71: How Much Foreplay is Enough?

by | Feb 2, 2022 | Libido, Making Sex Feel Good, Sex, Uncategorized | 41 comments

How Many Men Think They Do Enough Foreplay Even if Wife Doesn't Orgasm

How do you know when you’ve done enough foreplay?

We’re starting a new series on the blog right now, leading up to the release of the Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the TOTALLY REVAMPED AND REWRITTEN Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex on March 15!

Gregoire Guides Launch

You can Pre-Order The Guy’s Guide and the Girl’s Guide now, and we’ll have pre-order bonuses and the launch team all set to go next week! (You just have to email us your receipt. It’s easy peasy!).

I was thinking of a way to introduce the books leading up to launch, and I decided to go with a number of the day–

a piece of interesting data that our surveys of women, and now our survey of men, found.

I wanted to start this series with a number that would encapsulate the need for both books, and explain what the books are for. And I came up with this number:

%

What does it mean?

Well, when women frequently reach orgasm, 94% of men and 88% of women say that men do enough foreplay. So that makes sense, because women are actually reaching orgasm, and so it’s clear that one of the big goals has been met (though some women would prefer that husbands do more!).

But here’s where things get interesting.

Even when women don’t frequently reach orgasm, 71% of men say they do enough foreplay.

And what do women think? Well, let’s just say for now that it’s far too high a number too, but you’ll have to get the pre-order bonus (Our Evangelical Sex Report Card) to read the rest of the story, or pick up the books!

I thought the number 71, then, told an interesting story that explains why both books are needed.

Two years ago Zondervan offered us a contract to write The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex together.

It was a bit of a stretch for Keith, because he’s never written before, but it turned out so well (I actually think I like the Good Guy’s Guide better than the Good Girl’s Guide!).

For years I’ve been asked if I had a companion book to the original Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex that the men could read, and I always had to say no. So it was a big passion project to have two books that went together.

The problem was that I wrote the original Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex in 2012, before we did our huge survey of 20,000 women. And I wrote it for a very different audience–younger women coming out of the purity culture where the main problem was shame of sex. Today’s young couples have slightly different problems. It’s not that they’re ashamed of their bodies or sex in the same way; it’s that they often have a skewed picture of what sex may look like. When Zondervan asked us to write the guide for men, I begged to also be permitted to totally rewrite The Good Girl’s Guide to be in line with what I teach now. Even though the original version would score really highly on our rubric–46/48–I still didn’t like how gendered it was, and I felt it needed more emphasis on the sexual response cycle and orgasm.

It took a bit of pushing, because the original version still sells really well, but they agreed to let me write a new one (even though I didn’t get paid for it!). I just wanted something I could recommend wholeheartedly.

So now let’s talk about that 71%, and how it fits in.

Why is it that we think “enough” foreplay has been done if she’s not reaching orgasm? Here’s what I said in the new Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex:

We asked both men and women, “Do you think you do enough foreplay?” When women frequently orgasm, men overwhelmingly say they do—and women tend to agree (though not in quite as high numbers; seems like many women would like more foreplay regardless!). But when women don’t frequently orgasm? Men still say they do enough foreplay—and so do the majority of women. That makes me wonder, “Enough for what?” Let’s say I decided I needed to get a part-time job so I would have enough money to buy a small car. How would I judge when I had earned “enough”? Likely when I had enough money in my savings account to match the sticker price on the car, right? So why do women in such large numbers think their husbands have done enough even when they don’t reach orgasm?

One woman explained it like this:

I’m worried that I have subconsciously taught myself not to experience any pleasure during intercourse because I usually don’t get even mildly aroused until my husband is almost done. I’ve thought about this a fair bit, and I think it’s because I know that stopping at a bit of arousal every time, and not getting to orgasm, leaves me feeling so unsatisfied. I suppose I’ve convinced myself that it’s more satisfying to watch him have fun than it is to start having fun myself, but then not finish. Yes, we have tried to focus on me after he’s climaxed, but then I always feel bad because he’s obviously spent, and then my “feeling bad” stops it from happening anyways . . . so subconsciously I go back to square one: “Why bother allowing myself to get turned on in the first place?”

We feel like it’s selfish to want more. We figure we don’t work right. But, my sisters, sex will never feel good until you decide that you’re worth it. It is okay to want your husband to pay attention to your pleasure.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

The All New Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

How did we get to a situation where both men and women think “enough” foreplay has been done even if she doesn’t orgasm?

