Men Using Sex To Gain Intimacy

Sex + Emotion

Sex + Emotion

By Jonathan Cadet

Women need intimacy to get to sex, they say. Well, it may be weak for a man to admit this, but we don’t have sex just for sex. A lot of us have sex because it’s one of the few ways we can express our emotions and gain intimacy.

I’d never thought about it until my women’s psych professor talked about how hard it is for men to express emotion.

But now I think it’s one reason why we seem to crave sex more than women do. 

Of course, there’s the biology of it. We are more “loaded” with testosterone. And twice as much of our brain is taken up with sex. And women’s sexuality is more repressed by our society’s double standard. But we men have a human need for emotional intimacy and expression that is repressed in us, too.

But wait, I know what some guys are thinking: Less talking and more f-ing! Why in the world would that be a problem? It’s a blessing, right?!!

But looking back I’m not proud of some of the things I’ve said to my guy friends when they were trying to have deep conversations about their relationships. Like, “What’s wrong with you? You have no balls!”

Imagine how bad you would feel to hear that when you are seeking advice!

And I haven’t always been real respectful of women, either.

If a guy had asked me a few months ago why men are so obsessed with sex, I would have bragged about my sexual encounters and be like, “Yeah bro that’s how I treat my b****”

No offense to women, but we all do that! But you know what? We don’t mean a single word! We say stuff like that to look manly in front of guys because that’s the stereotype of what guys should be like. Men are tough and insensitive. We shouldn’t communicate our feelings.

Am I the worst person ever? Well, I don’t think I’m a bad person. And a billion other guys could fit in that same box.

Sadly, we buy into the view because if we don’t, we are viewed suspiciously and get rejected.

So we take on the attitude. But then it interferes with being intimate and loving in our close relationships. And then our only recourse to gaining love and intimacy is having more sex. It’s the only thing that is hidden from the outside world and judgment. Because what happens in bed stays in bed. (And lying can seem advisable when guys must pretend that sex is all about performance —  “I f’d her so bad and she liked it !!!” – while omitting the details about all the feelings that were involved.)

In fact, from my own experience, and talking to other guys, a man’s romantic passion is often communicated by the number of times he has sex. The more sex the more in love we are. If sex is less often, that’s usually a bad sign and we may express our disconnect by being unfaithful.

In truth, men and women are more alike than different. Both men and women have essentially the same desires in life and seek the same kinds of satisfactions with each other. Both want love, affection, success, dignity and self-fulfillment. They want to be acknowledged first as unique individuals, and then as men and women.

And emotions and sex are no different, right? So why treat them in different ways for each gender? If women’s sexuality and men’s emotions were freed from repression, we would be able to connect a whole lot more.

Jonathan Cadet is a student who gave permission to post this.

Reposted on the Good Men Project.

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The Rules vs The Game

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on July 14, 2014, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. “If women’s sexuality and men’s emotions were freed from repression, we would be able to connect a whole lot more.”

    I think this is really key, and you hit the nail on the head with this.

    It also kinda explains something I observed when I was younger – if a woman “beats the boys at their own game” as far as enjoying casual sex with no emotional commitment, that’s when the men don’t know what to do. They are so used to the women being more emotional post-sex that when they met someone like me, who actually didn’t want to hear from them the next day, that’s when their emotions started to come out. I remember getting tears and declarations of love from the SAME GUYS that were otherwise breaking hearts left and right.

    I used to think it was all about control and power dynamics – as in, the guys are so used to being in control in this regard that they couldn’t handle it when a woman took their power away from them. I still think that has something to do with it, but now I wonder if part of it is that the guys legitimately had some genuine emotions.

    • Audrey Lorde once worried that too often men live their emotions through women. Maybe your experience uncovered that.

      I suspect the power thing was also involved. Many guys have random sex to create a sense of themselves as having conquered women (getting wmn to submit, and creating a sense of dominance/superiority over them). So turning the tables could leave them angry and disconcerted. Michael Kimmel (men’s studies/feminist perspective) wrote a book called Guyland about guys in their mid-20s. He wrote about how our patriarchal culture can make it hard for women to turn the tables because the guys would often identify the worst parts of themselves — defining in a very negative way– and project that onto the table-turning girls. Basically attack them for turning tables and trying to sustain the double standard. In revenge? To keep their power? Both? Sounds like your experience wasn’t quite so bad. So maybe there’s hope on the women-doing-casual sex front.

