At the ripe age of 15 -- an age defined by hormones, underage drinking and hair gel -- I was handed a valuable piece of advice. One that has stuck with me, still, to this date.
It was freshman year of high school, and I was with some friends watching the Mets game. It was one of those afternoons where we all crammed into one of my buddy’s living rooms and, that same day, we were joined by one more special guest: my friend’s father (and master of the house).
We must’ve gotten around to shooting the sh*t -- over the usual business -- you know, chasing women and staying out of trouble, generally speaking. And at that point, my buddy’s dad decided to chime in and impart some of his own wisdom on the topic:
Naturally, he was alluding to sex and the female libido. And while that tidbit of information made me feel slightly uncomfortable (coming from him), it also made me think.
Up until that point, society had always suggested otherwise. All the stereotypes that floated around affirmed that “all men think about is sex” and that when it came to a woman, sex must first proceed from an emotional connection.
It’s constantly reinforced (by media and pop culture) that men view sex as some carnal act, motivated purely by pleasure while women view it in an entirely different light.
My friend’s dad helped remind me we’re all humans, despite our gender differences, and, while we may diverge on certain topics, at the end of the day, sex is still sex whether you’re male or female.
This encouraged me to look deeper into each gender’s specific sexual desires -- at things like duration of sex and even duration of foreplay -- in order to gain a better understanding of how we, as human beings, view sex.
As part of an experiment conducted by Miller and Byers, 152 heterosexual couples were asked to report their specific sexual desires in addition to what they thought their partner’s specific sexual desires would be.
Case 1: Foreplay
Interestingly enough, ideal length of foreplay did not differ between the sexes.
Despite the fact that most love stories portray the female character as the romantic one -- the one more inclined to light candles prior to sex and spread rose petals on the bedspread -- women did not report a greater interest in foreplay than men did.
Women did, however, expect their male significant others to desire a lower duration of foreplay than was actually the case, likely a result of those stereotypes reinforced in romantic films and even a lot of love songs.
That said, while women expected their men to value foreplay less, this proved to be an underestimation, according to the study’s results.
But there is some truth to the idea that foreplay is, in fact, more important for women.
According to Dr. Ruth Westheimer, EdD, for WebMD, “It's particularly important for women to have successful foreplay because it takes a woman a longer time [than a man] to get up to the level of arousal needed to orgasm.”
Still, it doesn’t appear women require -- or desire -- more time during foreplay in order to fulfill their sexual needs.
Case 2: Intercourse
When it comes to sexual intercourse itself, that’s where we see the desires of men and women begin to diverge.
It’s not so much the desire for intercourse -- in general -- that separates men and women as much as it’s the duration of intercourse.
According to Alice Robb of New Republic -- and an article written by Harry Fisch -- apparently most men only need two minutes in bed. Women, on the other hand, generally require more time between the sheets in order to reach orgasm.
In a separate study, conducted by Petr Weiss and Stuart Brody, Czech women were asked to report how “consistently they had an orgasm when with a partner, the average amount of time spent on foreplay and the average amount of time spent on penile-vaginal intercourse,” as explained by Matthew Hutson of Psychology Today.
According to the data, intercourse duration was strongly correlated to orgasm consistency. For women who reported sex lasting between one and 10 minutes, 50 percent said they had an orgasm most of the time.
For those women who reported having sex lasting between 11 to 20 minutes, this number grew to 62 percent. And, finally, for those women who shagged for 20-plus minutes -- 72 percent.
While men may be able to hop into bed and fulfill their sexual needs within two minutes -- it appears they might also be leaving their significant others dissatisfied.
So, as it appears, the advice of my friend’s father seems to hold a bit of truth.
Women do want sex as much as guys, although it also appears they want it for longer amounts of times than most men are capable of -- which is why so many couples probably see their therapists and discuss matters of sex.
If you and your significant other are experiencing some turbulence in the sheets, make sure you’re communicating.
Sexual problems do have a tendency to carry over to other parts of life, so it’s important to nip any you might have in the bud before they begin to affect the rest of your relationship.
At the end of the day, it comes down to you and your partner’s willingness to make it work. Regardless of how long it takes.