Today we talk about ‘hooking up’ and ‘performance’. Euphemisms communicate a sophistication of being trendy but also avoid using sexually explicit vocabulary. No one talks about orgasm explicitly. It’s all about multiple orgasms or how intense an orgasm is. Bravado is a way of covering up embarrassment over discussing sexual issues explicitly. Women boast about the orgasms they enjoy. Men also boast about female orgasm. Men imply that their skills as a lover provide every woman they meet with amazing sexual pleasure. Male orgasm is always assumed.
We avoid discussing issues in relationships for a variety of reasons. We many want to avoid verbal or physical aggression. We may not want to admit that we have behaved badly, that we have said things we shouldn’t have or that we were wrong. We may want to continue behaving in a way that suits us but that we know we cannot justify.
A man is apprehensive about talking about sex play because he suspects that a woman will disapprove. Rather than accept defeat he decides to see just how passive she will be and if she will accept his initiative just because she’s too embarrassed to say no.
A man may take the initiative by exploring his lover’s body to see what she will allow him to do. He may anticipate her conservativeness and her possible rejection of more adventurous sex play. The woman doesn’t provide any active help. Men are used to having to show initiative so they assume the responsibility is theirs.
The problem is the lack of communication once sexual activity starts. It is difficult to communicate consent or objection to sexual activity midstream. This communication may improve over time depending on whether the couple has invested in discussing sexual pleasuring outside the bedroom.
When a man is young, his need overcomes his timidity in asking for the sex a woman may not want. But as he ages his is not so confident of his performance. Men do not know how to discuss this situation.
The man slowly loses confidence or cannot get aroused as easily. The couple stops having sex but they never discuss the situation. The man still wants sex but he doesn’t know how to talk about the subject. It’s too emotional and he’s aware of his selfish needs.
Most couples never talk about sex. The man may start by kissing and caressing the woman lovingly. He may stimulate her breasts or her groin to enjoy the sensations of his own arousal. Once the urge to thrust becomes overwhelming, he climbs on top and thrusts into her vagina until he ejaculates. He rolls off and goes to sleep.
But over time this situation deteriorates. The woman’s body language becomes increasingly less welcoming and her boredom is very evident through the whole lovemaking process. She may start to avoid sex by going to bed at a different time. Despite the stereotype of the assertive male, many men are quite timid when it comes to sex. So a man is reluctant to initiate sexual activity if a woman is openly hostile.
Men’s performance in intercourse is vital to them. They fear failure in everything but especially in sex. They don’t want to be judged or criticised by a woman. They fear they are getting something wrong but they don’t know how to put it right.
Marriage is a balance of power. If a man isn’t getting the sex he wants, then he has to change the balance of power. One of the key reasons (but not the only one) women have sex with their husbands is to keep them paying the bills or to keep the family together. If a man says he will never look at another woman, then he puts himself in a weak position. If you have nothing to bargain with then it’s tough. It’s not about engaging in explicit bargaining but about having an implicit threat in the background. A man has to find ways (subtle or otherwise) of giving a woman a reason to keep him happy. It would be nice if women could do it for love. But it doesn’t always work like that. Some men even pay their wives for sex…
A man needs to back off for a while (for a month or two) and give his partner time to miss his interest in her. He needs to stop hassling for sex. He should wait until she wants him to notice her. The frequency with which couples have intercourse is linked entirely to the man’s sex drive. The woman has nothing to do with it. A couple should put a ban on intercourse and focus on other forms of mutual pleasuring. Remember intercourse is good for two things: making babies and facilitating male orgasm. So intercourse should be used only towards the end of love-making.
Men and women have different emotional needs. We all go along with certain things just to keep the peace. But then we think: what do we want from this? Are we happy? If the answer’s ‘no’ then we have to think again. We can go for just so long on automatic pilot, making do with what comes our way. Then all of a sudden it’s not enough. Something has to change.
One man talked about this chasm as ‘My own Gulf war … 6 inches between us in the bed feels like 1,000 miles!’ (Bettina Arndt 2009)