What Does Second Base Mean, Anyway?

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
When we’re talking baseball as a metaphor for sex, most people agree that first base is making out. But what about second base? That’s where things get complicated, with various experts confidently asserting that “second base” is anywhere from an over-the-shirt boob grab to fingering and hand jobs.
Sexual baseball metaphors date back to the post-WWII era, when dating as we know it began to coalesce. But to understand what “second base” means today, let’s go to the real experts: Urban Dictionary.
The highest-rated Urban Dictionary definition describes second base as “when a guy feels up a female's breast over clothing, under clothing, or under the bra” (Heteronormative, much?). Next up: “Heavy petting and feeling up while making out, up the shirt or shirtless for both partners." Then, the confusion comes in: the most popular definition for “heavy petting” is “foreplay ranging from breast massage to masturbating one's partner.” That's a pretty wide range.
Another Urban Dictionary definition for second base differentiates between “major league” second base and “minor league” second base: minor league is “feeling a girl up,” while major league is “fingering or a hand job.” Again, pretty big difference!
Maybe it’s because of the confusion or the heteronormativity, but this sexual metaphor seems to be on its way out. Last year, a popular meme defined first base as sex, and then each succeeding base showed, as Know Your Meme puts it, “increasing levels of emotional intimacy.” For example, as @knifexparty put it, “First base: sex. Second base: actually hanging out again. Third base: seeing me cry. Fourth base: unconditional love & support.”
Luckily, there’s no real reason you need to use baseball metaphors for sex when there are so many other words available. If your friend tells you, “I got to second base!” you can always answer with, “Ooh, you had a second date??” — or you can just ask what, exactly, they mean.

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