7 Ways Screen Sex Is Not Like Real Sex

Where do we get our notions of what sex is like? One place is screen sex—movies, TV, videos that show couples engaged in hot and heavy lovemaking.

But screen sex is pretend sex. It involves special lighting, camera angles, makeup and wardrobe, choreography, and acting. If we get the idea that sex is like what we see on a screen, we can feel like we’re missing out or that something is wrong with us when sex doesn’t happen that way.

If we get the idea that sex is like what we see on a screen, we can feel like we're missing out or that something is wrong with us when sex doesn't happen that way. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about 7 reasons in which screen sex is not like real sex.

1. She’s ready at the drop of a shirt.

Two seconds. That’s all a woman needs to go from zero to fifty shades of “Take Me!”

Yeah, right. The vast majority of times a wife, and often a husband, needs time to shift from daily life to a sexual encounter. She needs to settle the kids down, close her mental tabs, wash away her day’s worries, don her sensual self, and focus on lovemaking. She may need more foreplay than you think, particularly wooing and kissing.

Then, and only then, is she eager to have rip-roaring sex. Or sip-soaring sex. Your choice.

2. They shed their clothes seamlessly.

Blouses unbutton easily, trousers come off with a single zip, bras unhook with a snap, and socks? Well, you never see them removed, but since the couple is barefoot later, socks obviously came off without a hitch.

Meanwhile, in Real World, it can take a little more effort to get your clothes off. And it might not be quite the passionate affair shown on screen.

Anyone ever had a zipper stick? Fumble over the buttons or the bra hook? Stumble while removing your outfit? If you haven’t yet, just wait. As someone who’s 27 years into marriage, I can say pretty confidently it will happen.

Lingerie you can remove! One way or another…

3. They knock things over to have sex.

I used to think the scene from Bull Durham where Kevin Costner clears off the breakfast table and lays Susan Sarandon down on it was hot, hot, hot.

Reality check: If my husband swiped his hand over any flat surface in my house, making everything on it topple or drop, I would not be focused on sex. I would be wondering what’s getting broken and/or who’s gonna clean up that mess. ‘Cause it ain’t gonna be me, buster!

Who are these people just knocking stuff down for the sake of sex?! Can they not take ten seconds to move a few things? Find a better place? Maybe head to the bed where there are fewer breakables?

4. Their bodies fit exactly in the missionary position.

They lie face-to-face and penis-to-vagina. The alignment of their genitalia is only matched by the alignment of their eyes as they gaze passionately at one another.

Is that likely? In the US, the average man is five inches taller than the average woman (5’9″ vs. 5’4″). If you line up a man and a woman eyeball-to-eyeball, the likelihood their genitalia will line up as well is pretty much…not happening.

Yes, you can adjust your sexual position to look into one another’s eyes, but if it’s not that easy or not that way every time, join the club. If you have extreme height differences, you can check out some positions here for that specific scenario.

5. He knows exactly what to do.

They’ve never been together, but he knows just what takes her from stirred to sizzling. Indeed, that’s one way she knows he’s The One—because of how well he navigates and stimulates her body.

Good gravy. Most husbands wish their wives came with a manual. Or maybe not, because that manual would be 300 pages with footnotes.

Most husbands wish their wives came with a manual. Or maybe not, because that manual would be 300 pages with footnotes. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Look, most men and women don’t know how the other works. We don’t have those parts, so we have to learn about them and what is truly arousing and pleasurable. On top of that, knowing what men and women find pleasing must be adapted to one’s particular spouse. We need to stop expecting our spouse to just know and instead learn and communicate.

6. She orgasms from intercourse.

Kiss, grope, fall on the bed, have intercourse, and boom! the heavens open and she’s gasping with excitement because…Best. Orgasm. Ever.

Sure, some women orgasm with intercourse, but a fair number of wives need other forms of stimulation to reach climax. Indeed, the best way for most women to reach orgasm is through heavy kissing, manual stimulation, and/or oral sex (aka the “golden trio”).