Quite frankly, we tend to assume that her experience is secondary to his. And we think he is simply more sexual and better at it, and she is somehow broken.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have seen two videos I posted yesterday from Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church. Last Sunday he and his wife Lisa preached on sex, and before the sermon he recorded a rather disturbing one minute video comparing a man’s sex drive to a bedridden woman who asked her husband to give her water, and he refused. That analogy is problematic on so many levels (I listed 7 in my post), and thankfully the clip of his actual sermon wasn’t quite that bad.

But in that second clip, they did say that if you don’t enjoy sex, you should see a counselor. This is similar to what Shaunti Feldhahn said in For Women Only–if you find yourself unable to physically respond to sex, see a counselor.

Now, I’m actually all in favour of seeing licensed counselors, and recommend them frequently. But is this really our first course of action? Think what the underlying assumption is with what they’re saying:

She should be enjoying sex. If she’s not, there must be something wrong with her. She had better go get it checked out and work on it.

So the fact that she’s not enjoying sex means that there is a problem with her. 

But what we found in our surveys of both men and women is that the #1 predictor of lack of orgasm in women is lack of foreplay.

This does not mean that there aren’t other issues; we identified so many of them, including wrong beliefs about sex; past trauma; relationship issues; even too much mental load! And what so many women have told us is that reading The Great Sex Rescue finally helped them have an orgasm breakthrough because they got rid of toxic messages.

But nevertheless, we should always address the most likely cause first.

And the most likely cause for women’s lack of orgasm is lack of foreplay.

Yet when we hear that a woman isn’t orgasming, what do we do? We assume there’s something wrong with her. Authors and megachurch pastors tell her to see a counselor to sort herself out. 71% of husbands think the problem is with their wives. And so do–well, you’ll have to pre-order the book to find the actual number–but so do a lot of women. 

Where are the calls to men to help their wives experience pleasure? Where are the calls to couples saying that if sex doesn’t feel good for one of you, you should figure this out? Where are the assurances to men that they actually CAN figure this out and can rock their wives’ world?

So what would happen if we changed the narrative about foreplay and sex?

What if, when sex worked easily for him and didn’t work easily for her, we didn’t assume that she was broken and needed to work on herself, but we instead assumed that God made women to be more complex, in general, than men, and this was a good thing?

What if we understood that sex was not made primarily for men, and that men did not need it more than women (even if more men have a higher felt need for sex than women), but instead understood that sex is about connection, which means both of you have to matter?

What if we saw sex not as something that he needed and she had to provide, but something that they were designed to experience together?

What if, just because he reached orgasm easily, we didn’t consider that we “knew how to have sex” until we also figured out her arousal cycle?

What if we understood that the sexual response cycles can look different for men and women, and that there are actual reasons for that which, if you understand them, can even make your relationship better?

Wouldn’t that be better?

Most books on sex in the Christian market have three main messages:

  1. Sex is an amazing gift from God.
  2. Men need sex really, really badly in a way that women will never understand.
  3. It’s important to have sex as frequently as possible.

What if we changed the way we talked about sex? What if we instead talked about sex that is PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, and SPIRITUAL, all at the same time–and that all elements mattered? What if we saw sex as something which is MUTUAL, INTIMATE, and PLEASURABLE FOR BOTH, and that we’d see red flags if one person didn’t want it or enjoy it, and realize that this meant not that one person should demand sex regardless, but instead that we had a fun journey of discovery ahead of us as we learned to connect in every way with each other?

That’s what The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and the all new Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex do.

We’re going to change the conversation for new couples getting married–or for couples who have never understood what sex was supposed to be or how it was supposed to work. Unlike The Great Sex Rescue which tore down the bad messages and tried to reframe those messages into something healthy, these guides start from the ground up, building a healthy message about sex.

We think it’s time. And then maybe, if both men were asked, “does he do enough foreplay even if she doesn’t orgasm?”, we’d see far, far fewer people saying yes!

When you pre-order the books, you get the guaranteed lowest prices! If enough people pre-order, Amazon will lower the price. And then, on the day the book launches, they’ll charge you the lower price! And when people pre-order, it helps us, because bookstores tend to stock books that do well on Amazon. And the more people pre-order, the more Amazon orders!

