A study published in the September 2013 issue of The Journal of Sex Research sought to answer that question. Researchers asked 449 women and 311 men in committed relationships how they define sexual satisfaction, and sorted the resulting responses into general categories, either related to personal sexual wellbeing or things you experience with a partner, as seen in the image below:
This visual starts to give us an idea of what people are looking for to feel satisfied in their sex lives, but we wanted some more personal definitions. We asked our readers to share how they define sexual satisfaction, and we found that for many women the experience of connecting with a partner is just as important, if not more, than reaching orgasm. Here are six responses we received:
“When my man doesn’t stop when he is finished, or makes it a point to see that I am finished, that is sexual satisfaction.”
Sexual satisfaction is a well-received and sought-after form of communication. To me, sexual satisfaction is a conversation of love. When my man makes it a point to do the things he knows I like, to ask what feels good, and to make the conversation two-sided, I am satisfied. I am motivated to reciprocate this for him. When my man doesn’t stop when he is finished, or makes it a point to see that I am finished, that is sexual satisfaction. At the end, when we both have reached our goal, and he holds me and whispers, “I love you,” that is sexual satisfaction.
— Age 22, Salt Lake City, UT
“What leads up to it and how that makes me feel.”
My idea of sexual satisfaction is not necessarily the sexual act itself, but more what leads up to it and how that makes me feel. For example, I want touching, caressing, slow kisses — mainly some amazing foreplay that satisfies my body before we do the deed or honestly it just feels like a chore.
— Age 35
“Exploring each others’ physical desires with respect and reciprocation.”
Sexual satisfaction means two people exploring each others’ physical desires with respect and reciprocation. You don’t necessarily need to be in love to fulfill someone’s sexual satisfaction, but the experience is enhanced to another level when you are.
— Age 33, London, UK
“I want to feel thrilled physically, emotionally and even spiritually.”
For me, sexual satisfaction is about a complete experience. I want to feel thrilled physically, emotionally and even spiritually. That doesn’t mean that I’ve always felt that the act must result in or be a part of a committed relationship, though now that I’m married, it certainly does! I never feel fully satisfied by just focusing on the physical aspect of sex. I like feeling connected all the way around, and it starts long before any sexual acts occur. That’s why it’s so difficult for me to be “in the mood” by just some physical form of titillation. I need to feel eyes on my eyes, soul connected to my soul, mind riding my mind. I could never “get there” unless I felt a complete connection. I still need that with my husband, much to his chagrin on an occasional impromptu night-time flurry of physical, um, request. When that happens, I feel fully satisfied.
— Age 35, FL
“It’s a lot about being good to yourself and doing what you need to take care of your body, physically and sexually.”
For me, sexual satisfaction is being able to get to “that point” (preferably along with your partner) and feel good about yourself and your partner. If there’s any regret later on, it’s not satisfaction. I think a lot of it has to do, also, with being able to get short term satisfaction on a long-term basis. Knowing that you’re going to get to “that point” again in the future when you want or need it goes a long way to make you feel sexually satisfied with your life as a whole. I think really it’s a lot about being good to yourself and doing what you need to take care of your body, physically and sexually. And there’s also a nice bonus when you can help someone else take care of themselves, too.
“I need some emotional compatibility with my partner.”
My own definition of “sexual satisfaction” is to have some sort of connection to the one I have sexual relations or intimate moments with. I need some emotional compatibility with my partner so that we can have that deeper connection during our intimate moments in order to feel the passion between us. The passion we both experience satisfies me deeper than any orgasm ever could and brings us into a deeper relationship together.
— Age 20, New Brunswick, Canada