    • @athenarcarson9 I agree with what you said 100%. My experience with men in college was the same. I wasn’t looking for anything serious at all and just wanted to get laid but the men could not handle it. You hear about guys saying how they would love to have a girl who’s down just to hookup without getting feelings involved but in my case it was always the men who got their feelings involved. A lot of my girl friends had their hearts broken and i remember one day, sophomore year of college, talking to them and saying, “where are all these asshole guys who only want to have sex with you, because I can’t find one. I’m just trying to get laid and they always get their feelings involved.” I think men usually hook up and move on easily because they know if a girl is having sex with them then she must like them or they think after sex she will get attached, but when a girl has sex only for herself and moves on the guy feels used. The same way many girls do.

      The funny thing is I lived in athletes dorm my freshman year and also joined a sorority, so the only men I knew were either athletes or ones in fraternities. These men are known to have bad reputations when it comes to relationships with women yet I still couldn’t find one who i could hook up with without him trying to get more serious and date me.

      • You know, I think it’s a stereotype that guys prefer hookups.

        If you look at statistics that correlate depression and sexual practice, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between guys who hook up and guys who experience depression, whereas there is some correlation for women — and that’s likely more due to socialization and biology — and many women enjoy hookups. But I saw one study which found that more than 70% of men preferred relationship sex to hooking up.

  2. Why does a man have to have sex to gain intimacy as in hook up? I guess, my desire for it wasn’t simply for numbers or simply for sex, but for “memories” as in the package. Not simply sex, but the “bachelor adventure collage”. You know stuff I could reminisce about when old and settled down and the experiences and fun times I can look back on and reflect with my guy friends who have reflected or laughed about fun times. Sowing oats not for sex simply but as in, meeting new people, new friends, new places, spontaneous stuff, road trips, party in florida,parties, skinny dip threesome at the lake, etc.

    Just randomd, wild times wiht guy friends and things happen, but with girl’s you’re with or her friends who are with you and you have sex with after, So it’s an epic night because of everything combined not just the sex. Actually I never had interest in a one night stand, and just meeting a girl at a bar and taking her to your place after is boring, because there isn’t the stuff like I said, it just the you and the girl and I don’t know. I think the media is to blame in brainwashing guys, as I think guys desire to live out the college based movies they see or the beer commercials, where guys are having a fun time with friends and people at various places and just liviing life but pretty girls at their side and just having fun. It’s the adventure thats important + sex, Just sex? nah,…..

    Just fun with friends but not getting laid? Bittersweet, the two combined essential. Then a man has his memory bank filled with good fun times while he’s young,and then the fun of this eventually fades and then he’s ready to slow down and be serious now. And it’s so much easier to be ready after sowing one’s oats that way. Perhaps it just my perspective, but I think one can hold in their emotions not always because its the guy thing to do, but because this “mission” to live it up when young, as a man getting emotional and gets in a serious relationship when young and before having much experiences might regret things if they get married and have kids and then a divorce happens. But now he can’t go out because he had kids now or there’s regret from not doing more. I know a guy who married quite young, maybe 22 and had kids with his wife, loved her dearly but I guess she wasn’t the best or something changed.

    But they must’ve been married for almost 20 years. Anyway they have been divorced for a few years, and I think she had the teenage kids most of the time. He’s 40 now, but he’s like going out to the bar like every other night and me and other young workers joke how he’s 40 something and he’s going out more than us. People joke around about mid life crisis but I think he is going through it, because he married young and didn’t do as much as he would if he didn’t marrry young, plus well he’s a bit of an alcoholic, functional alcoholic. I’m way too young for that, but I know how much it sucks to have regret, so I think guys might have fun so they can be ready and not have regrets when its time to settle down or so they can.

    • It seems that sex is often about more than just sex. Accessing emotion and creating personal identities of some sort are two big ones. I suspect your experience falls into the latter category: living up to expectations. Therefore: I’m cool, I’m not lacking, I didn’t miss out.

  3. Though It can go both ways, a man sowing his oats when young but gets a girl knocked up will regret fooling around or who gets a bad std from banging so many girls, etc, there are two sides to every thing, But I don;t know, why is sex needed for intimacy? I’m an affectionate person and more guys are than you think and they can show their affectionate caring side to a girl or girls without having sex with her or be close and intimate. Some guys trying to prove themselves might as in 18-22, but guys older usually don’t feel the need to prove how manly they are as much and can be intimate and don’t need sex to show it to a girl.

    • Yes, sewing oats does go both ways. Good to point that out.

      I suspect some guys can express emotion more than others. But both research, and guys like Jon commenting in my classes, say that guys using sex to access emotion is pretty common, given the pressure on guys to repress it. A woman who passed as a man for 18 months talked about how difficult the repression she underwent as a guy was.

