You know it. I know it. If your man is even a little bit good in bed, he knows it too. Sex is sooooo much better when foreplay—which, on average, lasts 15-20 minutes; how about extending that?—is involved. I'm not talking about a few kisses followed by a couple of minutes of dry humping—you know, grinding with most of your clothes on—either. I mean when foreplay is treated like a true art form. When foreplay is hot, intense and just as passionate as penetration. When foreplay is so good that if sex doesn't always happen, you're thoroughly satisfied anyway.
This is the kind of foreplay that legendary lovers are made of. In honor of that mind-boggling kind of intimacy, I'm going to share with you some super simple things that you can do to make foreplay with your partner even more savory and satiating than it (hopefully) already is.
1. Give Your Man a Cup of Coffee in the Morning
To drink or not to drink. Personally, I believe that, until the end of time, coffee will be a semi-controversial topic. But I did find one reason why it can be a good idea to encourage your man to have 2-3 cups of java. According to a study conducted by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, men who drank between 85 and 170 milligrams of caffeine a day were 42 percent less likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Since 1 in 4 men under the age of 40 experience it and it's a lot more fun to enjoy foreplay when everything is "functioning" as it should, I'm sure you can see why I thought this gem of information should go on the list.
2. Text Your Partner What You Love About Their Mind, Body and Spirit
Defending black men all 2020 and beyond. We not gone keep bashing em.— Thelonius Capricornio (@Thelonius Capricornio) 1580007541
Whenever someone asks me what my goals are for 2020, one of the things that I say is I'm going to be intentional about affirming and celebrating Black men. I'm telling you, if you go to Twitter and put "Black men" or "Black women" into the search field, it can be absolutely exhausting, just how much we basically dog each other out for sport (I always say that I think it comes from residual slavery PTSD but that's another article for another time). What good does that do? Instead, we need to uplift each other; especially when it comes to our significant other.
While checking out an article on Psychology Today's website about why compliments mean so much to us, I really liked the part where the author said, "Compliments are little gifts of love. They are not asked for or demanded. They tell a person they are worthy of notice. They are powerful gifts."
Sex is the kind of act that is most pleasurable when our mind, body and spirit is fully connected to another person's mind, body and spirit. A really easy way to make that happen is by affirming your partner.
So, take out a moment today to shoot them a text about what you adore about their mind, body and spirit. Watch how happy they will be to see you when they get home.
3. Pre-Plan Mutual Spoiling Sessions
A spoiled brat is one thing (nobody likes one of those), but sometimes spoiling gets a really bad rap. If you're coming from a place of indulging your partner so that they feel extra loved and attended to, that can be a really wonderful thing. On the heels of that text that you just sent, follow that up with asking your partner what you can do to make them feel pampered by you. Maybe it's a foot massage or a back rub. Maybe it's taking a bubble bath together. Perhaps it's giving each other manicures, watching each other's favorite movie together or ordering each other's favorite meals. Proactively doing things to relish in your partner is another form of foreplay that is overlooked—and underestimated—far more than it should be.
4. Pick Up a Red Light Bulb
As if the ambiance of a red light bulb isn't a good enough reason to get one, did you know that red light therapy is great for boosting a man's testosterone levels too? No joke. Some studies indicate that exposure to red UV lights to a man's genitalia for 10 minutes a day can improve a man's energy levels and raise his testosterone by as much as 200 percent. While some UV devices can get to be a little on the pricey side, there are some UV red light bulbs that are pretty affordable (check out some here, here and here).
5. Light a Soy Vanilla-Scented Candle
Did you know that men who are born without a sense of smell tend to have less sex partners than those who do? Another fun fact is women who have a keener sense of scent are able to have more orgasms. Yeah, it might not be talked about, nearly as much as it should be, but smell plays a fairly significant role in foreplay and intercourse. Although a lot of scents can help to get you going, one that always tops my list is vanilla. There are a few reasons why. Vanilla produces a euphoric effect on the brain. Vanilla increases blood circulation. Vanilla calms the nervous system. Vanilla boosts our mood. Vanilla also stimulates our libido. As far as your sense of smell goes, lighting a soy vanilla candle can help to provide all of these results. Also, if you want to add the sense of touch into the mix, a couple's massage that incorporates DIY vanilla massage oil can really get things poppin'.
