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Is it sex if…

101 women and 408 men have answered

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  • Men and women were close on all of these, but men were slightly more likely to call things short of intercourse “sex”.
  • Contact that does not result in either person having a climax was less likely to be called sex.
  • Masturbating in the presence of another was “sex” for only two-thirds of men and women.

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  • It’s uncommon for women to reach orgasm via manual stimulation from their husband.
  • It’s common for women to give their husband an orgasm manually.
  • Oral to climax is more common for him than for her.
  • Intercourse without either climaxing was surprisingly common.
  • Masturbating as a couple, or one person while the other is there was also rather common.

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  • Men gave about the same answers as women, except that everything was less common across the board. This is because the women who answer our surveys are generally more sex positive than Christian women as a whole.

Female Comments:

  • I don’t climax during PIV, yet. 🙂 My ‘is it sex’ answers are based on if we’d mark the calendar for that day or not.
  • If I had answered this survey 5 years ago, many of my answers would be different. My husband now has some form of ED, my libido has increased…,and it has changed things dramatically.
  • Personally, I would define sex as any kind of activity involving the stimulation of genitals (could be one person’s or both, doesn’t matter). (Obviously, not including unintentional stimulation.) Everything else is foreplay.
  • I know it’s arbitrary, but to me there’s a difference between “sex” and “sexual activity.” However, sexual activity of any sort with anyone other than your spouse is adultery.
  • Although I don’t call just making out “sex” I would still consider it infidelity if either of us did it with someone outside the marriage.
  • My husband is addicted to porn and masturbation. And I’m in a sexless marriage.
  • Any sexual touching is sex. We did sexual masturbation to climax through clothing while dating but wish we would have never done it.
  • Anything sexual done with another person should be considered cheating. – kissing, touching, etc.
  • We’re just not having sex often enough. And when we do, it is the same routine we’ve followed for years.
  • 6 or 7 years since we had intercourse!
  • It is sex if it is something that would be embarrassing for you to do in a public place with an audience.
  • There were a few of the “no” answers I wanted to check “I wish”.
  • If we have intercourse with or without an orgasm by anybody – that was sex or making love. If anybody has an orgasm – that was sex or making love. If we do sexual things with each other without anyone having an orgasm – it’s a tease and a promise of ‘we’ll get back to this sometime SOON’.
  • My opinion about sex has changed through the years. I used to think intercourse was the only way you could have sex, during my BC days…before Christ. After getting to know the Lord, my opinion has changed. Shortly after my conversion, I thought it is when it evolves ejaculation. I now know it’s anything involving your private parts in thought, word, or deed. I was horrified to find out that a hand manipulation was sex. I didn’t even think about it at the time of the incident. I thought it was just a playful thing to do and a way to get closer. Yeah, that was my BC days. I have heard some people who follow the Lord say, “At least I only had sex with my future wife.” Who are they fooling? It’s just another lie from the pit. I have made peace with God, have you?
  • As long as someone is having an orgasm it’s sex! Otherwise it’s foreplay.
  • I am surprised that it wasn’t asked about anal sex and whether one feels that is “sex” or not. I know that there are people (Christians) out there who participate in anal sex outside of marriage because it is saving their “virginity” and not really “sex”. Which, I was one of those 20+ years ago, but in marriage, I definitely see that act as having “had sex” now. :/
  • I keep track of our sexual exploits in a brief journal I keep so I can be aware of our frequency and when I need to really prioritize sex, and I only mark it as sex if he has climaxed and also how he climaxed (PIV/oral/manual). I guess I still count most of these things as sex (especially thinking about if these actions were performed/received by someone other than me), but the climax for him is what I am most interested in keeping track of. I could perform oral sex or have PIV sex every single day but if I cut it short before he climaxes? That’s just cruel. He would technically be having a lot of sex, but how unsatisfying would that be! I don’t track my own orgasms. I always try and usually do have one, but I can be highly satisfied even if I can’t, not to mention I don’t even try on my period, but I still want to make sure his orgasm frequency doesn’t go down just because mine does. Maybe readers think it is unsexy to track, but having frequent sexual connection like that is important to me and tracking helps me to detect issues in our frequency before that causes distance in our relationship. His climax is what counts.
