Tips & Techniques

A Man’s Guide to Foreplay

Here, Dating and Intimacy Coach David Chambers (he/him) talks you through the art of foreplay
by davidchambers
5 Apr 2021

UPDATED: 15 Nov 2022


Essential to pleasure and prolonging sex, the misnamed “foreplay” is something many long for, but few know how to do.

Editor’s Note: This article is written with a focus on cis men who sleep with cis and trans women. Although this article is aimed primarily at this demographic, it contains foreplay tips and tricks that are useful for any gender! We want our articles to benefit as many expansive identities as possible, and we have tried to edit the piece with this in mind.

If you feel this could be improved, please do contact the editor on

[Edited 2022]

When it comes to foreplay, we men often get a pretty bad rap. I feel some of the ideas are sprouted so often that we have all come to believe them, but I also see that there is some truth to these rumours.

I’m David Chambers, a Dating & Intimacy Expert for Authentic Dating Series. I coach men on topics of relationships and connection, and run workshops teaching the fine art of great foreplay. And it is just that, an art! 

One of the first things many people need to change in their approach to sex is the misconception that foreplay is just an inconsequential gate we must pass through to get to penetrative (aka “actual”) sex. Foreplay is not just an essential part of sex. It is sex. Penetrative sex of any kind is not the only proper way to have sex – that is a patriarchal concept that erases the pleasure of so many people.

What Is Foreplay?

Foreplay gets us into a state where we are ready, emotionally, mentally and physically, for sex and intimacy. As a term, it has typically been used to cover a vast range of activities, from sexting to kissing to oral sex. Essentially, everything other than penetrative sex can be considered foreplay if we’re working with the cisgendered, heteronormative script we’ve all been given. The problem with this is that for many people, sex other than penetrative sex is needed for them to reach their full pleasure potential, whether that is orgasm or a sustained sense of bliss. When we decentre penetrative sex, making elements of foreplay as much a part of, if not the, main event, we expand the possibilities of pleasure for everyone.  

Creating Arousal Through Foreplay

People get aroused in different ways. Some people have quite spontaneous desire, meaning it doesn’t take a lot to get them in the mood for sex and intimacy. Other people have more responsive desire, which means that for these people arousal needs to be built up before they feel they want to engage in sex. 

These types of desire are not related to gender or physiology. Anyone can be more responsive or spontaneous: a lot of this depends on external factors, such as whether you’ve had sex recently, age, health, or whether you are in a long term realtionship.

Foreplay not only enables those who feel more responsive desire to get sufficiently warmed up and in the mood. It can also be beneficial for people who experience spontaneous desire, encouraging them to slow down and explore the full range of available pleasures with their partner/s. 

Pre-foreplay tips

These are the types of foreplay tips that we all wished we had got in our boring sex education classes at school but never did!

Create a beautiful setting

You might be thinking: what has the setting got to do with foreplay? 

The scene we do anything in has a massive influence on the experiences we have in that place. 

For example, let’s talk about football. There’s a big difference between watching a game in a packed stadium versus watching it at the training ground. The two places have entirely different atmospheres and expectations. The training ground may feel a little more casual, whereas in the packed stadium there can be more at stake. 

When it comes to having excellent foreplay and other kinds of sex, creating a warm, relaxing, and wonderful smelling setting can be really important. It’s a way to give sex and intimacy the value it deserves, as well as enabling you to create change and novelty without having to book a hotel or undertake some drastic DIY.

I recommend playing relaxing music, lighting some candles, and covering everything that reminds you of work (like computers, TVs, and phones).

But also remember, if your partner is not in the mood, don’t pressure them. Consent isn’t just sexy, it’s compulsory. If one of you isn’t feeling it, the outcome will never be as fulfilling for the both of you anyway. 

Start Slow

Through learning and teaching tantric practices, I’ve come to experience the beauty of slowing down and taking my time, even leading up to foreplay. 

Start with some slow sensual kissing and touch. This is before you even take off any clothes. It will allow your bodies to wake up to the sexual charge you are building, and it also allows you to play with the sexual tension.

Try something new

Taking a moment to meditate before getting down to it is a great foreplay tip. 

Meditation calms the mind and helps you to become more present to each other and yourself. Being relaxed is known to help us enjoy sex a lot more. Meditation doesn’t have to be a long process, either. It can be as simple as taking five long deep breaths, being aware of how your breath fills your lungs each time and feeling your body in the space.

How long should foreplay last?

One of the most common questions I get asked by men is, “How long should foreplay last?”

