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Despite decades of magazine articles, books and advice columns suggesting that guys shift their focus from orgasm to a more holistic view of sex that includes the entire course of lovemaking, a lot of guys still don’t view foreplay as important.

Sure, penetration and actual intercourse are great, no question, but you’ll be far more likely to give pleasure to your partner, and far more likely to enjoy a longer session of lovemaking, if you spend time with all of the kissing, fondling, caressing and touching that is part of foreplay.

The fact is that sex, for many people, is still a pretty short-lived event. Studies in which couples were actually observed having sex or in which one partner timed sex with a stopwatch (as opposed to surveys in which people are asked how long they have sex) show a wide range in the length of lovemaking, ranging from about two minutes to 40 or more minutes.

But the average? About 7.3 minutes in one of the more recent studies.

That’s longer (believe it or not) than studies done decades ago.

In the discussion of marital sex in his classic book about male sexuality, researcher Alfred Kinsey speculated that for perhaps three-fourths of all males, orgasm was reached within 2 minutes after initiation of intercourse. Not surprisingly, Kinsey reported that this wham-bam-thank-you-m’am approach to sex was “a frequent source of marital conflict.”

A much more satisfying approach is one that emphasizes enjoying the entire body, not just the genitals, and which takes into account the very real physiological differences in sexual response between men and women—a pattern that has been summarized as “men heat up like a lightbulb; women heat up like an iron.”

In general, men need to slow down their approach to sex to better match the normally slower period of female arousal. That doesn’t mean every lovemaking session has to be a slo-mo Taoist scene — sometimes a “quickie” is just the thing.

But the more a guy can pay attention to his partner’s entire being (including her mind and emotions) and make foreplay as important as actual penetration, the more likely his is to be a satisfying and desirable sex partner.

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