There are many questions, or perhaps personal curiosity, about the length of time a couple should invest in warming things up before doing the deed. For example: one 2004 Canadian psychology study published in the peer-reviewed Sex Research Magazine surveyed 152 heterosexual couples about their perceptions regarding foreplay and sex. The researchers found that on average women tended to think longer foreplay is ideal, while men significantly underestimated the amount of foreplay their partner desired. This study might suggest that foreplay length is a common question in intimate relationships, but one that is undisputed for many couples.
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What is Foreplay?
Foreplay can be described as the intimate, physical exchange of gestures leading to: sexat the service of increasing arousal and preparing the body (and mind!) for sex. As a Nationally Certified Certified Marriage and Family Therapist Erin Rayburn, LMFT, LPC-MHSP, NCCexplains, “Foreplay is beneficial for warming up the body and mind for sexual chemistry. It also leads to an increased experience of pleasure and intensity.”
But to experience the greatest effects physical, psychological and emotional effects of sex, how long should foreplay last? And is it always necessary? There are answers… sort of.
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How long should the foreplay last?
“Everyone is different when it comes to sex and experiencing pleasure,” Rayburn says. The Canadian study might illustrate its point: “Women and men have different sexual arousal and peak needs”, she says, “so foreplay should not be put on a timeline, but rather determined by preferences and response. In the study, the actual timing of foreplay varied from person to person, meaning a specific timeline doesn’t matter when it comes to how long foreplay should last. “Think quality over quantity,” Rayburn says. In other words: don’t get carried away by what others think or do. lit’s all about what it works for you and your relationship.
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Because what makes sex great is an authentic connection. Research has suggested that when some couples engage in “proceptive” behavior, it seems to fan the flames and make sex especially powerful. The American Psychological Association describes proceptiveness in a romantic relationship as acts that “actively solicit” a partner for sexual involvement, such as making love, flirting, seducing, and ultimately foreplay. ln one review published in human reproductive biology, couples who got engaged proactive interactions only needed one minute of foreplay before having sex to get a orgasmwhile others took up to 20 minutes or even more.
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