How Much Foreplay is Enough

Why do you think we assume he does enough even if she doesn’t orgasm? Why is our go to that there must be something wrong with her? Let’s talk in the comments!

The Number of the Day Series

  • How Many Men Think They Do Enough Foreplay Even if She Doesn’t Orgasm? 
  • How Many Elements are in the Sexual Response Cycle?
  • What Percentage of Women Orgasm–but Don’t Have Close Marriages? (coming soon)
  • How Many Men Are Upset about their Wives’ Lack of Adventure? (and what does that mean?) (coming soon)
  • How Many Men Believe the Obligation Sex Message? (and what effect does this have on other areas of their marriage?) (coming soon)
  • How Many Men Watch Porn? (And what are the effects?) (coming soon)
  • Is Lust REALLY Every Man’s Battle? (coming soon)
  • Can the Way We Do the Honeymoon Increase the Rate of Vaginismus? (coming soon)

Plus Pre-Order The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (they launch March 15!)

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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41 Comments

  1. Phil

    Im In Sheila – order is complete! Can’t wait..and honestly..my hope is huge..but I guess I am pessimistic still….because when I read your post I kept seeing the word WE and TOGETHER. It has to be BOTH right? I am not in a complete loss situation for sure not even close…but man like we are in our late 40’s. Let’s get on with it already! I am so done being satisfied with mediocrocy. It’s difficult for me not to share what I believe the specific problem(s) are for us but I have learned to curb my outwardness here. And we have been making progress albeit at a turtles pace with lots of disruptions….I guess to answer the question why do we look at the woman as though she is the problem? Well for me it is because it is just plain hard to look at myself – even after all the work I have done and do on working on myself. At the end of the day I know for us it started with me and ultimately….it starts with me and my past so many years ago. I can tell you this….sometimes my wife specifically tells me what she wants – which is a big change for us from the past. And for her; orgasm isn’t always the goal. And for me? To each is own LOL. Sorry – it’s the plain truth. Please don’t misread that as disrespectful. – Loving my wife during sex is definitely part of the goal. I just stand in the lane of the 99% who finish and I particularly like that I guess. In addition – I have to admit that I am still learning what foreplay actually is. Foreplay is not just me touching her where she wants when I want to have sex. Foreplay is also doing the dishes and spending quality time and wooing her and working up to it through conversation that ebbs and flows for possibly days…how many guys say to themselves if I don’t get what I want now….it is her fault. I know I am guilty of that!

    Reply
    • Kate

      That word. Goal. It took a lot of self discovery to realize that word was hated in the bedroom. My husband was sooo determined to make sure that I “finished” to. I tried so hard to appreciate his efforts and so many times it just wasn’t happening for me. He never understood what I meant when I said it wasn’t about “finishing”. Then I finally realized that when you have a GOAL that makes it into a job. It’s no longer about having fun. It’s a chore that has to be done. If my “finishing” is just another chore then it becomes pretty much impossible.

      We struggled for so long, still struggling sometimes but discovering that it really isn’t a “job to be finished” made an amazing difference. Love should never be finished. Every experience with your spouse is just a little piece of a forever story.

      Reply
    • Jo R

      “Foreplay is also doing the dishes and spending quality time and wooing her and working up to it through conversation that ebbs and flows for possibly days”

      This is part of what was underlying my question on yesterday’s post. It seems to me like women want to continue all that “relationship-py” stuff after the wedding, that that is what marriage should be, with the bonus of adding sex to the mix.

      For too many men, it seems like the “relationship-py” stuff is somehow the price they pay for six months or a year during dating and engagement, and then after the wedding, all they want is the sex (and housekeeping)

      When you’re dating, you stay up till three in the morning talking, you do thoughtful little things for each other, you make out for an hour or two without it going any further. (All that’s assuming you wait until after the wedding to have sex.)

      How much of that behavior do most men (and yes, I’ll call out men) continue to do even a year after the wedding? Based on observing my peer group (I’m mid-50s), very few. Instead, women continue to try to talk (though without much success), they do the vast majority of the noticing what needs doing in the running of the household (so being thoughtful in the little things), and they’re told they take too long in bed because—surprise, surprise—they’ve have female bodies that typically respond differently than their husbands’ (so limited or even no making out unless it’s about to lead to PIV).

      Why?