  • Sex is sex. If the penis is in the vagina, it’s sex.
  • I had a hard time answering accurately for some questions. We have oral regularly but neither of us can climax from it, but we do ultimately climax with manual or toys after oral. The same problem with Intercourse…I cannot climax from intercourse but hubby usually helps me climax first and then we move to intercourse. He sometimes cannot climax during intercourse and then I finish him manually to climax. “Intercourse without either of you of you reaching climax” I interpreted to mean climax from the intercourse alone. Hope that was OK
  • All of the above are sex, in my view. My husband has a vastly different opinion. To him, the only thing that is considered sex is intercourse. I occasionally fear that this could be his “out”, should he decide to break his vow.

Male Comments:

  • My wife is extremely conservative and I am very frustrated with the lack of adventure in bed.
  • We have figured out what works, perhaps too well. I miss “making out” for long times. There are a bunch of these things we do some, but not to climax, and most we don’t do to climax because there’s always a better choice 🙂 IMHO, everyone would consider these things “sex” unless they need them not to be in order to rationalize their behavior.
  • It all totally depends on individual preferences. Each woman is different and mine is unique.
  • All of these acts are absolutely “sexual” in nature, things that should ONLY be done with one’s spouse, but my own (perhaps overly narrow?) definition of “having sex” is PIV intercourse.
  • I learned the hard way as a single that sex is mental. No matter where you draw the line doing something to be aroused sexually for me was sex. For some it is kissing, for others it may be holding hands, some others can make out for hours. I am easily aroused so mild kissing was as far as i could go before arousal and lust began.
  • I am defining sex as what would meet my or my spouses’ needs within marriage. Without climax, it isn’t meeting my need.
  • I believe it is all sex. Just the intent of is emotional, with physical chemical reactions. We tend to overlook those or take them for granted when it is with our spouse, but if it is out if the context of marriage it is adultery or formication at best. Does it not state in the Bible that the mere thought is adultery?
  • As the male, I perform cunnilingus on her until she tells me to come inside. She continues to stimulate her clitoris as I’m penetrating her vagina. Most often, she will tell me to speed up or slow down while she finds her groove and then we try to climax together. I wish she’d perform fellatio on me more often. Occasionally, I’ll resist her pleas to enter her and get her to climax as my tongue continues to please her clitoris. After that we try for another round of climax for her as I penetrate her. But, this rarely happens since she is rather stressed out with work and kids and other pressures. Getting her to climax following cunnilingus is my main goal and maintaining myself to prevent premature ejaculation so we can climax together.
  • It is not sex unless someone’s genitals are involved. It can still be sex, even if nobody has an orgasm.
  • At more than 70 years of age, we’re learning to do what we can as often as we can, but we enjoy it about as much as we ever did. We may not do it as often, but when we do, it can be better than ever.
  • Easy test to see if it is “sex”…If another person does the same act with your spouse/daughter/son, would you call it sex? For example, if a Republican president did with Chelsea Clinton what Bill did with Monica Lewinsky, Bill then would have called the same act “sex”. No double standards allowed.
  • Great topic, I have had ED for a number of years so lovemaking takes on new dynamics not centered on PIV but on touching and loving time together.
  • Originally the only one I put “NO” on was making out. But after looking at my answers and thinking about it “til horny” I had to conclude that it is sex… because to desire intimacy in God’s eyes is to commit it, right? And that is perfectly appropriate with your wife, but not another women.
  • I would love watching her masturbating but our sex relationship has not grown to the point that I am sure she will do it for me.
  • When you touch another person in the sexual context, you are wrong. The hi ally everything above is too far and there are steps before this like kissing is going too far especially when it clearly is to arouse.
