Is Sex Overrated?

Posted on June 5, 2015 by Robert Ringer


I don’t recall the context, but some years ago a fellow I was involved with in a business deal took me aback when he said, “I think sex is the most overrated thing in life.” It was one of those comments that catches you off guard and leaves you mentally thrashing about for a response.

But I’ve thought about his comment many times over the years, and since I can never be certain as to exactly what he meant by sex being overrated, my conclusions are based on my arbitrary interpretation of his words.

My take is that, notwithstanding the fact that sex is arguably the most gratifying physical activity known to mankind, when it ends (and it does so relatively quickly, except in the case of liars), the enjoyment is not only gone but the activity has contributed nothing quantifiable to the participants’ lives.

There’s a reason why the moment before sex ends is referred to as a climax. It happens abruptly, and then, suddenly — nothing. Some might be tempted to call sexual gratification an illusion, an illusion that it’s more important than it really is. I think that’s probably what my business acquaintance meant when he caught me off guard with his surprising comment.

So, yes, sex is overrated if you look at it in that light. But, as they say, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. And another way of looking at sex is that you can pretty much say the same thing about most everything in life.

For example, you can work for years training for the Olympics, come in first in your event, and then — the climax — stand in front of a billion people worldwide and receive a gold medal. What a high that must be.

But what happens when you go back home and return to real life? How do you ever equal the high you felt standing on that platform and receiving your gold medal? Sure, some athletes win gold medals at two or three Olympics, but each event comes to an end with the medals ceremony, after which the high dissipates into everyday life.

The same can be said of graduating from medical school, getting married, closing a big financial deal, or any other big achievement in your life. The moment you’re handed your degree … or the clergyman pronounces you man and wife … or the check is dispersed to you at the closing … whatever it may be, that’s the moment of climax. And in each and every case, the next day it’s back to everyday life.

So when you get right down to it, everything you work toward has a climax if you accomplish your objective, a climax that is followed by a return to normal life. If every day of a person’s life was a climax, there really would be no such thing as a climax, because every day would be the same.

I’ve never been addicted to anything, but I’ve heard that sex addicts don’t really enjoy sex, because they’re chasing something that doesn’t exist — a perpetual climax. The more a person seeks sexual pleasure just for the sake of proving his sexuality, the more he fails to find pleasure and the more miserable he is. Ditto with alcoholics, drug addicts, and compulsive gamblers.

Viktor Frankl referred to this phenomenon as “paradoxical intention” — the more you make something your aim, the more likely you are to miss it. It’s a matter of manifesting your destiny without becoming so attached to a specific outcome that your happiness depends upon your achieving that exact outcome. Real happiness ensues as a side effect of having a day-to-day purpose in life.

My point is that even though experiencing a climactic moment — in any area of life — is a wonderful feeling, it’s not what life is about. That’s why being totally focused on every moment — living in the moment — is so rewarding.

There are 604,800 seconds in a week, and to me it makes sense to try to make each and every one of those seconds as rewarding as possible in instead of obsessing over the next high that you hope will be coming down the road.

Or, as Andy Rooney once put it, “You better enjoy the little things in life, because the big ones don’t come around very often.” Amen. It’s why so much has been written about the importance of living a meaningful life and enjoying the day-to-day struggles that move you toward your goals. Actually reaching a major goal is always a high, but, like sex, even though it’s a wonderful feeling, it’s a short-lived high.

Achieving goals is a positive aspect of life, but it’s a bad idea to become obsessed by them. I have a hunch that when someone is nearing the end, the most important thing he takes with him are not the goals he achieved during his lifetime, but his memories.

So perhaps, when all is said and done, the most meaningful thing we do during our short stay here on the secular side of life is create memories. Memories have no climax. Memories are forever.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

42 responses to “Is Sex Overrated?”