My simple answer is that it should last at the very least twenty mins, but you should aim for around an hour. This is enough time for you both to build your arousal levels gradually to the point of being ready for sex.

In a plot twist, though, the answer is really that foreplay can last as long as you both desire. The problem with this is we hardly ever communicate how long we want to have foreplay for. So, before you’re even getting started with foreplay you’ll want to have some conversations with your partner/s about what kinds of things they enjoy. 

Some people love foreplay but it can make them feel pressure to reach a certain level of pleasure or orgasm. Try to ease this again by having conversations. If this is a worry for you or your partner/s, you can try switching things up by having one kind of sex or foreplay for a certain amount of time beofre moving to something else. This means neither of you will feel stuck trying to reach a certain goal. If pleasure starts to build, and it feels like one or both of you might reach orgasm, you can always stay with what you’re doing if an orgasm is what you want to achieve!

What do you do in foreplay?

Be Present

I speak about being present so often, but it makes a massive difference in foreplay. It’s the single most transformative thing you can do to add more connection and passion to your sex life.

As I said before, let go of the goal, be in the moment and be in the act of being with your partner, whether that’s spanking them, kissing them, embracing them or biting them. Be fully present with what is happening, and you will get so much more enjoyment from it.

Explore their Erogenous zones

The heteronormative mindset often means that we want to go straight for the end goal, and in foreplay, that may mean going directly to the genitals. But there is no teasing or fun in that. Foreplay and sex are like a dance, not a linear journey.

What is far more enjoyable is exploring the lessor knows erotic areas of the body, some of the other erogenous zones. 

Some of the places that you want to be thinking about kissing, stroking, caressing and licking are the:

  • Opening of the nostrils
  • Outer thighs
  • Navel
  • Feet
  • Back of the hands and forearms
  • Bum
  • Ears
  • Inner thighs
  • Nape of the neck

Be creative! You can use any part of your body to touch theirs. You have far more at your disposal than just your hands. Experiment with pressure and intention in your touch as well. How does it change the feeling if you touch with an intention to worship, or to discipline? Try things in communication with your partner, and you might discover new worlds of pleasure opening up before you. 

Sensual massage

Learning some basic sensual touch or sensual massage techniques is a great way to help your partner/s to relax. 

You can find plenty of videos on YouTube, or attend one of the Tantric massage courses that my partner, Asa, and I run for Killing Kittens!

Conscious touch

Conscious touch is the act of having your full attention and focus on the sensation you are feeling and the act of touching that person. And this isn’t the way that we usually touch each other. We typically are touching our partners while thinking of god knows what else… shopping lists, tomorrow’s plans or the next thing we want to do to them. 

Try putting your full attention on the sensation of touching their body. Feel what their skin feels like, the temperature, the texture and the pressure that you are using. You will find that you notice new things about their body and new sensations in your own body.

Foreplay Techniques

Nipples, chests and breast foreplay

Nipples, chests and breasts can be a primary erogenous zone and are a very sensitive area. A mistake a lot of people make is just going straight at the breasts and nipples without warming them up properly. 

It’s far better to start caressing around the breasts and then work your way inwards slowly and softly, stroking around the breast gently with your fingertips or the back of your fingers. 

A top tip is to move your fingertips in small circles while working your way around the breast and towards the nipple. When you get to the areola, keep circling without touching the nipple. And when you do get to the nipple, be super gentle and light with your touch. If your partner enjoyed having their nipples played with, by this point the anticipation should have built up and they’ll be feeling beautifully turned on.

By the way, I say you can do this with your fingertips or the back of your hand, but it also works just as well with your tongue, nose or even a feather. Again, explore and be creative!

Massage the area around the genitals

This has been a little secret I have been keeping to myself for a while now. The area around the genitals is mainly muscle and can often be very tense. Massage this area with your thumbs and fingers to relax these muscles and increase blood flow to the gential area. This advice works whatever presentation of genitalia your partner/s has/have, as the underlying muscle structure is what we’re working with here. 

Circles around the clitoris 

When playing with the clitoris in partners with vulvas, it’s essential to remember that it has over 8000 nerve endings. It is a sensitive little thing. You don’t need to rub on it like you are correcting your school homework!

A foreplay technique is to stroke around the visible part of the clitoris. Start with a feather-light touch, using slow circles around, but not on, the clitoris. This will build a whole different sensation and pleasure. Use spit or lube to create a smooth, gliding sensation, as this will be more pleasurable than if your finger catches or drags the skin. This technique also works well with tongues, too…

Want to learn more about the art of foreplay?

Make sure you check out our upcoming workshops and masterclasses!