Sex Drive: How Men and Women Match Up

According to Marta Meana, psychology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, data overwhelmingly show that, typically, men have a higher sex drive than women, when measured by the frequency of fantasy, masturbation and sexual activity.   

WebMD concurs, noting that study after study shows men with the stronger drive: “Men want sex more often than women at the start of a relationship, in the middle of it, and after many years of it,” according to Roy Baumeister, a social psychologist at Florida State University. Most men under 60 think about sex at least once a day, but only one-quarter of women do. Older men fantasize less, but still twice as often as their female counterparts. Men say they want more sex partners in their lifetime, they are more interested in casual sex, and they are much more likely than women to buy sex.

Norah Vincent passed as a man in an attempt to get inside the male psyche. After living as a “man” among men for a year and a half, she described the male sex drive as “relentless,” an “obsession with f’ing.” Male reviewers of Self-Made Man found her insights credible.  

Or as one man described the unyielding obsession, “Someone needs to invent a drug which has no hormonal imbalance side-effects but is able to erase a man’s sex drive and attraction to women. It would increase productivity rates to incredible heights. I’d be free and happy. I’d feel complete. I’d be able to concentrate on my biochemistry studying.”   

Some women want more sex than their partners, but in general the pattern goes the other way.

Given their lower drive, it’s not surprising that women are also choosier. Most men find most women at least somewhat sexually attractive, whereas most women do not find most men sexually attractive at all, according to the University of Texas, Austin researchers who wrote Why Women Have Sex. 

And, women are pickier about both “who” and “how.” They tend to want more connection and romance. Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, says that women’s desire “is more contextual, more subjective, more layered on a lattice of emotion.” She says, “For women there is a need for a plot — hence the romance novel. It is more about the anticipation, how you get there; it is the longing that is the fuel for desire.”

Life can be difficult with such a large gap between the sexes.

Next week I’ll discuss which biological and cultural factors create this gap, and how we might even things out.

Georgia Platts

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social 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. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 26, 2011, in gender, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. “Someone needs to invent a drug which has no hormonal imbalance side-effects but is able to erase a man’s sex drive and attraction to women. It would increase productivity rates to incredible heights. I’d be free and happy. I’d feel complete. I’d be able to concentrate on my biochemistry studying.” Amen to that….I would have loved to have killed my sex drive in my late teens / 20’s , a strong sex drive is a curse for a serving soldier on operations , mind you it’s a curse for most men as sex is generally very hard to obtain for most average guys , plus female drive is generally way lower than a man’s , plus the male sex drive is demonised in the ” media ” , we are portrayed as stupid , sex crazed rapists !! ….Both sexes would be happy with this. Excellent blog BTW

    • We seem to live in a society that dampens women’s sex drive and makes men’s sex drive a bit more exaggerated than it naturally is. When you hyper sexualize women’s bodies and communicate the idea that women’s body parts are super sexy – but don’t look at them, you create a sexual tension that is very high. On the other hand we teach women that they will be punished if they are sexual and shame them. When you keep repressing your sex drive on purpose it starts repressing itself so that you can’t feel. And then you get a huge mismatch between men and women.

      But yeah, guys aren’t the sex-craved beasts some might think. See this post:

  2. So some men do have a larger sex drive than some women. Since men have a larger sex drive they tend to pick women who can also be just decent. While women who has a small drive rather choose the right person for the deed. I think that seems about right but could the drive also be because of society. We live in a society that frowns on women talking about their experiences. If they were they would have been labled as a judgemental name. While men were taught at a young age that it is okay to masturbate and that it is normal for them to talk about it in public.

  3. I agree that on average men think more about sex than what women do. However, I do think it has to do a lot with social pressure, and the double-standard. Men are known to talk about sex all the time whereas women talk about feelings. Though I think, and I have experienced it, that this event can happen in a group of women as well. Clearly, my folks and I talk a lot about sex, making jokes and talking about actual intercourses, and by doing that, I feel that if a girl in the group has different partners, she is not viewed as a “bitch”. In addition, if she is okay, and doesn’t feel any guilt about it, then why somebody else would criticize her? Jealousy?

  4. I totally agree with these findings on how men and women look at sex and all that goes into thoughts on sex.

    Men seem to need sex more than women. It is mostly due to their brain makeup and how they feel about their sexual organs, their drive, their ability, and their performance. All these are an intricate part of their being and psyche.

    Women are more inclined to look at a man for many other reasons other than their sexual desire. We look at things that are desired and instinctual. Will he be a good father, will he be a good provider, will he listen to me, will he adore me or shun me? So therefore women are more picky.

    Women need sex but can do without for extended periods of time. Men need sex but can’t do without unless there are some physical or extenuating circumstances. Women need romance and the feeling they are important and matter. Men need intimacy to help them feel good about themselves and who they are.

    It takes time and life experiences to understand the differences and appreciate them.

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