Get expert advice on foreplay from a sexologist, including how to use touch, toys & teasing to set you both up for incredible orgasms.

Chapter 6: Foreplay 101 - Tips & Advice for Couples

Chapter 6: Foreplay 101 - Tips & Advice for Couples

Foreplay is arguably the most important part of a couple's erotic experience. No matter the type of sex you are having—from intercourse and anal play, to pegging, 69, and using vibrators—setting the mood ahead of time with foreplay can almost guarantee a good time. This is because mood is about set and setting—creating an intention for connection and sensuality, and the right space to better help partners drop into their bodies and each other.

What is Foreplay?

What is Foreplay?

I like to define foreplay as the creation of sexual anticipation and excitement in the mind and/or body. Put more simply— anything intended to spark desire or arousal. This could include sexting your partner while sitting in a boring meeting at work. It could be sharing a candlelit dinner or a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire. Foreplay could mean French kisses and silent eye contact, or light pecks and a good conversation. Foreplay can include undressing for each other, engaging in oral sex, or playing with your favorite sex toy. On the other hand, it could also include helping with chores around the house to give your partner a much-needed break. Foreplay really boils down to anything mental, physical, sensual, and/or even spiritual that puts you and your partner in the mood for erotic connection.

Don’t get me wrong. Foreplay is fun and enjoyable all by itself. Regular foreplay without a main dish is perfect for increasing intimacy and closeness between people. It’s the little romantic gestures that remind partners that they matter to one another. These micro-moments make relationships meaningful.

For many people, however, foreplay is, and always will be, tied to sexual intercourse. That’s because foreplay is vital for preparing the body for sex. Foreplay releases feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine to make intercourse more enjoyable. It increases blood flow to the genitals and helps lubricate the vagina in preparation for sexual penetration and intercourse. Sure, you can skip foreplay and jump right to intercourse. But that’s like cooking without warming up the oven. It will take you longer to finish and the results won’t be nearly as good.

When it comes to foreplay, I recommend focusing on a few key elements. Learning these will help everything else fall naturally into place.

Building Anticipation with Foreplay

Building Anticipation with Foreplay

The first element in great foreplay is having an intention and plan to cultivate excitement and anticipation. There are lots of ways to do this. A very easy go-to is sexting your partner in the middle of the afternoon, especially if one or both of you are at work. You can start by sending a flirty message or two filled with sexual innuendo and maybe a racy pic. (Reminder: “racy” is relative to each couple). Sexting encourages a response, typically engendering a fun back and forth exchange. As you trade increasingly explicit texts, you can tell each other about all the naughty things you want to do together. By the time you both get home, you’ll be ready to put some of those ideas into practice!

Another great way to build anticipation is by creating a romantic environment. An easy go-to here includes playing sensual music in the background. Because sensual music means different things to different people, pick a song or an artist with special meaning for both of you. It might be something that was playing when you shared your first kiss or danced to at your wedding (or someone's fun wedding). Turn the lights down low or, if possible, have no lights except candles around the room. Depending on the weather and where you live, you might even start a fire. Fireplace cuddles on a cozy couch with big blankets are notorious for being super romantic. This is because it invites a deep sense of relaxation and close connection.

Cooking for your lover is another easy go-to. The act of cooking is a gift to your lover, while eating the delicacy can be shared, sensual foreplay. You could make a simple dinner with classic aphrodisiacs such as a burger with a side of asparagus, and a strawberry, dark chocolate dessert. If you are a great cook and want to get super creative with the aphrodisiacs, you could do an oyster appetizer with a pistachio-crusted cod. If you are cooking disabled, like me, sticking to one of your partner’s favorite dishes might be the way to go. Just serve it on a candlelit table with sensual music playing in the background. Remember, it's the intention that counts (if you really don't trust the meal to taste too good, just leave a few layers of clothing off!) And on that note...

