Twilight, and the art of foreplay.

Foreplay. Women traditionally complain they don’t get enough of it.

Often this gets interpreted as being due to a woman’s needing more physical stimulation to get fully aroused. OK, maybe sometimes that’s the issue. But I don’t see it as the essential thing.

The essential thing, I believe, is this: Foreplay represents the one time when a woman can get a man’s full and undivided attention. That is, if it’s good foreplay. In good foreplay, she is his entire focus. She feels his desire for her — his heightened interest in the small details of her body — made more intense by his anticipation of even greater pleasures ahead. In those moments, if all goes well, he’s really paying attention.

Having your partner’s complete attention — a very important part of sex. One of the most important parts.

It’s in every romance novel since Jane Austen. The heroine meets a man who attracts and puzzles her. She spends the novel trying to figure him out, only to discover that he is crazy in love with her, and that he has spent every second since they first met thinking about her. And that he can’t stop thinking about her. Because she’s just that fascinating.

I’m inclined to think that this basic formula is so appealing because in the average woman’s life experience it is so rare. The average heterosexual woman has been sorely disappointed by the fact that she thinks about the men in her life much more than they think about her. Usually she has more capacity for sustained attention than a man does. Men tend to be oblivious. Good foreplay, like a good romance novel, provides a welcome respite from this everyday state of frustration. In good foreplay, he’s really paying attention. Who wouldn’t want that to last a little longer?

The immensely popular novel Twilight follows the standard romance novel outline, but with a twist. Bella, the teen heroine, comes to realize that her extravagantly handsome biology lab partner, Edward, in addition to being a vampire, is absolutely obsessed with her. That he can’t stop thinking about her. Being a vampire and unable to sleep, he has spent all night every night since they first met simply watching her sleep. His eyes and his body are always focused on her. She finds it uncomfortable, but also sexually intoxicating.

In one of my favorite scenes, he says he’d like to ask her about herself, and she consents. She’s stunned by the detail of his interest in her. He wants to know all about her favorite food, color, flower, memory; all the details of her childhood, including friends, teachers, triumphs and disappointments. The questions go on for days. She never knew she was so interesting.
The male reader of Twilight will find much to learn about good foreplay from this scene.

© Stephen Snyder, MD 2010 All rights reserved

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