      So to carry on from yesterday, I don’t think keeping quiet and submitting can mean what so many of us seem to think it means, because when wives keep quiet about their overall dissatisfaction, husbands think things are hunky-dory—right up until the wife just doesn’t have anything left to give anymore, and she walks out. 😕😕😕

      If unbelieving husbands can be affected by their wives’ behavior, why aren’t more Christian husbands affected by their wives’ behavior? 🤔🤔🤔

      Reply
      • Phil

        Jo you are comparing 2 separate groups. It is not an apples to apples comparison. The key word is believing. If you are not believing in Christ and the word of God then you are not effected as deeply by your belief that it should be some certain way. If you are taught as a believing man that women are to submit and you have a woman who is with that man that believes the same…how does one change that belief? The circle goes round and round as they both double down on their belief. It’s blindness due to their beliefs and or if you prefer the other comparison openness due to lack of belief. I hope that is helpful.

        Reply
        • Jo R

          I’m simply pointing out that if there’s a chance that unbelieving men can be affected by the behavior of their wives—without the wives saying a word—then believing husbands should likewise be affected by their wives’ example behavior.

          Reply
      • Anna

        Allowing oneself to be influenced by your spouse…isn’t that a key component of successful marriages, or some such thingy? What am I remembering?

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          YES! John Gottmann found that sharing influence was a key to successful marriages. That’s what we found, too. When you feel as if your spouse values your opinion, everything gets better.

          Reply
    • Cherlynn

      I love your comment!!! I like to call the wooing you described as ‘all day foreplay’ which includes everything from the mundane (helping with ordinary everyday chores) to the romantic/affectionate, and (as permitted by moments of privacy) overt sensual words/contact. We routinely look for ways to help each other in practical ways, add romantic/affectionate words, touches and actions, and as possible we, add more heat (overtly sensual) here and there throughout the day as our desire simmers to the boiling point because we have pursued each other all day (or over several days).

      Reply
  2. Sarah O

    YES!

    I think the failure of exhorting men to sexual consideration is a symptom of one big knot where sex is set up as an idol for men in similar ways to marriage as an idol for women. Based on contemporary sermons and literature, God’s “best” for men seems to be lots of great sex. God’s “best” for women seems to be a loving marriage. God created both sex and marriage to be good and to be a blessing, but we have elevated both into idolatry, synonymous with God’s presence in your life. This leaves so many people feeling completely rejected and disenchanted by God when these things are missing or not going well.

    For many men, sex is not then something they do, it’s a core element of their identity. It’s the same reason women have such a hard time speaking up in the bedroom. Men are primed to receive any criticism as a core attack on their personhood. Pastors and authors seem to know or to sense this and avoid the risky truth: some men are not good at sex.

    However, sex is a learned skill. This means none of us starts out great at sex – neither men nor women! And the learning is part of the blessing. Sex learning, specifically, gives us a place to practice serving, loving, knowing, vulnerability, authenticity, and patience – all Christian virtues that are valuable across our experience, not just in the bedroom.

    Failure to provide constructive criticism for men in this area, then, is gross negligence. Sparing their ego at the expense of their spiritual formation is not kind. Let’s be done with messages that give no exhoration to men other than “you know, do try to be nice to her during the day.” Get real and get specific!

    Rooting for you, Sheila, Keith, and team – and excited for the new books!

    Reply
    • Phil

      Phil waves at Sarah 🙂

      Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      Preach, sister!

      The “learning” aspect of sex is what makes married sex different from random hookups, particularly for women. I could go to a bar and get some dude to bang me. What I can’t vet out of that encounter is someone who has learned my body, my responses, and my needs.

      When men are shielded from improving and learning in bed, they are giving their wives “drunk bar guy” sex – at least from a physical perspective.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, this is really interesting (seriously, Jane Eyre, you always encapsulate things so well).

        Reply
  3. A.C

    I am so looking forward to the guide for men. I need it so bad.

    It’s funny because just today I was thinking about how it can be difficult for women to just receive. I see this with my wife.

    Right now I am struggling with some ED. Not sure what’s I am fairly young (mid 30s) so it shouldn’t be physical but going to see a doctor about. My therapist thinks that it’s stress related and lack of communication between us. Plus shame because we men are taught so much that we have to be “horny” all the time that when things don’t work as they should we get anxious and it makes things worse. Also the stress of her taking it personal.