  1. Joe says:

    Excellent reminder about being in the moment and pursuing one's goals with the right balanced approach. Couldn't agree more the path must be equally as profound as the destination. With sex, we learn to enjoy the build-up, foreplay, each moment that we relate with the other as much as we do the climax. Same with pursing goals.

    The only thing I don't necessarily agree with is the ending. Memories for me aren't the source of happiness or peace. It's more knowing that every moment possesses the power of presence and if I'm in tune with the moment I don't need anything else; neither climaxes or memories.

    • Shankar says:

      I am of the same opinion. If memories are forever, we have a serious problem by keeping bad memories. Forgiving and forgetting are part of life. May be we may need another good explanation on 'Memories' from Robert Ringer.

  2. Scott theczech says:

    You have once again reminded me that striking a balance in life is a worthwhile endeavor. Goals are a very tempting thing because they help motivate, but so does fear, though not for long enough.

    Perhaps the real goal should be to enjoy each moment…each memory. To find fulfillment in relationship, profession, and spiritual satisfaction. Then ostensibly sex will be part and parcel of that journey – thereby helping one live a life, well lived.

  3. J-B says:

    What a wonderful idea. To set my goal for the day as simply: "I will create a great memory of today." This immediately removes the anxiety, the anger, the spitefulness, the envy and vindictiveness — all the worries of not having enough of things — and allows one to actually enjoy life and see a greater purpose.

  4. It has a lot to do with who your lover is. Is it a person you connect with on all levels? If so, when the two swim together in the sea of love, joining as one—the heavens sing a joyous tune of magic and wonder.

    Obviously, making love is more than physical. The most ecstatic sex soars as a sensuous activity that excites the mind and spirit, capturing the core of one’s being. And yes, memories are forever.

  5. Just say it, as Camus did in THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS, the good in life is the PROCESS, not END-ORIENTATION. And, the psycho-dynamics and physiology of sexual relating is far more "health giving" than mere climax. A provocative topic, however.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      Or life is about the journey not the destination. However, our culture is constantly distracted with inputs about the future (and many others spend hours on the past), so we MISS the present moment . . . which, as Eckhart Tolle says, is ALL of life. I am doing much better in that present moment awareness than I used to, and a lot of my motivation was due to how fleeting the highs of any accomplishment/event/experience were. Memories are fine, but relying too much on them for happiness will ALSO cause one to miss the present moment. In the end, we must choose to ENJOY this moment, regardless of what package it comes wrapped in . . and I know that is not always easy.

  6. polycarp Iwu says:

    Yes , this is very true especially on the very issue of our existence. One needs to add up little efforts instead of banking on a big bang.

  7. Liz says:

    I agree with the notion that sex is overrated but not with the assessment that it "contributes nothing quantifiable." There is quite a bit of research on the benefits to physical and mental health from regular sexual practice. As the maxim instructs: It does a body good.

    For the first half of my life, he bulk of my sexual experience, while functionally satisfying, was not that particularly remarkable and I really didn't understand why people made such a big deal out of sex. And then I had an experience of sexuality that was remarkable and quite significant in changing the way that I felt about myself. It left me with a confidence that has not dissipated even 25 years afterward — it was as though the experience 'fixed" something that was broken.

    While I agree that the energy and focus we put into all our activities is what creates the most satisfaction in life, I don't discount the extraordinary and profound miracles that can occur for us in even so debatable a subject as sex.

    • Daniel says:

      I don't mean to come across as a voyeur or pervert; I'm neither. But could you give us a hint (nothing explicit, of course) of what that "remarkable and quite significant" experience was? Your "miracle" may enlighten others meaningfully.

      • Liz says:

        There was nothing unusual about the actual activity and that was part of the charm but I was also set up for success by my previous relationship.

