There’s quickie sex, and then there’s the kind of sex you just want to get over and done with. The former is usually passionate, exciting and intense, while the latter feels like a joyless chore.
“Sex with my husband does feel like a drag at times,” shares Sheena*, 38, a teacher. “So I just lie there and let him have his way with me, and secretly wish he’d hurry up so I can put my clothes back on.”
Sheena isn’t alone. Anita*, 34, an industrial designer, shares: “Our lovemaking is predictable and I’m always tired, so I find it hard to be present mentally or emotionally during sex. All I feel is dread, and all I can think about is what I’m going to do once the sex is over.”
Rebecca*, 33, a merchandiser, wonders if it’s boredom and the fact that her hubby has stopped being exciting in bed. She admits to often faking an orgasm right after he climaxes, just so they can call it a night. “I hate myself for that and it makes me resent sex and my husband even more,” she confesses.
Is this typical? Are time and familiarity the reasons why so many couples are having sex when their hearts aren’t in it? Or do couples just have too much on their plates to make good sex a priority?
Do only women feel this way?
This “let’s get it over with” attitude to sex can be the result of one or a combination of the above factors, say Christina Spaccavento, a sex therapist and relationship counsellor based in Sydney, Australia, and Martha Lee, clinical sexologist from Eros Coaching. Other reasons include a lack of private couple time, resentment in the relationship, emotional discontent and differing sex drives.
“These feelings certainly aren’t gender-specific,” says Christina. “We all have busy lives, with numerous work, social and family commitments, and either one or both partners may find themselves in this situation.”
Charles*, 39, an engineer, says he loves having sex with his wife but admits there have been occasions when he just wanted to reach an orgasm and go straight to sleep without seeing to her pleasure.
“It’s selfish, I know, but foreplay is a lot of work and I don’t always feel up to it. Sometimes, I also get the feeling that she doesn’t want to make love with me.”
Is it normal to want to rush through sex?
There are no rules as to how long a sex session should last, say our experts, who point out that most of us are conditioned to believe that sex has to be teasingly slow and lengthy.
In movies, the couple seems to go at it for hours, experiencing wave after wave of pleasure before falling asleep in each other’s arms. It’s therefore easy to understand why some women feel bad about rushing through sex.
“This model of lovemaking can be limiting,” says Christina, who adds that it may not happen for real-life couples, as their relationship naturally changes over time.
Where did your hot sex life go?
Christina points out that in the initial phase of many relationships, there is an overwhelming and intense emotional attraction to the other person. Sex in this phase is usually frequent, hot and heavy, and the other partner is seen as irresistible. Known as “limerence”, a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in 1977, this stage in the relationship can last between a few months and two years. The intensity, however, will normally drop as time goes by, and the couple’s sexual relationship can become boring and routine. This could explain why some married people like Dave*, 40, a real estate agent, feel that married sex isn’t just quick, it’s downright boring.
“When I married Jenny* 12 years ago, we were finding every opportunity to do the deed. We would have sex more than once during the night and sometimes it would last for hours.
“Now, it’s like our hearts aren’t in it anymore and we’re doing it out of sheer obligation. We don’t try different positions, we’re familiar with each other’s sexual preferences, and we’ve become used to each other’s bodies. It’s mechanical. So, of course we’d rather it was over quickly.
“The sex is no longer fun, and that’s sad because it used to be good.”
Can quick sex be satisfying?
But for some couples, good sex has nothing to do with duration or speed. Carol*, 32, a human resources manager says: “My husband and I don’t like having long, drawn-out sex simply because it isn’t our style. Short and sweet does it for us. It’s usually over in minutes but it’s always lovely.”
Our experts say what matters most is that both partners achieve a satisfying sexual experience according to their needs and values. So while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to speed through sex, by the same token, just because you’re doing it long and slow doesn’t necessarily mean the sex is satisfying. You can, therefore, still enjoy short sex while being emotionally connected to your spouse. “The time we spend in the bedroom is a fraction of the time
we actually are engaged with our partner,” says Martha.
“It’s not helpful for couples to try and model themselves on what they believe is ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’,” says Christina. “Rather, what’s important is that couples can communicate their sexual and relationship needs, and that whatever sexual exchange takes place leaves both partners fulfilled and satisfied.”
When short sex is bad
Our experts say short sex becomes a problem when:
• One of you feels that it is. For example, the act isn’t satisfying for you and you start to resent having sex with your spouse. If sex has started to feel like a duty – something you have to get done and finish quickly – then that might point to underlying issues in your marriage. It might also be a problem if you’re having this style of sex because you’re emotionally disconnected from your spouse, says Martha.
• It is more about scratching an itch or wanting to check off a task… and no longer about building intimacy, says Ho Shee Wai, registered psychologist and director of The Counselling Place. “This kind of sex should be regarded as a relationship red flag. When one or both partners get to this stage, it won’t be long before the relationship goes downhill.”
• If you’ve been faking your orgasm all this while just so the sex can be over quicker… Shee Wai advises you to stop. “If you keep faking it, your spouse will have no idea there’s a problem.”
* Names have been changed
This article was originally published in Simply Her January 2012.