A Day in the Life What Makes the Average German Tick?

Part 11: What Happens When Germans Pull Back the Covers

10:00 p.m. How Germans Have Sex

And so Thomas and Sabine Müller are back at home and, assuming they're in a good mood, back in their most intimate surroundings. They have sex twice a week. Thirty-eight percent of Germans are satisfied with their sex lives. For 31 percent, a partner's novelty wears off after only a year, at which point they start looking for new thrills. Half of all men describe the first time they have sex with a new partner as anywhere from outstanding to acceptable. Only a third of women are as positive.

Fifty-three percent of German men and 27 percent of women masturbate at least once a week.

Fifty-nine percent of 35 to 44-year-olds experiment with sex toys. The most popular products are lingerie.

One in five women owns a vibrator, compared with every other woman in the 35- to 55-year-old age group. The popular Beate Uhse chain of sex shops in Germany sell 100,000 vibrators a year, most of them in normal sizes and delicate colors: rosé, pink or candy blue.

Vibrators are the reason 35-year-old Heinrich Brueggemann is standing on the stage in the conference room of a Hamburg hotel, holding a pink specimen in his right hand. His tone is that of an engineer: to the point and businesslike. "Today's woman," he says, "wants to know what she's inserting into her body."

Brueggemann develops sex toys for Beate Uhse, and the company's top-selling vibrators come from his workshop. He is the most successful dildo designer in Germany, perhaps even in all of Europe. It's fair to assume that Brueggemann knows a thing or two about Germans and their sexual practices.

The differences between what men and women would like to see happen in bed and what they actually get are significant.

Seventy-one percent of Germans receive oral sex. Of those who don't, a quarter -- most of them men -- would like to.

Seventy percent of Germans occasionally give or receive a massage. Of those who don't, 33 percent -- most of them women -- would like to.

Men would like to have anal sex more often, while women want to see erotic lingerie play a role in bed more often.

One in five German women owns a vibrator.

One in five German women owns a vibrator.

When Brueggemann tells people at a party what he does for a living, a few men always look a little piqued. They see sex toys as competition, which explains why men who give their wives or girlfriends vibrators always opt for the smaller size. The new line of vibrators comes in 17 and 21-centimeter (6.7 and 8.3-inch) lengths, and it's the first vibrator to come with the seal of approval of the TÜV, Germany's official product testing agency.

Men think about sex more than women. Every other man is interested in sex daily, compared with only 29 percent of women. And 47 percent of men have cheated on their wives or girlfriends at least once, compared with only 38 percent of women.

Forty-seven percent of men and 25 percent of women have slept with someone they had only known briefly until then. But the notion that women are more reserved isn't necessarily true. Men tend to exaggerate, while women are less open about discussing how many partners they have had.

When Germans have sex, it lasts for 36 minutes, foreplay included -- which puts them squarely in the middle in a worldwide comparison. The Greeks have sex the most often, the Swiss spend the most time on foreplay, and the Mexicans consider themselves the most imaginative. Or perhaps the Greeks, the Swiss and the Mexicans are the ones who exaggerate the most on sex surveys.

Fifty-six percent of Germans say that they can talk about their sex life with their partner. Every other German uses pornography to get in the mood, and one in seven is into bondage and S&M.

Although sex has become omnipresent, and although it seems completely normal for young rappers to talk about anal sex and gang-banging, for dominatrices to appear in cigarette ads and for clitoral hood piercing to have become as common as navel piercings, in the end, many feel that sex is totally exciting for everyone else, just not for them. Dildo-maker Brueggemann believes that this impression has nothing to do with reality in German bedrooms. "Our real needs are much more banal."

His top-selling vibrator is called "Paulchen" ("Little Paul"). It looks a little like a toy caterpillar, with a bulbous nose and funny little eyes. It seems that even vibrator buyers -- likely the more liberal-minded women -- prefer all things cute. When German women say they are happy with their Thomas, 44 percent attribute it to the sex. And happy men? Sixty-six percent of them are convinced that they owe their bliss to sex with Sabine.


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