Feeling Confident in Clothes & Lingerie

Feeling Confident in Clothes & Lingerie

Many humans are very visual. This is partially why we like to look our best before a big date or special occasion. Remember, foreplay is about excitement and anticipation. Therefore, adding a visual element to your date or special occasion adds the sensual intention of foreplay. 

So, what is a “visual element” when it comes to foreplay? For a lot of people, this is an effort in wardrobe, like a sexy outfit. It might be a dress that clings to your curves just right or a stylish suit that screams seduction. And don't forget, it's just as important to put the same thought and effort into what goes on your body as what goes underneath your clothes.

That said, I invite you to abandon the social scripts of what you think you “should” wear. Rather, can you find a visual element that works uniquely for you? For example, this might be a tight tee-shirt or a flowy skirt; a freshly shaved face or a five-o-clock shadow; red lipstick or messy beach hair; form-fitting boxer briefs or a push-up bra. Yes, you want to up the stakes and use the visual as an invitation. But you also want to be authentic to who you are, so you feel comfortable and confident in how you present yourself. I typically go by the mantra that you need to look in the mirror and turn yourself on before you step out into the world. Feeling sexy starts with yourself. It's less about what you choose to wear versus feeling confident in that choice.

Now, if you need some shopping suggestions, we at Adam & Eve are here to cover you at any size and shape!

If you’re shopping for sexy women’s lingerie, it’s hard to beat a classic lingerie set with matching bra, panty and stockings. If you prefer something with a little more coverage, then Adam & Eve also offers plenty of sexy teddies, babydolls and chemises. They’ve also got a wide variety of plus-size lingerie for curvier ladies.

erotica teddy

One of their best-selling (and sexiest) lingerie pieces is the Erotica Teddy! This risqué number shows off your assets up top and down below. Wet-look fabric and silver-colored studs give it a kinky flair.

The Crotchless Beaded Lovers Thong is another revealing favorite. This stretchy lace panty features a string of soft pearls that press against your bits for a stimulating massage during sex.

crotchless beaded thong

And if those two aren’t quite your speed, there are plenty of other cupless and crotchless lingerie pieces sure to make your lover’s jaw drop and eyes pop!

While most lingerie is made for women, Adam & Eve carries some for men too! Male lingerie typically consists of thongs and posing pouches designed to enhance their package and buns. Some of them are even “tear away” so you can put on a sexy show for your lover before ripping them off! A sexy piece of men’s lingerie can be a great way to surprise and tease your lover!

How to Give a Great Massage

How to give a great massage

A massage can be an incredibly intimate experience that helps couples relax and feel closer to one another. It’s also the perfect excuse for running your hands all over your lover’s body, which makes massages prime foreplay material!

Here are a few massage tips to help make your fingers feel like magic.

To start, pick the top or bottom of your lover. Never start in the middle. We don't want to jump to the genitals too prematurely. Foreplay massage is all about building anticipation. By starting at the top of the shoulders and neck, or at the bottom of the feet, you can focus your efforts on relaxing the tension after a long day. This soothing start helps your partner relax so they can open themselves to arousal. Remember, if we are stressed and/or tense, it's very difficult to get aroused. This is why cultivating a set and setting of relaxation is the first step in foreplay.

Try using long, light strokes moving along the surface of their shoulders and neck to warm up their muscles. Apply a little more pressure with your fingertips and thumbs while moving them in a gentle circular motion. If you want to start at the bottom with feet, hold one foot in your hands and gently rub the heel and their Achilles’ tendon. Move your thumbs in a circular motion around their ankle. Press your fingers along the bottom of their feet and then the top, paying particular attention to their toes.

