This story contains sexually explicit material.
I’ve gone to some great extremes in search of sexual satisfaction. First there were the boner teas. Then came the homemade fleshlight. But recently it struck me that I’d skipped a crucial step. How could I improve my sex life without first assessing how I normally bang?
Fortunately, there’s a glut of apps out there capitalizing on the self-quantification trend, which has extended to nearly every aspect of life. Fitbit sells wearables that will tell you how many steps you’ve taken or how many calories you’ve burned in a day. Lume Personal Tracker will evaluate the fluctuation of your moods and “energy.” There are devices and programs designed to help you quit smoking, establish better sleeping patterns, and stick to a diet. And with people more reliant than ever on technology to optimize their existence, developers have started pumping out programs that supposedly offer insight into our sexual habits and performance—an area that offers plenty of room for insecurities and self-improvement.
With the grudging permission of Cecilia, my long-suffering wife and frequent partner in perverse bedroom experiments, I downloaded three such programs: Love Tracker, Track My Sex Life, and Intima. Each promised to glean copious amounts of cold, hard data from my filthy, filthy doings—and I planned to use them all simultaneously. None, at first glance, looked as technically sophisticated as the iOS-only Spreadsheets, the No. 1 app in this market (it measures the peak volume of your ecstatic vocalizations/grunting and, appallingly, number of thrusts). Still, I was undeterred. People with iPhones aren’t the only ones getting laid, I reminded myself, and there was no reason not to have faith in these Android developers.
Or so I thought.
Encounter 1: Jan. 21, 2015, 12:13am
Prior to this initial encounter, we were watching an episode of The Fall on Netflix. I was concerned that the transition here would be tricky. On the one hand, the show features a sexually sadistic serial killer. On the other hand, Cece thinks Jamie Dornan, the actor who plays said sexually sadistic serial killer, is really hot. I had my in. I was confident.
Here’s the thing, though: Love Tracker measures the duration of your lovemaking, and figuring out when to start the timer is a nightmare. The app boasts a stopwatch function, but was I meant to flick it on as soon as I lunged toward my wife’s side of the couch and, by extension, reached second base? Or should I start it when, after 20 seconds of making out, she realized that I wasn’t going to leave her alone until she shut me down or acquiesced to my clumsy advances?
Somehow I wanted to impress the apps, these nonsentient pieces of haphazardly designed software.
Not wanting to juke the stats, I decided that the starter pistol should be fired when we made touchdown on our actual bed. Track My Sex Life and Intima both let you input a time afterward. I guess this is because the developers expect you to keep tabs independently and objectively, though for some mysterious reason neither app will let you claim to have had sex for longer than 23 minutes.
This first round lasted a respectable 17 minutes and 28 seconds, encompassing our basic repertoire of oral and missionary. I’m almost powerless, however, to describe the painful unsexiness of saying, “Hang on, I gotta do something on my phone” before and immediately after a roll in the hay.
Love Tracker wanted to know where we’d fucked, if we’d used the pill or a condom (symbolized by a little umbrella), positions, and what “type” of fooling around we’d done. Some of these categories were obvious—“Morning,” “Quickie,” “Cyber”—while others were more confusing. What on earth is “Back” sex? Is that a euphemism for anal?
Track My Sex Life, in a charming touch, wanted to know whom I’d had sex with, as well as the form of contraception—a drop-down menu for the latter puzzlingly refers to the IUD as “Coil,” but at least it was on there. The app also includes, under an Activity section, terms like “Petting” and “Kiss,” which made me kind of sad. I mean, if you’re logging every kiss you get, you’re probably missing the point of kissing.
Apps couldn’t contain our lust.
Intima, meanwhile, offers an absurd laundry list of illustrated positions, which have totally stupid names that no real person ever uses: Did you know that horizontal, face-down cunnilingus is actually the “David Copperfield”? There was even something called the “Swiss Ball Blitz,” which involves this piece of workout equipment.
Suddenly feeling very vanilla, I tapped out our details while Cece brushed her teeth.
Encounter 2: Jan. 25, 2015, 11:39pm
It was a good thing I’d been so suave on the 21st, because I was about to endure a sexless four-day stretch. On paper, I admit, that doesn’t sound too great, but back off: I was really sick. A cold had gone from bad to grotesque in the course of a couple booze-soaked weekends, one spent hatless and gloveless in a New England valley where it barely got above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. As the minutes of my hellish fever ticked by, I realized each one was a missed opportunity to get started on an evening of connubial closeness.
And I noticed a funny anxiety emerging. Somehow I wanted to impress the apps, these nonsentient pieces of haphazardly designed software. Ever since I met Cece 12 years ago, I’d always been content doing what she enjoys and requests in bed; she sometimes likens our sex to a favorite steakhouse, insofar as no frills are required in a place serving grade-A, medium-rare meat. Now, alarmingly, I felt that I had something to prove to these sex-tracking apps.
