Foreplay involves different acts such as kissing, touching, embracing, talking, and teasing (teasing, in this case, may include methods of satisfaction, such as erotic sexual denial). Sexual stimulation of all kinds, such as manual or oral stimulation of erogenous zones are considered foreplay. Sexual role playing, fetish activities, and BDSM can also be considered foreplay, though they may also accompany intercourse and not just precede it. Of the various forms of foreplay, the most common include fellatio and cunnilingus.
Psychologically, foreplay lowers inhibitions and increases the emotional comfort of the partners. Physically, it stimulates the process that produces an erection in men, allowing them to penetrate an orifice. In women, it helps stimulate the process that leads to erection of the clitoris, raising of the cervix (elongation of the vaginal canal), and the production of vaginal lubrication, allowing penetration to take place comfortably.
Whether an act constitutes foreplay depends on the intent. If no intimate sexual acts are intended, foreplay-type actions are often classified as flirting, "fooling around" or, in colloquial terms, being "touchy-feely".
Foreplay is often subtle in its initial stages. Even before the partners are together, foreplay can be introduced by the selection and creation of a particular environment. A romantic, intimate, or overly sexual atmosphere can be considered a gesture of foreplay.
Foreplay can begin with non-physical behavior that signals sexual availability. Verbally, foreplay may include sexual compliments, subtle comments with double entendre, and intimate conversations. Non-verbally, foreplay can include provocative clothing, preening gestures, winking, licking or biting one's lips, standing inside a partner's personal space, and holding a gaze longer than is acceptable for casual acquaintances.
If the potential partner accepts the sexual invitation, foreplay has begun. Acceptance is often indicated by reciprocating with similar behavior. Since these interactions are non-explicit, there can be misunderstandings about whether an invitation has been extended or accepted. Inadvertent or not, this kind of miscommunication is often termed "leading someone on."
As comfort increases, so usually does the level of intimacy. More intimate examples include:
Direct manipulation of naked erogenous zones is almost always considered foreplay (except, of course, in a medical context). In women, this includes stimulation of the clitoris and vulva. In men, it includes stimulation of the penis and scrotum. For both sexes, it could include stimulation of nipples and anus. Stimulation can be achieved by mouth, hands, sex toys like dildos or vibrators, or common household objects like feathers or ice cubes.
Foreplay tends to become purely physical and intense. It reaches its peak in the moments just before intercourse, when it induces a strong mutual desire for penetration. Some genital teasing may take place for a brief time.
Technically, foreplay ends with intromission, or the beginning of intercourse. In practical terms, however, the continuity between foreplay and intercourse may be very great, since the couple may engage in foreplay-like behavior during intercourse.
Direct manipulation of naked erogenous zones is not considered foreplay when it is not preparatory for further sexual acts. For example, mutual masturbation and oral sex are often considered final sexual acts; as final acts with no expectation of further sexual congress, these are not considered foreplay.
Foreplay can vary dramatically based on age, religion, and cultural norms. In spite of the clichéd modern folklore that women demand more foreplay and require more time to become aroused, recent scientific research refutes that myth. Scientists from McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada used the method of thermal imaging to record baseline temperature change in the genital area as the definition of the time necessary for sexual arousal. Researchers studied the time required for an individual to reach the peak of sexual arousal and concluded that, on average, women and men spend almost the same time for sexual arousal — around 10 minutes.
Actual and Desired Duration of Foreplay and Intercourse: Discordance and Misperceptions within Heterosexual Couples
Aug 01, 2004; A mutually satisfying sexual relationship is complex. It involves the pairing of two individuals, each with his or her own...