After a nice warm-up, the second step is to invite your lover to a new position where you have access to more, or all, parts of their body. This can also switch the mood from relaxation to arousal. For example, you can invite them to sit down on the floor or bed while you kneel behind them. You can grab some fragranced massage oil at this point, and continue to rub their arms, legs, and hips in the same manner. It's important to pay close attention to your partner’s body language throughout the massage. If they moan heavily or lean into your touch, then continue focusing your efforts on that spot. You can verbally check in with your partner to make sure you’re applying the right amount of pressure. Remember, every person's body is different. You may like hard pressure while your partner likes medium or light pressure. Or the neck and shoulders want hard pressure while the inner thighs want a more sensual caress. 

lubes and sensual oils

As I mentioned above, massage oil is a great way to take things to the next level. Adam & Eve Pheromone Massage Oil is lightly scented with strawberries and citrus to help you both relax. It’s also loaded with sexually stimulating pheromones to help put you both in the mood for more. Their Warming Lube heats up on contact to soothe stiff muscles, and you can use it as a lube later!

Lastly, allow your partner to set the pace. If they need more time to relax and drop into the massage to relieve tension, it will be worth it in the end. If they’re ready for more sensual contact, they’ll let you know!

Kissing Class

woman sensuously eating a strawberry with whip cream on it

Kissing is a quintessential element of foreplay. When it comes to kissing, there are all kinds of approaches. You could opt for something light and gentle, or firm and dominating. You might like something short and sweet, or long and intense. Maybe you prefer kissing on the lips or nibbling on your partner’s neck or bottom lip. How you kiss can say a lot about your personality and even what you enjoy in bed.

Regardless of your personal style, a good kiss should make your partner feel special. It should be an experience that you both can share and enjoy together. Here’s how you can make that happen.

If the two of you have never kissed before, it’s important to obtain their consent. Body language can easily be misread, so you don’t want to initiate a kiss with a potentially unwilling partner.

As you lean in for a kiss, tilt your face to the side so you don’t bang noses or foreheads. Gently press your lips together, making that first kiss soft and sweet.

When you’re ready to increase the sizzle to make things more sensual and passionate, introduce a little tongue with an open-mouth kiss. Open your lips just slightly and explore their mouth and lips with your tongue. If they’re interested, your partner will open their lips as well. Just remember to focus on the front of the mouth. Pushing your whole tongue towards their throat can be uncomfortable and feel like too much.

If your partner responds positively to your kissing, you could vary your pressure and technique. You want to apply some pressure to make it feel passionate, but not too much to seem overly aggressive or cause teeth to bump together. On the other hand, too little pressure can make your kiss feel lifeless. It might take you a few tries to find that happy medium, especially in a new relationship.

As you continue kissing your partner, you could slip one arm around their neck and another around their body, pulling them in close. You might try running your hands through their hair to create a feeling of intimacy. You could also try gently stroking their lower back as some people find that incredibly arousing.

You could also try kissing other areas, such as their jawline, neck, collarbone and even their ear lobes. Some people like to nibble a little as they kiss. Just don't suck on one spot too long – that’s how hickeys emerge! There are plenty of other places on the body to kiss, but we’ll talk about those in the oral sex chapter.

Remember, everyone likes to be kissed in different ways. What worked great on your last partner might not work at all on your current one. People generally offer kisses the way they like to be kissed. By mirroring their style and paying close attention to their body language, you can blow them away!

Most important of all, you should take your time and enjoy it. When it comes to kissing, slow and sensual is generally better than fast and messy. It takes time and practice to become a great kisser. Have fun experimenting and learning with each other!

Touch Tutorial

people touching

Another crucial element of foreplay is touch. Touching each other can include G-rated touch to X-rated touch. I like to encourage G-rated touch first, so your partner isn't caught off guard. G-rated touch also insinuates “I love you” and “you matter.” These touches can include hugs and holding each other’s hand. PG-rated touch may mean cuddling together. PG-13 increases the sensuality where lovers might lightly stroke each other’s skin. R-rated touch might be totally naked sensual caressing, whereas X-rated touch might be the same with the inclusion of the genitals. When it comes to touch, don't rush the X-rated game. Foreplay is about building the anticipation and excitement. G- and PG-rated touch can go a long way to make the R- and X-rated touch really pop!

