Love, sex and romance going strong in Germany, new book says

More than two-thirds of Germans believe in love at first sight, according to a survey by polling institute YouGov. But one-third of those in a relationship say they have had at least one affair.

Germans in relationships are largely satisfied with both their partners and their sex lives, if a new book on love in Germany is to be believed.

Science | 09.10.2017

The book, "Wir Deutschen und die Liebe" ("We Germans and Love"), is based on a large study by the polling institute YouGov in which more than 12,000 people were asked questions about their love lives, relationships and sexual preferences.

According to the survey, 72 percent of Germans say that their partner is the love of their lives and that they are sexually satisfied. But one in three Germans say they have had an affair at least once, with only two out of five daring to tell their partners.

Among singles, things are not quite as happy on the sexual front, with only 44 percent describing their sex lives as satisfactory.

Read more: Does the penis ever get bored?

Marriage is still a popular form of partnership: 60 percent of Germans think it is good the way it is. However, a third would be interested in having "probationary marriages" that would automatically end if both partners did not extend them. The average age difference between partners in Germany is 5.8 years.

And Germans are a romantic lot: Nearly three-quarters say they are on cloud nine when they are in love, and 13 percent can think of nothing else.

Infografik Was sind Ihre liebsten Stellungen und Praktiken? ENG

Robot curiosity

The study shows that the average German has five sexual partners, with divorcees totting up a higher tally (8) than their married compatriots (5). Germans are also having their first sexual experiences earlier, between the ages of 17.1 (women) and 17.4 (men) on average.

And Germans are on average not particularly hurried when it comes to the act itself — the average length of intimate encounters is 15 minutes, with some connoisseurs (45 percent) adding 10 minutes of foreplay. The duration is adequate to the needs of 61 percent.

Read more: Sex in Germany - study opens a window into German bedrooms

The favourite positions were rather conservative, with the main three being "woman on man," "doggy style" and the classical missionary position. Two out of three said they had tried anal sex at least once. 

Germans also seem eager to keep up to date in a technological regard: one-third of men say they would like to have sex with a robot if it felt "real". Women are less enthusiastic, with only 20 percent willing to try.

Other questions in the survey included how often people thought of sex, how frequently they had sex with their partner and how important sex was in their lives.


All natural: the world's first dildos

From unripe bananas to dried camel dung coated in resin - people in ancient Greece and Egypt turned out to be creative in finding sexual aids. Alternative materials used to carve dildos included stone, leather or wood. The world's first (discovered) dildo was found in Germany and dates back 28,000 years. The 20 cm long stone object was not only used as a sex toy, but also to ignite fire.


Open wide for delight

The term dildo came up about 1400 AD, and comes from the Latin word "dilatare", which means "to open wide" and the Italian word "diletto", meaning "delight." During the Italian Renaissance approximately 100 years later, sexual aids were typically made of leather and were used with olive oil as a lubricant. It might sound like a lot of fun, but it was not at all about that, as history has it.


Female desire?! It's hysteria, stupid!

For a long time, sexual intercourse equated to penetration until the man achieved orgasm. This male-centered worldview ignored that penetration alone is not satisfying for women and quite insufficient in bringing them to orgasm. Men's strategy? Labeling female desire a disease - "hysteria" - and prescribing treatment: marital sex, water jet therapy or horse rides.


"Manipulator" tables: Doctors take control of women's orgasms

The hysteria "illness" was a pandemic: it was cited as the most common disease across the ages, only sometimes overtaken by fevers. And where do you go when you are ill? Doctors or midwives would also conduct genital massages to "cure" hysteria - in a time when masturbation was forbidden. As no one really wanted to use their fingers on female genitalia, the invention of "medical aids" accelerated.


From stiff to moving: dildo turns vibrator

Rich women particularly would regularly return to be "treated" for their "disease." Doctors soon realized the need to make treatment more efficient (read: treat more patients = make more money). It was in Victorian England that Dr Joseph Mortimer Granville patented the first electromechanical vibrator in the 1880s. With inventions like his, female orgasm could be reached within 10 minutes.


"Health aids" making housewives happy

At the turn of the 20th century, companies were producing vibrators for personal use. Next to tea kettles, bread toasters and sewing machines, ads in women's magazines promoted them as "health aids." Doctors were not at all in diletto of this development. Critics feared women might not need men to have orgasms anymore. Turns out, men don't need women for that either.


Losing fear of female sexuality

The vibrator lost its innocence as a socially camouflaged health aid during the 1920s when it was used as a sex toy in porn. The 1950s famous Kinsey study on sexuality proved what women had known for centuries, something that then was undeniable: that more than 70 percent of women don't orgasm purely through penetration. This gave vibrators new ad strategies, promising 50 orgasms in a row.