  • All of the above acts have an aspect of union. However, simulclimactic intercourse (unison sex) always feels like a perfect and complete union.
  • To us, sex is the stimulation of genitals with the intent or possibility or occurrence of orgasm. This doesn’t mean that orgasm has to happen but it certainly is heading that direction. Sexually stimulating activities such as “making out” aren’t sex, but are certainly leading in that direction as they are arousing.
  • Direct contact with the sexual organs of another with the intent to prompt sexual excitement — and anything beyond that — is where I would draw the line of what constitutes sex. The intent and purpose here are an important part — a medical exam by a person (even of the opposite sex) does not constitute sex even though touch of sexual organs happens. On a related, but not directly so, issue — merely the sight of sexual organs of another person does not need to be sexual. Having said that — my acceptance and commitment to the principles and practice of naturism/nudism also reflect on my answers. From a “Christian” standpoint, I know that many would strenuously object to my comments about sight vs. contact.
  • I am making the assumption that the last two options (Intercourse with one/both of you reaching climax) are still valid if additional manual stimulation is used. She will VERY rarely climax from intercourse without extra stimulation, but I would still consider that Intercourse… as opposed to claiming this in the “manual to climax” section.
  • What you said in the post about being sexual without having full on sex so that sex becomes less of an event and more a part of our lives is SOOO right on. I think it can be especially helpful to those couples where one has a lower drive/desire and feels like if anything gets started it has to go all the way. Where the lower drive/desire person is one who enjoys sex when it happens but doesn’t really think of it all that much otherwise it can be a great way to give them the opportunity to get their motor revved up, but not have it be a problem it just isn’t happening.
  • Wife will not reach O from intercourse.
  • I believe that sexual activity includes foreplay and that can occur without having intercourse.
  • The caveat here is the definition of sex is intercourse so I put no on things that were not physical intercourse. I believe all of these things are being sexual and an attempt to satisfy sexual desire.
  • My wife and I have sex every day. Some days we express it visually with looks. Some days it’s talking and hugging. Other days we ramp up our desire by holding and kissing. I love whipping up the desire. The best foreplay happens in the kitchen. All of these exchanges are sexual exchanges. Why limit the playground with such a narrow definition as “intercourse”?
  • These are definitions with my spouse, as you asked. If I was considering these actions with someone other than my wife, my definitions of sex would be much more broad. I write this comment in light of the post you had today regarding the definition of sex. What I call “sex” with my wife and “sex” with someone else, “adultery” are two completely separate things. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28 NIV http://bible.com/111/mat.5.28.niv.
  • Anything involving intimacy and one-ness is sex. And should only be done by married couples.
  • It is difficult to separate some of the situations you question because I don’t call it sex if it only happened by itself but in my marriage it is going to end with intercourse and usually both climaxing. Some things I don’t see as sex by themselves, they’re foreplay, and usually part of more that’s about to happen, either in a few minutes or maybe later in the day but full intercourse is soon to happen. 🙂 Any of the above questions with anyone other than my wife would be wrong. I would feel I had committed adultery if I even kissed another woman!
  • My standard of ‘Is it Sex’ is “would I still be doing this with my parents or kids in the room.” If how we’re touching is beyond that line, we’re enjoying intimacy too great to be shared with anyone else, and therefore we’re now being sexual.
  • If you are looking for a Christian definition of marital unfaithfulness, I’d point you to Luke Gilkerson’s masters thesis: http://www.covenanteyes.com/2015/10/08/porn-use-as-grounds-for-divorce-how-my-opinion-changed/?utm_content=22631237&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook Personally, my definition of marital unfaithfulness that authorizes divorce has greatly expanded since reading this. For me, I’m more interested in where God draws that line than the questions above. My past porn addiction, I believe, gave scriptural cause for my wife to divorce me. Fortunately she instead was a help in overcoming and we now have an outstanding relationship, better than I ever could have imagined. On the other side, she had an emotional affair that I believe just as easily could be grounds for scriptural divorce. But we both sin, and we choose to live in grace. What has amazed me is our sexual relationship has become amazing once I only sought satisfaction from her. Amazing.
