The moment's magic tension gets you feeling like Harry Potter's owl on a flying carpet as your partner starts getting you all hot and bothered. They hold your jaw as their breath brushes against your neck, lips traveling softly and sensually up to your ear. All of a sudden, you can't hear the breathing anymore. You can't hear anything. You feel a tongue slide around your earlobes like a sloppy jellyfish. Your ears are flooding with saliva. As you contemplate listening to Bright Eyes and jumping off a cliff, your partner congratulates themselves for their talent at turning you on with the "slightest" touch of their tongue.
Welcome to the tricky world of sexual pre-gaming. While participation in physical foreplay is not necessarily an invitation to other sexual activities, it's a critical component of sexual intimacy. However, the rules of foreplay remain confusing at best. While most of us know the locations and behaviors of our favorite sex organ(s), we don't really learn what to do with nipples or ears when our parents and teachers tell us about the birds and the bees.
Instead, most of us come into our particular understandings of foreplay through our own experiences and expect similar experiences of our partners. If past partners have concentrated on our thighs or expected that we focus our attention on their ears, we might concentrate on similar areas with subsequent partners, assuming they will focus on the same areas.
Everyone has many erogenous zones - places with high concentrations of nerve endings throughout their body which can invoke sexual stimulation. Locations such as ears, necks, nipples, scalps, eyes, toes, fingers and inner thighs are some of the biggest targets for intense stimulation outside of the zones near the genitals.
While there are many potentially erogenous zones in every body, it is important to remember that everyone reacts differently to stimulation in different areas. Though sucking someone's toes may be intensely erotic for one person, it may be tickling and annoying for another. Despite the incredible diversity of reactions to this kind of stimulation, we too often expect universality in the reactions of ourselves and all our partners.
Because of this rudimentary understanding, we often approach foreplay with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as we would have them do unto us. It's a method that usually results in disappointment. Wanting the other to lick our fingers, we lick theirs. Meanwhile, they suck our neck like a vampire because that's the one thing that drives them wild when done unto them. So instead of getting what we want, we keep giving what we assume the other wants, sometimes simply hoping that they'll catch on to our desires. Sometimes they never do. Instead, your lover might keep sucking your fingers, even as you cringe, until it becomes too late for you to tell them you've hated it for the past 25 years of your marriage.
So let your partner know what you like. And find out what they like. Ideally, you don't have to sit down and make flashcards of your favorite erogenous zones. Some couples are able to discover each other's key zones with very little effort. However, many couples assume incorrectly that they know their partner's favorite spots.
So, no matter where you are in your relationship, be open about what you like and what you don't like physically. Cut your lover some slack by not criticizing everything they do. But if there are things you really want them to start or stop doing, grow yourself some ovaries and tell them what you want.
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