When it comes to making sex as wonderful as it can possibly be—or if you’re abstaining from sex but still want to do everything leading up to it—foreplay is a must. As a refresher, foreplay can be both physical and emotional, and, regardless of the form, it centers around intimacy.
“The purpose is to increase the excitement, to get you in the mood, and get your ‘juices flowing’ in anticipation of sex,” says board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Karen Patrusky.
While many people think and joke about how foreplay is a super feminine want, Patrusky, who is also the founder of Voilà Intimate Mood Oils, says that it’s important for both men and women to consider that physical changes—think lubrication and erections—are necessary for sex to occur (at least pleasantly).
“A person’s vital signs change with arousal; heart rate and blood pressure increase; [there's] increase[d] blood flow to the genital areas; and erectile changes in the penis, clitoris, and nipples,” she explains, proving to us all that, yes, foreplay is legit and you should never feel crazy for wanting more of it.
Speaking of it, now that the purpose of foreplay is clear, you might be wondering what actually constitutes foreplay. That’s where we come in. With the help of a few of the industry’s top sexperts (that’s sex experts, FYI), ahead you’ll discover foreplay ideas for women, foreplay game ideas, couple-friendly foreplay, and more.
10 Foreplay Ideas to Try
Try a sensual massage
Searah Deysach, longtime sex educator and owner of pleasure products shop Early to Bed, says you can never go wrong with massage when it comes to foreplay. This can be a solo mission or something you partner up with bae for. If you opt to make this foreplay idea a personal endeavor, grab a bottle of your favorite lube (say Dame's Aloe Lube) and your favorite Rabbit vibrator for a little me time.
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Prefer partner play? Use a massage oil to give your partner a rubdown from head to toe—or tell them what you want so that they can do it to you. For extra sexy vibes, bring a vibrating toy into the mix to tease different erogenous zones—think ears, neck, nipples, clit, and so on.
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Draw out each and every step
If you’re a fan of edging, CalExotics resident sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt says that taking your precious time with each and every step of foreplay can be seriously hot for both parties involved. “Start with lots of kissing, then lots of rubbing,” she suggests. “Give extra time for the body to become aroused to the point of ‘gotta have it now’ desire.”
Read an erotic story to each other
Generally speaking, women have vivid imaginations, thus making them love a good story. For this reason, Deysach says that a great foreplay idea for women is to find a hot and heavy novel—or select sexy snippets from your favorite book—and incorporate it into your sex routine. “Look for something that talks about the kind of sex you/your partner likes, or find something that explores a fantasy you/your partner is into,” she suggests.
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Factor in all five senses if possible
Want to take your couple play to a whole new level? McDevitt says incorporating as many senses as possible can lead to an eruptive buildup. “Things like candles and lingerie for sight, sexy music and dirty talk for sound, satin sheets and feather ticklers for touch, and so on,” she explains.
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Kick things off way ahead of time
Planning for a little sexy time later in the evening? Deysach suggests starting the action earlier in the day with sexy texts and love notes. This is another foreplay idea that’s particularly enjoyed by women, though if TikTok trends are any indication, guys get super thrown off by random hot photos and texts, too—especially when you’re sitting just across the room, surrounded by friends and family.
Openly discuss your sex drive
Okay, this one’s more practical but totally worthwhile. Hear us out. According to Ohnut founder Emily Sauer, it’s helpful when partners can discuss anything that might inhibit their sex drives. Think: dirty laundry everywhere, not showering before intimacy, living with roommates, etc. By speaking about things that make getting off more of a challenge, not only does it put sex at the forefront of the mind, but it also cultivates a space for growth and better, less-distracted interactions.
Turn it into a game
If you’re up for a foreplay game idea, it’s time to grab some dice. While you can totally make your own rules with a regular pair of dice, McDevitt says that adding a sexy set to your foreplay toy arsenal might help you push your limits and experience new things. “The adorable Emojigasm Dice by CalExotics comes with three pieces, and each die has emojis: one for actions (i.e. lick, suck, kiss…), one for body parts (i.e. ear, taco, eggplant…), and one for locations (i.e. bed, chair, couch…),” she explains. “Together, they spell out prompts that build excitement and arousal. Set a rule that each partner must roll the dice and complete the act two times before being able to move on to sex or orgasm.”
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Focus on one specific area of play
If the goal of foreplay is simply to relish in the sexual senses with your partner without going all the way, McDevitt says honing in on one targeted area can be a hot, hot, hot couple's foreplay idea. “For instance, explore and discover seven different ways of kissing. Or become an expert on erotic stripteases,” she offers.
Show your partner what you like
Feeling adventurous? One of the best ways to get what you want and climax like you deserve is to teach your partner how you, specifically, like to get off. McDevitt says working toys into couple foreplay is a great way to illustrate this. While you can totally go to town on yourself with a wand to show your partner the type of penetration you’re craving (more on that below), you can just as easily explain that, “Hey, penetrative orgasm is pretty impossible for me, but incorporating this toy on my clit during penetration will do the trick.” By being upfront with your desires, you’ll be less sexually frustrated in the long run.
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Consider mutual masturbation
With the above in mind, before getting hands-on with each other, consider getting hands-on with yourselves in front of each other. “Mutual masturbation not only gives your partner a great show, but it allows them to see how you like to be touched,” Deysach says.