Kate Manning talks about her journey of sexual rediscovery – and how using sex toys for foreplay changed everything…
I don’t know about you, but my sexual journey has changed significantly as I’ve aged.
It started out as a desperate need for connection. Generally with anybody with 2 feet and a heartbeat like most teens. Then, it was about trying to lock down the perfect partner – bed me and wed me and all that. After that came babies, and it was scientific. Glance at the watch. Take my internal temp. Give ol’ hubby a nudgerooni and off we go for a little missionary mambo. Followed of course by me having to keep my legs in the air for half an hour. So romantic, I know.
Finally, as the babies have grown and we’ve started getting some time back… I’ve gone full circle and I’m all about the connection again. I’m desperately trying to connect with my husband after years of sacrificing romance and affection. And for me, it was a bit surprising how new sex toys helped us get reacquainted with the people we had become.
Let’s Talk About Foreplay
You know what’s funny? I always worried that we’d lose physical connection as we aged. But what I’ve noticed is that our sexuality has become something we are rediscovering and even reimagining. And foreplay has been a key part of that.
Slight history teacher tangent, but did you know that in the early 1900’s, foreplay was called ‘petting’? In fact, youth culture started to challenge strictures on sexuality. Petting parties, where young people gathered to explore each other, once scandalised the nation. Or at least America. These were strictly kissing and fondling only, no sex. It’s said they weren’t orgies and there was no promiscuity.
Sometimes known as necking, mushing or fussing parties, petting parties became one of the first forms of public foreplay.
Now foreplay, if you want the dictionary definition, is sexual or erotic stimulation preceding sexual intercourse. So this can be whatever you find erotic but massages, kissing, stripteases and sexy talk all fall under the definition of foreplay. But acts aside, here’s the the kicker – foreplay is a way that we as people enhance closeness and intimacy. This in turn heightens the emotional connection we experience with each other during sex.
For me, foreplay is how my husband and I rediscovered our passion and flirtatiousness. We’d become almost roommates through parenthood. Sex became methodical and foreplay was nonexistent. It started again when I decided on a whim to send him a sexy selfie.
I was nervous, but off the message went with a suggestive picture of me and a caption “it’s not going to f*ck itself”.
I’ve never seen the man move quicker! We laughed, we giggled and it’s now started a regular challenge of who can send the most risqué pics.
How does foreplay increase emotional connection?
Let’s talk about the soon to be rediscovered art of sensual connection.
Barriers to intimacy are everywhere in our relationships. And sexual and emotional intimacy are different, but closely related. Think of foreplay and exploration like meditation. You’re removing yourself from the daily norm and entering a pleasurable space where you feel safe to express yourself. Given the link between sexuality, sexual thoughts and romantic intimacy, it’s perhaps not surprising, that we’re only not starting to really realise how important it all is.
But if you want the science as to how it works, it boils down to this: foreplay, sex, and orgasms (or strictly speaking the moments before one), all release oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide (or brain chemical) that facilitates emotional intimacy. So basically, foreplay = oxytocin = bonding = happy relationships!
My journey to sex toys for foreplay
When my husband and I started exploring foreplay together, it involved more than just sending cheeky pics to each other. We have become more brave every week but we started with edible massage oils. I’d give him a shoulder rub which would lead to lots of kissing and tasting. Make it fun with something like Dona’s Vanilla Buttercream oil, which is our favourite. There’s something romantic about massaging each other that has since, extended out of the bedroom. We’ve never touched each other more, just in passing. Not just sexually, but a hand squeeze here and there. A hug. A quick neck rub. All because we’ve reconnected through foreplay.
For a bit of naughty fun and foreplay, we invested in a remote controlled bullet vibrator. Having your partner give you a discreet buzz from across the backyard makes for some fun BBQ’s with friends, believe me!
What else have we tried? Okay, you asked!
Thrill Couple’s Ring
We love the Thrill for a few reasons. It’s great as it hits my clitoris during sex as well as keeping hubby harder for longer, sure, but it’s also great as a massage toy or just general sensation play. Try holding it and exploring each other’s bodies and you’ll see what I mean (hello nipples!)
Blindfolds are an easy way to play with your senses, and great for foreplay! While you might not think of them as a sex toy, they definitely are. You use it to cover your eyes, or pull it gently over your partner’s skin to arouse their senses. You can also use a paddle or flogger gently for a similar result – or a little harder if that’s your thing.\
Pump with Tongue and Vibrating G-Spot Handle
The flickering tongue on this sex toy is what really makes it great for foreplay. Any play, really, but definitely foreplay. My husband loves to tie me up gently and tease me with it, but I think I love it more!
One sex toy-agnostic technique I really like is edging. If you haven’t heard of it, edging is where you get your partner close to orgasm but you stop before it happens. And then start again! I’ve found that edging has made us more in tune with each other and what really makes us tick in the bedroom.
Overcoming the fear of the unknown…
Now hub hub and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on sex toys. He never had much exposure to them before me and perhaps dragging out my nipple clamps and double ended dildo on date one was a little much for him. Kidding. I waited until at least date six…
Jokes aside, talk to your partner. You need to explore gently and sensitively, and make sure they feel comfortable. Sex toys are best when they’re something you’re both excited about trying. If you want to introduce toys to the bedroom, consider starting slow with something non threatening like that edible massage oil. Communicate and work together to find things you’ll both enjoy.
My hubby was concerned that sex toys were required because he was inadequate. It took years (and some therapy) for him to realise that they enhanced our connection. Now he’s like a kid in a candy store.
What’s better, we don’t rush it. When we’re alone and we have time, we take time. Bottle of wine. Music. Talking. It’s no longer about the rush to climax. There’s an art in the ‘play’ – and specifically, the foreplay. It’s exciting working out what things us and thrilling to experience new feelings. Together.
Where to from here?
If you’re keen to give this whole foreplay with sex toys thing a whirl – and I’m telling you, it’s a buzz – then have a look at your own collection and see how else you can use them. Or start with some of my favourites! However that works for you, happy playing, and happy connecting!