One time I went over to this guy’s place. We walked in the door, he kissed me — truthfully a little too hard — and we made our way to the bed.
I think men know foreplay is expected, but I don’t know if they think it’s important. A lot of men imagine foreplay as something to check off — as if it’s a prerequisite to sex, something men need to complete before they can move on. Kiss her, finger her, go down on her. Level up.
He took off my shirt and I took off his, but we did the rest ourselves. He kissed my body up and down until his lips arrived where we both knew they would. His hand rested in the crevice between my back and the bed. And then after those three adequate minutes were over, we had sex.
At the time, I felt good about that. I felt taken care of. As though I had heard this was important, and he had done it, so I had nothing to complain about. And it wasn’t that I wasn’t ready or needed it to last longer — something was just missing.
I didn’t know what it was at the time. I didn’t know that there was so much more to foreplay than that checklist.
I didn’t know that I wanted him to hold my hand while he drove so even though he was looking at the road, I could feel his gaze through his touch. I didn’t know that I wanted him to then casually move his hand to my thigh. I didn’t know that I wanted him to ask me about my day — how it was, what I did. I didn’t know that that would make me feel interesting, even if I didn’t have anything to say, because he was interested.
Foreplay isn’t just physical; it’s emotional, it’s mental. Foreplay is a feeling, not an action. It’s an itch across your whole body, a hypersensitivity to touch and a warm glow just below your belly. It makes you feel desired and worthy of that desire. It makes you want more of whatever they’re giving you and then some.
Or at least, it should.
I once went over to this guy’s house. I hadn’t seen him in a while so I was expecting us to just get right to it. But he didn’t even kiss me.
He invited me inside, asked if I wanted anything to drink and went to turn off the video game that was still playing in the living room.
I honestly began growing a little impatient. I sat down on the couch and rearranged my limbs about three times until I was less than comfortable. He was still in the kitchen.
“So, how was your trip?” I called.
“Ah it was alright, lil lady.”
I’d forgotten about his voice. And his nickname for me.
He came back into the living room and handed me a glass. He sat down. I scooched closer to him.
As he recounted a story from his trip, he looked at every inch of me — of my face, of my body — before meeting my eyes. His voice was low. One of his hands softly drummed against my thigh to the song playing in the background. He still hadn’t kissed me.
I wasn’t listening to the song, or his drumming or even really to what he was saying. I wasn’t thinking about sex because I knew that was coming and he knew that was coming so there really wasn’t any reason to rush it, or even to think about it. I was just there, feeling that tingling go through my entire body whenever his hand moved.
I rush a lot of things in my life: The couple walking in front of me on the sidewalk, the day to turn to night so I can sleep, my microwave even though I was the one to set the time. And I rush myself.
Because of that rush, I would decide that I was satisfied with things instead of actually feeling satisfied with them. I did it with sex, I did it with foreplay and I allowed myself to be rushed by men who saw my pleasure as a stepping stone to their own.
That never gave me what I wanted it to, even if I didn’t notice it at the time. It couldn’t. Being an afterthought couldn’t possibly make me feel wanted or even significant. Foreplay tells you whether or not your partner has an vested interest in your enjoyment, and when something tells you something like that, you should listen.
That night, when he did finally kiss me, it was soft. He lightly tugged against the back of my neck and whispered, “I’ve missed you, lil lady.”
The volume of the music grew. I felt the glow below my belly being pulled toward the glow in his. I was filled with desire and want, and I felt desired and wanted.
I swung my leg around to straddle him. He took off my shirt and ran his hands up my chest. I felt my skin warm to make up for the loss of clothing. I felt my breath shorten, my pulse deepen.
Now tell me foreplay isn’t important.
Helen D’Orazio writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected]