9 Ways Sex in Real Life is Not Like the Movies

olive chan —  January 28, 2013 — 23 Comments

I’m going to be candid with you today. I’m going to write about real sex. Call me naive, but when I got married, I did not know much about sex. I grew up in a conservative church where we were taught that sex was reserved for marriage only. I believed that (and still believe the best sex is within marriage), so I tried not to think about it and decided I’d keep my virginity until I got married. Actually, I was pretty afraid of my sexuality in general. Which meant I had a lot to learn when I finally became a wife.

9 Ways Sex in Real Life is not like the Movies

Of course, growing up in North America meant that I had been exposed to the concept. But it wasn’t until I experienced it firsthand that I realized the media doesn’t really reflect what sex is like in real life. Here are some of the differences I’ve found:

1. Waiting until you’re married is more exciting and satisfying than commonly portrayed.

The loudest voices out there tell us that waiting until you’re married to have sex is an anomaly and foolish. How do you know you’re compatible with the other person if you don’t get into bed with them first? How else do you gauge your “chemistry”? If you marry someone, you’re stuck with them – what if you’re missing out on someone more amazing? Or what if the other person thinks you’re terrible in bed because you have no experience? That logic works if you base your relationship on physical intimacy alone, which is a shaky foundation because bodies age and sex involves a lot more than physical mechanics. I waited until my wedding night. And I’m very glad I did. Sure, we didn’t know what we were doing at the beginning, but part of the excitement and satisfaction came through discovering how to be physically intimate together.

Which brings me to my second point…

2. It’s awkward at the beginning.

I really don’t know how it is for other people, but I can only imagine that in real life, the first time any couple has sex is awkward. Most movies and TV shows don’t show the awkwardness. Sex is touted as natural and yes, we are made for it. But like any other skill in life, you don’t start off as a pro. It takes time, knowledge and practice to do it well.

Which means…

3. Being with the same person over the long haul works to your advantage.

The more you know the other person, the better the sex. A series of short relationships doesn’t allow for enough knowledge of and connection with the other person you need to make sex really, really good. In marriage, you have a lifetime to continue knowing your spouse and building on your repertoire of what the other person enjoys. Hollywood would have you think that being with the same person time after time is boring. And it can be, if the couple stops putting effort into it. But on the flip side, there’s a certain comfort  and safety that familiarity brings. Building a history together can make sex all the richer.

4. You need to keep learning how to satisfy your spouse.

The movies also don’t tell you that in order to have an amazing sex life, you need to keep working on it. You need to communicate with your spouse and keep finding out what he/she likes. People change over time.

5. It’s not terrifically thrilling every time.

Sex in the movies is always over-the-top amazing. In real life, there are hits and misses, with more misses than hits for a good while.

6. It’s messy.

This was the biggest surprise for me. They never show people cleaning up after sex. It’s unglamorous and rather unsexy. But in reality, there are bodily fluids involved and it doesn’t all magically disappear.

7. You don’t just jump into bed.

When I was single, I was under the impression that it always began with a kiss and then the passion would take over and suddenly, the couple would find themselves next to each other naked in bed (usually panting). Maybe it’s like that for some people, some of the time. But when I started dating, I quickly realized that for most people, having sex really is a decision. It doesn’t “just happen.” (I realize there are those who have had the tragic experience of having sex involuntarily forced upon them and it isn’t their decision, I am not referring to those situations.)

8. Getting pregnant (or not) is really not up to you.

There are those who don’t want to get pregnant and still do. And those who want a child more than anything, and aren’t able to. Contrary to what happens in rom-coms, a couple can have sex at the “right time” and still not conceive – for months, or years. You can do everything possible to make the right conditions for pregnancy to happen, but in the end, pregnancy really is out of our control.

9. Having a child doesn’t mean the end of sex.

The big joke told to new parents (especially to dads) is that from now on, expect no sex. The baby will cry or interrupt any attempts at intimacy, they warn. This is a partial truth. More creativity may be required, but sex is still possible. After all, how do you think younger siblings happen?


  • Sam

    thanks for sharing olive!

    • olivechan

      You’re welcome, Sam. It wasn’t the easiest post to write!

  • Shannon

    J and I often talk about having ‘sex’ classes for Christians. It’s just not talked about in Christian circles at all and then when all of the above comes to light in marriage (and it’s not how you imagined it would be or how the media portrays it) you are left confused, frustrated, and wondering who in the world to ask if you’re normal. Go to chapters and get books out? Awkward. Look to media? Not helpful. Online? (yikes). Ask others? Eek. Thanks for your honesty and I agree to all your points!

    • olivechan

      Thanks, Shannon. It’s true – such a huge topic but mostly kept silent about among Christians.

    • Sue

      I think in some way sex has been portrayed as a “bad” thing among some Christians. I.e. if you think about it or talk about it you are not being holy or godly enough. This leads to problems inevitably when people get to the stage of getting married and this topic has been avoided completely. I think more openness is required as well as more compassion. Christian teachings encourage people to wait until marriage but some people don’t and sometimes they are demonised in the churches especially for young women who become single mothers. Instead of keeping quiet, more openness would help young Christians learn in a friendly and safe environment.

  • Lisa Ting

    Sizzling post, Olive. I’m both surprised and glad that you tackled this topic. The Church would benefit if more information and perspective were selectively generated, For the soon-to-be marrieds, I think the best way this happens is in one-on-one conversations with a same sex friend within a month of the wedding. When that does not happen, a post such as yours is far better than nothing.

    Pete and I were really blessed by the community in which we dated and prepared for marriage. The minister friend and his wife in particular were refreshingly straightforward whenever we had questions, as were the other godly couple who facilitated our formal pre-marital counseling. We went in with eyes wide open, and were thus spared the pain of agonizing over the “more misses than hits” that are the norm for beginners.

    • olivechan

      Thanks, Lisa. I agree with you that the one-on-one conversations with a same-sex friend is the best way to prepare. We were given the book, “Sheet Music” by Kevin Leman, which was also very helpful.

      I wish more people could have a positive experience with supportive community like you and Pete had!

  • Brian Lynchehaun

    “That logic works if you base your relationship on physical intimacy alone”


    So it would be totally cool if your husband broke out the rope and latex? Told you about a foot (or poo!) fetish he’d kept buried in is psyche for decades? Asked you to choke him?

    While I think it’s a good thing that you’re speaking about sex (given the generally highly sex-negative religious culture you indicate that you come from), the lack of knowledge that you portray here needs addressing.

    Let me be clear: I am not saying that you are a “bad person”.

    I *am* saying that you have built a whole heap of apparently un-checked presumptions into points one and two.

    (And I’m pretty on-board with the rest of your points)

    • olivechan

      Brian, I really appreciate your feedback. I wrote from what I knew and am glad for your perspective.

      I think that if my husband were to reveal some deeply buried fetish, I would try to work with him in understanding himself – even if it surfaced after I’d already married him. Personally, I don’t know if I would necessarily need to know about it before I got married. There’s a lot you can’t know about a person before you make the commitment to marriage and part of the commitment is to walk with the other person in his journey of self-discovery.

      You’ve given me stuff to think about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • codyh

      Just because you aren’t having sex doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about it. My wife and i were together for over two years before we got married (i was a virgin, she wasn’t). And although we waited for our wedding night before having sex, we had discussed it at length beforehand. If i had a poo based fetish or she wanted to put on a latex suit and spank me with a stuffed squirrel i’m pretty sure it would have come up.

      Communication, people. It’s all about communication.

  • Zee

    I wish I read your post before I got married! It must have been a difficult post to write but thank you for being so candid :)

    • olivechan

      Thanks, Zee. It wasn’t easy to post, but I’m glad I did.

  • Sarah

    My husband and I did one-on-one pre-marital counseling for a number of couples and although we are no longer formally taking couples through pre-marital counseling we offer open and honest discussions with the couples whose weddings we photograph (we are wedding and family photographers). We have gained quite a reputation for our “sex talks.” No one really talked to us about sex before we got married but by God’s grace and lots of discussions before our wedding we have had a great experience. However through the pre-marital counseling sessions it came to our attention that very very few Christian couples were having the same experience. So we decided to open ourselves up to our couples and share everything we could to help them off to a great start. Its been challenging at time with lots of red faces :) but extremely satisfying when couples come back and share how well things are going or ask if they can send their friends our way. Thanks for this. We would love to share some of these points with our couples. I truly hope and pray that the Church will start being more pro-active in this area! Thanks for sharing

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  • David Zirilli

    Thanks for the refreshing honesty. I find that the hardest to write posts are definitely the ones most valuable to others. Though I try to be completely honest and vulnerable in all of my posts. My post on Confessions of a Pastor has been the most read. (The second most read? Confessions of a Pastor part 2.)
    Here is the link:


    When my wife and I had premarital counseling, the pastor talked about money and budgeting for about an hour and that was it. My Dad said, “Be gentle.” Really, Dad? That’s all you got.

    When my wife and I do premarital counseling it is always an interesting discussion. Some couples are experienced sexually and others are not, but no one is used to talking to their pastor about sex! :)

    Thank you again for your post. I might just be tempted to tackle one on this topic!

  • David

    Thanks for the post, lots of good stuff but I would take slight issue with point 1, myself and my wife were given good pre-marital counselling but I think felt that the “if you wait until your married it really pays off” line a bit too heavily and struggled with feelings of feeling let down. Something to consider, there’s not many people who share about struggles in sex once married, even less that share that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be by the Christian advisors…

    • olivechan

      Thanks for your thoughts, David. I think the “paying off” part of waiting comes more in the form of having no regrets more than anything. I agree with you that not many people disclose their struggles and inadvertently set up unrealistic expectations for those who choose to wait.

  • good 1

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  • Meredith Sather

    I stumbled across your post by reading another blog and your hubby had left a link for this in the comments section. I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said here. I chose to remain a virgin until marriage and I too noticed the Big Deception by Hollywood’s version of sex after I got married. I wasn’t prepared for messy, awkwardness, and everything else that comes with it. My mom never talked me about anything concerning my body, nor did we ever have the Sex Talk. Everything I knew about sex before marriage was from friends who had premarital sex, magazines, and the movies.

  • BJ

    Thanks for this candid post! Loved it. After 15 years of marriage, I fully endorse all the points you make!!

  • Amber

    I really appreciate this post. It is so true! I strongly dislike how movies portray sex because it it kinda brainwashes us. Anyway, it is nice to read this because it has been in my own head for a while (married 6 years now). So thanks!

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