Bigger, harder, longer. You’ve seen it on billboards, buses, and those online banners when you wander beyond the safety of a secured internet connection. Rough sex. It’s everywhere and, along with step-sisters stuck in washing machines, it seems to be the overall trend when it comes to mainstream pornography. But us? We’re into the soft stuff, slow sex for sustained pleasure.
While there's certainly nothing wrong with faster, wetter, more intense sex (sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered), this trend can create a culture of unrealistic expectations and sore orifices to boot. Not everyone is ready for fisting, not everyone is built for a double or triple-decker scenario – some of us just want to be stroked, softly and slowly for an entire afternoon. So where is the slow sex at?
Want a date? Hit Hinge. Want a meal? Uber it. Wanna cum? There are thriving online communities to help you get off. Dating apps, sex parties, porn and multiple partners have made sex more accessible and on-demand than ever before. So why are we still convinced that it’s meant to go on all night long and that our genitals are supposed, indeed expected, to run these fuck-fest marathons? As if, sex is going to disappear on us?
It kinda makes you wonder if the trend towards harder, more intense sex, perhaps led by mainstream porn and little-blue-pill culture, is heralding a vicious cycle of unhappy encounters. Or if, more concerningly, it's a cover-up for inadequate technique and connection. The explosion of endurance pills (most of which have no data to support their safety or efficacy and can actually endanger your health) may be reflecting the performance anxiety that comes with the 'longer the better' notion.
*Not a day goes by, where we, at Passionfruit, are not asked for some sort of mega-sex endurance pill. Again, no, we don't sell pills or synthetic drugs.
PE. No, the other one.
Many penis owners wrongly assume they suffer from premature ejaculation (PE) because of the mistaken belief that they should be able to have sex 'all night long'. In fact, PE is defined as ejaculating with minimal stimulation in under a minute. Where most ejaculations occur after 4-8 minutes of sexual intercourse.
Worrying that your erection won’t last for longer than about 5 minutes or that you suffer from premature ejaculation, can, ironically, lead to anxiety-led erectile dysfunction (ED), where a person with no health problems, can struggle to get an erection at all. The effects of this can really impede a person's or couple's sex life. FOR NO GOOD REASON! It's a vicious cycle that can leave you and your partner(s) stressed, vulnerable and reaching for the performance enhancers.
RE: Your masturbation habit.
There's another relatively modern condition called retarded ejaculation or 'RE' that may also be a result of the 'hard sex' culture. Dan Savage, a very famous sex advice columnist, called it the 'masturbation death grip syndrome', where basically penis-owners are wanking too bloody hard with their hands, and we’ve written a little more about it over here.
Many sex therapists are seeing a rise in this condition where a soft stimulator (like a vagina, bodacious butt, mouth or hand) is insufficient at bringing about arousal and ejaculation. This condition can result in greater speed, pressure, duration and intensity required to enjoy sex or even basic arousal with a partner. The result? Shamed partners. Sometimes, no sex at all.
Go slow, when sex is a sore subject.
Then there is the high incidence of painful sex complaints among women. In America, 16% of women, typically between 18 and 25, report the condition known as vulvodynia, where the vulva is too painful to touch. That's 13 million sore vaginas (vulvas to be precise). You can read our blog about painful sex here.
The prevalence of porn on the internet can give the impression that sex is a marathon. Penises think they've got to be up all night (or they actually are up all night because of death grip syndrome) and vulvas fret that they're in for an all night session of pounding, finger blasting or equivalent aggressions, making them want to shrink back with a hot water bottle.
The soft, slow sex movement.
Surely there has to be a remedy to all of this roughhousing? To counter all of this high-impact sex, we'd like to see something like the slow food movement introduced; something we’ll call the soft sex movement. A kind, languid, generous state where the only expectation is to be cared for and gently pleasured: where the focus is taken off one's own performance and placed on another person’s wellbeing.
Cool, how do I have slow sex?
Plan for sex
Stay with us here. Planning is an excellent way of practicing slow sex because it all begins with anticipation. Putting time aside, considering what's needed, sending texts, focusing on the other, luxuriating in the tension. It's all part of the languid sexual experience.
Going easy on yourself and your partner
Erections (where applicable) come and go, sex can continue around and after ejaculation – talking, cuddling, and kissing are all part of the sesh.
Add accoutrements to your session
Think toys, lube, massage oils, filthy conversation and tantra. Sex toys can help lower the pressure to perform and be used in between or instead of penetration. Explore how massage can arouse, with stimulators like ON oil or silicone lubricant to expand your pleasure spectrum.
Give them head
Or more specifically, a piece of your mind. Read an erotic story together and your minds can engage in fantasies and dirty talk. The wonders of tantric sex can be explored. Your brain is your sexiest organ.
A bit of BDSM
Sure, sometimes this is about impact-play, other times it’s wonderfully sensual and soft. It’s all about communication and respecting boundaries. Gentle flogging can be used to warm up the blood, enliven the senses and heighten pleasure. And you can very easily spend extended amounts of time worshipping your lover’s body through sensation. Feathers, silk ties, satin or latex gloves, fur paddles, your own hair, can all be employed to build sensation.
Just the tip.
Soft penetration or a gentle grazing of the genitals can be a breathtaking experience in itself. An exercise where eye contact, not orgasm, is the common goal, where communication and compliments are the tools.
And of course, outercourse.
Recent studies show that women over 70 are having some of the best sex of their lives. Iris Krasnow who did the research says that many older people are having what she calls 'outercourse'. "It’s lovemaking without penetration, but that involves kissing, nuzzling, hugging, oral sex… everything but. It’s pleasuring each other with sexy talk. Perhaps it’s erotica or sex toys. It’s playful and comes in quite handy as you age."
"After 70, there comes a sweetness about making love. We go slowly, there is no rush anymore. When you're younger, it's all about the orgasm, then it's over. I love this suspended feeling, the absolute intimacy we have been able to achieve."
Anecdote from Krasnow's book Sex After...:Women share how intimacy changes after life changes.
Sure, hard sex has its place but it's not all there is.
The moral here is, none of us should feel pressured to endure high impact sex just because it's trending. Instead of feeling the pressure to be a stallion or a porn star, consider yourself a being of pleasure – deserving of delight. And whether you are young, old or experience health issues, 'soft sex' is a low-impact, relaxed alternative to help you unlock sustained pleasure states rather than chasing a fleeting end goal.
*Disclaimer: There's barely any research on the prevalence of erectile dysfunction, vulvodynia, vaginismus and sexual anxiety. Mostly I'm hypothesising and observing trends after speaking with customers for over 20 years. There's virtually never a day that passes when we aren't asked for performance pills - something that for me, is a recent (and scary) phenomenon.
* Image is via @insuhyoon and the modes is Ava Little - insuhyoon.com