        I was about 5 months out of a 13 year marriage to a person who was quite focused on sex and fascinated by enhancement of all sorts. It became tiring, boring, frustrating to expend so much energy on something I see as simply another natural body function like sleeping, eating, eliminating, etc. Sex is nice but it isn't an addiction or a mental aberration for me and I didn't see the point of working that hard for something I could do for myself with 1/10th the effort and time. And all the attention given to all that extraneous "stuff" made me feel like I was not enough. (This wasn't the reason the marriage ended but it did contribute to my overall dissatisfaction.)

        Then I met someone who looked at sex the same way I did, who didn't need sex to be a circus, who was engaged by simply having sex with me. And we had a lot of simple, ordinary, unimaginative sex. A lot. And I had many transcendental, heightened awareness, out of body experiences in the process.

        So, I can't give you any wise insights into sexuality other than the oldest advise in the books — be totally there, give full attention to the person, let them feel the love.

  8. Dan Breslin says:

    Well said Robert. Love the way you tied in life using the metaphor of sexually gratification.

    Just discovered your blog after reating your books a few years back. My business and life changed after I learned to win through intimidation.

  9. Atoy Dequit / Phil says:

    Yes you are right. Sex is short lived. It was meant to be. Because sex is a taste of heaven. It is just a glimpse of the happiness when we are in heaven with God. When you taste something it is a short moment.

    Yes Robert after the climax, everything return to its normal state. It is an indication that it was not the final one. The final climax is when we are with God. In there there was no end cause time has no hold in God.

    • NoSpin says:

      Agree! "He who seeks to save his life shall lose it, he who will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
      Matt 10:39

  10. Paradox says:

    If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
    And treat those two imposters just the same…
    – Kipling

    • That is what the Buddha explained in the concept of NONATTACMENT. Not DEtachment, but NONattachment. If so ok, if not ok, regarding outcomes, yet allows for total participation in life. And yes, "atttude toward" makes a big difference in all we do, etc.

  11. oscarwildeweenr says:

    It certainly sells. In its season. when the seasoning is “picante”. The spice trade, the silk road, the incense route are overlapping sections of ‘the path’. saw “the way” last night. bit o’ schmaltz. & path rigor can be seen in sheen, but especially Deborah cara unger, who was barely recognizable. But there was a bit of dialog: “you don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.” even closer to it, I’d say, is that life lives you – at whatever speed, intensity, your bit of conduit can handle – or can’t handle, even. picante’s relative to begin with, yields to relative poquito, marco polo stays home, maybe buys a memorial Porsche. Like the memorific man seen cockpitting his audi R8, in the whole foods parking lot…the picante pulchritude with him was not his granddaughter. ☺

    Freud synonyms sex. His nephew, bernays, converted that angle into lots of commercial success (sexcess?). The right objects will transform you into an object to be desired. Lol. punchlines are funny to the extent they capture a bit of the true, tho. conga, samba & punch – funny dances.

    La petite mort. “the little death”. Climax. Is the resemblance superficial? Or does it hint at something else? Fight/flight/freeze. When an animal’s nervous system throws the towel, freezes, a flood of endogenous opioids are released. Fear & pain are mitigated, if not erased. & ohhhhhh, does it feel nice. maybe this is what manimals are addicted to, & the ‘death instinct’ (Freud, again) is just side effect. or, if a little death is nice, then a lot is even nicer. end-o-gen(o)us: the biggest of big bangs (from a certain, limited, perspective), an orgy of all, featuring the heretofore largely unknown simultaneous climax. Mythorgasmic. If so, kinda’ puts the path in pathology.☻ the day-o in the dao? Yes, we have no bananas – but many of us are bananas? Lol…..

  12. Carol says:

    When you've trained for the Olympics, won your gold medal and experienced the glory on the podium, then life returns to humdrum normality, you'll get by. Just pull a Bruce Jenner so you can do it all again!

  13. John Abbott says:

    Robert, when you had SEX in the headline, then started talking about Olympic athletes, I was SURE you were gonna talk about Bruce Jenner! The article made me think. Maybe THAT is why he married Kim Kardasian. Then he went TOTALLY crazy. Good article, feel bad for Bruce though.

