What Is Foreplay? – Getting Your Partner in the Mood

Everyone talks about foreplay — how important it is, how much better it can make your sex life, how we don’t spend nearly enough time doing it, blah blah blah. But foreplay as a whole is an often misunderstood and vast concept, one that deserves a whole lot more attention. 

But what is foreplay, exactly? Is it really that big of a deal? Let’s lube up and get down to business.

What Is Foreplay?

Before diving in, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The idea of foreplay, as we used to know it, is old and outdated — even the research focuses primarily on cisgender heterosexual couples. 

We prefer to think of sexual intimacy as a continuum instead of existing in these odd, distinct phases. So many other types of relationships, sexualities, and gender identities deserve recognition and honor, and everyone should have great sex.

Moving forward, when we talk about the best foreplay techniques, we’ll be talking more about forms of sexual intimacy that don’t involve penetration (and some that don’t include physical touching at all). How, when, and which ones you put into play is entirely up to you and your partner.

What Are the Benefits of Foreplay?

Gendered notions of foreplay aside, why has it always gotten so much attention? What is foreplay really for, and what benefits do you and your partner get out of it? Essentially, what’s the big deal?


First of all, foreplay is excellent for helping get your head in the game (you know, sexual intercourse). Being distracted can be a buzzkill and a roadblock to achieving orgasm. Would you rather your partner be living in the moment with you or be thinking about getting groceries later? Foreplay can help you flip that switch from everyday life to sexual pleasure.


The apparent benefit of foreplay is the physical. Unfortunately, many people (we’re looking at you, straight, cisgender dudes) tend to see it as a “cheat code” to get in their partner’s pants. Press the right combination of up-up-down-down-triangle-circle, and you can get it over with and get into the good stuff, right?

Foreplay has so much more potential, though. Yes, natural lubrication is nice, but there are always workarounds. Sexual arousal is the ultimate goal because you can’t cheat your way into orgasm. Your body has to be all in unless you don’t want good sex.


The emotional benefits of foreplay are also regularly misunderstood and unfairly gendered. We were told that only people assigned female at birth (AFAB) “needed” foreplay for a long time. Not only is this untrue, but it’s also sexist. 

Everyone can benefit from foreplay and the heavy petting or nibbling that goes with it. Ultimately, foreplay and whatever you do to turn on your partner only bring you closer.

How To Extend Foreplay Time

No one said foreplay has to have a set time limit. Why relegate foreplay to the time you head into the bedroom to get it on? Prolong your foreplay and keep the fun going all day long. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Leave a Note

Yes, modern technology is rad. But there’s nothing quite like a bit of vintage foreplay, and leaving a physical note for your partner can be hot as hell. Post-its are perfect for this. 

Put a dirty note on the bathroom mirror before leaving for work, or sneak one into their lunchbox. Be specific about what you will do to them, and then follow through with it.

Sext During Work

Sexting is more than just dick pics. Used the right way, it can prolong your foreplay and keep your partner aroused until they can come home to you. 

Perform a strip tease and send the sequence of pictures throughout the day. Record a voice clip telling them exactly what you want them to do to you. 

Go on a Date

Building intimacy with your partner, especially in long-term relationships, is much more than just oral sex. A traditional date can be a great form of foreplay, especially if that’s something that’s gotten lost in the busy day-to-day of your lives. 

Role Play

Want to make that hot date even kinkier? Consider a little role play. Go to the bar separately, and then role-play that you’re meeting each other for the first time for a casual hook-up. Or choose roles and stay in those roles all day by sexting each other at work. 

Talk Dirty to Each Other

Dirty talk is something that people often feel awkward about, but the beauty of a loving, trusting partnership is that you can do out-of-the-box things without feeling judged. You don’t have to start big, either. Find words you feel comfortable with, and branch out from there. 

How Do I Initiate Foreplay?

Initiating any sexual act can be tricky, especially if you’re not the one who usually does the initiating. Find what works for you, whether super direct or slightly more subtle. But don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone — it’s not just hot; it also lets your partner know just how much you want them.

How Do I Get My Partner in the Mood?

Sex is complicated, and there aren’t any magic words you can say to suddenly make your partner want to rip your clothes off. We’re all whole, unique people, and our motivations for being in the mood (or not) are individual. 

The best way to get your partner in the mood is to honestly know them — what they like, what they need, what turns them on. If you don’t know, ask. Communication is super sexy. 

If you’re still not sure where to start, try any of these foreplay tips.


Massage is foreplay with mental, physical, and emotional benefits. Being the center of a sensual massage makes you feel valued and can bring you closer to your partner on an emotional level. Plus, if you get sexy with it, massage can also increase the blood flow to the parts that need it for game time. 

Try using our Intimacy Sex Oil as a massage oil — it doubles as lube when you’re ready to get down to business.


Sex toys are always fun in the bedroom, but they can also be a super fun form of foreplay. An excellent example is a wearable vibrator, worn by one partner and controlled by the other. 

Try going out to dinner together and letting your partner give you a little buzz every once in a while. By the time you get the check, you’ll both be raring to go. You might not even make it to the car. 

Soapy Shower

When was the last time you took a shower with your partner? Ask them to join you in a hot, soapy shower and clean each other off before getting dirty.


Have you ever heard the phrase that we eat with our eyes first? It’s the perfect way to explain why including as many of your senses as possible in your foreplay can make it an absolute feast. 

Need ideas? We’ve got you:

  • Perform a slow striptease
  • Blindfold each other and take turns touching each other
  • Break out the chocolate and caramel sauce
  • Try an ice cube or cooling mints, especially on the nipples (be careful when using mints on the genitals)

Each of these sensory foreplay tips uses a concept called “sensate focus.” When you’re the designated toucher, focus on how it feels to be touching your partner. When you’re the focus of the touching, don’t feel guilty about not reciprocating, and enjoy every sensation. 


Don’t be so binary about your sexual activity. What is foreplay, if not just one piece of a much larger and more fun puzzle? Foreplay can even be the main event, and the best sex is the kind that is mutually satisfying for everyone involved. 

As always — be safe, use lube, and have fun.



Actual and desired duration of foreplay and intercourse: discordance and misperceptions within heterosexual couples | PubMed

Massage Therapy for Health: What the Science Says | NCCIH

Sensate Focus | Cornell

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