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Last Longer

The Difference Between Lasting Longer During Sex, and Sex that Lasts Longer

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Updated May 19, 2013

"Please. I want to last longer."

Every week I receive a few emails with variations of this request. The emails are usually from people identifying themselves as male who are most often having sex with women. They rarely offer up details about the sex they are having. The emails are brief and polite. The emailer wants to provide more pleasure for his partner, and believes that being able to last longer will solve their problem.

I have a different problem. I need to know what they want to last longer at. You may think it's obvious, that everyone wants to make intercourse last longer. But that's not obvious to me. I have the benefit of talking with thousands of people a year about their sex lives so I know that sex is more than intercourse. If you're someone for whom sex has always been all about intercourse, it makes sense that you'd think that your ability to maintain an erection during intercourse defines your value as a sexual partner. It's hard to learn about what other people's sex lives are really like. More often we end up reading statistics on average frequency of sex, or how long sex lasts. But statistics have a white washing effect, and they don't always reflect individual experience.

So my response usually involves a few questions in addition to some answers. Like these ones.

Who or What Lasts Longer?

My first question is to clarify what you mean by lasting longer in the first place. Do you want to extend the time you spend having sex? Is it just a specific part of sex that you wish lasted longer? Is it that your body gives up or gives out, and you wish it didn't? Or is it that your mind starts to roam, and you want to be able to concentrate on sex for longer periods? These questions raise other points about how we think about sex. The idea that someone isn't lasting long enough suggests that one person is responsible for the length of time sex happens. This is unfair, and its arbitrary. Everyone involved in a sexual encounter needs to take some responsibility for the sex that's happening. If sex ends before one or more than one of the partners involved wants it to end, then everyone needs to chip in. Each partner needs to talk about what they want, why they want it, and what can the do to make it happen. It's easy to get into a sexual routine and/or pattern and that's not necessarily a problem, but if sex becomes the responsibility of only one person, unless that sex is masturbation, you're headed for trouble.

Why Last Longer?

My next question is, why do you want to last longer? Are you loving the sex you're having? Is it feeling so good that you wish it would go on for another ten minutes or two hours? Or do you think you need to last longer because you simply think you should be able to last longer? For some people sex comes with so much anxiety and feelings of pressure that the relief from sex is simply that it's over. If you're not really enjoying your sex life, that's worth addressing. But simply making it last longer, just adding quantity, may not be the answer.

Last Longer Doing What?

What specifically do you like about the sex you're having? You're probably doing different things, like kissing, fondling, licking, etc... Do you want it all to last longer, or just certain things. Again, it's easy to focus on intercourse, but intercourse is almost always only one part of sex play. If it's the intercourse that you want to last longer that fine, and you can make that happen. But before you make a change to your sex life, it's worth everyone involved checking in about what exactly the change should look like. How would it be different if you had sex twice for 20 minutes as opposed to lasting longer and having sex once for 40 minutes? You may think that intercourse is what needs to last longer, you're partner might be wishing for more oral sex, or kissing.

Premature Ejaculation

While people of all genders may want sex to last longer, in heterosexual relationships the onus is often on the person with the penis to extend the length of sex. And when sex is "too short" (by whose definition?) it is often characterized as a man having premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation isn't simply a problem of definitions. There are many men who ejaculate so quickly once they are sexually stimulated, that they aren't able to enjoy sex as much as they'd like, and they aren't able to sexually stimulate their partners in ways they want to. Premature ejaculation is the most common sexual complaint for men. But it's also one that most men can learn to control.

Other Ways to Last Longer

Controlling the timing of ejaculation isn't necessarily going to make sex last longer, if the sex you want to last longer doesn't involve a penis. Making sex last longer may require you to talk about the sex your having, and even to slow sex down a bit. Certainly thinking about sex beyond intercourse, and trying out new ways of being sexual together is one way to slow things down. If you're in the habit of having sex at the same time of the day or night, switching that up may also change how long sex lasts as it will probably change the energy you have going into sex. If you're the kind of person who falls asleep right after sex this may not work, but some people find they have a burst of energy after sex, and if this is you it might make more sense to have sex before you finish all the work you need to do that day, and then you can go back to work.
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