Mammals use grooming to connect socially with others. They also snuggle up together for warmth and comfort. Regardless of any responsiveness, there is a comfort in the proximity of another person’s body: the gentle rise and fall of their abdomen, the warmth and feel of their skin are reassuring.
In the early days of a romance, lovemaking is an expression of a couple’s love for each other. Sex is only a small part of the quality time they spend together. A woman views intercourse as a lovemaking act where a man demonstrates his sexual admiration for her (his ability to be aroused by her body) and his sex drive (ability to impregnate her). But over time men tend to become engrossed in their daily pursuits and sex is taken for granted.
Men fail to appreciate that women want a relationship and not sex (directly). When a man dedicates non-sexual time to showing an interest in a woman and that he cares for her (beyond sex), a woman may be motivated to demonstrate her affection by offering sex. A woman ideally hopes for a loving partner to enjoy sharing affection and intimate communication. She enjoys the emotional reassurance of having a partner’s support and protection. She enjoys the reflected glory and pride in his achievements.
A woman is not aroused by sexual activity so she needs to feel very positively towards a man (and trust him) to offer sex. Without an emotional connection, even the idea of sex is disgusting to her. Sex involves a woman allowing a man to touch, kiss and penetrate her most private anatomy. Women are revolted (not aroused by) the genitals and body fluids that men enjoy. Sex involves a serious emotional commitment for most women.
When a woman is attracted to a man she admires, she is flattered that he wants intercourse with her. She feels emotionally exhilarated by the idea that he is aroused by her body and wants to penetrate her. When men are attracted to a woman, they seem to assume that a woman automatically reciprocates their feelings as if women have no responses of their own. This may be because the male sex drive causes men to convince themselves of a partner’s amenability or because men objectify people who arouse them.
A woman allows a man to make love to her. She has a choice so it’s not about being dominated. It’s about allowing, inviting and welcoming. This emotional reward is much stronger than simply going along with what a man wants. A woman can enjoy a sense of longing, wanting to be loved, enjoying being desired sexually. She wants to matter to him so that he will care for her. She lets him penetrate her body for his own gratification. An affectionate female lover enjoys giving pleasure when a man pleases her in other ways. Her reward is his gratitude for sexual release. Men show this gratitude by subsidising a woman’s lifestyle and pleasing her in other ways.
A woman obtains a different kind of emotional reward from sex compared with men. She feels loved and needed because of the pleasure a man gets from her body. These emotions are not sexual (involving arousal and orgasm) but they are just as vital to a woman feeling emotionally connected to a lover as the sexual emotions (based on arousal and orgasm) a man feels.
A woman’s inclination to offer sex is not just generosity on her part. It is also a selfish behaviour because she knows that by offering sex, she will gain more control in the relationship. A woman can be much more sure of a man’s interest in her once a relationship transitions from platonic to sexual. A man’s emotional reward is the sexual release and pleasure he obtains from sexual activity with a lover. A woman’s emotional reward is the male devotion that results from providing a man with the sexual release he needs.
When a woman shows initiative, for example by caressing or kissing a man, he assumes that she is aroused. But her demonstration of affection is purely platonic and is not sexually motivated. Ironically, it is her desire to demonstrate her affection that encourages a man’s sex drive. This is why many women stop being affectionate over time because they learn that any demonstration of affection is always interpreted by men as a lead-in to sex.
A woman has emotional needs just as a man does. But these emotional needs are not met through orgasm. Some women may define their emotional needs in terms of arousal and orgasm because this is how men relate to the concept of emotional connection. Women try to express the sense of connection they feel from sex. This is an attempt to be taken seriously by men who define all adult intimacy in terms of sexual responses.
A man’s sex drive causes him to be proactive about seeking intercourse with women he is attracted to. Instead of a sex drive, women feel an emotional attachment to others. This sometimes builds up slowly, if a man is devoted to her. Women are also attracted to men and fall in love. But women have no control over persuading a man to reciprocate their feelings because this relies on his sexual responses. Women can only hope and dream. Romance involves a passive behaviour based on emotional responses, including anticipation and waiting that does not appeal to men. Women enjoy romance novels for the poignancy of the emotions they feel, by identifying with how a woman feels on discovering that a man reciprocates her love.
Tell her she’s important to you. For a woman to feel the desire for sex, she needs to feel loved, adored and significant. (Allan & Barbara Pease 1999)