Sexuality is, or can be, a vital and energising part of any romantic or partnered relationship. However the increasing reality for many of us is that sex is becoming one or more of the following: rare or non-existent; or a source of conflict, resentment, anger, fear, anxiety, depression, angst; or in other words far from a source of pleasure and closeness. There are many sources of information on sex and sexuality. Many of them are at the least not very helpful and encourage a performance orientation, and at worst are damaging to our enjoyment of a healthy sex life. The following is in no way meant to be comprehensive but it may be a helpful starting point.
- Love does not necessarily equal intimacy, does not necessarily equal eroticism or desire, does not necessarily equal sex.
- MYTH: Porn sex is similar to real life sex - that is what great sex really looks like. TRUTH: Real sex in any relationship, straight or gay, is very unlike porn sex in most cases. Porn sex is mostly how men fantacise about sex and is also about visuals, not pleasure.
- MYTH: How long does intercourse last on average? If you watch pornography you could be forgiven for thinking it lasts a long long time. TRUTH: In reality intercourse generally lasts around 3-7 minutes and can be from 2 - 12 minutes. A sexual encounter (from kissing to smooching afterwards) is often from 15 - 45 minutes.
- MYTH: Women climax from stimulation within a few minutes. TRUTH: Women generally take anywhere from 6-40 minutes of stimulation to reach climax. Often around 20 minutes. This is perfectly normal. Many women fake orgasm because they do not want to make their partners feel bad, so men can get the idea that women can climax more quickly.
- MYTH: All women can climax from penis to vagina intercourse, and women who can't, have some problem. TRUTH: Most women (2/3) are not able to climax from penis to vagina intercourse. The organ that is most similar to a penis in a woman is the clitoris. Most women need clitoral stimulation to climax. For those women who do climax during intercourse most need multi stimulation (breast, clitoris, and erotic imagination for example). Only about 15% of women climax 100% of the time during sexual encounters of any kind. Only 2-3% of women have an emission, or ejaculate, during climax.
- MYTH: Women who like sex are multi-orgasmic. TRUTH: Only about 15-20% of women are multi-orgasmic. More is not necessarily better. About a third of women are non-orgasmic.
- MYTH: All men want sex all the time. TRUTH: Men, like women, are not all the same. Some men, particularly young men, do want sex frequently. However men are also affected by stress, anxiety, performance anxiety, depression, and lack of desire. Similarly sex drives vary, and some men are not as interested in lots of sex as popular culture would have us believe. There is a huge pressure on men to at least pretend this is true. However it is not. This does not mean there is something wrong with them.
- MYTH: Couples in committed relationships have spontaneous sex, where both partners climax most, if not all, of the time. TRUTH: Around 80% of sex in average cohabiting committed couples is not spontaneous. It is at least somewhat planned, and desire is built. Also, asynchronous sex is common. That is where one partner does not climax. Over 50% of sexual encounters are asynchronous. 5-15% of encounters are dissatisfying for one or both partners.
- MYTH: Affairs are a sign the marriage/relationship was in trouble. TRUTH: About 35-45% of marriages will have an affair. Affairs may mean there is trouble in paradise, however there are many reasons people have affairs and there are different kinds of affairs. Many affairs are high opportunity, low involvement affairs, some of which may be a single encounter. These are more common for men. It may mean nothing at all about their commitment to their partner. There are emotional affairs which may or may not involve sex. These are more common in women, and are more dangerous to the marriage/relationship. There are compartmentalised ongoing affairs where the person carries on two relationships, sometimes over significant time periods. Often there is no intention to leave the original partner/relationship.
- MYTH: Affairs are the death knell for a relationship and cannot be recovered from. TRUTH: About 70% of relationships survive an affair and can even go on to become better.
- MYTH: All women like anal sex/All women hate anal sex. TRUTH: People are different. And all anal sex is not created equal. Some women like anal sex, others don't. Some hate it. Some love it. A small minority can climax from it. Anal sex, like any sex, can be done well or poorly.
- MYTH: All gay men like anal sex. All heterosexual men would like to have anal sex with a woman. TRUTH: People are different. Some do, some don't. About 25% of gay men according to some stats have never had anal sex.
- MYTH: All men like fellatio (oral sex being performed on him) and all women like cunnilingus (oral sex being performed on her). TRUTH: Guess what? People are different. Some do. Some don't. (A common problem here is that people try to start genital stimulation of any kind before desire is high enough. In which case it is often not very pleasurable.) About 20-25% of men do not like fellatio. Up to 50% of women really enjoy receiving oral sex. Some dislike it intensely.
- MYTH: There is one right way to DO sex, oral sex, anal sex, etc that is guaranteed to succeed. TRUTH: I hate to disappoint, but while you can certainly learn some techniques that may be very useful - people are different. A technique that worked a treat on your last partner, may leave your next partner cold or even put them off, make them laugh or squirm in pain or discomfort. You have to learn and explore your partner, and they have to learn and explore you. That is part of the fun!
- MYTH: Once an erection fades during a sexual encounter, it will not return. TRUTH: Erections come and go. You can lose an erection and keep erotic contact and gain it again. Women gain and lose desire during sexual encounters too - it is just not as obvious. The main killer of erections (and desire) is between your ears.
- MYTH: If your partner no longer wants to have sex with you (or not as often as you would like) it is because they don't find you attractive or are having an affair. TRUTH: There are many many reasons why people stop engaging in frequent or regular sex with a partner. For women in particular it can be feeling unattractive and unhappy with their body. For both it can be stress, tiredness, lack of time, depression, anxiety, trauma, pain, and medications. For men it can be performance based concerns, as sex for both genders, but particularly for men, has unfortunately been sold as all about performance.
- MYTH: All men who have had sexual encounters with other men voluntarily are gay. TRUTH:There are men who regularly have sex with men, who do not identify as gay.
- MYTH: People "turn" gay/lesbian. TRUTH: The research suggests being gay for men is hard wired. Straight men are not turned gay. Gay men know from a fairly young age that they are not attracted sexually to the opposite sex. For women sexuality appears to be more fluid. However many Lesbians similarly know from a young age. And while there are stereotypes that have some validity, the reality is people are unique individuals, and sexuality can show up in many ways.
- MYTH: People who like kinky sex have been sexually abused, traumatised, are sick or dangerous. TRUTH:There is no evidence to back any of this up. You might be surprised at what some of your perfectly normal friends do in their bedrooms.... and they may be surprised what you do in yours. Sexuality is a broad church.
John and Jane Average do some at least of the following things:
Have sex before marriage, regardless of religious background or beliefs
Have sex with other partners after they get married or embark on a committed relationship
Watch pornography (more men)
Read erotic fiction, or romantic fiction with a strong erotic content (mostly women)
Engage in some form of internet based sexuality (chat rooms, cybersex, etc)
Engage in oral sex
Engage in anal sex
Engage in S&M (sadism and masochism), B&D (Bondage and discipline) or minor fetishes, at least occasionally
Shave their pubic area
Use toys (vibrators, dildos, handcuffs, etc) either alone or with partner
Have sex with their ex after they break up (about 1/3)
Have friends with benefits at some point in their lifetime
Are heterosexual but have experiences or fantasies of same sex encounters
Use erotic fantasies during sex with a partner (the vast majority of people do)
Have erotic fantasies that they do not want to carry out in real life (threesomes, forced sex etc)
Talk more about sex with people other than the person they are having sex with