Most people have a good sense of G- and PG-rated touch. This is touch that can happen easily in public, like holding hands or offering a sweet kiss. Knowing how to offer sensual touch, however, is the most important art form most of us miss out on as we grow up. So, let's get learning.

When you begin entering PG-13 touch zones, try caressing your lover from head to toe, with their clothes on. This may seem weird, but you will both be itching to take off those clothes soon enough. As clothes come off, you can move your focus onto the erogenous zones. You remember those, right? Those are the super-sensitive areas we talked about all the way back in Chapter 2.

Here are some basic touching tips to keep in mind as things start heating up:

Shed your shirts first. This leaves you and your lover in the prime position for breast and nipple play. If you have a partner with more enhanced breasts, you can lightly cup them while continuing to kiss the skin and nipples. For those with less enhanced breasts, lightly stroke the tops, sides and bottoms of the breasts. Gently squeeze the breasts but try not to bounce or jiggle them too much (it might be fun for you, but it can feel uncomfortable for your partner). Some people, on the other hand, love kinkier breast play, including pinching and biting. Check in with your partner before trying this out.

From a media and social media perspective, women’s nipples get all the love and attention. However, nipples don't know gender, and nipple play can be equally fun for women, men and people with nonbinary gender identities. The most important thing to remember when it comes to nipple play is that the nipple itself isn’t what you should focus on. The darker circle surrounding the nipple, known as the areola, is actually much more sensitive and responsive. Start by gently stroking the areola with your finger or thumb in a circular motion while sometimes lightly brushing the nipple itself. If your partner responds positively to that, use your tongue to lightly draw circles around their areola and nipple until it’s fully erect. Then, alternate between sucking on their areola and nipple and using the circular technique. Be careful not to use your teeth… unless, of course, they ask you to!

The First Time Fetish Nipple Teasers

If you like kinkier and more enhanced breast and nipple play, try some clamps from Adam & Eve. The First Time Fetish Nipple Teasers offer a playful and adjustable way to pinch the nipples. These kinky clamps come on a chain so you can give them a gentle tug for even more stimulation. And don't worry about them pinching too much. The clamps are adjustable, so you can control just how tight they squeeze. The tips are covered in rubber to make them softer too.

As you move to R-rated play below the waist, there are plenty of exciting things you can do during foreplay.

Tantric Satin Pleasure Whip

Since everyone has a butt, let's start there. During foreplay, the butt can be regarded like the breasts. Use a light stroking motion at first before giving the cheeks a gentle squeeze. If your partner enjoys that, try a kneading motion, peppering in some light, tickling strokes. If you discussed it beforehand, some light spanking might be fun as well. The Tantric Satin Pleasure Whip adds a fun and kinky element to foreplay.

Stimulating the penis tends to be straightforward. But we don't want to neglect the perineum and testicles, as those are the parts that really charge up foreplay. You can gently cup the testicles, pulling down ever so slightly. Then run your finger along the perineum—the soft spot between the testes and the anus. From here, the penis should be throbbing and begging to be touched. It's been waiting with anticipation long enough! But don't jump in too fast. Start with long, slow strokes before gradually altering your pace. You can also vary your grip by squeezing the shaft and holding it loosely. There are several spots that deserve special attention. The tip is the most sensitive part of the penis, but the frenulum (located on the bottom where the tip meets the shaft) comes in a solid second. Concentrate on those areas to really make your lover moan. While you’re stroking away with one hand, maintain a light grip on the balls or continue massaging the perineum.

fleshlight go surge

A stroker can be a great foreplay tool, especially if your hand needs a break. Adam & Eve carries dozens of male masturbators, from ones that fit conveniently in the palm of your hand to life-sized love dolls. When it comes to hand-held strokers, check out the Super Head Honcho. This best-selling male masturbator is lined with ticklers and teasers for super-thrilling stimulation. Belladonna’s Pocket Stoker is a budget-friendly option with a realistic look and feel. And if you can splurge, the Fleshlight Go: Surge combines a stimulating interior with oral-like suction that will knock anyone’s socks off!

