Foreplay — What’s it all about? Why is foreplay essential for the sex life you want to have. Join author and sex therapist Laurie Watson discuss the whole point of the podcast Foreplay.
Hi, it’s time for Foreplay with sex therapist, Laurie Watson, and psychotherapist, Tony Delmedico. Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy is your safe place to talk about all things intimate and sexual, where we help you get the most out of your love life.
Tony Delmedico: You can check us out on the web at ForeplayRST.com. And send us an email if you like. Straight talk and sex talk, Laurie, where will Foreplay lead us today?
Laurie Watson: Hey Tony, this is our initial episode and we are so excited, no pun intended, to talk about foreplay and describe what it is.
Tony Delmedico: Foreplay, who needs foreplay anyway, Laurie?
Laurie Watson: Well, you know, I think, women definitely need foreplay. And I think that this is kind of my worry, is that sometimes men don’t want to do this. That they feel like it’s some sort of price of admission. You know, they have to do all this work, this physical work. And it’s true, I think that men do have to do more physical work to get a woman there. I think women in response have to do more mental work to maintain desire. You know, in order to want to have sex, women have to put it in their minds, and think about. Whereas men think about it so much more because their bodies have so much more testosterone.
Tony Delmedico: So, foreplay is really where it all begins for a woman though?
Laurie Watson: Right. I mean, foreplay is sex for women. I mean that is usually when women climax is during the stimulation before the main event.
Tony Delmedico: Well, I got to tell you, for men that’s news. Because we thought that sex was what it was all about, intercourse. We didn’t realize that foreplay was the sex for a woman.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. I think that men think that their performance in sexual intercourse is what has to happen, right? They have to have a great erection. They have to have this erection lasts for a really long time. And that’s what’s going to bring her pleasure. And of course, that’s what makes them anxious sometimes during sex. But it’s really the touching. I mean, great foreplay is about attunement. It’s about tuning into her body and her pleasure. And knowing, you know, what she might be feeling by either her movements or her responsiveness. You know, we would love it if she would open up and talk about it. If not show and tell. But I mean, getting a woman to do that is going to take some safety. And some time. And a relationship where she feels like he wants to know.
Tony Delmedico: I’m coming at it from a different angle altogether. I mean we’re calling it foreplay. And you had mentioned a man has to work harder. And a lot of times with the couples and the individuals that I see that have been in relationships for 5, 10, 15 years, a lot of the play has gone out of the relationship. And so, I think for us, we’re advocating putting the play back in foreplay. Would you agree?
Laurie Watson: Yeah, I would agree. Yeah, I think so. I think that so many couples that come to see me in my counseling room, you know, they are efficient, they’re trying to get something done. They remember time when they were dating and what it was all about sex. And they would spend hours in bed together. I mean there would be all kinds of foreplay.
Tony Delmedico: And now, there’s work and there’s kids and there’s in-laws and there is no time for play. You almost the society or the relationship becomes goal-driven and by definition gets more efficient. Or the pressure to be more efficient is there.
Laurie Watson: Right. And women seem to, you know, sometimes it gets relegated to the list, “Oh, this is one more thing I got to do to keep my marriage happy.” You know, and they are not necessarily allowing themselves, “Okay, I’m going to have downtime, I’m going to have playtime. It’s going to be about me and pleasure.” And it’s like, “Okay, I got to keep him happy.”
Tony Delmedico: Right. And I think for couples it’s a lot easier just to climb into bed, turn on the TV, and watch whatever’s on that night as opposed to — And most couples spend an hour or two hours doing that as opposed to running a bath, lighting some candles, begin to set some space.
Laurie Watson: Lighting candles, Tony, you’re really going all out. Golly. I remember this one woman, a patient, I mean they were having sex once a quarter.
Tony Delmedico: Sounds like a CPA, like clockwork.
Laurie Watson: She had agreed eventually to have sex twice a week. So, this guy had gone from having sex once a quarter to, you know, what is that, you know? 13 times as many times.
Tony Delmedico: 13,000% an increase.
Laurie Watson: And she had a list of things that she would like him to do. I mean they were small. They didn’t cost. One of them cost money, but hardly any of them did. One of the things that was on her list, it just said, you know, it was set the scene, a little romance, light a candle. She wanted him to shave before. She wanted him to shower.
Tony Delmedico: Hygiene.