At long last, it was late Sunday evening, and I was almost restored to health, thanks in part to an intravenous vitamin infusion received in the back of a bus that afternoon. Cece, a smidge deprived herself, was more than ready to demonstrate the finer points of reverse cowgirl and doggy style.
Technology had transformed me from a considerate lover into a number-crunching monster.
This round was shorter, at 15 minutes and 58 seconds—so close to 16 minutes, you guys!—probably due to mutual impatience for release. We made up for it by switching positions a few times and later collapsed in panting relief, saying how great it had been.
Which brings me to a curious aspect of the apps I sampled: There is no orgasm counter. Instead, the apps use a five-star, five-heart, or five-emoticon (ranging from an angry expression to hearts-for-eyes) rating system. It’s unclear exactly whose satisfaction is being measured, though with “one-night stand” options in the mix, I assumed I was expected to rank the force of my ejaculation against every other I’ve had.
That didn’t square quite right, so over the course of the assignment, I asked Cece to be the one who rated our intimate unions. Will you be impressed if I told you she never dipped below a perfect score? Because you should be. Please, please, can someone just be impressed?
Encounters 3 and 4: Feb. 1, 11:42am; Feb. 2, 10:17pm
If you told me after Encounter 2 that I’d be waiting another full week for more action, I might have slapped you across the face. Unthinkable! Mine is not a marriage with such droughts, I can practically hear myself arguing. There was a time when we laughed at a friend who said that daily sex with his girlfriend was “almost too much.” We lacked all sense of satiety.
Alas, all that is solid in physical attraction often melts into an air of complacency, to paraphrase Karl Marx. Which is a pretentious way of saying that laziness can get the better of anyone. Also, Cece had at some point had a vivid dream about me leaving her for another woman, so she needed to be mad about that for a while.
We’d learned a valuable lesson—namely, that sex-tracking apps sucked almost everything fun out of knocking boots.
It was in the midst of this erotic desert that I noticed Intima’s “Notice” button, with two different phone alerts: “Do it today!” and “No-sex day!” I considered setting the first, then showing it to Cece whenever it sounded, as if to suggest that we had no say in the matter, but this plan seemed unlikely to work.
All I can say is, thank god for Super Bowl Sunday, as there is no stronger aphrodisiac than waking up late with the knowledge that your only obligation for the day is to consume more wings and nachos than your digestive tract can process.
As such, we quickly began fooling around, not even bothering to kick the dogs out of the bedroom. We wound up clocking in with our shortest time yet: 14 minutes, 23 seconds. Were we getting… faster? I didn’t relish the idea.
I had the opportunity to improve on my time the following evening, once more with the assist from an actor Cece can’t help but fawn over (Dean Winters, aka Mayhem in the Allstate Insurance ads). As we slipped into the bedroom and I pulled out my phone, my darling wife said, and I quote: “Again with that thing?” She then highlighted how demoralizing it was to see me turn the timer off after we’d both come, precluding the hope of further sport between the sheets.
She was right: Technology had transformed me from a considerate lover into a number-crunching monster. We laughed at how worthless and self-defeating the apps were, and I promised to delete them—after one final session. She wanted it from behind, and when I finished, I reached not for my phone on the nightstand but for my soulmate, who evidently had one more climax in the chamber. I was my goddamn gentleman self once more.
Over two weeks, we had spent a bit more than 75 minutes, or 0.3 percent of that time, having sex.
In the end, we drew this copulation out to 27 minutes and 13 seconds, shattering the arbitrary 23-minute ceiling imposed by Track My Sex Life and Intima.
Apps couldn’t contain our lust.
We’d learned a valuable lesson—namely, that sex-tracking apps sucked almost everything fun out of knocking boots. That said, we now had some data to reflect upon. Over two weeks, we had spent a bit more than 75 minutes, or 0.3 percent of that time, having sex.
More telling were the infographics generated in Track My Sex Life and Intima. Here’s how our position frequency broke down, according to both apps. Be sure to note the dumb slang:
A perfectly eclectic mélange, you’d have to agree, even if doggy style is overrepresented compared to our day-to-day shagging. (We did, as I mentioned, have something to prove.) The pie chart for our locations, by contrast, presented a stark reality: As much much as we love each other, we love being inside, in our bed, most of all. Surely we can all agree that no one wants to fuck in a blizzard.
And let’s not forget the most important graph, lifetime satisfaction.
Was this anything we hadn’t already intuited? Nah. But should our relationship ever crumble in divorce court—and in the wake of this article, it might—this evidence will come in handy.
Illustration by J. Longo