    The thing is that I still want to have sec but I want to just focus on my wife. While I figure this out I want to use my hands and tongue to give her pleasure. I don’t need much right now when struggling with this. Something I notice is difficult for my wife to accept. If it had been the other way around she wouldn’t mind since she says herself that she doesn’t have to orgasm all the time although that’s my goal and we make it 9/10 times.

    But me only focusing on her seems to be more difficult. And I think it’s because of this message that sex is mostly for men so my orgasm is the focus.

    I hope she changes her mind about this. I want to be there for her sexually even if things are a little tough now for me. I want her to learn that sex is for her too and sometimes it’s ok that it’s only for her.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, A C, that’s so common for women to have difficulty receiving! Absolutely. That’s something we talk about in both books too.

      And it definitely can be stress/relationship related. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things to try to deal wtih it!

      Reply
    • Angela

      It’s hard for her bc we are taught and told that woman is pursued by man and if he doesn’t want you then you aren’t pretty,sexy, or desirable. I have struggled with this soooooo much 😭

      Reply
  4. April

    Thanks Sheila! I’m looking forward to the launch I pre-ordered both books. I hope this will change the conversation for men and women to move in the right direction.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Awesome! You can forward your receipts here now (we’ve got it ready)! And then you’ll get your bonus and the link to the launch team in the next few days!

      Reply
  5. Blue

    Ok I’m convinced, I’ll be getting these for wedding showers. Maybe I can save someone in my church, haha. I resemble that comment in the inset. It really would have been nice to get this right on the honeymoon, because after kids and jobs where is the time to set aside hours to figure this out. And at this point it really seems like it would take hours. Once you’re doing kid stuff from 5am-8pm everyday there just isn’t time. Blah blah gloom and doom. It really does seem like all or nothing though–I’m either going to shut down so I don’t experience what the woman in the inset describes, or I’m going to commit to making it work. I know what the right choice is and I know how to not choose bitterness and isn’t this just such a first world problem. But someone has to take all the kids to their sports practices and wake up with the baby and actually ya know, make money, so there ya go.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Life gets easier! It really does. I remember how absolutely exhausting those days were. It’s super hard. I feel for you. I really do.

      It’s hard to just do the things that are most important, but somehow we have to find the strength to. I think the strength so many people find in their 20s and 30s puts them on great stead for the rest of their lives!

      Reply
  6. Nathan

    As an aside to the main topic of this thread, kudos to Sheila for wanting to rewrite/update The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. As good as it is, there’s always room for improvement in ANY human endeavor.

    Only arrogant fools think that they know everything and have everything perfect. We should always be learning, improving, and getting better. Only God has it all down perfectly.

    Reply
  7. A2bbethany

    We’re one of those couples who were blessed to find Sheila early and learn it almost right at the beginning. But even so, falling into a rut with foreplay is easy! Especially now that we’re parents…
    So anytime I realize that we’re in one, I pull out that app! (Ultimate intimacy, one Sheila recommended) and they have a foreplay game! It gets us back to having fun again and rarely needed very often.
    Here recently, due to sickness we’ve had a long dry spell of barely even hugging.(corona and other respatory things) And we’re still recovering to something more healthy.

    Reply
  8. Jane Eyre

    I have gotten some VERY mixed messages on this subject. Most resources say “women usually need 20 minutes of foreplay to orgasm,” and “20 minutes” is just all over the place. So you assume that if you’re getting 20+ minutes of foreplay, your husband is doing his job.

    But then people say, if you haven’t had an orgasm, take as long as you need. If it takes four hours, it takes four hours.

    ???? Is it twenty minutes for (allegedly) practically every woman out there, or is it sometimes a lot longer? Does it get faster if it has actually happened before? Am I being a selfish jerk if I ask for WAY MORE than 20 minutes of foreplay, or is it the case that if my husband has a problem with it, his problem is with the God who made me this way?

    I dunno, because all I hear is that 20 minutes is needed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think it entirely depends on each woman. And if you are finding that it’s taking so long that having an enjoyable sexual encounter takes longer than watching your average movie (so it’s a little out of reach on normal nights), then discovering if there could be other issues, like shame, trauma, etc., or relationship issues like resentment, stress, etc?

      Reply
      • Jane Eyre

        Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Twenty minutes is held up as the standard – do this and it’s good. If a woman takes 35-40 minutes, she would simultaneously have anticlimactic sex and feel like her husband was doing “enough.”

