Intimate love — 24 July 2012
Is sex all that men really want?

Some women lament that all that their male partner wants is sex. A common joke among men is that when a man is not thinking about sex, his mind is wandering. The humor is entertaining, but when men’s desires are depicted in a derogatory way it is harmful to both men and women and their shared intimacy.

Male sexual interests and prowess have been known since time immemorial. Research of the topic surprised Americans when Dr Alfred Kinsey and associates published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” in 1948, and “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” in 1953. Many other studies followed.

Professor Edward Laumann of the University of Chicago, the lead author of “The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States,” documents that men experience greater frequency of sexual preoccupations as compared to women. “The majority of adult men under 60 think about sex at least once a day. Only about one-quarter of women report this level of frequency.” Dr. Laumann explains that the difference stems from men’s biologically programmed drive to pass along their genetic material while women’s desires are propelled by the need to select a stable father and provider for the family. The latter requires greater scrutiny to assess commitment and character.

Esther Perel, author of “Mating in Captivity” states that men’s and women’s needs are expressed differently. “Women want to talk first, connect first, then have sex. For men, sex is the connection. It is their language of intimacy.”

Many pairs describe that the woman’s desired courtship, talk and romance prior to sexual intimacy perplexes the man who experiences greater openness to verbal connection after sex.

One plausible explanation is that men feel less secure in becoming emotionally vulnerable before they are assured that the woman has fully accepted them. Every man knows that his woman is less likely to be aroused and sexually responsive if she is angry, hurt or not pleased with him at any given time. Once the woman has sexually received the man, he is safer to be emotionally tender with her as well.

Some men consider their female’s need for courtship and foreplay as excessive and  needless attention-seeking behavior. Some women find male’s high sexual energy as self-centered and demanding. Negative self-talk about your mate’s needs is harmful to your shared intimacy.

Though men’s and women’s avenues to physical/emotional intimacy are different, respecting your mate’s needs and kindly accommodating them can render greater physical and emotional connection to both you and your partner.

Treat sex in the context of love:

  • No, Virginia – men want more than sex. They want your love, acceptance, participation and pleasure.
  • Abstain from derogatory thoughts about your partner’s need for sexual frequency, desire, arousal, preparatory courtship or timing.
  • Recognize that criticizing or even joking about your partner’s sexual needs can be shaming and interfering with intimacy.
  • Be receptive to your partner’s physical needs with love and enthusiasm for a healthy shared intimacy.


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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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