Foreplay can mean different things to different people. For some, the definition of foreplay is any activity leading up to penetrative sex. For others, there is no distinction between foreplay and sex. Foreplay can be the main event. There are so many ways to give and receive foreplay, and exploring what works for you and your partner(s) is half the fun.
What is considered foreplay
Pretty much anything that gets you in the mood can be considered foreplay. This could be a blow job, eating pussy, giving a sensual massage, using sex toys, dirty talking, a rimjob, playing sexy dress up, or all of the above. Getting turned on with foreplay can be an important precursor to penetrative sex as it can get you aroused, hard, and naturally lubricated. Though extra lube is never a bad idea, too.
Carol Queen, PhD and sexologist tells O.school, “I like to term [foreplay activities] as ‘arousal activities’ when I talk about them, and I always want to reinforce that if someone is keeping penetrative sex on the menu, they need to understand the role of arousal in making that pleasurable. Starting with penetration is not fun for the person being penetrated unless they are already turned on.” For that reason, arousal activities leading up to penetration are so important.
13 foreplay tips
If penetration is on the menu for you and a partner, you’ll want to be sure to get each other plenty ready for action. Here are some foreplay ideas to get you started.
1. Set a sex date.
Foreplay doesn’t have to be reserved for the bedroom. It can be a long-game of building anticipation hours, days, or even weeks before sex happens. One way to do this is to set a sex date by arranging a time you and your partner will plan to have sex. Put it on your calendar so you can cheekily count down the days together. Discuss the details around what you’ll do to each other when the time comes. Talk about what you’ll prepare for the sex date. Will you have lube at the ready? Toys? Massage oils? Having a date physically marked on a calendar you can both see and get excited about can be foreplay in and of itself.
2. Don’t skimp on the dirty talk.
Whether or not you have a sex date actually marked on the calendar, build anticipation to sex by sending dirty texts and sharing erotic stories. Consider texting your partner (with their permission) the details of what you want to do to them. For example, “I can’t wait to slowly slide my fingers down your pants.” Or share a pervious sexual experience. Ex: “Remember when you tied me to the coffee table and went down on me? Do that to me again.”
3. Be a little public before going private.
Sharing a sexy secret can be a great way to build anticipation. Sometimes, that “secret” can be that only you and your partner know you’re wearing a butt plug while shopping at the grocery store. Or maybe you have a vibrator in your panties that your partner is controlling from a distance via an app. If incorporating a sex toy sounds too spicy for you and your partner, try some light PDA instead. Do a secret butt grab when no one’s watching. Play footsie under the dinner table.
4. Use plenty of lube.
During foreplay, you and your partner are just beginning to get turned on — or you’re not turned on at all yet. Lubrication helps fingers, mouths, and toys more easily glide in for penetration and can heighten sensations. Explore some water-based lubes if you are involving sex toys as water-based lube is compatible with most sex toy materials.
5. Pay extra attention to the nipples.
Nipples can be highly sensitive areas, which is why kissing, sucking, licking, teasing, caressing, or flicking your partner’s nipples can be arousing. Gently trace your partner’s nipple with your finger or tongue until their nipples are erect. Nipple sucking can be a huge turn on, and even get your partner ready for something more intense — like nipple clamps or nipple suckers.
6. Use a sex toy that simulates oral sex.
Oral sex — a blow job, eating pussy, or a rimjob — is most commonly considered foreplay. It’s likely you already incorporate this into foreplay, but there are ways to up the ante. One way to do this is to introduce a sex toy that mimics the sensations of a human mouth on the genitals. Vulva owners may want to use an air suction vibrator to stimulate the clit, and penis owners may want to try a fleshlight. Both these types of sex toys have unique tech that simulates the feeling of oral sex. The value of having a hands-free sex toy is that you can let it do the work “down there” while you simultaneously stimulate other areas of the body. For example, let your partner use an air suction vibe on their clit while you suck their nipples.
7. Offer dual stimulation.
Dual stimulation means stimulating more than one erogenous zone at once for your partner. To do this, you can slide a vibrator in and out of your partner’s vagina while using your fingers to stimulate their clitoris. Consider incorporating the perineum— the area between the anus and genitals — by using your tongue to lick and stroke it while using your fingers to gently rim the anus. If your partner has a prostate, you might stimulate the prostate and genitals at the same time by inserting a butt plug in and giving them head.
8. Pay attention to the butt.
Your mouth is not the only way to stimulate this highly sensitive area. You can also use your finger — with lube — around the opening of the anus, or take it to the next level by using a sex toy meant to vibrate on or penetrate the anus. Having a butt plug or anal beads in your partner while you go down on them, can be extremely arousing. Slowly move the butt plug or anal beads in and out, and let your partner beg you for more.
9. Take control of your partner’s pleasure using a smart toy
Many toys have innovative tech that allows you to control vibration, speed, and intensities via an app or a remote control. If you have a smart toy, try wearing it while you let your partner take control of the modes for you. Your partner could be in another room, long distance, or even across the table in a restaurant. Consider incorporating power dynamics when you give your partner control— you can tell them exactly how they must control the remote, or alternatively, they could have reign over you by controlling the intensity of the toy.
10. Tease them by withholding penetration
Experiment with ways to withhold penetration to make your partner wait, or even ‘beg’ for it. Use your fingers to tease your partner by ever so gently sliding your fingers in their vagina or anus and then back out before you make any real depth. This will build anticipation and arousal by giving them a taste of penetration, but withholding deeper and wider stimulation. You can use your mouth to circle the vaginal opening or rim the anus, just lightly gliding your tongue inside, then pulling out. If you have a penis and your partner has a vulva, gently rub your shaft over and around their vulva. Rub the tip of your penis against their vaginal opening without ever penetrating.
11. Explore the whole body— not just the typical erogenous zones
While many people spend foreplay focusing on the genitals (and for good reason), try expanding your exploration to other areas of the body. Start with kissing, licking, and breathing on your partner’s neck. Make your way up to the highly sensitive area of their ears, sucking on their ear lobes. Kiss their lower back, lightly graze their wrists or the back of their knees. Slowly make your way to their genitals by kissing and licking the inside of their thighs.
12. Incorporate toys for prostate stimulation or stroking
Sex toys and vibrators aren’t just for women or vulva owners. There are plenty of sex toys out there for men or to stimulate penises and prostates. When engaging in foreplay, make sure to pay extra attention to your partner using toys made for penis and prostate stimulation. You can use a simple cock ring to stay harder, longer. You can also go for something more intense, like trying out a prostate massager for a p-spot orgasm, a penis stroker, butt plug, vibrator, or something else.
13. Perform an erotic massage
Erotic massages— or any kind of massage— can be a unique kind of foreplay to help you get relaxed and aroused. Gently start with the scalp, and face, then move to the neck, shoulders, or arms. To really enhance an erotic massages, have a good body oil so your hands can easily glide across your partner.
The bottom line
Using these foreplay ideas, you and your partner can really take things to the next level. But if you’re looking for enhancements to make foreplay even better, explore our list of best sex toys for couples.