Ready to feel totally empowered by your sex life? Done right, the buildup to sex can be just as good as the main event—especially with these foreplay ideas.
Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or having first-time hookup, foreplay tends to get overlooked. Part of the reason? It’s easy for foreplay tips to feel a little contrived: Start by making out, move on to some over-the-bra action, make your way below the belt. But foreplay doesn’t have to be quite so paint-by-the-numbers. We asked sex therapists and experts to weigh in on how to foreplay while keeping things interesting. You’re going to want to have this list handy the next time you get frisky.
1. Relive your best moments.
Relationship fact: The early days of your romance tend to be the hottest and heaviest. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still capture that gotta-have-you-now passion. Next time you and your partner are getting intimate, use those early hookups as inspiration to re-create one of your past encounters, says sexologist Barbara Winter, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist and fellow and clinical supervisor of the American Board of Sexology. This can start before sex—for example, going to one of your old date-night spots or wearing the same clothes you wore during a hot moment at the beginning of your relationship. Then, later in the night, break out a move you used to do in bed that really turned you both on.
2. Start off outside the bedroom.
Another hallmark of those hot early hookups is that they don’t necessarily happen in the bedroom. If you want to make things more spontaneous, try initiating foreplay in the kitchen, office, garage, or anywhere else where you don’t typically do it, says sex and relationship coach Claudia Six, Ph.D., a board-certified clinical sexologist. “It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting,” she says. You can either lead your partner to the bedroom afterward or just have sex right then and there. You might be surprised how many places to have sex you’ve been overlooking.
3. Talk dirty.
Dirty talk can be ridiculously effective for getting turned on—it’s an especially good way to initiate foreplay. Not sure where to start? No need to overthink it. Sometimes the most effective dirty talk can be as simple as just stating exactly what you want your partner to do to you in your most seductive voice.
4. Cool it.
Heat and cold can both add a lot to the sensations you’re already feeling. One often recommended (and maybe overused) foreplay tips for men is to suck on an ice cube before giving oral sex. In reality, the idea of a chilly penis might not be such a turn on for your partner, but you can still play with temperature in other erogenous zones—like running an ice cube down their neck on a steamy summer day.
5. Heat things up.
To play with heat, try dripping warm wax on each other’s bodies (just make sure to get your partner’s permission first) or use a warming lube. Playing with hot and cold—or the two combined—should create “a delicious shiver,” says Six.
6. Do a little dance.
Looking to up the ante during foreplay? Have your partner sit on the bed, put on an anthem that always has you feelin’ yourself (cough, anything by Rihanna, cough) and give them a lap dance. For some added excitement, have your partner start off fully dressed so you can personally remove their garments one by one. Or if you’re feeling extra bold, do your dance in the buff.
7. Make foreplay an all-day event.
Foreplay doesn’t need to be limited to the bedroom. Whether it’s sexy texts throughout the day or stolen kisses while you’re doing errands, foreplay can start well before the main event. Tease each other throughout the entire day for extra heat.
8. Do the unexpected.
If all your intimate encounters are starting to look eerily similar, one of the best foreplay tips you can use is to switch things up. For example, if you always get down at night, trying initiating a sex session first thing in the morning. Normally leave the lights off? Try lighting candles instead. Or make a new sex playlist. Just like switching up where you have sex and engage in foreplay, you can switch up how you do it too.
9. Tell each other how you feel.
Okay, okay, before you cringe, remember there is a reason words of affirmation are a love language. Telling your partner what you like about them is a huge turn-on. Who doesn’t like compliments?
10. Act out a fantasy.
Everyone has a sexual fantasy—acting one out is one of the most surefire ways to make all of your partner’s foreplay dreams come true. Have them write down 10 fantasies they have—think: Eve and Villanelle on Killing Eve or Jamie and Claire from Outlander—on little slips of paper. Then choose one randomly and act it out. Admittedly, this can feel a little cheesy at first. To help you get past any awkwardness, the experts recommend just trying to keep it up for 30 seconds. Even in that short amount of time, you might find yourselves getting swept up in your roles.
