Men & women’s perspectives on relationships

Sexuality is about a sexual relationship, which includes social, emotional and sexual aspects. Long-term committed relationships are vital to supporting families over the decades needed to raise children. A man tends to focus on his sexual needs but a woman wants an affectionate companion.

We have two sexes, which complement each other by being different. Men see their personal status as central to how others value them. They enjoy erotic fantasies and genital activity. A man is sexy because he is responsive. Women are emotional. They enjoy love and companionable activities. A woman is sexy because she makes herself attractive to men.

If men and women wanted the same things in life, then we would have a much easier time getting on with each other. Of course, no two people are alike. So homosexual relationships also involve compromise but perhaps to a different degree. Over time people of both sexes may come to accept that they do expect something of the relationship and of their partners.

Throughout human history men and women have faced death in very different situations. Men have died and witnessed the death of others in violent situations such as battles, rescue services, sport, hunting and other dangerous activities. Women most usually have died and witnessed the death of others in domestic situations such as childbirth and nursing the old and the sick (often children). So men and women have very different emotional responses because they are vulnerable in different situations.

Men tend to focus on opportunities for sex, especially when young. The male dilemma is how to negotiate sexual opportunities. This relies on a partner’s willingness. Men assume that women want genital stimulation as men do. But women do not have men’s sex drive and the sexual frustration that focuses men on obtaining sexual relief. Women have the opposite dilemma in a sexual relationship. They know a man wants sex on a regular basis (some more than others) and they feel under pressure to provide it.

Men grow up in a world where men dominate, earn more and have more power than women do. They assume that male superiority is the natural order of things. Men find it difficult to acknowledge that inevitably there must be some areas (such as intimate relationships) where women surpass men. Yet men feel it would be humiliating to learn from a woman.

It’s not that men are incapable of platonic love. But men’s sex drive means that sexual love is core to their adult life. Men are motivated by the emotions that arise from obtaining sexual release. A man feels loved when his sexual needs are satisfied. Women do not have an arousal cycle (a reliable progression from arousal to orgasm) as men do. Women enjoy the emotions that arise from come from sharing affectionate companionship.

Men sometimes complain that women always want to change them. That women are not happy with men as they are. But it is just as true that men want to make women more sexual and more like men. Men want to believe (despite all the contrary evidence) that women are motivated by eroticism.

Women make relationships work. Men are much less likely to compromise their own individual interests. This is natural since relationships are primarily for a woman’s benefit. Men want regular sex and they don’t need a relationship to enjoy it. Relationships are needed to support family life. So a man agrees to limits his sexual opportunities with other women (through marriage) in exchange for a woman offering him regular sex.

Men tend to have little nature instinct when it comes to relationships with women. Here are some ideas:

  • Do you regularly ask your partner how she is? Do you take an interest in what is important to her?
  • What do you want from a relationship? What does your partner want? How do you balance these demands?
  • Where are you? At work, preoccupied, never present, not taking part? How can you contribute at home?
  • Do others respect you? Do you keep in shape, take care of yourself? When did you talk about issues, honesty etc.?

There is a tendency in long-term relationships for a couple to take each other for granted. We expect a partner to ‘put up with’ or accept behaviour that we would not accept from someone else. This is wrong. We need to consider what we expect from our lovers in the context of what we expect from others. Naturally we hope for support but we should respect those we love. We should treat our lover better than others because we love them.

Overall, men were more likely than women to be sexually active, report a good quality sex life, and be interested in sex. (Lindau & Gavrilova 2010)