grill, and just keep things warm! Just look at all of those dials and settings. If you’re sticking with just one heating method because it’s the only way you know how to cook, you might be missing out on something delicious.
Foreplay is a great place to start mixing things up (it is the beginning, after all). Unlike the main event of penetration, there are endless variations for foreplay. The only limitation is your imagination—and your level of honest communication with your partner, says licensed sex therapist, De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson.
With that in mind, here are a few good places to start.
1. Tease Each Other While Setting The Stage
“The Kama Sutra talks about setting the scene: making a comfortable area, feeding each other fruits, setting up pillows,” she says. Yes, the ancient teachings are about more than just putting your leg behind your ear!
Work yourself up for the act by enjoying all those ancillary steps, like lighting candles, changing the sheets, putting on your most ornate lingerie in front of your partner. It’s so much hotter than just rolling over at the end of the day and saying, “Ehh, you up for it?”
2. Play A Game Of "Everything But"
“A lot of times when people are preparing for an intimate encounter, they go straight for the genitals,” says Blaylock-Johnson. But remember when you were younger and would do everything but before jumping right into sex? Even after you've "crossed home base" with someone, it can still be sexy as hell.
“Some non-genital-focused touching can actually help to heighten your senses,” says Blaylock-Johnson.
When you’re first kissing, try caressing the inner thighs, the stomach, and the arms. See how long you can hold out before actually having sex.
3. Try A BDSM Starter Pack
Yes, these things actually exist.
“There are kits available that serve as an intro to BDSM,” says Blaylock-Johnson. “It may have a blindfold or a small crop or paddle, among other items.”
Simple handcuffs—even better if they’re fuzzy, funny ones—are way less terrifying to incorporate into your foreplay routine than the multiple-page contract that Anastasia signed in Fifty Shades.
4. Watch Each Other Masturbate
Letting him see your solo technique is instructive—he’ll learn what kind of pressure you like, at what speed—but also gives a voyeuristic thrill. You don’t need him, but you want him. It’ll make him go nuts if you’re completely responsible for your own pleasure and he has to stay at a distance and just watch.
5. Play A Game Of Strip Netflix
Up for a little Netflix and chillin’? You could watch old episodes of a sexy show, like The Tudors or Scandal, and remove an item of clothing every time the characters do. Or pick a word or event and associate it with a sex move—like 30 seconds of oral sex any time a Shonda Rhimes character gives a passionate monologue.
6. Break Out The Ice Cubes
Here’s a prop that doesn’t require any awkward trip to a sex shop or cleanup. Just keep a glass of ice near the bed, and pop a cube in your mouth for giving oral sex or even just kissing. You could also trace ice around the nipples, down the neck, and in the creases of the hips, following the dripping water with your tongue.
7. Read A Sex Scene Aloud
Dirty talk can be intimidating for even the most confident femme fatale. If your mind goes blank any time you try, bring in a ghostwriter in the form of erotica. Find a hot passage in a book, or even locate a good tale online.
Even if the words feel over-the-top, the initial embarrassment is on someone else—and you might not even make it to the end of the reading before you have to have each other.
8. Go Down On Each Other In Front Of A Mirror
It can be difficult to keep your eyes open when someone is going down on you, but you’re missing quite a show. Stand near a full-length mirror, and have him kneel beneath you (and vice-versa). It’ll be amazingly hot to watch yourself get closer and closer to orgasm—and easier to appreciate each other’s moves when you’re seeing them instead of just feeling them.
9. Drip Honey On The Spots You Want To Lick
Covering each other in food can be… sticky. Better in practice than in theory, but there are ways to use it sparingly.
Try dipping a spoon in honey and gently dropping it on a trail you will follow with your tongue: a spot on his neck, his nipples, one hip, his inner thigh, above the knee, and then of course a dollop on the head of his penis.
Edible items work a bit better when they are a sex accessory and not the main event.
10. Challenge Each Other To A Nipple Orgasm
You always hear about those people who can come just from having their nipples touched properly. Why not try to be one of them? Pick a sensitive spot on each other—the neck, his perineum, your G-spot—and then go to sexy work, dedicating time and trying out new techniques to see if a big O is possible.
This article was originally published at Women's Health. Reprinted with permission from the author.