Women Want Emotionally Connected Sex. Why?

105464-103886Women want emotionally connected sex.

Not all women, all the time, but University of Texas psychologists, Cindy Meston and David Buss interviewed over 1,000 women around the world for their book, Why Women Have Sex, and what did they find? Both women and men have sex because they are physically attracted, for pleasure, because they are in love, or just because they’re horny… the list goes on. But most women want emotionally bonded sex.


Conventional wisdom looks to evolutionary psychology which says that women are genetically driven to be more monogamous so that fathers will stick around and provide resources, helping children to survive. So perhaps women pass up casual sex with whomever in favor of the connected sex that would provide those good-for-baby resources.

Yet not all women are terribly monogamous. And in some cultures, none are. Women who belong to tightly-knit, interdependent tribal groups often have sex with many men, often outside their marriages or partnerships. In these places the entire tribe raises children so paternity is unimportant and women’s sexuality is not guarded. These sex-positive cultures produce women who are highly orgasmic and who greatly enjoy sex.

But when these societies are destroyed (as with the Cherokee and Iroquois) immersion into a sex-negative culture (for women) can quickly turn their sexuality around.

Today in the U.S. a sexually interested and active woman may be called a slut, whore, ho’, tramp, skank, nympho, hussy, tart, loose, bitch, promiscuous, and perhaps most tellingly, freak or super freak.

Women leaving the frat house Sunday morning may be chided for taking the “Walk of Shame” as frat boys returning from the dorms stroll the Walk of Fame.

Slang for our privates? “Cock” versus “down there.” Put another way, cocky versus unspeakable.

And who gets screwed, f’d, banged, nailed and rammed?

Meanwhile, women are the sex objects in our culture, with busts and butts ogled in word, picture, and x-ray vision, offering men a trove of sexual stimulus. What do women have to look at? Not much.

But as sex objects, women may also become more focused on how they look in bed (whether good or bad) than enjoying anything erotic.

Add to this the sexual violence that so frequently ends in lost sexual interest.

All of this leaves women less responsive, with a University of Chicago study finding 43% of women experiencing dysfunction.

Any wonder men are more interested in random acts of sex, while women are more inclined toward emotional bonding? In the arms of someone she loves a woman may feel free from slut-shaming. She may focus on intimacy and not how fat or thin she is. She is freed from worry about being screwed. And if she has difficulty achieving orgasm, she can still revel in her man’s love-filled attentions.

On top of this, women are more often taught that “sex is okay if you love him.”

Of course, women have varieties of social experiences and personalities, so despite the culture, some will certainly be up for sex with anonymous others.

The longing for bonded sex emerges from sources other than the horrors listed above. And certainly, many men want loving, connected relations, too. Justin Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University, observes that, “Having deep relationship with someone can be really magical and people all over the world experience that… (it) can really change someone’s life.” But for all the reasons listed above, sex-for-fun may not be so fun for a lot of women, which can leave other options out.

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Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
Why Hasn’t Open Marriage Caught On?

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 July 20, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, rape and sexual assault, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I can definitely relate to the women who want emotionally connected sex. Although there is nothing wrong with girls who decide to have sex with multiple people, I feel as though having sex with someone you have a connection with makes it much more pleasurable. I could also understand that some women do not want multiple partners in their life and would rather stick to just one man. No matter if you decide to be sexually active with multiple partners or only ones you feel a connection with, you should not be judged for it. Everyone has their own preferences, and as long as their actions are not negatively affecting you, then they should be free to do as they please. I also feel that as people get older, they begin to look for someone they will have an emotional connection with during sex. As it is time to mature, get married, and have a child, it is more ideal to have a connection with someone than to have sex with different people. People want to feel that connection, because it will cause them to want to be with that person forever and raise children together. When it comes that time and you do not desire that connection, it is much harder to become confident in staying with that same person, because you won’t have that bond. I think that girls are more likely to want an emotional connection during sex than men, because they are looking more to the future than thinking about just getting pleasured in the present.