  • I love sex with my wife. But, I’m addicted to porn and masturbate often. I’m having trouble with erections now, but seeing a Dr. about that, plus trying various other stimulation for getting and maintaining an erection. I’ve been through a 12 step study with Celebrate Recovery and that has helped some. Just to know there are other men out there with the same problem is a good feeling. I want to just have sex with my wife, but I like the porn because of the variety. I like reading about sex and really enjoy the Christian blogs about sex. God made it and saw that it was good.
  • This is really the wrong question to ask. It’s not about “is it sex”, as if adultery were about sex. It’s about “is this intimacy”. That’s at the heart of adultery. For example – if you’re holding hands with someone and sharing feelings and for you that feels intimate, and it’s not with your wife – that’s adultery. Clearly not sex, but it doesn’t matter – it’s still adultery. The motivation is there. You’re sharing intimacy with someone else.
  • Our age, disabilities, and meds, make it almost impossible for climax. However, it does not keep us from manually and orally stimulating each other. ED stops me from intercourse so far, but manual and oral stimulation, arousal, caressing, holding, kissing, sucking, etc. often involves an hour or two of fun almost every day which we call “sex.”
  • Sex is sex. If it becomes to grabby beyond a quick touch especially south of the boarder so that that area is becoming stimulated with skin to skin contact to me it is sex. If somebody walked in an you had your wife’s shirt opened massaging her breasts maybe heavy petting. If you are disrobing her above the waist and remove a bra to orally stimulate her breasts, no you have not had intercourse, but sexual activity beyond petting, yes I think so. For me, it would not surprise me if my teenage daughter who had been in a serious relationship had been kissed, had her ears nibbled, had her neck kissed or even a breast or butt rubbed above her clothes a little. I did not say as a dad I would like it. I said young adults dating and in relationships need to learn to establish boundaries, enforce boundaries and also learn something about sexual chemistry and desire as they grow up. In other words not have gone all the way or even into the foreplay realm very far before marriage, but certainly have reasonable knowledge about their bodies and sexual expectations in marriage including good teaching like that on the Marriage Bed website.
  • Great poll… Fun to take. Makes me appreciate my wife and our sex life. After 21 years and 4 boys (ranging from 4 to 20 years old) I think we’re having better sex than we ever have…!
  • My wife is unable to orgasm by intercourse alone.
  • Most of these occur regularly in our marriage. Many in the same sexual experience. We both engage in these activities to both orgasm every time, not always at the same time. My wife does not wish me to finish in her mouth so our oral goes to the edge and she finishes me with her hand or I enter her vaginally. All of these are permissible in marriage, I would even go so far to say Encouraged in Marriage. HOWEVER, before marriage I get the sense of, “How close can I get to the fire without getting burned?” for these activities. My advice, Stay pure before the wedding, then open mindedly embrace and explore all of these and more with God’s blessing. As for “Making Out” At age 18, I was fully horny just holding my girlfriends hand… and Yes, She is my wife of 40 years. (Paul, I am the ‘original poster’ of the question.)
  • This is a good list of options, lol. It would be nice if you had a “no, but I’d like to option.” As an example I would love to occasionally watch each other masturbate to climax, but she has yet to let me watch her masturbate with the exception of a few times over FaceTime when she was out of town. I would also love to see a post on mutual masturbation.
  • Intercourse without either of us reaching climax is usually because we get interrupted and we have to stop.
  • These are very hard differentiations to make within a marriage. Outside marriage it is easier. We usually slip between these things…oral or manual to intercourse, sometimes back and forth. Drawing distinctions in these is difficult. Generally, I would say intercourse is sex–penetration with toys included. Oral and manual without toys or with just an external vibe are sexual play.
