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Sexual Foreplay: What’s in It for Men?

Sexual foreplay means more sex. And that’s something any guy can get into
By Sean Elder
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Sheldon Marks, MD

Dates that end with lovemaking often begin with dining out, so that the meal itself can be seen as a form of sexual foreplay -- in more ways than one. How many times has this happened to you: You take your woman out to dinner at a nice restaurant. The waiter takes your drink orders and tells you of the specials, a busboy brings you a choice of savory breads, and you get down to the business of perusing the menu. Your eye is on the right side of the page -- steak? lobster? steak and lobster? -- when your date announces, “I think I’ll just have a salad and a couple of appetizers.”

At this juncture you might say something like, “Are you crazy? You’ll be starving later!” But she insists she knows her appetite and enough of those little things make, for her, a full and satisfying meal.

So it is with sexual foreplay. A lot of men don’t think they’ve had sex unless they have had full-on sexual intercourse -- the meat and potatoes of many men’s sex lives, if not the steak and lobster. Skeptical as they are of the nourishment value of the proverbial small plates, they tend to rush toward the entrée and insist they’re not really dining otherwise. They don’t see the value of sexual foreplay in lovemaking -- the well-placed nibble and stroke, the suckle and bite -- even if that is what women often want.

Or at least that’s what they say about us. “It kind of depends how much these people read,” Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and board-certified sex therapist in Fair Oaks, Calif., says of men’s attitudes about lovemaking and sexual foreplay. “If they are at all readers, they are likely to have come across the idea someplace that most women enjoy the idea of foreplay.”

Why Men Have a Fear of Foreplay

If you missed that article in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, you are not alone. A sensitive, well-read man may indeed have encountered this notion of sexual pleasure, but most of us have probably filed it under Forget. “I think it’s fair to say men are still afraid of women’s bodies,” says Mark Epstein, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Manhattan and author of Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life. “Exploration of female sexuality is still something that can be perfected.”

And some of us are working on perfecting it, even if it’s just with one woman. But why the fear of sexual foreplay? “Most men are hung up on the fear of losing their erection,” says Epstein. “It dominates their mind during the act of sex. They’re really preoccupied with themselves, or they are in some kind of dance with themselves.”

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