In modern times we talk of sexual partners but in the past, heterosexuals more often talked of lovers. Women do not think of sex in terms of the erotic turn-ons and genital stimulation as men do. Women think of sex in terms of a man’s sexual passion in romantic scenarios. A man’s desire is communicated in his sense of purpose, the firmness of his kiss and his touch on her body. His desire to penetrate her body is very evident. Intercourse is an act of carnal desire that satisfies a man’s sexual needs. It becomes an act of love when a man takes a woman’s emotional needs into consideration. When a man shows his admiration for a woman by sensual caressing and kissing as a demonstration of his affection, intercourse becomes a lovemaking act. But this all relies on a woman accepting a man as her lover.
Sex acts like a barometer in relationships because, if a woman feels loved and appreciated, she may offer a man the sex he needs. A woman has emotional needs just as a man does. But these emotional needs are not met through orgasm. Some women define their emotional needs in terms of orgasm because this is how men relate to intimacy. 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 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 physical 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.
Men are driven by their sexual responsiveness. A man is attracted to someone who arouses him sexually. A woman falls in love or she comes to love a man, if he is devoted to her. But a woman’s platonic love does not mean that a man will return her love. If a woman is attracted to a man, she can only hope and dream. Romance involves passive anticipation that has no appeal for men. Women enjoy romance and the poignant emotions a woman feels when she discovers that a man, she loves, reciprocates her love.
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. 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. She accepts that this male devotion includes a desire to engage in intercourse.
When a man is attracted to a woman, he assumes that she has exactly the same responses that men do. He doesn’t appreciate that women have quite different emotional responses. 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). Equally women fail to appreciate that male sex drive means men have very different sensations to women’s platonic (not involving genital arousal), romantic and emotional responses.
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. This is why many women stop being affectionate over time because they learn that men interpret any demonstration of affection as a lead-in to sex.
When a man dedicates time to showing an interest in a woman and demonstrating that he cares for her (beyond sex), a woman may be motivated to demonstrate her affection. A woman ideally hopes for a loving partner to enjoy sharing affection and intimate communication. She enjoys the emotional reassurance of having a lover’s support and protection. She takes pride in his achievements and enjoys the reflected glory from his success.
In the early days of a romance, sex is only a small part of the quality time a couple spends together. Men may be devoted in a new relationship but after years together, the novelty wears off. Men tend to become engrossed in their daily pursuits over time and sex is taken for granted. In the past, women were tied into relationships because they were dependent on men for support. In modern times, women look elsewhere for the emotional love they want. They turn to their children, to friends or to a new, more devoted lover.
Genital stimulation is important to men but it has little emotional value for women due to their lack of erotic arousal. Given sexual pleasuring involves women passively accepting what men offer then, in truth, men’s efforts to arouse women are just about men trying to balance the rewards of sex in ways that appeal to them. True emotional rewards involve what we are motivated to ask for. Men need to listen to what women want, which rarely involves any kind of sexual contact. It more often involves relationship issues such as open communication, more honesty and genuine caring behaviours.
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)