There is a word I dislike, and it starts with F. You might say that it’s my least favorite f-word.
Don’t get me wrong. I think foreplay is fantastic.
Foreplay is important. Many women find that it is essential in helping us make that transition from mom/employee/housekeeper to lover. Foreplay helps relax and arouse us. Many of us find that when our husbands ask us what we want in bed, our answer is “more foreplay.”
Foreplay includes important sexual play activities:
- Love words and erotic talk
- Manual or oral stimulation of erogenous zones
All these things are part of the process of creating arousal and evoking desire.
Foreplay is a most excellent thing—but I want to ban the word.
What’s wrong with the word “foreplay?”
As wonderful as foreplay is, the word does us a disservice.
Foreplay is defined as sexual play that precedes intercourse. That sounds pretty tame. Or does it?
Calling it “foreplay” makes it sound like certain activities precede the actual sex but don’t actually count as sex. It says that certain activities are valuable only as a lead-in to intercourse. It says that only intercourse counts as sex and that sexual play activities don’t count as sexual intimacy
Why does this bug me so much?
First, most women do not reach orgasm through intercourse. In fact, less than half of us do. So when we say that only intercourse counts as sex, is it any surprise that so many of us (both men and women) operate with the belief that sex is mostly for men? If most of us experience orgasm through activities that don’t count as actual sex because they aren’t intercourse, then doesn’t that tell us that our sexual pleasure is somehow less important than a man’s?
Foreplay is fun—until the word itself reminds us that our fun is somehow lesser than a man’s because it doesn’t count as sex as much as what gives a man a happy ending.
Second, the word diminishes the value of non-intercourse sexual activities in building our sexual intimacy.
All those sexual play activities that sometimes function as foreplay often function as our entire sexual fun–and that’s okay.
Is it less sexual if it doesn’t involve intercourse? Of course not!
Sexual intimacy includes many things, not just intercourse.
If a husband and wife enjoy sharing sexual pleasure together using their hands or mouths, they’ve still been sexually intimate even if they didn’t have intercourse. If one spouse blesses the other with manual or oral stimulation all the way to orgasm, they’ve still been sexually intimate. If a couple is saying really sexy things to each other while they each stimulate themselves sexually, they are still being sexually intimate—even without intercourse.
The word “foreplay” diminishes the meaning of certain activities and says that they are valuable only as a lead-in to intercourse.
As far as I’m concerned, foreplay isn’t separate from sex; it is part of sex–and sometimes, it IS sex.
Fun foreplay activities are considered “lesser than”—when the truth is that for many of us, these activities may do more to build our intimacy than intercourse does.
If your husband is doing something sexual to you, he is totally focused on your experience. He sees much more of your sexual response than he does during intercourse. His heart and body at that moment are giving to you in a way that rarely happens outside of what we call foreplay. Likewise, you are completely engrossed in your own sexual pleasure. Receiving your husband’s complete attention is a very intimate thing. Giving him your complete sexual attention and thinking only of his pleasure is also deeply intimate. When we are engaging in non-intercourse sexual activity, we are opening up to each other. We are seeing, and we are being seen–sometimes in a very up-close and personal way that doesn’t happen during intercourse.
Foreplay does often lead to intercourse—but it accomplishes so much on its own in strengthening the sexual intimacy in marriage, regardless of whether it is followed by a little one-flesh fellowship.
So as fun and fantastic as foreplay is, the word itself suggests that a wife’s pleasure is less important than a husband’s and that non-intercourse activities have little sexual value other than as a preparation for intercourse.
Intercourse is important. It helps us become and maintain our one-flesh-ness in a way nothing else quite accomplishes. Unless it is prevented by health problems, I think a marriage should include intercourse.
But I think we’re missing out on a lot if intercourse is the only sexual activity we count as sex. A marriage should include a lot of non-intercourse activity as a way of valuing a wife’s sexual pleasure and building and reinforcing sexual intimacy.
So let’s have more foreplay—but please, can we call it something else?