Slow sex is one of those blissfully straightforward concepts that is — unlike, say, ‘blow job’ or ‘eating’ someone out — exactly what it sounds like. Quite literally, slow sex is all about slowing down the action with your partner so you can be more present and mindful of sensation, with the goal of an overall more pleasurable experience. Slow sex has its roots in tantra and orgasmic meditation, but a common understanding of the term is really just being more connected to yourself and your partner during sex. Here to tell you all about it are Rena McDaniel, sex therapist and certified sexologist, and Vanessa Marin, sex therapist.
What’s so good about it?
Marin thinks of slow sex as an antidote to the overworked, frenzied lives so many of us live. “We’re doing multiple things at the same time all day and life feels very much rushed. And I think a lot of us approach sex in that same way. If that's how you're approaching the rest of your day, it becomes natural to get in the bedroom and be in that same rushed, hurried mode,” she explains. And if you’re trying to multi-task in bed, your chances of feeling in tune with your body are slim. Even though it’s completely natural for your mind to wander during sex, thinking about the pile of laundry in the corner and your meeting tomorrow, all while rushing to the ‘finish line,’ are going to impede your ability to orgasm. “If you're getting into a really high pressured situation in your own mind, you're just not going to be able to orgasm. It's just not going to happen,” Marin notes. So giving yourself more time to relax from a purely logistical standpoint is crucial.
This is especially true for women, simply because we take longer to climax. Some data puts that figure around 20 minutes, but McDaniel says in her experience it’s closer to 40 minutes. Men, for perspective, take about four minutes. The benefits to taking the time to let your body become fully aroused and lubricated are staggering. As McDaniel explains, “It will enhance all of the senses and make the entire experience better. So that means more arousal, better orgasms, yummier sensations, more sensitive body parts, more connection to your own body and to your partner's body.”
Slow sex is particularly beneficial for those who habitually have trouble reaching orgasm. Because the goal of slow sex is more about feeling good than climaxing, practitioners are urged to focus on how each touch and gesture makes them feel instead. For those who stress about their inability to orgasm, thinking of sex in this way can take a lot of the pressure off and actually make it easier to come. “Whenever I'm coaching women I always tell them, ‘pleasure is the pathway to orgasm.’ You have to be feeling pleasure throughout the entire interaction in order to build up to an orgasm. The orgasm doesn't just pop out of nowhere as a surprise,” Marin adds.
How do you do it?
If slow sex sounds like it might be for you, it’s easy to get started. Marin says the first step is to get familiar with the concept of mindfulness outside of the bedroom before getting down with a partner. She recommends meditation apps like Headspace, which guide you through the basics of centering your thoughts and getting in touch with your breath and body.
Once you feel ready to give it a try in the sheets, there are a few strategies you can employ. McDaniel suggests giving yourselves a sexy challenge: one of you will touch the other for 20 minutes, but the receiver isn’t allowed to orgasm until that time is up. “You’re playing not only with sensation and orgasm,” she explains, “But also with power, which is generally sexy for most people.”
Another route, per McDaniel, is to actively employ all five senses. While sight and taste might come more naturally, think about the under-utilized ways to experience other sensations. Can you focus on the sounds in the room that might turn you on? Do you have any body-safe kitchen utensils you can pop in the fridge to play with temperature and texture on your skin? Take your time and go through each one, taking note of what feels the best to you.
If you struggle at first, don’t sweat
Both Marin and McDaniel are quick to note that the last thing you should do is beat yourself up about it if you feel your mind wandering during slow sex. “It's impossible to be 100 percent focused and 100 percent present 100 percent of the time. That's just not how our brains work,” Marin counsels. So if you start to slip away, don’t stress, because there are a couple tips you can use to bring yourself back into the moment.
Try looking into your partner’s eyes to re-establish connection with them. Or, consider your body in the space you’re in: what are you feeling, seeing, hearing? And as an old meditation standby, return to your breath, feeling the rhythm of your chest moving as you inhale and exhale.
Last but not least, you don’t need a five-hour, Sting-level sex marathon to enjoy slow sex. You can embrace the principles of being more present and not rushing to orgasm even if you only have fifteen minutes to spare. If you’re focusing solely on what feels good, in all likelihood, they’ll be a great fifteen minutes no matter what.