Driving my son and his friends in the car the other day from a basketball game I overheard the question that made me cringe decades ago: “How far did you get?” asked one to the other with an elbow to the ribs. I shouldn’t have let on that I was listening, but I felt obliged to tell them they were thinking about it all wrong.
I told them French boys ask each other, “How long did she ‘jouir’?” This translates roughly to “waiting for an orgasm.” One of my favorite things about the French language is the multitude of words and expressions that communicate physical pleasure.
If language is the medium that allows us to express and understand ourselves, it isn’t that surprising our most common sexual expressions of how far you got, scoring a touchdown and hitting the target often reflect the hurry up – get it on culture that clocks the average sexual intercourse experience at 7.3 minutes. On a recent episode of Dr. Oz, the couples on the show agreed that their foreplay lasted between one to four minutes. Foreplay is more than just missing the warm-up before hitting a grand slam.
For many of us the terrain of our sexuality has been limited to the act of intercourse. Our internal maps are often a straight line we imagine will provide the target for our orgasm. We often lose sight of all that we miss on the complex, mysterious journey to untapped pleasure. Relinquishing the destination and lingering in all that makes up the outercourse of our sexual selves offers a new world to explore. It often also the key to allowing the opening that is required for intercourse to fulfill itself.
Remember the last great scavenger hunt you enjoyed? The treasure at the end was all the better for the great discoveries in between. Mapping the curves and valleys of your lover’s body with a hand, gliding over sweet or spicy-scented and oiled skin will surprise you. The nape of the neck, the rise of a hip, and the indent of the knee all contain sensations that surprise and unlock libido in ways you might not expect. Inhaling your partner’s scent or breath is an ancient form of kissing. Learning to linger in the outercourse of sexuality will transform your connection to your partner and perhaps even more deeply connect you to your ability to open to the sexual experience itself.
There might not be a more intense paired experience than the act of sexual penetration. Many of us never understood that waiting to be deeply prepared and open for intercourse is a prerequisite for finding the pleasure they seek. I always tell my customers that the only time to reach for a lubricant is when you can’t stand it anymore then the product has a chance to do its job. The crazy, incredible connection that happens when you are open enough to be filled with someone else is not a bullseye operation; it is a tender and timeless play between two people who are taking their time, for there is nowhere better to go.