Teasing the vulva, which includes the clit, labia and vagina, can feel intimidating to beginners. And even if you are not a beginner, every vulva may desire a different type of touch. So, like kissing, don't assume what works for one lover works for the next. Be willing to be humble and check in as you go. I recommend gently stroking and rubbing the top area (called the mons pubes) just above the clitoris before shifting to the inner thighs. Gradually move closer and closer to the vulva before proceeding to the labia (the outer and inner lips). Make sure your finger is wet or lubed up before teasing the area around the clit (this is why keeping lube by your bedside at all times is a key component of being a good lover). Then move to the clit itself using soft, subtle and slow motions. As your partner becomes more aroused, vary your pace and pressure to enhance their stimulation.

satisfyer vibrator

Vibrators are fantastic when it comes to clit stimulation. A basic bullet like the rechargeable Eve’s Copper Cutie can focus vibrations directly on your clit for intense stimulation without breaking the bank either! Or you can combine vibrations with oral-like suction with the Satisfyer Breathless by Adam & Eve. If it’s pure power you want, the Magic Massager Deluxe 8x delivers bed-rocking vibrations!

By now, the vagina should be ready to play. Wet one of your fingers before slowly and gently inserting it. Give your lover a few seconds to adjust to the feeling before moving your finger. Alternate between slow and steady thrusts and a stirring or swirling motion for a little variety. As your partner becomes more aroused, you can pick up the pace – going faster and deeper or even adding another finger or two. Remember, check in if you change things up. Sometimes the best sensation is the same, consistent one.

True Feel Dildo

If you want extra support for foreplay penetration, try Adam’s True Feel Dildo. It uses a special molding technique that makes it look and feel amazingly lifelike. It has a firm inner core for easy penetration, with a soft outer layer for comfort. This realistic dildo has veins rippling up and down the shaft for extra stimulation, and a suction cup for hands-free play. Eve’s Slim Pink Pleaser combines a soft, flexible design with stimulating vibrations for extra thrills. The Blue Dolphin is a fully waterproof vibrator for getting wet and wild in the shower or tub.

Fingering the inside of your partner's vagina can lead to a little G-Spot exploration. If you explore this little hot spot, try curling your finger upward in a “come hither” motion. The tip of your finger should be inserted about two inches inside the vagina, pointing toward their belly. Move your fingertip in a slowly expanding circle until you find a spot that feels a little firmer and rougher than the rest of the vagina. After finding the G-Spot, using a gentle stroking or tapping motion to stimulate it.

G-Gasm Delight

For the best G-Spot stimulation, vibrators are a must. With over 300,000 sold, Adam & Eve’s G-Gasm Delight is a budget-friendly classic. The motor inside the tip rocks your spot for body-shaking G-Gasms! The OhMiBod Lovelife Cuddle G-Spot Massager features multiple vibration modes for a wide range of sensations plus a soft flexible shaft for a more comfortable fit.

Stimulating all those different erogenous zones during foreplay can be challenging. You only have so many hands after all! That’s why Adam & Eve offers several dual and even triple stimulators. These special sex toys target multiple erogenous zones at the same time, so they’re great at facilitating foreplay. The Wet Wabbit makes a great starter rabbit vibrator for anyone new to sex toys. It features a rotating tip and moving massage beads to work your vagina, while a pair of playful rabbit ears tease your clit at the same time. Plus, it’s waterproof for fun in the shower and easy cleaning.

Silicone G-Gasm Rabbit Vibrator

If you’re looking to upgrade, the Silicone G-Gasm Rabbit Vibrator is sure to please. This powerful vibe packs two different motors. There’s one in the curved tip to focus on your G-Spot, while the second in the bunny ears drives your clit wild. Eve’s Rechargeable Thrusting Rabbit has a moving shaft as well as a G-Spot tip and bunny ears, so it practically does all the work for you.

