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Apparently, there is some societal pressure (“norms”) as to how much time you spend making love. There is a paradox between the societal pressure about “not wasting time”; and another pressure about “lasting long enough” to satisfy your partner. It’s all confusing.
I was asked this question during a conversation: how much time should we spend on a love-making session?
My answer is... depends! You can spend any time from 15 minutes to 4 or even 6 hours to the activity. Numbers don’t really matter... BUT there are several factors to take into account, and those DO matter.
Disclaimer: I am not talking about the "penetration time", but the whole physical pleasant interaction, including "foreplay" and "afterglow"
1. Respecting our bodies and minds: sex is meant to beget pleasure.
Making love is something you do for shared pleasure. If either partner is hurting, you are doing it wrong. Don’t force yourself, don’t hurt yourself.
So if either of you is feeling any kind of physical pain in the early stages of the interaction it means you are trying to force your body into something for which the body is not ready (like making an intense sporting effort without warming up). You are forcing yourself, hurting yourself. Don’t.
In that case, slow down, take your time, listen to your body, make yourself comfortable, give pleasure to yourselves, and give your body time to adjust to a new activity.
The best advice for any sexual activity: SLOW. DOWN !
More specifically, remember the most important lesson about female anatomy (if you don’t, read this article about foreplay): a vagina needs between 20 and 45 minutes of body stimulation and arousal to be ready for penetration. And 45 is more common than 20 – this number depends primarily on its habit with pleasure, so only when a woman is used to having frequent orgasms with a partner will she reach the lower figure. It varies, not only from person to person, but with the experience with the current partner, and the present situation.
On the other hand, if you have been making love for one, two, three hours, and one of your body parts is feeling sore, it’s time to call it a day (or a night). Maybe you will be able to last longer another time... don’t pressure yourself. Maybe, if your partner is not satisfied yet, you can use another body part – hands, mouth, whatever. But, don’t hurt yourself.
A human body’s physical limitations should never be ignored. Physical pain is a sure sign that something wrong is happening. It’s time to slow down, or take a break, or try something else.
Also remember to respect your minds, desires and misgivings. If I don't want to do something, even if my body is ready, it's better to wait until my mind is ready too - or maybe do something else, which will be enjoyable for my partner and myself. If you have an intense desire for something, respect that too, and if your partner is not ready, try to find a way not to leave you in the doldrums of loneliness and frustration.
Don’t get me wrong: you needn’t wait to be in the mood to do something to do it. Desire can build gradually through acts that generate pleasure and excitement. Plus, there is pleasure in giving pleasure to your loved one, just for the sake of it – as long as there is balance in the relationship, and you don’t feel used. And sometimes we don’t have the initial motivation for something, but we know it is going to do us good; so it’s good to give oneself a little push (creating a habit, making an appointment...). As Esther Perel says, we are seldom motivated to go to the gym, but we always feel better afterwards – and, in couples, sex can work the same.
Sometimes self-respect means making efforts for which you are not very motivated in the first place. So, yes, you can push yourself to discover or rediscover some activity that is pleasurable for you and good for the relationship – as long as you don’t force yourself into something that is painful or unpleasant.
Bottom line is: respect yourself, don’t hurt yourself (or your partner)... and enjoy yourselves.
2. Don’t rush. Enjoy the pleasure.
Sex is a pleasant moment. Why would you not want to last? Why would you want to hurry, to shorten its duration?
When you are having an exquisite meal at a fancy restaurant, do you want to wolf down your food without chewing in order to have it ingested as fast as possible? When watching a wonderful movie, would you want to play it in fast forward to have it done in half the required time? Better yet: when you are having a conversation of love, exchanging quality time and loving words with your dearest person on Earth, would you want to cut that time short?
Sex is a language, a conversation to convey your feelings. Rushing it would be... sad.
Take. Your. Time. And enjoy!
Actually, while making those comparisons, I see that an exquisite meal is usually between 1½ and 2 hours, a good movie too, as well as a (short) loving conversation or date... Well, actually it is also the typical extent of time for a (short) sex session.
Even if you have a passion for a "fast and furious" hobby, like driving a sports car and speeding on a race course, it is not a 1-minute drive that will bring you pleasure: having a good time will require having a longer route so that you will feel the thrill of speed for many minutes. Once again, 1 or 2 hours is probably the basic time for an enjoyable session, and it can be much more for an aficionado.
Maybe you think two hours is a lot of time? But how do you rate sex on the scale of pleasurable moments, compared to other activities?
This question is important. How much time do you spend watching TV daily? Do you remember better (and more fondly) a regular TV show or a sex session with a loved one? I, for one would rather miss tonight’s TV show if it’s the occasion to have amazing orgasms with a person I love!
To me, the most pleasant experiences are a priority in my time schedule.
And if something is not a priority in your time schedule, maybe it’s not something very important, and if it is not important, maybe it’s because it is not that pleasurable to you... which is something to consider. How could you make it more enjoyable, more fulfilling, more satisfying?
3. How to make the pleasurable time even more intense.
The best way to make sex pleasant and enjoyable is to concentrate on each and every sensation to enjoy them, savour each and every moment, and rejoice in each happenstance of pleasure, discovery, excitement...
When taking a walk in the forest, rushing to the arrival will make the experience null and void: the pleasure lies in enjoying the scenery, the scent, the atmosphere. Same goes with other pleasures: a fine meal will be more enjoyable if you savour every bit; a movie if I concentrate on every scene, and even a speed car driving session will be more enjoyable if you consider every bend and turn as an opportunity to feel the excitement.
A good way to make those pleasures more intense is to add some level of anticipation. Whenever one feels desire, slightly delaying the fulfilment of said desire will make its release more intense, and therefore more enjoyable. This is a way to make orgasms more intense, and even a way to accumulate them into multiple orgasms.
4. What is your goal?
Why are you having sex? To what purpose?
Do I have anything to prove when making love? To myself, to my partner, to society? Maybe I can use another activity to quench that search for recognition! Do I feel my desires as irrepressible? In that case, why? How can I enjoy it better, without having this pressure, these high stakes? We sometimes suffer a lot of pressure into having sex, a lot of injunctions and norms, a lot of performance anxiety... Sometimes, the simple act of naming them, identifying the outside injunctions, can make them go away – or at least, alleviate them.
To me, the one and only good reason to have sex is to share pleasure with someone – to feel pleasure, connexion, and to make my partner feel the same. Enjoy the time in itself. It is an activity that philosophers call a “happy” activity, and that biologists call “play”: an activity I do with no other purpose than to enjoy it for itself (whereas going to the dentist is not “happy”, it is something I do with another goal in mind).
To me, quality is more important than quantity. I prefer making sex less often, but take more time and energy each time, to make it as enjoyable as possible. My goal is the pleasure I take while doing it – and the pleasure I give to the person I care about.
And nothing else matters.
- Have YOU ever wondered about this subject matter?
Have you felt some pressure, some judgement?
- How much time do you usually allow to sexual intimacy?
What was your longest interaction?
- Would you like to spend more time on sex?
What prevents you from doing so?
- What did you realize thanks to this article?
What are you going to change now in your life?