To help couples like Michele and Greg start the conversation, Dr. Berman starts with a visual exercise called the Foreplay Map.
Dr. Berman gives them each a piece of paper with a diagram of a body. She asks Michelle to number the body parts in the order she'd like to be touched or kissed during foreplay. Dr. Berman then asks Greg to number body parts in the order that he would typically touch or kiss Michele.
After they're finished, Dr. Berman finds that Greg had nine steps, where Michele had six. "Greg actually had more erogenous zones listed on you, Michele, than you did," Dr. Berman says.
Dr. Berman asks the couple to repeat the exercise, but with the focus on Greg. Michele is surprised to find that Greg would prefer more foreplay before genital contact. "To me, he's always so ready to go. So of course that's where I started. And to know that he actually needs to be massaged into it was surprising to me," Michele says.
Greg says the exercise taught him that their needs have changed over the years. "We think, 'That's the order, and that's the way you do things,'" he says. "You've got to check in."
Get the Foreplay Map exercise and try it with your partner!
One thing the Foreplay Map often reveals is that people generally like to touch their partners in the order they like to be touched, Dr. Berman says. For example, women may kiss and stroke their partners' shoulders and slowly work their way down, while men go straight for their partners' erogenous zones. "It's that disconnect in our language of love," she says. "This can be a great way to really discover new things about what you each like and get the conversation started."