If you assumed the earth would shatter solely from penis-in-vagina thrusting, you may need to adjust your expectations. It could require more angling to hit that sweet spot, additional stimulation to the clitoris during intercourse, and/or other sexual activities.

7. They’re quickly ready to go again.

Whew. What a fantastic, exhausting session of lovemaking. Hey, it’s been five minutes. Let’s go again!

When he’s in his early 20s, maybe. But if that guy is older? Much older? Probably not.

After sex, there’s a refractory period, meaning a time during which the body recovers before it’s ready for orgasm or even arousal again. For men, the refractory period ranges from minutes to 24 hours or more. The average seems to be somewhere around a half-hour, but again, aging can stretch that time quite a bit.

Here’s the good news, though. As a man ages, he can usually last longer. So the total time spent making love could remain about the same, and the quality of the lovemaking may increase. Meaning, so what if you can’t go again right away—you’re better at sex now anyway.

Bonus: It’s Not Always Intimate.

The vast majority of sex shown on screen concentrates on the physical pleasure experienced by the couple.

Yes, sex can be super-pleasurable—sexy, sizzling, satisfying like nothing else in life. But it’s also not that big a deal if it’s just about the physical high.

That is, the physical high fades pretty quickly. Often faster than that refractory period. What makes sex as God designed it deeply satisfying is the one flesh experience—that is, the intimacy expressed and fostered through sex.

You don’t usually see that on screen. But in a healthy marriage with authentic sex, intimacy is the primary ingredient.

In a healthy marriage with authentic sex, intimacy is the primary ingredient. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

So let’s not watch screen sex and get jealous. It’s often not intimate. It’s certainly not real. It’s not the best sex we can have. Rather, the best sex comes with commitment, intentionality, and deep love.

27 thoughts on “7 Ways Screen Sex Is Not Like Real Sex”

  1. Whenever I counsel men about to get married, if they are virgins, I ask them to think about every instance of screen sex they see.

    Then I tell them to totally forget them. They’re all unrealistic.

    One other aspect. No one ever puts down a towel.

  2. People in the movies never have to deal with getting a cramp at just the wrong moment, aches and pains from being middle-aged, odd bodily noises and odors that happen in the midst of passion….we have a running joke now that if I don’t get a leg cramp and she doesn’t fart, we really didn’t have sex 🙂 Gotta laugh with it and roll with the punches!

  3. Oh man, #2 “Ever had a zipper stick?” YES, ON MY WEDDING DRESS!!! The fabric part of the zipper started pulling away from the fabric when I was getting it on the morning of the wedding, and it was a two-woman, 2-safety pin procedure to get it to go up (thankfully completely covered by my long hair). And then, when it came time to get it off, my husband couldn’t undo things because it was so tight on me and the zipper got jammed. So I sent him down to the front desk for scissors (no, I wasn’t going to cut my dress, just use it like a seam ripper to get the zipper detached). But while he was gone I managed to get it unjammed, thankfully. But SO not the “gently undress me from my dress” moment I had in my imagination for my wedding night! Fortunately, we both had a good sense of humour about it, despite it being after midnight on one of the most exhausting days of our life. And it didn’t detract from what happened afterwards 😉

    1. LOL. That’s a wonderful story. And even if it felt awkward in the moment, I’m sure that experience has given you both some humor and intimacy mileage over the years.

    2. I thought it was funny too, although part of me was wondering “Wow. Got started early getting it on the morning of the wedding didn’t you?” Then I realized what you were saying.

  4. I read that the screen writers guild or something recommends not filming any sex scenes during COVID and just fading to black and letting people use their imaginations. Fancy that.
    Who thought putting that nonsense in movies and TV was a good idea in the first place?

  5. My wife and I usually fast forward the sex scenes anyway. Our parents, church and friends have been the greatest influence on our sex life, both negative and positive.