      A lot of people aren’t aware of the extent to which they’ve been repressed, too. Women often tell me they aren’t sexually repressed, like it’s an insult. But only about 1/4 can even orgasm thru partner sex. Many need 3000 rpm. Many have difficulty, or can’t O at all. That all evidences repression that many are unaware of.

      Also, on the guys/emotion front: Divorce tends to be harder on guys, for instance. A lot of the reason has to do with this. They lose the ability to express emotion through sex, or through language to one of the few people they can be emotional around. And they lack people to discuss their emotional feelings about the divorce with. Guys don’t talk so well about this stuff, and it’s also harder for them to admit weakness and go to therapy.

  4. as a guy, i really don’t understand this obsession with “intimacy”, maybe something is wrong with me, but being virgin at 30 i think more about the rain than sex and intimacy.

  5. “It seems that sex is often about more than just sex. Accessing emotion and creating personal identities of some sort are two big ones. I suspect your experience falls into the latter category: living up to expectations. Therefore: I’m cool, I’m not lacking, I didn’t miss out.”

    I don’t know if its necessarily about being cool though, it wasn’t for me. It’s what I call, the grass is greener or grass seems greener syndrome. It’s human nature to want and to experience what others are doing or seem to be doing and how everyone else is having or seems to have fun and wanting that yourself. If you aren’t you are obviously going to feel that you are missing out in life. Not because it’s cool to do, but we all like having fun right?, especially when young. If everyone else seems to be having fun, and you aren’t then you are going to really want to have fun too or as much. Say there’s a movie that comes out and you missed it but all your friends have seen it or others have and they talked about how good it was, are you not going to want to watch it too?, especially if it seemed good and that you missed out in not watching it, so you definitely want to watch it now?

    Movies and commercials project the frat boy, bachelor life or advertise that it’s fun and guys experiencing it are having the time of their life and memories to reminisce about, so virgin boys or lesser experienced guys seeing this are obvious going to feel they’ve missed out on fun memories and moments in life, not simply because they aren’t having sex. But because they aren’t partying, road trips, spring break, etc and this like young, wile out fun that college students or 20 something people are doing and something to do when young before life slows down. So it’s very easy to feel or a boy or young man to feel he’s missing out by not living that life or not experience that as well so he can have fun memories or “epic nights” with his “boys” and the girls he shares or meets with, in this bachelor adventure, rendezvous.

  6. Very candid share. I appreciate the author’s willingness to share what goes on for him and about how social pressures can compel men to hide that they really want intimacy while making it appear as if they just want sex. It struck me that women and men are in a bit of a conundrum. So often we want similar things but society’s roles and expectations and pressures end up causing misunderstanding and misconceptions and behaviors that end up creating missed opportunities for having what it is we want.

  7. I adore this story. It’s so important to remember that men are repressed in certain ways too. It’s not a world ruled by men, but a world ruled by those who fit the societal stereotype of masculinity. Break away from that stereotype and there will be reprocusions.

  8. “The funny thing is I lived in athletes dorm my freshman year and also joined a sorority, so the only men I knew were either athletes or ones in fraternities. These men are known to have bad reputations when it comes to relationships with women yet I still couldn’t find one who i could hook up with without him trying to get more serious and date me.”

    Probably has to do with control and when tables are turned. But while control is related, if we’re going to be specific, the reason I think behind this with guys not liking the tables turned or even frat guys is because of one word…EGO. Unfortunately guy’s can have huge egos. When a girl has sex with a guy and that’s it and not more, he’s not used to it and on top of that, it bothers his ego that she doesn’t want more of his magic stick so to speak. It can bother a man’s ego, because a lot of guys can feel or act like they are god’s gift to women and girls being broken hearted and wanting more from these men, only validates the guy’s egos and strokes it.

    As in, see she wants more of me, because of how awesome I am, or compared to other guys. When a girl just hits it and quits it, it breaks though and can confuse the guy or upset him, because he’s not the king of his castle any more and he’s “just some guy” thus the one night stand and not “The guy”. Guys can be proud and competitive and like feeling they are more studly than other men. When a girl just wants him one night it brings into him possibly questioning his standing amongst other men and gives a nice bruising to his ego. Therefore, the effort to get in a relationship perhaps to prove to others or more so, himself that he is “the man”. I’m sure plenty of men can get their feelings involved and it genuine too. But that’s my point of view where I think it can be half and half as for the motivation for a relationship to provoke it and part being guys being genuine and others maybe wanting a reltationship but a lot ego based.

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