Laurie Watson: She wanted him to wear tight jeans and his cowboy boots. I mean, we live in the South. And I mean it was —
Tony Delmedico: Even in the North, woman like some men in cowboy boots. That’s for sure.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. That can be very sexy. And all this foreplay, you know, was really about setting it up, setting the scenes, seduction, and they were hardly any time or money involved. I think one of them was ballroom dance. I got to say, a woman loves a man who can dance. But you know what he said after getting sex once a quarter to 13 times a quarter or however many times, no, 26 times, right? He says, “Oh, that’s going to take so much work.”
Tony Delmedico: Wow.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. I mean I just, I didn’t get it. Like, you know, his resistance to doing what she needed. This was just in the setup, let alone, I mean she said, you know, “He would no more think to do something creative and bad. Then he would think to light the candle.” And I think some of the foreplay, the discouragement in women is that, you know, maybe she’s told him over and over what she does like, and he doesn’t do it. He doesn’t remember. Or in a moment of passion, you know, you can’t even think. And so, then he forgets, and she doesn’t tell him again what she needs to. And so, what happens, their repertoire gets really cut off. You know, they’re doing less and less in bed. That is less interesting. And so, neither of them is sort of fascinated by this or scintillated by what’s happening in bed. It becomes this vanilla experience. And like you said, maybe they would rather just watch a little TV.
Tony Delmedico: Well, and the playfulness has gone completely out the window. She’s giving him a short list of things that could be very playful for her. And he’s saying, “No.” He’s foreclosing on that completely. “I don’t want to play. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m vulnerable with you.” And as adults, there are very few places as adults that we can play anymore. And we know how kids do it and we know what it looks like. But I think around sexuality and intimacy is a wonderful place for adults to begin to play again freely. And I agree with you, whether it’s the male or the female, oftentimes things are foreclosed upon them. I’m not going to be playful and easy and free with you.
Laurie Watson: Right. And sex is really that place that is the crossroads of our romantic interest, our love, and our primitive childhood needs for affection. That’s where it all comes together. And why sex is so critical to the bonding in a relationship. I think what you said though about men sometimes being foreclosed upon by a woman. I mean, maybe he really does want to give her foreplay. He enjoys touching her. He longs to see her turn on. That’s his biggest turn on is when she flips the switch and really gets into it. But somehow or another, she’s anxious, she’s inhibited. So, she shuts him down. And all the things that he wants to do in bed to her, you know, she won’t let him.
Tony Delmedico: I’m thinking about anxious and inhibited, there also a lot of women that are just plain worn out. Oftentimes there’s inequality in relationships where she’s doing everything with respect to raising the kids, doing the laundry, cleaning the house. And he waltzes in after seven or eight hours of work with the grownups and expects to have the sensuous woman just melting in his arms. And none of that is foreplay for a couple.
Laurie Watson: Right. You know, Denise Ogden, she’s a sex therapist. And she says, “You know that fair play is just as important as foreplay.” And a lot of women I think do shut down sexual desire because of unequal loads in the relationship. Maybe she’s doing too much of the household work, the childcare, and the financial burden.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah. She’s exhausted.
Laurie Watson: And I would say resentment is the monster under the bed. I mean, resentment does shut down sex. But I would say back to foreplay, this idea that, you know, for some men they do want to do this. And they can’t even get her to start. I mean, it’s like women in long term relationship often flip flop. Their desire somehow or another comes second to their arousal. So, you know, when we’re dating and we fall in love, we feel this tremendous physiological sense of desire even as women. And then once we’re married, you know, you’re getting stuff done and desire just doesn’t seem to be as present. You know, we can’t — it doesn’t alight, but every once in a while, like this butterfly of chance. But women, I think it’s true. We’ve done studies that they, if they get started, if they will allow their partner to touch them, to help them ignite their body, then after they are aroused desire kicks in, and they want to do it.
Tony Delmedico: And I think the, if, is the big word there. If they can get started. I mean from a psychological standpoint. A woman is asked to wear the mask of motherhood. She is now asked to wear the mask of professional in the workplace. She’s doing all of the other things. And I think it’s very hard after a while in a committed relationship to find that mask of deep womanhood and deep sensuality. And that mask gets lost with certainly with the coming of the first child, for sure with the second child. And you wind up with couples that haven’t had sex for months. You mentioned a quarter. And couples that haven’t had sex for two years. Yeah, three years. That’s a sexless relation.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, sexless.
