How to Level Up Your Foreplay

Foreplay can be anything that gets you hot under the collar, so here's how to get creative with it.
Two men engaging in foreplay
Illustration: Bobby Redmond

Have you ever had foreplay that was more like threeplay? Twoplay? Oneplay? Maybe you’re getting zero play, so you can’t comment. Maybe you’re worried about how good your own foreplay is. Well, do I have the article for you. As you may have guessed from the title or my hilarious puns, this piece is all about tips, tricks and how to shag before the actual shagging bit – or as it’s known more formally, foreplay. 


What is foreplay?

Foreplay is exactly what it says on the tin: the stuff you do be-FORE the PLAY. But don’t think everything you do before you hit the sheets counts as foreplay. Having a dump doesn’t count. Eating a cheese sandwich doesn’t count. Unless, of course, that’s the stuff that gets you off. In which case, it is incredible foreplay.

To get down to the nitty gritty, foreplay is the sensual and sexual actions before full-blown sex that gets you and your partner (or partners) in the mood. Think snogs, caresses, spanks and teases. It’s the warm-up before the big event; getting each other hot and bothered so the big bang doesn’t come too quickly. This hinges, primarily, on you and your partner(s) being good at foreplay. Enter: this guide. 

Tip 1: Use your imagination

I swear this isn’t a redpilled take, so listen up. There is a great case to be made that foreplay – when foreplay refers to everything but sticking it into a hole – is pretty heteronormative. The idea that sex only begins when penetration occurs and that anything prior (blowies, fingering, rimjobs) is “only” foreplay is a toxic way of making those only participating in non-penetrative sex feel lesser. It also heavily implies that the only “right” sex is that of cis willies entering cis fannies. 

You can decide what you want foreplay to be. If you want that to include upside-down blowjobs, go right ahead. (This is my friend Beth’s fave foreplay technique, because you can take a dick further down your throat, plus bonus points for pretending to be Spider-Man.) It also means if you have any specific turn-ons, kinks or fetishes, you can class these as foreplay, too. If you find out what you personally find sexy, foreplay can be anything that gets you hot under the collar.


Tip 2: Have fun with it

Just like shagging, a huge mistake in foreplay is taking it too seriously. Use this time to work out what’s fun for you or even, what’s a little torturous for you – if you like being teased, that is. Dan, a 26-year-old researcher, tells me about meeting up with a fuckbuddy to exchange long, lingering erotic massages, only fucking when one of them finally “cracked”. By honing in on the “play” element in foreplay, you’re more likely to have a good time. (Like every foreplay expert in this piece, Dan’s speaking anonymously to spill the beans on his sex life.) 

Misha, a 31-year-old artist, also emphasises the importance of taking your time to make the most out of the pre-shagging situation. By rushing into the sex, you can miss out on the finer enjoyments of your intimate moments. Sometimes dressing up is more exciting than stripping down,” they explain. “Wearing sexy things and feeling the clothes and costumes and all that is vastly more erotic than just being naked and getting straight to it.”

Tip 3: Mix it up

While having set ways for getting off makes sense, don’t let your traditional methods of spicing it up hold you back. Getting creative means you and your partner might get more flustered than ever before! 

Stuck for ideas? Marketing consultant Nat, 32, detailed the following options for making foreplay funner: “I like applying – really friendly, non-intimidating – sensory deprivation things, like eye masks, headphones, etc,” she says. “These can be a nice way to mix things up, prolong a session, or just focus in on one person.”


You might have your own ideas already brewing when it comes to ideas, but if you’re finding it hard to communicate the foreplay you want to try, psychologist and coach Zoe Mallett recommends making the conversation part of the build-up. “Depending on your style of communication you can write down the things you want to try and swap it with your partner/partners,” she suggests. “You can read them in the same room or when you're apart, but this will give the other people involved a starting idea of what you like and what can be a part of your foreplay.”

What happens if I just don’t like foreplay?

Interior designer India tells me that foreplay just isn’t her thing, so bear in mind that taking your time before fucking just might not be your cup of tea – and that’s totally valid, too.

“We never do foreplay! My partner just takes his cock out and shows it to me and we get at it… Or if I want to start the sex, I give him a certain look and go to another room, then he quickly follows,” she explains. “I think it will keep evolving, but I love how sincere and honest getting right to it is. I don’t miss foreplay, but I can always ask if I want it and I’ll get it.”

This is, Mallett confirms, completely natural. “If you don’t like foreplay and are happy to not partake in it, that’s fine. It’s your body; you can decide how you want to pleasure it.” Just like India, however, remember to communicate with whoever you’re getting into bed with – don’t just assume they feel the way that you do.

Okay, so how can I find out what kind of foreplay I like? 

That said, this is a guide about how to do foreplay and not how to get out of it. If you aren’t into it but want to be, Mallett advises relaxing and taking time to assess what you like and don’t like. This doesn’t have to involve hours of meditation and self-reflection. Personally, I recommend checking out different types of (ethical, please) porn to see what turns you on and what doesn’t, and test it out next time you’re getting it on with someone else.

Unsurprisingly, what you want to do in foreplay is just as personal as what you want to do in sex, so this guide can only take you so far. The best advice a gal can give is get out there and give it a bloody go, otherwise you’re never going to know.