Sex advice with Suzi Godson: Boyfriend can’t be bothered with foreplay

My boyfriend has never shown any interest in foreplay. Despite my telling him it would be nice to have a bit more preamble, nothing has changed. It’s not just the unsatisfying sex that bothers me, but the fact that he is so inconsiderate about what I want. What can I do about it?

It requires self-confidence to ask a man to pay more attention to your sexual needs. You clearly feel you’ve tried, but the words “a bit more preamble” sound so coy that I wonder if you got your message across. If you weren’t explicit with him, there is a chance that he doesn’t understand the important role of foreplay in female sexual arousal, so it would certainly be worth having that conversation again.

When women fantasise or watch pornography in private, they tend to find it easier to orgasm, but in a one-to-one situation, particularly with a relatively new partner, female arousal can be more elusive, so without foreplay it becomes more difficult to achieve orgasm.

Stress the “fore” in foreplay and don’t assume that he understands what you mean. Spell it out. Tell him that foreplay includes kissing and touching. It could also include oral sex. Explain to him that when women are stimulated in multiple ways, their chance of having an orgasm almost doubles.

Sometimes men simply don’t understand that women rarely have an orgasm just with penetrative sex — and we have much of the sex shown on film and television to blame, as it rarely shows any foreplay at all. However, when Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, studied the likelihood of orgasm among 15,000 heterosexual college students, she found that within a relationship only about half of the women in the study could orgasm through intercourse. However, when women in a relationship received a combination of clitoral stimulation, oral sex and intercourse, that figure shot up to 92%.

Good sex is about much more than technique, however. Unless you feel relaxed, it is difficult to achieve orgasm, which is why women are better at achieving orgasm in committed relationships than they are in hook-ups. For example, in Armstrong’s study only 26% of women were able to achieve orgasm through sexual intercourse the first time they had sex. By the third time that figure rises to 40%.

Good sex is about knowing each other intimately, caring about each other passionately and responding to each other’s needs. When two people feel loved, wanted and accepted, they can say anything, ask anything and do anything because they feel safe with each other. Good sex can, of course, be selfish too, but only within a broader context of selflessness. Taking turns, for example, is a great way of allowing both partners uninterrupted indulgence, and because it limits distractions it is one of the most effective ways to get a woman to orgasm. It is, however, 100% dependent on reciprocity.

If your boyfriend doesn’t understand the importance of foreplay, enlightening him may do the trick. However, knowledge in itself does not initiate change — intention does. Your boyfriend needs to care enough about your sexual experience to want to make the effort to change. Right now he seems happy enough to ignore your needs.

That is more than “inconsiderate”. Selfishness is a characteristic that rarely confines itself to the bedroom, and if your boyfriend doesn’t feel empathy or understand the importance of reciprocity, he is unlikely to value sexual equity. You can make a persuasive case for foreplay, but if he subsequently fails to raise his game, you will have to decide whether you are willing to settle for a lover who does not put your needs first. I know what I’d do.

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