This Is How Long Sex With Your Partner Should Actually Last

Hundreds of couples timed themselves to find out.

by Annie Foskett
Simone Becchetti

I’ve never been good at measuring time.

I think I can make it to my yoga studio in five minutes and end up sprinting every. Single. Time. This is also why I remain convinced that it’s still January. Excuse me, but where did all those months go?

If you held a gun to my head and asked post-coital-me how long the sex I just had lasted for, I would not be able to tell you the answer, either.

Definitely not two hours, certainly not an hour, but maybe 20 minutes? There was a lot of making out involved... so maybe more like 10 minutes?

Even if the sex was so mind-blowing that it left me uncertain of my whereabouts and my name, chances are I’d still have no effing clue how long it actually lasted.

So, how long is sex really? Or better, how long should it be?

According to a popular study of 500 couples who timed themselves having sex for four weeks, the median time for a hot and sweaty romp was about 5.4 minutes.

I know what you’re thinking. How can sex only be five minutes? How am I supposed to get off in five minutes?!

Yes, at first that seems super short, but the more you look at the circumstances of the study with established couples who know each other (and each other’s bodies) so well, it makes more sense.

Also, now that I think about it, it’s very possible the sex I’ve had has usually been around five minutes... but that’ll be an issue I deal with later.

What was extremely telling was the huge range of data, showing couples hooking up for 38 seconds, with others recording around 44 minutes.

This enormous jump got me thinking. Is there an actual “normal” to the documented time sex should be had?

Instead, there’s just how long you want it to be.

There are countless documented articles out there for men about “how to last longer.” Even rapper Missy Elliott has song lyrics proclaiming she doesn’t “want no minute man.” While I totally appreciate her vocalizing that, since lasting longer usually correlates with ensuring a woman’s pleasure... 5.4 minutes isn’t all that much longer than one minute, you know?

What should we actually be expecting to get out of some quality ~sexy time~ with our partners, if it’s just a few minutes long?

Keep your expectations to a minimum. Just enjoy yourself.

“Don’t measure your pleasure based solely on time,” says LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D, licensed clinical psychotherapist and author of Smart Relationships. “Instead, base it on a sensation of mutual satisfaction. Those ‘quickies’ can be very satisfying! And very, long, lingering sex can create physical stress and strain on muscles and woman’s delicate genital tissue.”

A study on desirable length of time for sex revealed that an “adequate” length of time for sex was three to seven minutes, while a “desirable” length of time for sex was seven to 13 minutes. “Too short” a time was one to two minutes, with “too long” going for 10 to 30 minutes.

So does time actually matter?

“Don’t measure your love-making time by how long you spend in actual coitus,” Wish says. “Some women, for example, get greater — or easier — pleasure climaxing before or after sexual intercourse.”

Rather than spend our time concerned with how long we’re doing it, let’s concern ourselves with how well we’re doing it. As in, are we taking care of ourselves during sex? Are we openly communicating? Are we experimenting and having fun together?

Remember, if your partner’s anything like me, they may not even have any concept of time at all.

So go forth, have some fun, and indulge in a little sexual activity without focusing on the clock.

There’s no use in being “on time.”