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The Foreplay Cure

“Sex without foreplay is like song’s reff without intro.”  — Toba Beta


I have been grappling with the statistic that the average amount of foreplay that couples engage in is between 1-4 minutes, as reported on a recent Dr. Oz segment.

I don’t doubt it because I have received my share of calls and emails from customers who have shared similar stories and then wondered why the lubricant didn’t work. I am sorry to be the messenger here, but the best, most magical lube in the world is the foreplay.

When I sell my bottles of lube one by one at conferences and trade shows, I say this to our customers:  “Lubricant is the grand finale, the bottle you reach for when you can’t stand it anymore. This is when lubricant can do its real job of extending the pleasure, comfort and glide of sensitive tissue in friction.” I also tell them not to waste it on someone they don’t love, which is the other great secret about lubricant; it works better in the presence of loving energy given intimately.

One way to consider extending your foreplay time is to allow your thinking to get filtered through your nose, which heightens not only your sense of smell but also your sense of touch and taste. Although I have mentioned this before, it bears repeating: Awakening our libido happens not in the genitalia, but in the limbic brain- the same place as our sense of smell is processed.  This is not news; sensate focus in foreplay is standard sex therapy. The addition of scent to the sensory physical experience of noticing pressure, heat and texture will only enhance Masters and Johnson’s advice.

Getting out of our head and into our erotic body sounds simple enough until you consider the many ways that our unspoken discomforts and angst live in our bodies too, and I suspect touch edge to edge with our mysteriously powerful erotic selves. There is no more deeply vulnerable act of sharing than letting go sexually with someone you love. Our sexuality is a mirror for what we share in our daily relationship. If you don’t feel safe to express yourself or if you are hiding things in your daily intimate relationship, these emotional dilemmas shape the access and meaning of sexual foreplay, too.

Being deliberate about growing your comfort zone in foreplay activities will translate into not only a more curious and passionate sexuality but will be mirrored in the emotional relationship. Putting the focus on expanding foreplay also reduces the performance pressure and anxiety often associated with the act of sexual intercourse, which is too often played as a race to the orgasmic finish. The truth is that orgasmic potential builds over time and when you stop chasing after it, can envelop you, even in foreplay.

Setting goals, even just an additional five minutes each time you are intimate is an easy way to shift your focus from the score keeping that the high/ low desire issues common to all relationships creates. Whether you are giving or getting the rejection, keeping score only dampens whatever passion and connection exists between you. Finding ways to reach each other in a physical conversation that need not even be overtly sexual is a way through. It allows you to see the many ways that your relationship is sound and worthy. Recognizing that we communicate much of what we leave unsaid in our relationships through our intimate foreplay actually provides a release mechanism that is workable for many relationships.

Every couple will at some point in their relationship face the inevitable initiation question and the dilemma of mismatched libido. By refocusing on the foreplay that does and doesn’t happen and learning how to ask for the intimate contact you seek, you create the space to reinvent the question of who wants who or at least take a closer look at the painful ways we miss each other in our daily encounters. If you are really interested in changing the nature of your relationship, start by adding time and loving attention in your foreplay. Adding ten minutes to this activity can add a power boost to your relating all week long.