Do We Even Need the Word Foreplay?


foreplay-in-marriageA reader recently commented on a post, taking issue with the word foreplay.

She even went so far to say the word should be banished, adding, “This word implies that penis in vagina intercourse is the real thing and this ‘foreplay’ business is just the second best introduction to it.”

I admit. She seemed a little offended by this word foreplay.

Or maybe she was offended by me writing about foreplay and referring to it as such. I’m not sure. Her premise was that there are some couples who for whatever reason cannot have intercourse, and “foreplay” as we commonly think of it is indeed the entire sexual encounter for them.

Dictionary gurus Merriam-Webster define foreplay as “erotic stimulation preceding sexual intercourse” or “action or behavior that precedes an event.”

I think maybe we are getting tripped up on semantics a bit. What I would say to my reader who commented is the same thing I would say to any of you. You know, if we connected for coffee or beer or taco night.

It doesn’t matter what you call it. It matters that you enjoy it.

Obviously, the word foreplay is a succinct way to paint a picture of all those touches and nuances and techniques that couples use to build sexual arousal before they have intercourse. Not that I want you to paint a picture for me, but you know what I mean.

But also true of the word foreplay is that it can describe all those touches and nuances and techniques that lead up to an orgasm, no matter how that orgasm happens in a sexual encounter. Doesn’t have to be intercourse. For some couples, it’s not intercourse.

Suffice to say, once we are in close proximity of orgasm, most people would say we are no longer sitting on the dock of foreplay. We are actually on the water now, sailing full steam ahead and getting wet.

(Okay, now I’m just playing with analogies to see if I can do it. Anyway, where were we?!)

I suppose we could say foreplay also can describe sexual touch and arousal even if neither spouse ever has an orgasm in the encounter. But if you randomly asked 100 people if that’s foreplay, most would probably say that’s just making out or fooling around.

Foreplay and sex are intricately connected from a semantics standpoint. Say the word foreplay and people immediately think sex.

Which brings us full circle back to my reader’s original bone to pick about this word foreplay. Why don’t we just call it sex?

Isn’t all this touchy feely erotic stuff going on between a husband and a wife sex? Certainly any husband or wife would tell you that if there is a line between foreplay and sex, it’s a fluid one. Hmmm. Let me try again. It’s not a hard one? Nailed it! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’m a little punchy tonight).

My point? You probably can’t find the line between foreplay and sex. Do we even need the word foreplay?

Well, sex bloggers like myself need it because we write about sex so much that we have to talk about all the idiosyncrasies of it. And quite a few couples likely give some credence to the word because it’s handy in how they communicate about sex or express desire.

There’s that old stereotypical joke, of course, that a husband doing dishes or laundry counts as foreplay for a wife.

All joking aside, let me assure you, that if you as husband and wife don’t care much for the word foreplay, then by all means, don’t use it. Respect, though, that some people like and need the word to differentiate what’s happening in their sexual encounters. It’s a helpful word to describe what they desire for arousal leading up to where arousal takes them.

As I shared up top, what matters most is that you as husband and wife are enjoying and nurturing authentic and exclusive sexual arousal and connection.

Enjoy each other’s touch and pursuit. Enjoy each other’s sexual pleasure. Enjoy the journey of it all, from the words that are spoken or unspoken to the displays of affection to the “getting from point A to point B”—and defining what all that means for your marriage.

Like it or not, I highly doubt the word foreplay is leaving our lexicon anytime soon. I’m down with that.

Down with that? Again with the word play. Oh my. There’s no hope for me.

For more reading, you can cruise through my list of past posts, as well as my page with a bunch of posts on orgasm.

And I have a 5 video series available on building better sex in your marriage. Great way to invest in your marriage!  You can find out all about it at this link:  Better Sex in Your Christian Marriage.

Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

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5 thoughts on “Do We Even Need the Word Foreplay?

  1. Jill says:

    No, I wasn’t offended by the word ‘foreplay’. The fact that it’s often thought of as a separate compartmentalized activity to the ‘real thing’ is what irritates me really. Anyway, I appreciate your post, but I doubt the word will be part of my vocabulary anytime soon. I must say, your response to my comment was very quick. Must be something to do with all this social isolating we’re doing.

  2. James says:

    Foreplay leads to better intimacy and sex. Since this social isolation started my dear wife and I have been kissing and hugging more during the day and this leads to foreplay and great love making/sex. My wife has even asked for oral sex which she has not enjoyed for years…but I always enjoy giving it to her. She wanted a pedicure last I obliged and this led to more lovemaking!!! I am glad she is well post-menopausal or we might be expecting in December😍😍😍😍

  3. Longsuffering says:

    I wonder if this person is the type that is “offended” by all sorts of things most folks don’t even seem to notice at all?

    I guess it depends on what the definition of “is” is. For those of you old enough to remember the context of this “is”, I guess.

    For this old coot in a sexless marriage, by definition, for the ENTIRE “MARRIAGE”, even foreplay (or any kind of play whatsoever) by anyone’s definition would be a welcome improvement no matter whom it offended.

  4. Jill says:

    Longsuffering, I’m the one who this blog post is referring to. I submitted a comment on another post (can’t remember which one) back in March/April, and I was the first to comment on this one too. As you can see in my comment here, I stated that I wasn’t offended, it was Julie who assumed that I ‘seemed offended’. Her word, not mine. As Julie stated in her post, those who write about sex find it a useful word and I should not be calling to banish anything that others find useful.

  5. Angela says:

    There are at least three prominent Christian sex and marriage bloggers (and these are just the one’s I’ve seen, there could be more), who have blog posts about their dislike of the word “foreplay.” Maybe the author of this one should invite them to a debate. I think it would be interesting.

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