Many people rate the quality of their sex lives in three ways: the number of times a week they have sex; the average length of time they spend having sex; and whether both partners achieve orgasm. But after decades of research, I’m here to tell you these measuring sticks are faulty—lovemaking cannot be timed, measured in minutes or judged by its ability to produce consistently mind-blowing orgasms. So if you wonder how your sex life stacks up against those of your friends and neighbours, this is my advice:
1. Stop counting and start scheduling. Instead of focusing on how often you and your partner do (or don’t) have sex, focus on how often you want to have sex. If you aren’t sure, think back to a trip you took together (when the demands of daily life were far away), and use that as your guide. Once you agree on an ideal, slot some special dates into your calendar. It doesn’t matter if it’s daily, weekly, monthly or even less often, but commit to it. And don’t be surprised if you discover that the more you make love, the more your body craves it.
2. Make sure to start with foreplay. It’s a fact: Men have a much easier time achieving orgasm during traditional intercourse than women do. The overwhelming majority of women are unlikely to experience an orgasm from intercourse alone. Most women can, however, have one during foreplay. So if the big O is your ultimate goal (and, remember, it doesn’t have to be), stop worrying about the length of time you and your partner spend on intercourse. Instead, allow yourselves to extend the foreplay session of your lovemaking. The other added bonus of fooling around is that it gives you more time to get in the mood — mentally and physically — which is known to be more important for women than for men.
3. Focus on the journey, not the destination (and, while you’re at it, stop faking!). The American National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior recently reported that 85 percent of men thought their partner had an orgasm during a recent sexual encounter, while only 64 percent of women said they had one. The discrepancy suggests that when it comes to the bedroom, many women deserve an Oscar for their performance. Take the pressure off yourself and your partner by agreeing to relish the pleasure derived from the entire experience, not just the end result.
Dr. Teesha Morgan is a sex therapist based in Vancouver, BC.