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. Women hope for affectionate companionship but men focus on their sexual needs.
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 effort to attract a man and fulfil his needs.
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 a compromise but perhaps to a different degree. Over time people of both sexes may find that they do come to expect something of the relationship and of their sexual 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.
Most women only engage in sexual activity because they are in a relationship. Almost all of that activity is initiated and driven by their male partner. Women see lovemaking as a demonstration of a man’s love for a woman. Many women dislike the idea of any sexual activity outside a loving relationship. They do not understand the need for masturbation or other crude and explicit activities. 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 focus on opportunities for penetrative sex, especially when young. Men assume women want genital stimulation as much as men do. But women do not the sex drive and the sexual frustration that focuses men on obtaining sexual relief. It’s not that men are incapable of platonic love. But men’s sex drive puts sexual love at the centre of 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. The male dilemma is how to negotiate sexual opportunities. This relies on a partner’s amenability.
Women have the opposite dilemma. They know a man wants regular sex and they feel under pressure to provide it. Women often fail to appreciate that a man wants sex foremost and a relationship may follow. Marriage involves a man agreeing to limit his sexual opportunities with other women in exchange for his wife offering him regular sex. Relationships are primarily for a woman’s benefit since they are needed to support family life.
Men complain that women always want to change them. Women are not happy with men as they are. Equally men want women to be as enthusiastic about sex as men are. Men want to believe (despite the contrary evidence) that women are motivated by eroticism. Men want regular sex and they don’t need a relationship to enjoy it. Men grow up in a world where men have more power and money than women. 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 relationships) where women surpass men. Yet men feel it is humiliating to learn from a woman.
Men often lack natural 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.?
Men’s willingness to support women in return for sex, makes it advantageous for a woman to offer sex. But sex does not satisfy women’s emotional needs. Women appreciate affection and evidence that a man is concerned for their welfare on an on-going basis. Men do not have the same instinct to demonstrate this kind of platonic affection towards those they love. Men most typically show affection when they feel gratitude after sex. We often expect a partner to put up with or accept behaviour that we would not accept from someone else. This is wrong. Naturally we hope for support but 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)