Tony Delmedico: And there’s no play really sad at all between the couples.
Laurie Watson: Really sad. Really sad.
Tony Delmedico: And how does a woman get this mask of motherhood and the mask of the angry father that’s glued to their faces off to find their own sensuality again. I mean, and I think play is a wonderful place to do that .In like you’re saying, if you can put yourself in the vicinity of each other to begin to play, to begin to touch, to begin to open space, it could melt some of those masks away pretty quickly, is what you’re saying.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. I think what you’re saying is really important in terms of our multiple roles once we marry. I mean sometimes at the very ceremony kind of sex is over, right? I mean we step into the role of wife, let alone mother.
Tony Delmedico: Oftentimes people say that changes on the wedding night something shifts dramatically or some point during the honeymoon. So, it’s a palpable shit.
Laurie Watson: I think I understand why we can talk about that later, but truly the veil is lifted on kind of the shadow part of our partner once we marry, even at the ceremony sometimes. And the things that we’ve been so drawn to now become frightening, you know, because they’re reminiscent of our childhoods. And now, we are getting to the —
Tony Delmedico: Now, we’re getting to the — I think we need some foreplay. Well, it’s time for a break. Stay with us for the second half of our segment on Foreplay. We’re halfway there. Coming up in our next segment. We’ll finish up with our three tips for jump starting foreplay in your relationship.
Commercial: Wanting Sex Again, how to rediscover desire and heal a sexless marriage by certified sex therapist, Laurie Watson. Each chapter is designed to fix one of the problems that caused low libido from early marriage through the childbearing years, even all the way through menopause. I’ve also had men read it and tell me that for them it was the most helpful thing they read about resolving sexual problems. Look for Wanting Sex Again on Amazon.com. You can also talk to Laurie Watson for therapy in person or via Skype. I offer couples counseling and sex therapy and I think about both aspects of the relationship, emotional intimacy, and sexual technique. And that combination together helps marriages be happy. Improve your sex. And improve your relationship with awakening center for couples and intimacy. Find out more at AwakenLoveandSex.com and sign up for their next couples retreat weekend hosted by Laurie Watson. AwakenLoveandSex.com, awaken what’s possible.
Laurie Watson: Welcome back to Foreplay with sex therapist, Laurie Watson, and psychotherapist, Tony Delmedico. Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy is your safe place to talk about all things sexual and intimate. And it’s where we want to help you get the most out of your sex life.
Tony Delmedico: You can find us on the web at ForeplayRST.com and send us an email. We’d like to hear what you have to say about today’s topic. And it’s a big one, Laurie. We’re talking about one of our favorites, foreplay.
Laurie Watson: That’s right.
Tony Delmedico: In the first part of the show today, you dropped a big bomb on us in the room. You said that foreplay is actually the sex for women. And that blew me away because most guys think that intercourse is the sex. And you’re saying foreplay is where it all happens.
Laurie Watson: And I think it’s a misnomer, right? I mean foreplay is saying it’s before the big game because that’s a male way of thinking about it. But touching and being stimulated and enjoying each other’s body, that is usually where women climax, that’s the moment for her. And so, she wants a lot more of that. And sometimes he’s just doing that as fast as he can to make her ready to get to sexual intercourse.
Tony Delmedico: So, at ForeplayRST, we’re really promoting foreplay as the main event.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. At least it is for women.
Tony Delmedico: So, female orgasms should be happening during foreplay? So, guys do you hear that, it’s not first base, second base, and then on to try to hit a home run. You’re really trying to get that home run out of her right up front with taking time for foreplay.
Laurie Watson: Right. I mean, I definitely think as far as a good pattern, her climaxing first is a usual pattern that helps because then she may climax again the second time, right?
Tony Delmedico: And then they can relax and enjoy the ride.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. And I think that when men in their effort to do foreplay, they understand, “Okay, I need to do something to make her lubricated, to make her ready for the event.” And so, they just go for it. You know, they start touching her genitals right away. It’s almost like this is a magic formula, you know. I know I have to do foreplay now. And so, I’m going to go for it and push the right buttons and then she’s going to turn on. And so, many women are like quit. You know? It’s like, it’s too much. It’s too fast. You’re grabbing me and it feels so invasive, until her body is sort of aroused enough for it to feel good.
