In the midst of a steamy hookup, there’s nothing like the feeling of jumping into things right away and throwing all cares away. The mix of intense desire and lust begins to override the brain and leave only one idea in mind—sex. As great as sex can be though, what's often under–appreciated or overlooked is the power of the buildup leading into it, and it’s time that we value the one thing that allows sex to be so great: foreplay. 

Sex is something that should be personable, and without foreplay, the beauty of that intimacy becomes lost. Foreplay helps to establish connection between both partners, as both parties become invested in one another. It allows for optimal arousal, as often times while one partner may be at peak arousal, the other has not even gotten halfway there—and quality sex isn’t meant to be one–sided. 

One of my first sexual encounters at Penn was saved because of this exact power foreplay has in the bedroom. Sex has always been something that, while exciting, also terrifies me deep down. The feeling of total vulnerability and exposure makes my body close up like a clam shell, and because of it I tend to hold myself back from going all the way with a person. This anxiety filled the back of my mind as I was bringing a guy I had just met back to my dorm after getting to know each other and a night filled with conversation. I had no idea what was going to happen or how far things were going to go, but the next thing I knew, I was being pulled onto my bed and the foreplay had commenced. 

Now, according to studies, the average length of intercourse is 5.4 minutes, with 10–15 minutes of foreplay, but when the guy I was with began to initiate, almost an hour had gone by. Within that almost sixty minutes, I had completely forgotten about my nerves, and all tension that was in my body was totally released. I was able to fully get situated and immersed with the situation that I was in and create a connection with the guy who was currently in a place that is normally reserved for just myself. And I felt great about it. 

Situations like these make foreplay an essential experience for both partners. It allows you to get comfortable with one another and prepare yourself for enjoyable intercourse. Foreplay allows the body to process arousal and prepare for penetration, which can may not enjoyable if rushed into, and the last thing that anyone wants to feel during sex is pain or discomfort. Interactions can be awkward at first, especially if it is the first time meeting someone, and if you’re anything like me, sometimes this awkwardness creates and internal tension that keeps me restricted and guarded. However, that’s where foreplay comes in to wash away any nerves or pressure. Maybe it’s just the hopeless romantic in me, but it’s time to reinforce the importance of foreplay and to create a connection between partners during sex. You wouldn’t skip watching a movie to get to the end, so why ever skip the foreplay?