In Hump Day, award-winning psychotherapist and TV host Dr. Jenn Mann answers your sexiest questions—unjudged and unfiltered.

By Dr. Jenn Mann
Updated May 29, 2019 @ 6:45 pm
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Eva Hill


My partner and I have been together for two years now and we really know how to get each other off. The problem is that our sex life is like a race to the finish line. What even are the good foreplay activities these days? For us, there is no foreplay and we just do the same moves in the same order. I need some foreplay tips and new approaches. Please help me! — Need Some New Moves


Foreplay is necessary for good sex and is all too frequently neglected. This is probably the number one sexual complaint I hear from couples in long term relationships, and not just women.

One of the biggest misconceptions I hear in my office is that men don’t want foreplay. A study in The Journal of Sex Research found that most women underestimate the desired duration of foreplay that their male partners want. On average women want foreplay to last 19 minutes (they report it only lasting 11 minutes) and men wan it to last 18 minutes (but report it only lasts 13). The bottom line: Everyone wants more.

Foreplay has been defined as “erotic stimulation preceding sexual intercourse.” What most people don’t realize is that foreplay is not just about moves, the stimulation is both mental and physical. It is also the key to seduction. Foreplay is all about the slow build. It is creating sexual tension and anticipation that makes the actual sex even better. It requires patience and sexual discipline. By rushing or skipping things, you are not living up to your pleasure potential or providing the best possible experience for your partner. Don’t get me wrong, every hookup doesn't have to be an elongated, foreplay-filled experience, but some of those should be in your regular repertoire. If not, you aren't optimizing your orgasm-having (or -giving).

But you don't know HOW to do foreplay. I get it. Learning how to tease and read your partner’s cues is an important part of this process. Take the time to stimulate other neglected body parts, and touch areas around genitals before going in. While you do this, you want to be reading your partner’s body language and altering you touch based on what he or she responds to. Read on for more tips on how to get the party started.

Touch Techniques

We tend to be sexual one trick ponies. We come up with one way to touch our partner and stick to it, especially if it works. But foreplay means being creative, unpredictable and experimental in your approach. Each time you make contact with your partner, try a different one of these forms of touch:

  • nibble
  • bite
  • kiss
  • stroke
  • make spiral motions with the tips of your fingers
  • pull or tug gently
  • try a gentle slap, like on the ass, if you know you partner is into to this and you have consent
  • pinch
  • use your fingernails to trace their skin
  • scratch
  • tickle
  • lick
  • flick
  • pull
  • blow air (but never into a vagina)
  • rub
  • use your lips to brush your partner’s skin

Body Parts to Stop Ignoring

We tend to focus on the big three — breasts, genitals, and butts — but doing this overlooks important unexplored pleasure territory. Many people love to have their ears stimulated with a nibble, lick, or gentle blow. The scalp has an enormous number of nerve endings. This is why most people love a good head massage at the hair salon. Utilize this sensitive zone.

You may want to try playing with your partner’s hair, massaging their head, even gently pulling on their hair. Necks and shoulders are also very common erogenous zones. Try some tickling, nibbling or love bites. Believe it or not, the hands, specifically fingers, have some of the densest areas of nerve endings in the body. As a result, they are one of the richest sources of feedback. Touch your partner’s hands, trace the skin on his palms and fingers. We all know about kissing but exploring your partner's lips in new ways, like gentle teasing touches with your lips, outlining her mouth with your fingers or nibbling on a lip can be a big turn-on.

Ramp up the excitement by exploring your lover’s torso with your hands, lips, tongue, fingertips or an object like a feather. Or try another often neglected area of the body, the lower back. The base of the spine has a high concentration of nerves to provide stimulation. Whatever you do, don’t forget about the inner thighs, which contain the ilioinguinal nerve which is one of the most sensitive. It actually connects to the scrotum in men and the mons pubis and lateral labia in women allowing for enormous pleasure with the right, non-ticklish touch. Many people are into having their feet touched. Whether it's a good old fashion foot rub, a toe sucking or some gentle touching, you are going to want to know if your partner likes some footsie action. You will also want to check out my list of often overlooked erogenous zones, so you don’t miss a thing.

Activities to Try

When we talk about foreplay, most people think of first base, second base, third base stuff, but I encourage you to get outside the baseball zone. While I do believe that kissing, touching and oral sex are home-run activities, I encourage you to get creative and experimental in your approach, depending on what you and your partner are open to. Here are a few suggestions

For even more ideas, check out the sex inventory in my book The Relationship Fix: Dr. Jenn's 6-Step Guide to Improving Communication, Connection & Intimacy to find out what turns each other on.

Emotional Foreplay

Seduction requires emotional foreplay to be effective. What that emotional foreplay consists of is different with each couple and also varies depending on what stage of life you and your partner are in. For some couples, just putting the dishes in the dishwasher can be foreplay, or as I call it “choreplay.” Relationship researcher John Gottman always says, “everything positive that happens between you and your partner is foreplay. Things that create connection can be foreplay for some whereas for others, emotional distance can be seductive."

Questions to Ask

Totally clueless about what your lover likes when it comes to foreplay? Take some time away from the bedroom to ask the following questions. The answers may surprise you!

  • How much foreplay is ideal for you?
  • Would you like more than I am doing? Less than I am doing?
  • What would you like me to add to the foreplay repertoire?
  • How would you like for me to ask for more foreplay? Less foreplay?
  • What kinds of foreplay are you most responsive to?
  • What foreplay do you like doing to me the most?

Never assume you know everything about your partner and their needs. When you explore, investigate, experiment and ask questions, you open up a whole new wonderful sexual world for the both of you. And that's way better than just a couple of new moves.