THE BLOG
08/14/2015 05:19 pm ET Updated Aug 13, 2016

Fast or Slow Sex: Which Is Better?

A recent report warns us that our attention spans have now dipped below that of goldfish (MS Report). Our brains process information faster than ever before in a desperate attempt to entertain our easily-bored minds. As our lives speed up, is this new pace affecting how fast or slow we like our sex?

"Most of us suffer some degree of "hurry sickness"... yet for all the hours, minutes, and even seconds being saved, we're still filling our days to the point that we have no time for such basic human activities as eating, sex, and relating to our families." ~ James Gleick, author of FASTR

While few researchers have analyzed the pace of sex, sex therapists (since Masters & Johnson in the '70s) have relied on techniques that 'slow' the pace of sex, such as Sensate Focus and Stop-Start, to increase the chance of orgasm in women and give men more control with ejaculation.(Heiman, 1997)

And now that all parts of life are becoming more frenzied, this "slow sex" discussion is becoming more noteworthy (more on the research on slow sex).

How do people feel about the pace of sex in their own lives?

In a new survey we wanted to uncover which sexual pace men and women found most arousing. 486 men (16 %) and women (84%) completed an online questionnaire linked to an article on arousal. They were asked 38 questions describing their individual arousal patterns, including their preferred sexual pace. The majority of the participants were heterosexual (74.3%) young (m=26 years), both in a relationship (54.8%) and single (43%). The key questions aimed to identify whether they would prefer their current sex to speed up or slow down.

Who likes sex faster?

Following the belief that women are more likely to enjoy slow sex, it was fully expected that men would crave "fast sex" more often. But women surprised us by reporting that they preferred a faster pace more often than men.

While just about half (50.2%) of men and women agreed that they would like an even split between fast and slow pace, more women (31.7 %) chose a fast pace 'most or all of the time' than men (20%), who didn't want it that fast nearly as often.

But it wasn't just gender that played a part in a desire for this speedier carnality. Age was the biggest factor in determining which pace of sex people craved. The under 35 crowd was twice as likely to get aroused by faster sex than the over 35ers.

Who likes sex slower?

While men and the over 35 group craved a slower pace, another more significant factor stood out about the slow-sex folk - relationship satisfaction. The people who desired slower sex also reported being less satisfied in their relationship. This was a surprisingly significant finding that we do not yet know how to explain. More research is needed to understand what this result means.

Which sex-pace is better?

There is no single 'right way' to have sex. The pace of sex was not found to be related to sexual satisfaction. Most people desire a combination of fast and intense along with slow and relaxed. How often we enjoy fast or slow will vary with our mood, level of arousal or partner's preferences. Yet most of us have an idea, an overall script, of what pace works best to arouse us or bring us to orgasm.

Problems arise only when a couple's preference for pace is mismatched. Take Kathy and John for example, who have been together for 10 years. John needs a buildup to sex. He feels more control if sex isn't rushed and he loves to disappear into the sexual moment with a lingering, sensual pace. Kathy, on the other hand, craves more intensity to boost her arousal. She gets bored with too much slowness and craves a more passionate, faster, deeper pace. A few years ago both started getting frustrated with the other - each one trying to get more of their preferred pace. In the end they blamed the other for not being their ideal sexual match, and eventually just quit having sex.

Like many aspects of sex, pace is important. And not just to "slow down." It is an individual difference that needs to be respected and cherished. Some couples get stuck in the differences, and without discussion or negotiation, lovers can inadvertently be making each other unhappy.

Sexual pace is important, but communicating about pace is the real key.

Read what the differences between slow and fast sex means about your sex life

Be a part of sex history, help sex research with this survey (and get a chance to win).

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