    1. Good for you! I don’t watch sex scenes really (almost never watch anything over TV-14), but the lead-up, etc. is often shown so you get the sense of what they think sex is.

  6. #8: On-screen sex is always between two physically attractive people.

    With 2/3 of Americans being overweight and 1/3 being obese, the average American is experience far FAR less physically, visually appealing sex than what’s on screen. While I’m a normal BMI and make a point to stay physically fit and attractive for myself as much as for him, my husband is borderline morbidly obese. Getting over that fact and allowing myself to get in the moment and try to enjoy his body as much as possible has been the biggest mental hurdle for me in our 6 year marriage. Screen sex has set my expectations very high from a young age (teen years when I saw my first sex scene), and that’s hard to reprogram.

    1. Hey, that’s exactly what Spock said! Yep, before I published, I mentioned this to him, and his addition would have been the pretty-people issue. Also, they’re usually young. So then we start thinking that it’s youthful, gorgeous people who have the best sex…when that just ain’t true. Real people with real bodies who really love each other and learn how to really turn one another on have the best sex.

      And yes, this is also why I sometimes turn away from the screen and to my husband and say things like, “Oh look, that actor has abs just like yours.” And then we guffaw. Because NO ONE has abs like that unless they work out constantly and then do dieting things that no person should do. Honestly, in a way, I feel for those actors too.

      1. Well, I’m sure it’s helps when your husband has some semblance of abs to begin with. Considering mine has a huge belly, if I made a comment like that, my husband would most certainly take it as me poking fun at him and have his feelings badly hurt. He was badly bullied throughout his growing up years, and I’ve unfortunately added to that body shame in the decade we’ve been together. I try now to not talk about his body or physical appearance as much as possible in our relationship to avoid further damaging him (aside from trying to help motivate him to stay active and eat healthy). But yes, a wider age range of couples on screen who get intimate would be appreciated. And I think there’s been improvement on that front over the past decade. But still, youth and the physically fit are still much preferred in the majority of shows and movies.

        1. Just to be clear…we’re laughing about the ridiculousness of anyone having abs like that. My husband knows I have no such expectations of him (or men generally). I find Spock to be very attractive, as I did when he was 32, and 42, and 52, and now.

          I’m sorry that it’s a problematic issue in your marriage. It is an issue for too many. I wish we would prioritize health over appearance! We’d all benefit from that change. ♥

  7. #9 People act like rabbits on their wedding night and honeymoon, only leaving bed for rehydration. After that, the newlyweds can’t keep their hands off each other and have sex all the time for the first year or so. Definitely a Hollywood fantasy.

    1. Perhaps some newlyweds are like that. But I’d agree: for my husband and I, the newlywed years pre-children was an awkward, borderline sexless period in our marriage as he worked through his dependency on porn, body image issues and trying to work up the guts to initiate anything sexually while I was dealing with putting aside that “good girls don’t” Purity Culture mentality and embracing my sexuality as well as learning to accept my husband’s body (since he promised he’d get in shape once we were married and living together and I was doing all the cooking. But 6 years in and that still hasn’t happened, so I’ve accepted that it’s probably never gonna happen and I’ll just have to learn to love and accept him physically as the man that he is since this is probably as good as he’s ever gonna look.)

    2. Well, I guess we live in Hollywood, because that’s what we were like on our honeymoon and first year of marriage. I think it’s commons for newlyweds to be very horny. Why do you think that is a Hollywood fantasy?

      1. So here’s what’s interesting, Jeff. I read H’s comment and thought, too, about how my marriage was pretty “busy” for the first year. But I’ve also heard from plenty of couples for whom that wasn’t true: either due to lack of interest or struggles to get things happening the way they can/should.

        I personally think the myth here is that getting married, going on a honeymoon, being newlyweds make you ravenous for sex and able to engage that often. Some are/will, some aren’t/won’t. It’s simply not automatic and depends on a number of other things.