  • For one, rarely do we do a number of these activities and then “nothing more” or without one or the other or both of us climaxing. I answered all would be considered “had sex” except the making out. Guess my criteria is physical contact with the genitals by one or the other or both participants coupled with an emotional connection or intent to make a sexual connection or experience a sexual event (regardless of climax or not, regardless of piv or not, regardless of whether contact is by hand, mouth, genitals or any other body parts or toys or objects…technicalities).
  • About the only one that I might not consider sex would be above the waist making out until horny, but I still listed it as a ‘Yes’. In my experience, by the time you get that far, you are likely to be straying below the waist, and you still have all of these erogenous zones that are activated. If I think of it from the standpoint of dating rather than marriage, I would say such touching has a sexual gratification purpose and thus I rated it as sex. I’d be more comfortable telling the youth of my church or my own children that it was sex(ual) and draw the line further than telling them that it wasn’t. Of course, as a married man, I now must go and “discuss” these with my wife.
  • Sex to me, now, is intercourse. Using this measure, I waited to marry my wife and she is the only one I have ever had sex with. I never did or ever have gone past first base with another woman. Before we married we got to third base. We’ve been married almost 20 years and have 4 kids. Despite lots of big ups and downs sex is better than ever. Still not perfect, but it is a wonderful and special gift. Lots of times I wonder what should I tell my kids about waiting until you’re married before having sex. If sex is about babies and bonding, then intercourse is obviously sex. But really I think the bonding begins much earlier. If I could understand the thinking in Song of Songs about not arousing love until it so desires I think that might help. I’ve got a couple of years yet until we start talking about love and marriage in depth 🙂
  • Showering together just to get clean washing each other’s genitals no climax just putting a smile on each other’s face. Sex – no Often
  • I used to call “sex” anything where the penis goes in to the vagina. When I started reading my bible more & what it says about sex, I broadened the definition to include everything you have up there except “making out.” I based that on any of those would be considered fornication or adultery if it were with someone besides my spouse. So they’re all good with her. 🙂 My wife’s awesome. 🙂
  • I am assuming this is in the context of marriage here. Outside of marriage many of these tip to Yes pretty quick. My take on it is if the guy penetrates the woman with his penis, it is sex. If the guy climaxes, it is sex (even if it was just “dry humping” and he climaxed in his pants). However, stimulation of the woman (manual, oral, ect) even to the point of orgasm isn’t what I consider sex. That is just foreplay!
  • Good questions. Interesting to think about these activities as sex/not sex since we think about any intense foreplay as sex because it is the same desperate striving for intimacy as a truly fully intentional sexual encounter. It has been hard to redefine our sexual interaction since ED has fully robbed us of PIV intercourse. We been NEED the intimacy as much as ever.
  • Wife does not like sex, think about sex or have much of any desire for sex. So unfortunately not a lot of activity to report. 🙁
  • Our sex life is very limited.
  • penis in vagina is sex
  • I would like to do all the above with my spouse. Unfortunately she’s not willing for all the above.
  • Marriage without sex sucks. Marriage without hope is worse. Paul, you were right when you wrote “Sexlessness in marriage eats at a man until he can take it no more.” It took 33 years, but I am at that point. Counseling has been scheduled. This will be our 3rd try. Optimism is not descriptive of my state of mind. God generally doesn’t do miracles in my life. Granted, there’s always a first time. I know God can. But will He?
  • While most of my answers in the “Do this with your spouse” column were “No” or “Very Rarely”, this does not mean that it is what I wish/hope for in my marriage bed. I would love to explore most if not all of these experiences; but what can a man do if his wife is not open to doing these?
  • near sexless marriage so my answers are based on the few times we do have sex.
  • DW not interested in anything except vanilla PIV to my climax and no need for her to climax. Unfortunately.
  • This is a hard survey.
  • I wish my wife would actually want to make love with me.
