Monday, July 14, 2008

Sex tips: Know More about Foreplay

Foreplay is to sex what stretching is to a workout: easy to skip but essential for great results. And it's a lot more fun than stretching.

Good foreplay is the way we smooth out our differences - slowing the man down a little, speeding the woman up a little, and meeting (hopefully) in the middle.

And it's not just humans who do it.

Most mammals will bite, scratch, nuzzle, smell, mount, urinate upon and otherwise make intimate contact with their partners for minutes, hours or even days before intercourse.

We, too, do better when we work up to sex slowly, which is why time spent flirting, touching, caressing and kissing is time well spent.

Why is it so important?
Because women take longer to achieve orgasm than men. "A man's sexual responses are like a lightbulb: you turn it on, and it goes from cold to hot almost instantly," says psychologist and sex therapist Jude Cotter.

"When you turn it off, it cools right away. But a woman's responses are more like an iron: you turn it on, wait for it to heat up, then wait ages for it to cool."

Technically speaking, there's some evidence to suggest that women's sexual responses in themselves aren't any slower than men's - it's just that women need more foreplay because it's harder for them to orgasm through intercourse alone.

Is it my fault may partner takes so long to become aroused?

Women generally do take longer to become aroused, but here's a sobering thought: women can climax in minutes when they masturbate.

Is it just women who need foreplay?

No. Not only is foreplay important for establishing intimacy and understanding, it's essential for good, strong erections.

Many men also find that prolonged foreplay enhances their orgasm. And the older a man gets, the more important foreplay becomes to his sexual performance.

"Men need a lot more direct genital stimulation as they get older to achieve the kind of erections they did in their youth," says sex therapist Shirley Zussman.

Why are men so poor at foreplay?

Surprisingly, it's nothing to do with our laziness, but because we're so goal-orientated we tend to neglect the very thing women crave - tenderness. This probably has a lot to do with how we're taught to behave as boys.

"Men learn while growing up that touching, hugging and kissing are feminine needs and that 'real men' only like intercourse," says sex therapist Lonnie Barbach.

How long should it last?
Only you and your partner can tell. It could be ten minutes, it could be two hours.

But in one sex study 709 nurses said that, on average, they liked about 17 minutes of foreplay. That may seem a long time, but the rewards are rich. And who are we to doubt the word of nurses?

How do I know if it's working?

Just in case you don't recognise the signals by now (or you're 15 and have eluded our censor controls), here are the unmistakable signs that your foreplay is succeeding...

Erect nipples

Flushed cheeks

Heavy breathing

Firm clitoris

Moist vagina

Large grin

Can I improve my technique so we both have a better time?

Psychotherapist Doreen Virtue says you already have the two most important tools you need (no, not that) - your mind and your body. The trick is knowing how to use them to cultivate the skills of a great lover.

Begin your quest by reading this guide to men's foreplay - then get her to read our pages dedicated to women's foreplay.


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