6. Get Creative with Flavored Lubricant
You know what they say—the wetter, the better. Yes, lubricant is probably most used as a way to "treat" vaginal dryness that comes from things like medication, hormonal shifts, dehydration or a side effect of chemotherapy. But, even if you don't need it for that, it's still a good idea to keep a couple of flavored tubes close by.
If you dab a bit of it on your lips, it can make your kisses so much sweeter. If you apply some to your hands before giving your partner a massage, the slipperiness can feel really sensual on their body parts; especially if your tongue follows where your hands are going. If either of you is a little on the shy side when it comes to oral sex, the taste of the lube can make things…easier.
When you're bringing flavored lube into your plan of action, the possibilities are rather endless. By the way, if you'd prefer to bypass a lot of the chemicals that tend to come with commercial lube brands, you can check out an at-home flavored lubricant recipe here.
Oh, and as far as commercial brands go, if you want less vaginal irritation, go with a water-based lubricant. If long-lasting is what you're after, silicone-based is where it's at.
7. Have a “Sex Picnic”
I once read an article that said some of the reasons why we should do outdoor picnics more often is it's a great way to spend quality time with those we care about. Not only that, but it can set the stage for self-reflection, open communication and, if it's with our boo thang, it can be really romantic as well. An easy way to turn a G-rated picnic into a semi-XXX-rated one is to bring the picnic indoors. Wear something super sexy and serve foods that can make kissing, licking and "other things" even more delicious. Foods that immediately come to my mind include—chocolate, honey, whipped cream, watermelon (it's basically natural Viagra), red wine and frozen grapes and bananas. Umm, I'll let your imagination tell you what to especially do with those last two.
8. Prolong Stimulating Each Other’s Genitalia
According to aTIME article that I once read, the most sensitive parts of our body is our clitoris and nipples while our abdomen and the sides of our breasts are the least. But there are so many other parts of our anatomy besides those four spots. A lot of us like our hair, lips, ears, inner thighs and inner forearms to be lightly stroked. Meanwhile, the head of a man's penis, along with his nipples, earlobes, neck and lips are the most sensitive, although close seconds include their scalp, the back of their neck, soles of their feet, thumbs, scalp and waist. Bottom line, there are all sorts of ways to build up anticipation in your partner without going directly to the obvious spots. Tease, tantalize and stimulate each other by seeing how long you can kiss and fondle the sensitive parts of your bodies that actually aren't right between each other's legs.
9. Have Cunnilingus with an “Edge”
Speaking of stretching things out a bit, something that can truly take your orgasms to new heights is if you engage in being on the receiving end of oral sex—only, discipline yourself to not climax until it's time for actual penetration. It's basically edging with an oral twist, but if you try it, it is a technique that can easily have you climbing the walls!
10. Intentionally Do It (All) Outside of Your Bedroom
I also checked out an article that listed 200 (200?!) great places to have sex. It listed things like hiking trails, late night laundromats and underneath stairwells. If that's a little too adventurous for you, you can still make things fun and exciting by getting out of your bedroom. Have a kissing session on the stairs. Have oral sex on your kitchen counter. Get right to the point of penetration on that picnic blanket you just used. Beds are comfortable but they can sometimes be super predictable too. Getting out of your bedroom is a little foreplay hack that can make a really big difference. Don't hurt yourselves out there, now (wink).
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Experts Believe Passion (Not Love) Makes Sex Better. You Agree?
Who Knew Oral Sex Has An Official Time Limit?
How To Experience Amazing Foreplay (When You and Yours Are Apart)
Ashley Graham & Her Husband Say Prayer Is The Ultimate Form Of Foreplay
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images