A while back, I read a news article suggesting that, for many people, sex only lasts a few minutes.

The article, by The Conversation, cites a 2005 study: “The average time for each couple (that is, averaged across all the times they had sex) ranged from 33 seconds to 44 minutes.” The median length of intercourse was given as 5.4 minutes… just enough time for one listen-through of “Cry Me a River,” by Justin Timberlake, which is exactly what I would be doing if one of my play sessions was over that quickly!

Given that some of my escort bookings go for three to four hours, I wondered how it was possible that sex could be such a short affair for others? As it turns out, this figure referred to intercourse specifically. In the article, author Brendan Zietsch freely admits, “I know there’s a lot more to sex than putting the penis into the vagina and ejaculating, but the rest is not always easy to define.”

This is a recurring theme in western culture, the culture in which I was raised. When we talk about sex we often focus on the act of intercourse, the heterosexual, penis-in-vagina (PIV) stuff that’s considered the ‘norm’. Everything else that comes before or after is just window dressing for the main event. We’re not sure if a particular sexual activity even counts as sex at all - if it’s not ‘fourth base’, it’s not the real deal.

I have a huge problem with this attitude.

The problem with ‘scripted’ sex

When many of us think about sex, we make a lot of assumptions about what it should look like for both ourselves and others. These assumptions are based on all kinds of sources: sex scenes in movies, porn on the Internet, and (most regrettably) those awkwardly-illustrated books some of us are supplied with in school sex-ed classes. Most of these sources provide a very narrow, scripted idea of sex, where cisgender heterosexual couples move through kissing, petting, and PIV, with the sex considered ‘done’ as soon as the man has reached orgasm. 

A scripted encounter such as these gives us a feeling of certainty about how sex ‘should’ go. Which can be useful if you find the whole thing nerve-wracking and need to feel as if you know what you’re doing, but it leaves a lot to be desired. When we focus on intercourse too much during sex, also we disregard the other activities that make sex hot. We might miss the cues from our partners around what kinds of touch they enjoy, for example. We might rush over essential stages, such as making sure we’re turned on enough to really enjoy penetration. Or if PIV isn’t possible, for any number of reasons, we’re much more likely to give up and assume we’ve failed, rather than simply enjoying all the other possibilities.

There are other situations where PIV simply doesn’t cut it. What if you want to have sex with someone of your own gender? What if you have a vulva, and you’d like to ensure you get off too, regardless of whether your male partner comes? What if you’re not interested in PIV and would prefer to spend hours making out, or experimenting with sex toys? 

How do we figure out what to do in the bedroom if the standard rules don’t apply? And, even more importantly, how do we give ourselves permission to let go of our traditional expectations around PIV and orgasms?

Sex work taught me what ‘good sex’ is really about

Being a sex pro has transformed my idea of what good sex actually looks like.

My professional dates are much more planned and deliberate than a random encounter with a friend or partner. I need to put some thought into how to best fill out the time a client has reserved – when a customer has paid for two hours of session time, that’s a lot of room to get to know each other and  to experiment. To use techniques such as massage and tantra, and to slow down and be more thoughtful about what might feel good in the moment.

I often meet people who have never felt enthusiastic about sex in the past because the standard script doesn’t work for them. I find once they stop focusing on PIV and start trying the activities that genuinely make them feel good, they discover an almost limitless capacity for enjoyment in the bedroom. Everyone has different turn-ons. Not everyone gets off from intercourse – many people require other kinds of stimulation, such as fingering, oral sex, or vibration. Not everyone wants orgasms… Some people just enjoy cuddling. And even when getting off is the end goal, it’s often more enjoyable when we take our time enjoying a range of activities first.

Sex isn’t just about PIV

It’s about the whole package. It’s about meeting someone for the first time and connecting emotionally, sharing a drink or sharing stories, and asking questions about each other. It’s about non-sexual physical contact such as hand-holding or cuddling. It’s about long makeout sessions, sensual massage, exploring someone’s body, having conversations about what they do and don’t like. It’s about all kinds of sexual touch, more than ‘just fucking’ and taking the time to try all the options that appeal to us. Activities such as eye gazing, breathing together, massage, kissing, stroking, sharing fantasies, oral sex, hand jobs, anal play, teasing, edging, and kink play can be just as hot as ‘standard’ intercourse.

The other obvious side effect of viewing sex as more the whole package than limited to only penetration, is that it lasts a hell of a lot longer. I’ve had sex sessions with playmates that lasted four or five hours. Where rushing to orgasm would have meant we were done in half an hour, we instead spent many long moments enjoying touch and feeling aroused and connected in ways that became more and more intense as the time passed. It’s a bit like eating an gourmet meal – would you scoff it down as though you were inhaling a big mac? I don’t think so! The longer you can take to savour the experience, the more intense it can feel. 

The best way to start doing some of this stuff is to slow down and tune into your body, so you can figure out what you really want. There are so many options! As well as thinking about what you might enjoy, it’s essential to check in with your partner. Ask them what they enjoy, and also be sure to ask for permission before experimenting with any new sex moves. This kind of communication can be super hot when it’s done right: it becomes a kind of dirty talk that helps you figure out what you both want to do together.

The effect it’s had on my sex life has been immeasurable. Rather than rushing to PIV and feeling as though it didn’t quite hit the spot, I feel empowered to experiment with new activities and discover what my partners want. Assuming a slower pace means that if we do decide to fuck, everyone involved is super turned on by the time we get there. But, most importantly, it removes the pressure to do sex a particular way. Instead of following a script, we’re free to spend hours doing whatever our naughty little hearts desire.

 If that sounds like fun, I invite you to try it too. 

Are you a sex worker or client with tips or experiences to share? We'd love to hear from you!

The Good Client Guide destigmatizes sex work while providing guidance on how to be a better client and ally. Better experiences for workers mean better experiences for clients! To make this happen, we’re welcoming submissions from both providers and their customers.

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