And if you want a top-of-the-line rabbit, there’s the Greedy Girl, one of Adam & Eve’s highest-rated vibrators. Customers keep raving about the Greedy Girl. One wrote in a review: “Bought this as a surprise gift. Wow. And were we surprised! I had totally forgotten that my wife was once (and apparently still is) multi-orgasmic. This brought things to a whole new level.”

Another noted: “I had never hit the big O until I got this in the mail last month. It has so many different settings between the two different motors that I believe pretty much every woman could find what works for them with this awesome toy!”

Adding Variety to Foreplay

Couples in long-term relationships sometimes find themselves in a foreplay rut. They operate on autopilot doing the same things over and over again. After a few years of this, even the hottest activities can grow old and stale. Thankfully, there are a lot of fun and simple ways you can add some variety to foreplay.

Spicy Dice

Probably the easiest method is a simple pair of dice. When you roll the Spicy Dice, one comes up with a sexy action, a second picks a body part, and the third lands on a location. You could end up nibbling on your lover’s earlobes in the bedroom, licking their nipples in the kitchen or having oral sex in the bathroom! Since the dice are completely random, there’s no telling what combination might pop up next, so you’ll never get stuck in a rut again!

Another great foreplay game is Monogamy: A Hot Affair With Your Partner. This board game is filled with racy questions, naughty fantasies, and steamy dares, so no two games are ever the same. As you move around the board, things get hotter and hotter until you’re both ready to explode! In the words of one Adam & Eve customer, “It was hard to make it through the last round because we couldn't keep our hands off of each other!"

Sex Dates

One of my colleagues, Dr. Ian Kerner, once wrote that “spontaneous sex is the best sex you'll never have.”

This is especially true when we have kids and/or busy lives. Spontaneous sex gets a lot of airtime from a media and social media perspective as if lovers just passionately land in each other's laps. If you've been with another human, you know this is not true. It takes effort to create anticipation and excitement. This is why setting up a sex date can be a fun way to prep your mind and body for a fun time.

Treat your sex dates as if you were dating each other for the first time. Crank that music in the shower as you prep yourself, and then find that outfit that screams, “I want you”. Don't forget, you've got to turn yourself on when you look in the mirror. This may mean having a little foreplay with yourself first!

How Long Should Foreplay Last?

If I had a nickel for every time someone’s asked me this, then I’d be cruising on my private yacht right now! This is one of those questions that doesn’t have a hard and fast answer. When you get down to it, foreplay is so diverse that it can last as long as a few minutes to a few weeks. When it comes to touch, the basic rule to follow is that it should last as long as it needs to. That said, I typically advise touching and kissing longer than you think. Once you are in the PG-13 touch zone, spending at least 20 minutes here can make a huge difference.

For some couples, especially long-distance ones, foreplay might be a week or more. They can sext during the day, and solo sex on screen with each other until the plane lands and they can be together. Other couples usually have circumstances, like children, overwhelming jobs, or just busy lives, that preclude having sex at the drop of a hat. Emotional foreplay and micro-moments of connection during the week can go a long way for that Saturday sex date or be just what is needed for that five-minute quickie bent over the bathroom sink. Some lovers just need a few moments of eye contact at a party to say, “you are sexy; let's go get a room.”

The higher the stress and fatigue one or both of you have, the longer the foreplay should last. The first part is just helping you relax so arousal is possible. This might take you 30 minutes or more.  You may also notice that as you age, and hormones are not working in your favor the way they did in your teen years, you’ll need to spend more time on foreplay to wake up your body. 

As a fun aside, Adam & Eve surveyed American couples asking them just how much time they spent on foreplay. The most popular answer ended up being 5-10 minutes. The next most popular was 10-20 minutes. And the average time ended up around 12 minutes. If your foreplay session is somewhere in that ballpark, you are in the normal range. However, I'm not a fan of trying to “Keep up with the neighbors.” Just because most Americans short-change their foreplay doesn't mean you need to. Spending more time gets more bang for your buck. So go ahead and use our tips to add some sizzle to your sex.