We’re talking about those passionate and awkward kisses, those ferocious hip thrusts, that animalistic rubbing of two bodies moving at the behest of the most primal passions. It could last for hours — until your lips stung and your jeans had chafed your crotch. Yes, that’s what we’re referring to when we say ‘petting’. Cuddling, making out, fondling, fooling around, stroking and caressing; to use a term from those typical American teenage comedies — it can encompass everything before ‘fourth base'. In other words, before penetration. Well, as it turns out, it’s back in fashion — like sour-dough bread and making your own clothes. Therapists and sexologists enthusiastically recommend petting to help rediscover desire and reacquaint ourselves with what we already knew as teenagers: that there’s much more to sexuality than sexual intercourse. Penetration was a future promise and sometimes a fear. It was something to look forward to, but petting made the wait a lot easier and would ensure you arrived home with a huge grin across your face.
What is petting?
Kissing, caressing, fondling, rubbing, stroking... anything you can think of without going as far as direct penetration. The term ‘petting’ actually dates back to the 1940s but had gone out of fashion until recently. Although years ago it may have been seen as just something horny teenagers did to avoid the risk of preganancy, it’s now promoted as a sexual remedy for grown-up couples for a whole manner of reasons.
Is petting considered to be sex?
Of course! More specifically, it’s regarded as sex without penetration. Petting is an erotic practice all on its own. It's not simply a 'starter', it's not foreplay and it doesn't have to lead on to something else — just enjoy what's in front of you. Touch, caress, rub, lick, suck, kiss — rediscover your body and that of your partner and feel how a new kind of intimacy is created and the desire grows. And yes, in case you were wondering, petting is perfect for reaching orgasm. In fact, for most women, it will be easier achieve this way than through vaginal penetration.
What are the benefits of petting?
- For a start, it's a great way to break out of the routine and to try out other sexual practices that don't involve penetration.
- Most women do not reach orgasm during penetration, but rather through manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris.
- It increases intimacy and desire.
- It boosts arousal because you can't just rush to penetration.
- It's extremely pleasurable.
- It's highly recommended for people with vaginismus or erectile dysfunction.
- It will prevent unwanted pregnancies and, if you do it while clothed, it also minimises the risk of contracting any sexually transmitted diseases.
Can you use sex toys?
The only thing that you can’t have during petting is penetration. Fun, orgasms, pleasure and sex toys are very welcome! And we're not only talking about toys such as clitoral suckers or vibrators (we recommend wand massagers), but also sexy lingerie, massage oils, candles, and lubricants. They're all perfect for increasing desire and raising the temperature.
How to engage in petting: step-by-step tips
Specialists differentiate between three different degrees of petting, but here's a tip: it's best to reconnect with the you of years ago and go with the flow. Here are some recommendations that never fail (just in case you struggle to find that flow at the beginning!)
- Start with gentle kisses and caresses. Don’t go directly to the erogenous zones — stroke your partner’s face, hair and back.
- Increase the intensity little by little. Are you still wearing your clothes? Increase the intimacy of the caresses — move on to other more sensitive areas of the body and kiss them. When was the last time you spent hours just kissing?
- Now, the heat, the excitement, the degree of intimacy are demanding something more. Take off each other’s clothes. Use lube, oils and sex toys. It’s time for oral and manual stimulation — combine both and vary the pace. Do you have a bullet vibrator handy? Using its tip, stroke the nipples, clitoris, testicles, perineum and vaginal lips.
- From this point on, there’s no turning back and they'll be no more tips — orgasm is now inevitable! And you're sure to notice those blushing cheeks and that grin across your face again. You know what they say, the good things always make a comeback. You’ll be perming your hair and wearing shoulder pads in no time!