  • If the overall frequency were greater, the “do you do this” column answers would be higher.
  • Intercourse and oral sex are both sex, by my definition. My DW does not give me oral, and no longer likes to receive oral; I would love it, and have always enjoyed giving her oral.
  • When I was younger I would have answered that only intercourse was sex, but as I have grown and matured in my walk with the Lord I now understand that just about anything involving 2 people touching intimately is sex in the eyes of God. So while I was technically a virgin (no intercourse) before marriage I had participated in many of the activities on this list. I am thankful that almost all of my sexually activity prior to marriage was with my future wife. We have struggled with sex through the years, but we now have an awesome sex life 17 years into marriage. My wife had an awakening about 18 months ago and we are both enjoying the results. God is so good.
  • Sex a dozen times over 10 years …
  • My awesome wife has no desire to try to climax. She never has and sweetly refuses to try anymore. So my answers are kind of skewed by that.
  • As you can tell, our definition of “sex” really is synonymous with intercourse. Manual and oral are a part of foreplay, but are almost never stand-alone, unfortunately. I have been trying for 25 years to expand my wife’s definition and understanding of sex, with very limited results.
  • We generally only consider it “sex” if PIV or oral is involved. Hand stuff is nice but just a means to hold us over if we don’t have time for better.
  • It would be nice if more of the things I called sex happened.
  • For me and my wife, we enjoy anything that brings sexual joy. Any act that affects us sexually is an act of sex. I answered lower on oral for her because she can’t take the sensations since last child had been born.
  • All of the “do you do it” will be infrequently (sexless marriage).
  • Wife doesn’t like me giving her oral says doesn’t feel comfortable and won’t kiss me after Wife won’t bring me to climax thru oral “gross,” but fine up prior to it. Wife has not had O from intercourse Almost always give her O we do that first through me sucking her nipples and rubbing her clitoris She lets me finger her and gave her O once that way but she says too long is uncomfortable. Most above considered having sex as if imagining had I or my wife done any of the above with someone else I’d call it an affair. Solo masturbation I would not consider sex. Only vaginal inter course would lose virginity IMO though other things would be sin prior to marriage (maybe not masturbation) but not sure how MB can be done without lust Wish wife would crave oral more both ways to O. Manual on me feels usually like cop out and not intimate or connected unless she is on period and unable. I think I’d like to watch her MB too but that will never happen and I would consider that sex but I would consider extremely intimate but I also find oral one of the most intimate as well.
  • While I agree that most all of those acts are absolutely sexual in nature, and are very enjoyable as well, to me only if my wife and I have had intercourse do I feel like we’ve actually had sex. I can understand why some would say that oral sex is real sex, as that can be one of the most intimate and personal sexual acts there is, but to me it’s not sex. Masturbation and manual stimulation can also be very passionate and personal when shared with your spouse, but also do not feel like sex.
  • I don’t consider visual, audible, or manual teasing as sex, but it most certainly is foreplay leading to sex. But a good foreplay can last a long time and does not have to be contiguous time either. Once the guy climaxes, it is sex. However, for the wife, a manual or oral climax can just be part of the tease!
  • So many options I would love to try with my wife if only she would be more open to experimenting.
  • As much as some would like to conflate sex with certain acts, the traditional and typical definition of sex is based on intercourse. Masturbation is no more “sex” than brushing your teeth. Intimate acts sure, but not technically sex. Lots of “no’s” in my responses due to inhibitions on her end.
  • I would need to qualify my “Very rarely” in a few of my answers, as when it did happen it was at the beginning of our marriage, until she regulated our “sex” to me lying beside her and masturbating while feeling her (she laid still with no involvement whatsoever). And now it’s sexual refusal, period.
  • I would even include other sexual acts as sex.
  • If she wants to climax, I nearly always do oral on her… She won’t do oral on me.
  • I put regularly for both of us reaching climax with intercourse but that is rare as well most times.





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