Forget the myth of the ultimate orgasm

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The Independent Online

Over the last month, 'The Independent' has been asking readers about their attitudes to sex and sexual behaviour in the modern world. An unprecedented 2,000 people responded to our online questionnaire - and each day this week, our celebrated advice columnist will be analysing the results.

Over the last month, 'The Independent' has been asking readers about their attitudes to sex and sexual behaviour in the modern world. An unprecedented 2,000 people responded to our online questionnaire - and each day this week, our celebrated advice columnist will be analysing the results.

Those twentysomethings just won't take the plunge. The vast majority of them are in relationships, but they're not yet married. They're starting to realise what long-term sex with one partner is like, and realising how different it is to the old days.

Not that they had such sexually rampant "old days" as do the under-twenties. Most of our twentysomethings lost their virginity between 16 and 20, not before. And if they meet someone new, a greater number of them are more likely than those in any other age group to wait a month before leaping into bed. They are far less likely to have one-night stands than their younger brothers and sisters.

"I miss the one-night stands I had before I met my partner," said one woman, "although I wouldn't change him for anything." But another woman regretted that she'd slept around so much in the past. "There is too much emphasis in the media on casual sex being fine, and this filters down to young adults, who then in later life regret former promiscuity, as I do."

However, looking back on their lives, 62 per cent believe that sex has improved a great deal for them as they have got older, and 89 per cent thought that the sex that they were having at the time was the best that they had ever had. "Sex gets better as the relationship matures," commented one bisexual, "but cosiness and habit also take the edge off the excitement."

The twenties are more likely to use the Pill and the condom than anyone else, and although they're not as careful as the under-twenties, about a third practice safe sex.

They seem reasonably easy about their sex-lives. They certainly talk about it enough. Nearly half wouldn't be embarrassed to see their doctor about a sex problem, and over three-quarters yammer on to their friends about their sex-lives - more than any other group.

They seem to be getting sex more into perspective as they get older, citing a good sense of humour as most important for a good relationship. And as for orgasm - forget it. Its importance has really dropped in the sexual charts. Only 11 per cent of men thought it was very important, and only 6 per cent of women - fascinating, when you think of all those Seventies Cosmo articles on how to have simultaneous orgasms. But they do like a bit of sauciness. 35 per cent had indulged in bondage, and an amazing 69 per cent had had sex in a public place. (Why do we never see them?)

People in their twenties are becoming more reflective about sex. But they also think that sex isn't discussed enough. "There needs to be a more liberal approach to sexuality in the media, to make it seem less serious and full of guilt," wrote one man.

And another despaired: "Sex has become an absolute taboo issue. We live in conservative times compared to the past three decades. It's a shame, really."

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