11. Don’t kiss.
Sometimes almost kissing can be as tantalizing as kissing. Hear us out. Get face-to-face with your partner, either lying down side by side or with one of you on top of the other. Get close enough so that your mouths are just barely touching and your lips are parted—though not actually kissing. Instead, breathe in and out at opposite times, so you’re “trading” breaths. It’s simple but deeply intimate—you’ll be surprised at how steamy things get.
12. Get a massage.
Sometimes the best form of foreplay is as simple as relaxing. When your mind is on a thousand different things—the never-ending to-do list, that cryptic comment from your boss this week, school drop-offs—it can be a challenge to really be present and get in the mood with your partner (hence why chilling out is often included on lists of foreplay ideas for women). Giving each other a sensual massage is a recipe for relaxation.
13. Watch a sexy movie together.
If you and your partner are both into porn or are at least intrigued by it, try checking it out together. Winter recommends talking afterward about what you each like and dislike and what you might want to try (or not). Sometimes it opens you up to ideas you might not have thought of before. Start by looking for feminist porn sites.
14. Find a sexy story.
If the visual medium isn’t your thing, that’s totally fine. Watching people have sex onscreen doesn’t do it for everyone. But don’t write all forms of porn off just yet. Listening to a sexy audio story or reading a piece of erotica that turns you both on can be a great way to get in the mood. Check out Dipsea for the sexy alternative to your favorite podcast.
15. Mime each other’s moves.
Sometimes we can learn a lot about how our partner likes to be touched and kissed by observing how they touch and kiss us. Paying close attention to and mimicking our partner’s moves is not only a fantastic round of foreplay, it can show you how to turn them on in the future. It’s as simple as it sounds: Sit, stand, or lie down facing each other. Then begin miming the other’s moves. If his or her hand reaches to slip your top off, you do the same to them.
16. Play a kissing game.
Tell your partner to sit on the sofa or lie down on the bed. Kiss them—on the mouth, the cheeks, the forehead, the ears, the eyelids, the neck, hands, knees, you name it. Here’s the catch: Your partner has to stay totally still. They can’t move, or touch you, or try to kiss you back. The buildup and anticipation will have you both dying to get intimate.
17. Be a tease.
Have your partner lie on their back and proceed to play a little game of “getting warmer.” Use your hands (or your mouth) to gently caress different parts of their body. You could start with random spots like the knees or forehead and then move to more erogenous zones. While you’re moving about, ask how your partner is handling the temperature. Keep “getting warmer” until they can’t take it anymore and then switch roles.
18. Practice your communication skills.
Since everyone has different turn-ons, the best thing you can do is pay attention to what works for you and then try to re-create it, says Winter. Don’t be afraid to let your partner know when they do something that you like. They’ll probably be happy to keep doing whatever gets you going in the future, and they’ll definitely appreciate the positive feedback. Next time you’re having a quiet moment with your partner, start a conversation about what he or she likes during foreplay. Chances are, just talking about it might lead to more.
19. Act like strangers.
This is the perfect way to switch things up with your partner and bring back those first-date butterflies, says Emily Morse, Ph.D., host of the podcast Sex With Emily. Approach each other at your favorite bar (or a new one you’ve been meaning to try). Then come up with a fun back story, and chat each other up as if it’s the first time you’re meeting. “This is a chance to let go and act out a fantasy you’ve always wanted to try, or simply feel it out in the moment,” Morse says. “You get the thrill of a ‘one-night stand’ without the hassle, or infidelity.”
20. Make a “yes/no/maybe” list.
If you’re looking for ways to spice up your sex life, downloading a “yes/no/maybe” list from the internet is a great way for you and your partner get started. According to Morse, these lists can help you determine what you and your partner are willing to try in the bedroom, and include everything from BDSM to sex toys and nonmonogamy. Each person goes through the list and marks which items are a yes, a maybe, or a definite no. Review the lists together to see where you and your partner land. “Discussing this can be arousing, but also lead to learning even more about your partner, and exploring something new that you might have never considered before,” Morse says.
Next time you’re on your way home, send a flirty text. If you haven’t sexted before, it can feel intimidating, so remember it’s all about what makes you feel sexy. Maybe that’s a photo, or a poem, or a description of what you’re going to do to your partner when you get home.
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