Tony Delmedico: And yet somehow that worked in their dating sequence.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, I know.
Tony Delmedico: I saw you look away, or did it?
Laurie Watson: I don’t think it really worked quite as much as we think it worked. I mean, there was so much fantasy going into that moment. I mean, she woke up in the morning, she thought about it, she shaved her legs, you know, put on something pretty underneath. Her own mind and fantasy life was building toward that moment.
Tony Delmedico: So, what you’re saying is foreplay had already been happening with that couple long before in her mind.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, in her mind. Yeah. And also, I mean, he’s planning, right? I mean their whole day.
Tony Delmedico: Yeah, they are both planning.
Laurie Watson: Their whole day is set aside for this moment when they have six hours of uninterrupted time together. I mean, how many married couples set aside six hours of time just to be together?
Tony Delmedico: Six minutes.
Laurie Watson: Go out to dinner, be together, hang out, have lots of sex. You know, and they don’t have any — you know, and they don’t care if they have responsibilities in the morning, they’re going to take as much time as they need. So, that’s what makes it so great is this priority on, you know, on foreplay and on each other. And I think that that’s why sex is so great in the beginning.
Tony Delmedico: So, yeah. And I think after being in a relationship for 10 or 15 years, you and I both see lots of individuals and lots of couples where not only a sex gone, but foreplay has gone as well. So, I think that the advocacy to return to foreplay is huge. Because when you meet a couple or individual, you don’t say go home and have more sex. That’s not what you tell the couple. Go have more intercourse. You tell them, put yourself in each other’s space, get back to a place where you can begin to play together. And foreplay is that piece. So, I would imagine you’re prescribing way more foreplay than intercourse.
Laurie Watson: I would say, you know, foreplay is about pleasure and you’re right. I mean we want people to feel again, to feel each other, to feel what’s happening in their own bodies too. I like the way you say it sometimes, Tony, just to sink into the body. I mean that awareness of what you’re feeling cuts out the anxiety of what you think your partner is thinking about, if you’re taking too long.
Tony Delmedico: And I think coming from the male perspective with the men I visit with, oftentimes they come in complaining that they’re just not getting enough sex. They’re not getting sex. And I think reframing that and saying, what are you doing with her with respect to foreplay? Is the answer. It’s not a demand for intercourse. It’s a real need for connection.
Laurie Watson: And I think women are apologizing for taking too long. They feel the demand from their male partner for more sex. They think, “Okay, he needs it more often. And so, I just need to give it to him. Because you know, I got so much to get done. I have this list.” And so, they know that their body is going to take all this time. And so, they say, “You know, he just wants to get the sex.” That’s what they begin to think. And sometimes for him it’s, it’s really the reverse. They think, “Well, she doesn’t enjoy it that much. And so, I just got to get it while it’s hot essentially. I don’t know how to turn her on. I don’t know how to touch her.” And so, then they stop. And this whole thing devolves into this efficient kind of cycle. You know, that isn’t so much fun anymore. And then, sex stops and people wonder why? Why are we not having very much sex? I mean, I think the foreplay like you’ve talked about is the secret to going back to it for both people enjoying it. I had this girlfriend who, I mean, I know she married this guy really because he was so good at foreplay. I mean he would take hours and hours with her. And then at some point in the marriage it devolved to this shower shout out. She, you know, he would say, “Hey hon, you want some nookie?” And they would start their day that way, you know, in the shower having a quickie, standing up. You know, where I knew it’s really sexy to think about having sex in the shower and the movies show that.
Tony Delmedico: Right.
Laurie Watson: But it is not so sexy for her. I mean, it washes away her natural lubrication. She doesn’t have enough time generally. The water’s going to run out, right? The fricking hot water is going to run out, but before she could climax, you know? And so, I mean, I think that, yeah, it’s a great idea. But all this time that he took with her and the reason she was so drawn to him sexually is now washed away.
Tony Delmedico: And so, he had shortened it to a shout out in the shower, which primarily was a nice way for him to start the day.
Laurie Watson: Yes.
Tony Delmedico: But not her.
Laurie Watson: I think that many times men think, okay, “I paid this price. I’ve courted her. I’ve dated her. I’ve done all this stuff. And now you know, I get to have sex whenever I want to.”
Tony Delmedico: It’s my divine right. The patriarchy is my divine right now.
