The Problem with Foreplay

Love, Sex

The problem with the word foreplay is that it prioritizes intercourse and devalues other ways of sex

It starts with a glance that blossoms into a full on deep gaze followed by an intentional kiss and exploration of bodies. 

It’s playful and sensual and unfolding like a beautifully written poem.  The energy of the moment is to be followed and discovered together by the lovers but cannot be forced or preplanned. A pat and contrived sexual and sensual experience is no fun for anyone. 

Historically, foreplay has been an heterosexual relationship concern. Traditionally, men assume they have to do this/these act(s) known as foreplay (digital stim, oral stim, etc.) in order to really get to “it” (intercourse). This way of thinking and being assumes a difference between foreplay and intercourse. And unless ass play is part of your thang, assumptions just make an ass out of u and me

Let me lay out the top 3 assumptions of foreplay for you and why you need to consider changing your use of that word in your love and sex life. 

1) The word itself assumes there is a before 

Foreplay, broken down, means an act that occurs prior to some sort of fun, or play. The fun, in this case, is assumed to be intercourse. It assumes the fun has not already begun. But, boy oh boy, if looks and energy are being exchanged and consensual touching is resulting in pleasure, I hold the stance that the fun has certainly gotten underway, my friends. The word foreplay assumes a viewpoint of ‘let’s get this play stuff outta the way so we can get to the real deal (intercourse).’ The real deal is the whole deal: glancing, gazing, touching, talking, and even fantasy. 

2) The word assumes heteronormativity

The idea of foreplay highlights the idea that the main course is inter(course). The way of thinking discounts the fact that digital oral and any other way of experiencing pleasure with a lover is not sex. Sex is a mere three letters of a larger word, sexuality. While sex can be assumed to include intercourse, we also must understand that all the play (before, during, after, instead of, etc.) to be sex. Foreplay assumes the grand finale is one of penis and vagina. What if there is no one penis, one vagina scenario going on?

3) There’s an assumptions that playing that comes first and then there’s work to be done

This one is also known as pleasure oriented vs. goal oriented. The word strengthens the misconception that sex is a goal-oriented activity. The assumed goal? Orgasm and/or ejaculation. Now you might be thinking,”I love orgasming and that’s the point of having sex, right?” No, not right. I’m going to invite you to think differently. Orgasm and/or ejaculation are amazing sensational and pleasurable potential parts of sex, not the goal. In a pleasure-oriented way of viewing and understanding sex, orgasms and/or ejaculations are effortless (not word) and occur as a natural progression of the encounter or experience. 

Holding hands, talking over tea or a glass of wine, caressing, admiring, stroking, massaging, tickling, kissing lips and necks and arms and bellies and inner thighs are all forms of play (fore and beyond). The bedroom isn’t a place for shoulds or instruction manuals. It’s a place for sensual fun and exploration of desires, wants and needs. It’s a playground, not a foreplayground. Have fun and ditch the guidebook!

Dr. Denise Renye is a licensed psychologist and certified sexologist. She sees individuals and couples in her San Francisco office and coaches clients both nationally and internationally via video conferencing. Contact her here to find out how she can help you improve your intimacy and sex life.