It is interesting to consider how people define “foreplay.” Is foreplay all of the sexual behaviors that take place before sexual intercourse? What if sexual intercourse does­n’t occur? For the majority of heterosexuals, foreplay is often defined as everything that happens before vaginal penetration (touching, kissing, massage, oral sex, etc.). It has been viewed as something a man has to do to get a woman ready for sexual inter­course. Interestingly, many lesbians do not even use the term foreplay because all sex­ual behavior is simply “sex.”

Caressing, fondling, and snuggling are all important parts of good sex. Hugging is also an important aspect in caring relationships but also one that is often neglected. In fact, research has shown that married couples have deeper, more relaxed hugs with their young children than they do with each other (Schnarch, 1997).

Question: I’m happily involved in a very serious relationship with a wonderful woman. We have both had other partners, but I have found that over the last few months my girlfriend is reluctant to talk to me about the things she has done with other men. Are women ashamed to talk, or is it just something they are afraid of? What can I do to get her to talk more? I would be a very good listener.

Foreplay: The Prelude?Your girlfriend’s reluctance to share her past sexual history with you probably has very lit­tle to do with the fact that she fears you wouldn’t be a good listener. Chances are, it has more to do with the fact that she worries about your reactions to her past behaviors. It can be very difficult for some men and women to talk about their past, and this is com­plicated by the fact that hearing about your lover’s past can often stir up jealousy and strong emotions. Talk to your girlfriend about your thoughts and ask her what holds her back. Do remember, though, that sometimes the past is best left in the past.