Men with erectile problems are often concerned with making sex last longer, imagining that this will lead to more pleasure for their female partners. It is wonderful when a man cares so deeply about his partner’s pleasure. At the same time, the length of sex is only one “metric” for the experience. While of course many women would prefer intercourse last longer than a few minutes, intercourse that is too long can also be uncomfortable or painful.
Wanting to last longer is a good goal, yet keep the bigger picture in mind. Why do you want to last longer? Likely because you want your partner to enjoy sex more, and you want to have more fun with them too.
From that perspective, there are many different options for making sex more enjoyable, and lasting longer during penetration is only one!
Understanding (Average) Sex Differences in Arousal
What are her fantasies and desires? Realize that for a majority of males, they experience what Emily Nagosaki calls “spontaneous desire,” Its a fairly immediate reaction to thoughts of sex or being in the presence of sexually stimulating experiences, like seeing their partner naked or pornography. Males tend to get turned on more quickly and are ready to go! This is typically what we see in mainstream media and porn.
Many females, however, experience what Dr. Nagosaki calls “responsive desire,” where arousal arises in response to a certain situation or emotional experience. The body may begin to experience physiological arousal (such as vaginal lubrication) before they’re actually interested in sexual activity. The want for sex comes in response to an erotic scenario. This is why many women prefer longer “foreplay” than some men do, prior to sexual intercourse. (Note: If you’re a male and feel you have a more responsive desire, that’s okay too! We’re only talking averages here and what’s most important is listening to your own body’s needs.)
But let’s also consider: maybe intercourse isn’t always the goal!
Changing Up the Script
The stereotypical “sexual script” in American culture essentially follows that baseball analogy many of us first heard in junior high. Start with kissing, move to touching or oral sex, followed by a “home run” of sexual intercourse. There’s nothing wrong with this if you both enjoy it, of course!
But for many of us, that can get boring or stale, or doesn’t hit our strongest turn-ons. For instance, you can enjoy hanging just at one of the bases – who remembers the fun of simply “making out” before sex was ever even on the table? Many teens know this pleasure that we as adults seem to have forgotten. Not to mention, people of all genders can enjoy oral sex and some can be satisfied with that act alone.
Exploring Turn On’s (And Turn-Off’s!)
For many of us, there are desires and fantasies that simply don’t fit on the baseball field at all! Some of these acts don’t even involve penetration, so lasting longer won’t be an issue here. Ironically, with less anxiety about “performance,” a male might even find himself with a stronger or longer-lasting erection simply because the pressure is gone.
To explore other turn on’s (and off’s), its going to require communication. Opening up about sex requires intimacy and vulnerability. Nobody wants to reveal their deepest desires and be rejected! Creating a safe space where you agree not to judge one another is important. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything your partner wants to, but that you accept your partner’s wants and needs as they simply are.
What things have you always been curious to try? What scenarios turn on your partner? When we take “sex” for granted as penis-in-vagina penetration, we sometimes forget to listen to our other wants and needs. These turn on’s might include anything from role playing to fetishes to BDSM, or even something more simple like massage or sexy talk.
It can help to ask yourself and your partner some questions and have a conversation (or three).
Here are some questions that may be useful to discuss with your partner:
- When do you feel most turned on? What is going on both sensually (in terms of what you see, hear, smell, taste or touch) and situationally (the “who, what, where, when and why”)?
- Can you name 2-3 specific aspects of your sexual relationship that you really like? (i.e., things you and your partner do together, like particular sex acts, words spoken, positions used, fantasies role-played?) And why?
- How does sex make you feel? How do you want to feel?
- What does or can your partner do to help you feel more comfortable being vulnerable and opening up?
- What hits your “sexual brakes” (as Dr. Nagosaki would more politely call our “turn offs”)? (i.e., sensually and/or situationally?)
It doesn’t matter what it is so long as everyone is consenting; its rather about the intimacy and connection you feel together.
There’s a Whole Wide World of Sex Out There…
…and while penetrative sex can certainly be fun, realize it is one option of many. If you really want to please your partner more in bed, start talking about what exactly DOES please them or what they imagine would! Remember, sex doesn’t have to have a goal – enjoying one another’s company is what’s most important!
If you’re struggling, though, that’s okay too. You’re definitely far from alone, and it can help to talk with someone who can help support you through. A trusted sex therapist can help turn many relationships around and help you not only last longer – if that is indeed the goal – but even more to connect more deeply with yourself and ultimately, your partner.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform.