Sexual pleasure in woman is a kind of magic spell; it demands complete abandon. –Simone de Beauvoir
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?” said 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 that they were thinking about it all wrong. I told them that French boys ask each other “How long did she jouir?,” which 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 that our most common sexual expressions of how far you got, scoring a touch down 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 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 idea of intercourse. Our internal maps are often a straight line to what we think should provide the target for our orgasm and we often lose sight of all that we miss on the complex, mysterious journey to untapped pleasure. Giving up the destination and taking the time to linger in all that makes up the outer-course of our sexual selves offers a new world to explore and is often the key to allowing the opening that is required for intercourse to fulfill itself.
Remember the last great scavenger hunt you enjoyed, how the treasure at the end was all the better for all 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, the indent of the knee all contain sensation that surprises and unlocks libido in ways you might not expect. Inhaling your partner is an ancient form of kissing. Learning to linger in the outer course of sexuality will transform your connection to your partner and perhaps even more deeply to your ability to open to the sexual experience itself.