        For those of us who have never climaxed, the question of what is “enough” has another dimension. In one of your learning or orgasm posts (I think it was yours), you quoted a woman who asked her friend “what it takes three hours?”, and her friend replied, ” I don’t care if it takes there days!” Obviously, no one is expecting that this is going to be the norm for all of marriage, just that the first will take a while. So what is “enough” foreplay for a woman who has never climaxed?

        Reply
  9. Jo R

    Interesting how no one ever asks, “How long should PIV last?”

    If wives consistently gave men less time than their husbands “needed,” I imagine there would be lots of sermons on the topic. 🤔🤔🤔

    Reply
    • CMT

      “What do you mean it wasn’t good, darling? We did it for two whole minutes!” Ha

      Reply
  10. CMT

    “94% of men and 88% of women say that men do enough foreplay”

    I’m curious whether this is how the survey question was worded? Because framing foreplay as something the man does to/for the woman, rather than something the couple does together, might impact how people responded.

    I even wonder whether thinking about foreplay like this could be a problem for some people. Perhaps, dare I suggest, implying an …obligation sex message?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, we asked if the husband did enough foreplay, because we were specifically looking at women’s orgasm rates, and we did a literature review beforehand and in the academic literature, the biggest reason for lack of orgasm was the man not spending enough time on foreplay.

      The other thing is that she actually needs direct stimulation to become aroused. So it has to be something that he does for her. While she can get stimulation by grinding against his leg, for instance, she actually does need him to spend time on her. That’s what we were trying to measure.

      Reply
      • CMT

        This is super interesting. I could see that the man’s preferences might be the limiting factor in how long a couple spends on foreplay. So it makes sense to measure that way.

        I guess what I’m thinking is that overall it might be healthier to think about foreplay as a shared thing. Yes, she gets something different out of it, and he may be taking a more active role, but she can’t be completely passive and he shouldn’t be just going through the motions. It’s not sexy if he’s only doing it because he has to.

        I know one survey question isn’t a complete view of anything, and I’m sure the book gets into lots of nuance! I just thought the underlying assumption is worth questioning.

        Reply
  11. Shannon

    I would like to know the answer to Jane Eyre’s question too. How long should foreplay last? How long should kissing last? I want to know the steps/acts it takes to have an orgasm. What specifically should I do to have an orgasm? For twenty years I’ve wanted to know what it would be like with my husband. I don’t want to wait another twenty.

    Reply
  12. Null

    I want to sob just reading this. I know my husband loves me, but he’s sexually selfish and always has been- he knows it, he’s apologized but nothing changes. It hurts so much and I feel like he’s never going to understand how much of our lives his apparent lack of interest affects. Ok, so I’m not broken for wanting or needing more, but now what? Do I just pray and hope God changes his heart? He’s so loving in other ways but I still feel so wrecked by our sex life.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Null! If your husband isn’t giving you pleasure, he is robbing you of something. You don’t need to consent to sex that is one-sided. You can say something like, “I want to have a passionate, amazing sex life with you, but I am no longer willing to be used. When you’re ready to start figuring out how to please me, too, I’d gladly resume our sex life. But being used is making me feel small, and growing resentment, and it isn’t good for us in the long run. We need to figure this out.”

      Reply
  13. Anom

    Hello! Very interesting post! I do have a question though…’enough’ seems to point to how much time is invested in foreplay. However there is also very much a quality element to it. This also depends on the knowledge a couple has on things like the sexual response cycle (as you so helpfully write about). So I dont think it is just a matter of how much time is given to foreplay but also the willingness, knowledge and skill around what should/could happen during foreplay. Does that make sense?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that’s very true! It was hard to be that nuanced in our questions, but definitely that’s true. What I will say is that the most statistically significant thing that is more likely to lead to anorgasmia on our survey was “lack of foreplay”, so I do think that this measure captured both elements of it.

      Reply
    • Lisa M

      And, in how many couples is foreplay not really foreplay but him grabbing and groping her because he enjoys it? It’s still about him and what he wants and enjoys.

      Reply
  14. Anon

    Maybe I’m naive or simplistic but what is foreplay? I feel silly for asking but I’ve been exactly sure.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It’s sexual activity to get you aroused that is not actually intercourse. So stroking the genitalia or breasts; using your mouth on different parts of the body; etc.

      Reply

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