Laurie Watson: And I think women are counting on men to turn on their eroticism instead of feeling like, “Wow, I’ve committed here to fidelity and to having an erotic life.” They don’t realize that they need an erotic core that is strong, that can be sexual in and of themselves.
Tony Delmedico: So, somehow in the relationship it goes from an erotic life to a neurotic life.
Laurie Watson: Yeah, sure, sure.
Tony Delmedico: And misery between couples that go on because they’re there can get to be some crazy around it. The anxiety, the frustration, the anger, the wounding. So, and it is this initial idea that you’re committing to a life of eroticism with one person. And how does a couple tend that? And I think, foreplay is a wonderful way to do that.
Laurie Watson: Foreplay is. And I think that so many people think, you know, I knew how to do it. You know, it was first base, second base, third base, home. And their routine becomes a rut. You know, they, they do find a few things that work. And so, they move that to this rut way of having sex. You know, it is getting in bed. Pull down the sheets. You know, maybe clean up first. Do the dirty deed. And then go clean up. And then go to sleep. And it’s this formula that becomes so unerotic that you know, it doesn’t even matter if they’re touching enough. It’s just, there’s no edge. There’s no excitement anymore about it. There’s no variety. And so, you know, kind of the whole thing drops off.
Tony Delmedico: Right. And so how do couples put the foreplay back in? How do you move that piece back to the top of the list? If you’re saying that piece is important for everything else that comes afterwards? I mean, can a couple sit down and talk about foreplay? Or does that even take the fun out of it?
Laurie Watson: Well, I think it’s about priority. When we were dating, and the reason sex was so great, we did really set aside an enormous amount of time for sexual pleasure. I mean, a priority in terms of maybe it isn’t, “Okay we’re going to have sex on Saturday morning.” But saying, “You know what, Saturday morning is ours.” You know, maybe we do take the kids over to the mothers-in-law, you know. We set some time aside to just be together, unwind, talk. Have some play time. I mean, one favorite way in the winter, it’s cold here right now. And you know, I suggest is get in the bath together. You know, there’s no phones, there’s no TVs. Hopefully there’s no TVs in the bathroom, right? You know, and couples maybe soak in that tub, they’re warm. And we all know women like to have sex more when their feet are warm. I hope you all know that. They really do. That helps. But I mean, and then you’re clean and you’re naked and you know, guess what, maybe it’ll happen.
Tony Delmedico: Good things happen.
Laurie Watson: Yeah. I had a marriage counselor tell me when I was very young. You know, the best way to save a marriage is have a garden tub. You know, because it’s that connection time. And it’s setting aside something as a priority. And then seeing what comes out of that.
Tony Delmedico: So, Laurie, a lot of good stuff today on Foreplay. Seems like we could just have episode after episode of what may help couples reconnect. Which brings us to our three tips for jump-starting for in your relationship. And the first one I think is huge. And you had mentioned that foreplay is the sex for women. And I think that’s important for fellows to remember.
Laurie Watson: Right, it’s not the pregame.
Tony Delmedico: And I think for guys it’s very important. This 2020 rule, slow down. It’s a 40 minute game here. Don’t let the horses run fast out of the gate.
Laurie Watson: Exactly. And I think that another tip is to ask women what they want in foreplay. I mean, don’t assume that you know. And I know some men say, you know, “I’m dying for that. I would love it if she would tell me what she would like, but I can’t get her to talk.” One of my girlfriends said, you know, that’s kind of a discussion that I could have in a hot tub with a glass of wine. Maybe then I could open up and share it. It’s probably not something that she wants to say in the moment. “Well, do this, do that.” Because that adds to the pressure. You know, she needs to be relaxed and maybe talk about what she likes, what turns her on at another time. You know, a little bit of wine.
Tony Delmedico: Not in the moment.
Laurie Watson: Maybe not in the moment.
Tony Delmedico: Guys, check your ego and have the conversation. The ladies are waiting to give you the secrets to the kingdom.
Laurie Watson: That’s right, the secrets to the kingdom. So, thank you so much for tuning in and on to this episode of Foreplay Radio, Sex Therapy. You can find us on the web at ForeplayRST.com. Please send us an email. We’d love to hear from you. This is Laurie Watson, sex therapist.
Tony Delmedico: And psychotherapist, Tony Delmedico.
Laurie Watson: We look forward to having you join us for some more Foreplay.
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