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.
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.
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 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.
When a woman is affectionate with a man, he interprets this as a desire for sexual intimacy. This is because he is aroused by her physical proximity and he assumes that she responds sexually in the same way. But her demonstration of affection is purely platonic and is not sexually motivated. Her desire to demonstrate 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.
Genital stimulation is important to men but has little emotional value for women due to their lack of erotic arousal. If pleasuring involves women passively accepting what men offer then it is really just men’s attempt to balance the rewards of sex. True rewards involve what we are motivated to ask for. Men need to listen to what women want. This rarely involves any kind of sexual contact. It much more often involves relationship issues such as more open communication, honesty and genuine caring behaviours.
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 man will be more committed to a sexual relationship than a platonic one. A man’s emotional reward is the sexual pleasure he enjoys with a lover. A woman’s emotional reward is the male devotion that results from providing a man with the sexual release he needs.
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. In the early days of a romance, sex is only a small part of the quality time a couple spends together. Over time men tend to become engrossed in their daily pursuits and sex is taken for granted. As the novelty wears off, a man invests less in making love and sex becomes more of a duty for a woman
A woman does not have a sex drive but she may feel a strong emotional attachment. She may fall in love instantly or she may be persuaded over time, if a man is devoted. But women have no similar ability to persuade a man to reciprocate their feelings. Men are driven by their sexual responses. Women can only hope and dream. Romance involves a passive behaviour, including anticipation and waiting that does not appeal to men. Women enjoy romance novels for the poignancy of the emotions, 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)