Ask the Doctors: Does He Need Foreplay?

Most of the times I have sex with my boyfriend he asks for some foreplay to get him going. I’m curious: do men need foreplay as much as women do? Does it make as much of a difference, or can I skip it sometimes?

There are a few different ways to approach this, so let’s take them one at a time.

First, some men find that they prefer, want, or need some sort of stimulation in order to get an erection. It’s actually quite common, even though there’s a widespread belief that if a guy is turned on, he’ll immediately get hard. If that’s going on for your boyfriend, you can probably tell, so I’m guessing that that’s not what you’re asking about. But if that is what’s going on for him, then yes, it can definitely be helpful to do a little foreplay, just as warming up can increase vaginal lubrication and make sex easier for women.

Having said that, a lot of guys report that they like hand jobs or oral sex as much as, or even more, than intercourse. For some of them, it’s simply a matter of the sensations being different. For others, it may be because they enjoy being able to receive sexual pleasure without having to do all the work. Of course, there are plenty of positions for intercourse that don’t require him to do all the moving and shaking, but if your usual way of having sex is all about him on top, he might simply want to take a break from that. Ask him if that’s part of the puzzle and if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out The Little Bit Naughty Book of Wild Sex Positions or the Expert Guide to Positions.

Even if your guy gets an erection without any extra help, warming up can make sex feel better for him and can even help him last longer. Think of it like a runner warming up by going around the track a couple of times before the big race. It helps get the breathing and heart rate up and builds arousal, both of which can make sex feel better for him. For that matter, it can do the same thing for you, too. So even if he doesn’t need it, it can make things a lot more fun.

I’m a little curious by your asking “can I skip it sometimes, which makes me think that maybe you don’t always enjoy doing whatever your boyfriend is asking for. If you’re not having fun, that’s likely to lead to resentments and frustration. Plus, people say that enthusiasm counts much more than technique when it comes to sex, and you can’t really fake enthusiasm. So if you’re not into doing the first thing that he asks for, I suggest that you talk with your boyfriend and look for things that you both like to do. There are plenty of options- if you don’t want to have oral sex, how about erotic massage? Or kiss him while he masturbates? Or you can have some sexy talk about your or his fantasies, read some erotica to each other or watch some porn. Get creative and look for ways to do things that you both want to do. Otherwise, it becomes a chore and that’s a major libido killer.

If you’re not sure how to have that conversation or if it feels scary, check out this article about yes/no/maybe lists. They’re a great way to get the ball rolling.

Good luck and have fun!


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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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