  14. James says:

    One of the biggest problems I have yet to figure out is the unpredictability with our government and I other governments. One day everything seems to be fine and then the next thing you know an event like 9-11 happens, completely changing the rules of the game.

    Currently I see a story on Drudge Report where China is allegedly building database on Americans. That doesn't seem like a good sign! :(

    I understand it's a good idea to take actions that increase your odds of success in areas such as health, finances, family, etc. But the big mystery to me is what to do about sadistic governments, politicians and other crackpots that always seem to be there to trip you just when you're making progress.

    Hope this makes sense :)

    • Governments need BENEVOLENT Leaders, but the POWER MAD usurp that potential using "politics". Having an intelligent and somewhat educated electorate would help, but how to grow one of those? Speaking of the American form of "Democracy" that has become a "Medicracy". Will REAL superiority ever come in Government? Will superiority ever be highly regarded again. I grew up hearing, "May the best man… person win!" Not anymore. If ever.

  15. Frank Healy HSAM says:

    As a person who remembers every day of my life since I was six years old ( I am now fifty five) I do agree that memories are a great way to view your life as having had many great times and not just sex, pleasures, and occasional accomplishments. In my book "Heal Your Memories, Change Your Life" I teach my readers how to heal form the pain of unpleasant memories. However, there is a corollary to that. When you remember pleasant episodes in your life you realize that you and everyone have many reasons that your life is and was worthwhile.
    Striking the balance, as Robert recommends is a great way to keep building great times and great memories.

  16. Molly says:

    Even though you might think that sex is overrated and whatnot, it's important to admit that sexual education is truly important, especially to women. Women have a right to know how their bodies work from the young age, how to stay safe too. I'm writing a paper about sexual education with the help of , and it's very interesting.

  17. Chris says:

    Gee, my wife also thought sex was overrated until we got better and she started having 30-90 second "climaxes" once or twice per week.

    I suppose if there is no love for the partner then sex could be overrated.

    A sexual climax satiates but getting married or attaining a gold medal takes a person to a higher plane in life affording different opportunities.

  18. John says:

    "…sex is arguably the most gratifying physical activity known to mankind, when it ends (and it does so relatively quickly, except in the case of liars), the enjoyment is not only gone but the activity has contributed nothing quantifiable to the participants’ lives…"

    Absolutely true, with conventional sex. Absolutely false in the case of 'Karezza,' which is the modern term for non-orgasmic spiritual sex. Karezza greatly strengthens the physical and psychological bonds between husband and wife or dedicated partners, reduces irritability, increases creativity, etc. Spiritual sex may be one of the most tightly kept secrets of the various secret orders over the ages. You can read about Karezza in the book, 'Cupid's Poisoned Arrow' or the excellent website,

  19. jinteb says:

    A producer of the Steven Seagal thriller movie UNDER SIEGE said it took years to get that movie made, and it was a big hit…for two weeks. Which qualifies as a big hit, but he still couldn't help but contrast those two weeks to the years it took to get it made.

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  23. RingerFan says:

    I don't know why Robert feels the need to keep mentioning the scam artist Voctor Frankl. It really hurts his credibility in my eyes.

    • oscarwildeweenr says:

      artist scam comes before scam artist, more alphabetically often than not.

      that said, the given names change, the language faces change, but false ends/means distinctions & short-cut time preferences are meanly medianly modal…& process, no bit of it any more important than any other bit of it, none of it discontinuous, is & remains, as always, way out there in the tale, told by an idiot, full of sound & fury, signifying nothing…according to the meanly medianly modal. ☺

  24. I don't agree that people who say it doesn't end quickly are liars. Physically sex is not demanding compared to legitimate exercise.

    I also don't agree that it's the best feeling known to mankind, it's only the anticipation of the feeling, not the actual feeling.

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