“And the women crazy ’bout me ’cause I take my time.”
--Taj Mahal, “Little Red Hen”
I was 12 years old when I first heard about what goes on during foreplay. A mouthy teenage boy from across the street told me about it as he smoked a morning cigarette on his front porch. I really didn’t want to hear it, and when I did I couldn’t understand why anyone -- man or woman -- would want to do such things to each other. I was barely able to fathom what foreplay led to, and this just made the whole thing even more bizarre, at least to a kid living in the Midwest in the late 1950s.
I learned too many things about sex from other, usually older, boys. My parents stayed away from the subject, figuring, I guess, that I’d learn from other boys. So, much of what I learned was from their raging-hormone perspectives. The focus was always on them and their pleasures, their “conquests,” imaginary or not. I can’t remember hearing guys talk about sex (much less intimacy) from the girl’s point of view -- sex was more, as we say now, all about them. I saw this attitude flourish in college in the late 60s, when guys practically competed for sexual supremacy, which you couldn’t achieve with just one partner. “Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” relationships were fine and dandy. Numbers mattered.
Which brings me back to foreplay. It’s hard to say that it’s a lost art if it was never discovered in the first place. Or maybe, like so many things in relationships, it’s been allowed to languish, to become an afterthought in a hurry-up world, especially as we grow older. There are all kinds of reasons why foreplay might get shortchanged or forgotten. And it’s not as if it can just be wished back into existence. Mutually exciting foreplay depends on couples being willing to take an unhurried approach to their lovemaking, to find out what makes each person feel sexually energized and ready for more. In our haste to get to home base, we men tend to want to bypass first, second, and third. Women, seeing our haste, assume that that’s just the way it is -- that men prefer sex with no prologue.
I’ve learned that if you miss the prologue, the play’s not nearly as good; you can’t drive a woman wild by rushing into the final act. But you can heighten her lust for you, and yours for her, if you learn to let the present moment linger for a while and enjoy it to its fullest. You’ll both know when it’s time to move on, and you’ll both be ready for it.
I think that words are a key part of foreplay. Words that precede any touch. Words that express your appreciation of her, your attraction to her. Words that ask her what she’d like you to do. Words that continue during foreplay and beyond, not a lot of them but occasional affirmations, expressions of desire, words that keep you connected both physically and, well, orally.
Everybody is happier and more satisfied when foreplay is part of the experience. It’s something that makes both men and women want to have more of where that came from. Who can argue against such self-perpetuating pleasure?
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.