Building Anticipation With Foreplay

Wanna know how to enhance anticipation when things get sexual? We’ve got plenty of ideas for you!


A good story requires a juicy build-up before the climax, and the sample principle applies to sex. Unfortunately, most people consider foreplay as a mere precursor to intercourse. This narrow perspective stems from outdated social scripts that prioritize penis-in-vagina as the one true sex act, dismissing other forms of intimate touch as mere “foreplay”. This limited viewpoint not only constrains our sexual experiences but also downplays the importance of foreplay. I prefer to frame foreplay as a necessary period of building the anticipation necessary for a state of arousal. In a sense, it’s the set-up before the punchline.

Foreplay, in essence, should build anticipation, allowing the body time to align with your growing desire. It’s important to recognize that our bodies don’t always immediately respond to sexual stimuli. Foreplay bridges this time gap and establishes a rhythm. Plus, prolonging anticipation makes the eventual climax more gratifying. Beyond anticipation, foreplay can be a way to gain a deeper understanding of the type of sex we wish to engage in, and it can set the mood for the entire experience.

There are many types of foreplay! Here are a few:

Verbal Foreplay & Consent

One of the best ways to practice consent and advocate for your pleasure is to embed it into your foreplay. We define consent as “enthusiastic and informed participation in an activity”. It can be as simple as deciding whether you do or don’t want to engage in a certain activity.

Yet, I’ve heard—more times than I can count—that asking for consent “kills the mood”. I chalk this up to people feeling awkward about communicating directly with their pals about pleasure. And I get it! Most of us have been exposed to indirect approaches to sex, expression of desires and requests for permission can be intimidating. Not to mention the chance that we’ll get rejected!

But sex is exponentially more enjoyable when our pals understand how to touch us, what pace works best and what we don’t like. Dirty talk can similarly be intimidating for folks who don’t have a lot of experience. I hear from clients, “I don’t know what to say”.

The easiest way to start is actually to make consensual affirmations part of your dirty talk. It can be as simple as using phrases like, “I love when you touch me like this,” or “I want to do this to you”. Descriptive verbal foreplay not only lets your pals know what you’re interested in doing to them, but it also gives them a chance to redirect if they would prefer something different.

Another common way to embed consent into dirty talk is by providing options; “I can kiss your neck or your thighs,” is one example. A simple, well-timed “faster” or “slower” can be just as effective. Again, most people overcomplicate dirty talk out of fear, but keeping it simple and informative is the best way to practice.

As you learn how to talk dirty, you can add many creative embellishments. Of course, if you don’t like talking in bed, apply these techniques to sexting. Foreplay doesn’t stop in the bedroom; sending flirty messages before being with your cutie builds anticipation. Mastering dirty talk can help you uncover your pals’ true desires by proposing various activities and learning what they respond to the most.

Sensory Foreplay

Far too often, we fixate on genitals during sex and forget that the rest of our bodies also crave attention. Having once immersed myself in countless late aughts Cosmo articles promising mind-blowing orgasms with ice cubes on nipples and 50 other elaborate tips, I realized these recommendations often focused more on elaborate performances than an understanding of desire.What I think Cosmo was getting at was the importance of learning how to engage our senses in sexual ways to build anticipation. While ice on nipples may work wonders for some of us, it’s not a universal solution. The key is mutual exploration of senses, discovering what arouses each partner uniquely.It’s easy to focus on touch because it’s the most straightforward method of sexual intimacy, but let’s not forget our other senses. To help you brainstorm: licking, sucking, spitting and kissing are all pleasurable ways to engage our mouths and sense of taste. Our pals’ bodies produce all sorts of arousing odours, not to mention the ways we can chemically enhance our sense of smell with other fragrances. Watching porn together, going to strip clubs, doing teases for one another, positioning ourselves in erotic ways and slowing down long enough to notice all the beautiful details of our pals’ bodies can be a great way to activate our sight. Listening to our pals talk dirty to us and putting on some bedroom jams engages our hearing. You might discover that you lean towards a specific type of sensory play or, perhaps, that variety allows you to keep things interesting.

Psychological Foreplay

I love that more people are openly sharing their kinks and exploring BDSM. Many clients express the fantasy of being dominated. Whether or not you’re ready to jump into a total power exchange, incorporating psychological dynamics into foreplay can make sex more exciting. Simply saying you want to be dominated may lack specificity; deciding who leads and who follows introduces tension. Roles can be integrated into dirty talk. There’s a difference between desiring praise while servicing and seeking humiliation or degradation. Maybe you enjoy both, and that’s great!

Before trying psychological foreplay, investigate your motivation. Describe the emotional journey you desire. Choose a role or character to embody, or start with a role and identify the emotional aspect. For some, tone of voice, word choice and giving/taking direction suffice for psychological stimulation. Others may prefer using costumes/props/tools to fully commit to a role. The level of involvement depends on you and your partner. These methods prolong sex, building towards climax and creating anticipation for a more gratifying experience.

Self-Touch Foreplay

One highly informative activity is observing your partner masturbate. It’s a common misconception that we know exactly how to satisfy our partners since only they truly understand how our touch feels. Watching our pals touch themselves allows insight into their preferred tempo, pressure, rhythm and other technical aspects. Similarly, demonstrating our own masturbation techniques can yield the same understanding. Although some may feel shy about self-touch in front of others, engaging in it before and during sex can be arousing. Plus, it can help folks reach climax.

While having our partners watch us masturbate can be a turn-on, I recommend self-touch for a less performative reason. Many people struggle to stay present during sex due to performance anxiety, body shame or life stressors. Touching our bodies, even a light brush of our forearms with our hands, can connect our minds to our bodies and ground us. Self-touch also fosters a softer relationship with our bodies, helping us appreciate the pleasure we can experience through our skin. Partnered sex is fantastic, but taking moments to focus on ourselves enhances our awareness of our needs and desires.

Foreplay can be approached in various ways. My best tip is to develop a diverse range of pleasurable activities to set the mood and build anticipation for the climax. Remember the excitement of not knowing the sensation of kissing your partner or wondering about their taste and feel. Recreating that longing through good foreplay immerses you in the experience. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a quickie! But savouring the slow moments that build up to a climax is truly satisfying.


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