  8. Smells!! Especially in movies that take place in Medieval/Victorian/Old Western times. I can’t get past “Oh my gosh, that guy would smell so terrible after fighting a horrendous battle, wearing the same clothes for months; and his breath has to be like a bear that has just gorged itself on garbage. I can’t see the incredibly handsome, sexy guy because of the smells. And what about UTI’s? None of the women have to worry about that at all, apparently.

    1. Oh my goodness, I said this recently about time travel romance. Seriously, if someone dropped me into 17th Century Scotland or whatever, I don’t care how hot the guy with the kilt is, by my 21st Century standards, I suspect he stinks. Like bad-stinks. If I’m going back in time, I want to take antiperspirant with me! Actually, the whole toiletries cabinet in my house—soap, toothpaste, etc. too. Lol.

      1. J. There is evidence that that was actually attractive. There’s a case of a letter Napoleon sent home to his wife saying he would be there soon and asking her to “NOT” bathe.

        1. Queen Mary (Queen Elizabeth I’s half-sister) said that the only bath she ever had was when she was washed at birth. She added that she supposed they’d wash her body for her funeral. But then, she used a lot of perfume.

          One wonders if Mary’s toilet habits had anything to do with her nickname: “Bloody Mary!” (Or the fact that she lived in England, while King Philip stayed in Spain?)

          1. Oh, I can answer the Bloody Mary one! She tried to reverse the English Reformation and had over 300 people burned at the stake (to be fair, that was a common punishment for heresy at the time, but it was a lot of people). Moreover, I’ve visited the Clink Prison Museum in London, where “heretics” under Mary were tortured for their rebellion against the Catholic faith. The deaths and torture earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary” among Protestants. Sadly, Catholics and Protestants have a bloody history in some places and Queen Mary I was part of it.

  9. What you’ve said is spot on. Hollywood sex is totally unrealistic because it’s nothing but a pretty, controlled scene, where everything works out perfectly, one two three. But in real life it rarely works out that way.

    Sheila Wray Gregoire said in one of her videos that sometimes when your husband is making love to you, that he’s doing all the right moves and it feels so great. But the next time you make love, when he tries to repeat what he did before, you find it so annoying that you wish he would just knock it off!

    In other words, there is no magic formula to making love. Every encounter will be different. The only familiarity will be that you’re being sexually intimate with your spouse. And hopefully you’re taking your time, and listening to what they say on how to please them.

  10. Oh man, what a great post! I have a few more to add:
    1) how the couple starts out in missionary and has SIMULTANEOUS orgasms 😂like this really happens just like that?!
    2) everyone is beautiful and looks beautiful. Real sex wouldn’t film well! My orgasm face looks like I’m in pain, that wouldn’t sell in a movie! 😝
    3) the woman with the long flowing hair cascading over their bodies while making love — Um no! I have long hair and I learned the hard way to tie it back before sex — otherwise I’m like “ow, you’re on my hair and it’s pulling” every five minutes.
    4) no one uses a condom or worries about birth control, ever.
    5) when the actors wake up in the morning, looking gorgeous and completely not disheveled, no eye crust or flat hair or morning breath, they just reach for each other and kiss passionately 🤣
    6) period movies or shows where the woman is perfectly hairless. Sorry, but women have armpit hair and leg hair 🤷‍♀️ Back in those times a woman wouldn’t have been shaving her pits and legs and things would look very different!

  11. This is a interesting article. Not much Church or personal bias. DW was a drop your skirt and then decided if this time was just intimacy or a time to go over the mountain. Number 7 at times she just rolled thru them and U just provided what ever way that was needed. We did knock things over. Called a vase on her head. Long story. The sad thing. Because of her quite, laid back personality plus the hang ups from the 50 and 60s it took Alzheimer changes for some of the parts to come out of the closet and response as they should of from the beginning. Will really miss the last few years.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.