  2. I found this article to be very interesting as well as true. In my opinion, a big part on why girls tend to want more of an emotional attraction rather then just physical is because of society judgement against a female being sexually liberated. It seems like men are just in it for the good time while as girls get bored and can be looking for something more. Being in a relationship or committed to one person helps the person feel more comfortable because they are having sex with the emotion, rather then having sex with a person that you know quite as well and having to be consistency worried about appearing attractive. It could also be the way that women are raised with shows and movies about Princesses and Princes and constantly being told that women are supposed to have a “soul connection” with whoever they get sexually involved with plays a role as well. Obviously, it’s not fair that theres a double standard of guys not having to be slut shamed while girls do. I don’t necessarily agree that all boys are just looking for a hook-up because I’m sure they are looking for an emotional attraction as well. However, I do think that society has influence them to just look for something physical rather then emotional as it could be seen a negative characteristic to their “masculinity” of being emotional.

  3. I absolutely loved reading this article and completely agree with its findings. I would even go further to say that another reason why women are so emotionally connected to sex is because of the physical mechanics of the act. This could possibly answer the question as to why some women find themselves acquiring feelings for someone they aren’t super attracted to or were never even really interested in to begin with, but slept with because of the attention they were being shown by the guy (i.e. he was fawning over me like I was a queen or something). Women are the ones being invaded and men are doing the invading. Feelings of defensiveness are always present when you invite someone into your territory because you want them to take good care of what you own and appreciate your belongings. The person who enters the space has the luxury of leaving whenever they want and, like checking into a hotel, assume that the maid will clean up whatever mess they left behind (this could mean so many different things lol). The problem occurs when the man decides that he doesn’t want to clean up after himself. I am an avid watcher of Sex & the City re-runs and this particular topic brings to mind a quote from Carrie Bradshaw when she was forced with confronting Burger’s friends at a club. After they claimed that women go all “psycho bitch” when you try to break up with them, she carefully informed them that all we want is an ending to the relationship that cherishes what we had; in the case of casual sex I would insert that a respectful exit should be made. There are so many women who would find it easier to move on if they weren’t treated like they were simply a piece of ass. Just my thoughts :). Again, I loved reading this article!!

    • You know, I have sometimes thought the same thing and have heard other women express this, too: “Women are the ones being invaded and men are doing the invading.” You make an interesting point!

  4. There are many other options between having sex because you are in love and having sex with a random person. Women prefer sex with men we know well because it ensures that we don’t end up chopped into pieces in the back of some dude’s car trunk. It doesn’t have anything to do with love. If we didn’t live in a culture in which men engaged in acts of violence against women with impunity we would see a lot more casual sex in the world.

    • Sure. In some cultures women aren’t very monogamous.

      But women’s sexuality is harmed in our society in so many ways, whether due to fears of violence or shaming or women getting distracted by how they look so that they don’t notice how they feel (because we think it’s women’s responsibility to look hot for men, but not so much the other way around)… We need to do much more to create a more sex-positive society for women.

  5. Men already have the emotional connection. I believe sex happens in our culture with women who are emotionally engaged beings and men rely on that for their satisfaction. Women on the other hand are dealing with creatures who are showing in many ways they are emotionally checked out.

  6. I could not agree more with these paragraphs and some of peoples comments. women are very much different then men their for their needs for love affection and attention, should also be different then those of men. Women do need that reassurance and actual love connection from their partners in order for them to feel as though it is something real and not just a one night stand or one time fling type of thing. Women do need that certain affection or to be caressed for them to feel like it truly is something or that it is a real thing.

    • And interestingly, most men also prefer emotionally connected sex, but if you look at correlational data they seem less likely to be harmed emotionally. Although, plenty of women certainly do manage to have nonemotional sex and enjoy it, without harm, too. For most typically, most women do want emotionally connected sex.

  7. Fascinating. It’s so interesting to think about all these different factors that play in to both men’s and womyn’s behaviors/ ideas/ perceptions about our roles. I can see how the concepts of evolutionary psychology are definitely still somewhat relevant, though they are not always obviously recognized or acknowledged. And at the same time, it is hard for me to agree that womyn are more emotional, nurturing, monogamous, etc. by nature since we are bombarded basically from birth with cues and prompts and examples of how to be a ‘woman.’ However, I do like thinking about the deep evolutionary psychology ideas which talk about the very basic needs for womyn to have sought men who would be around to provide food and such to the children. When I think about it on those very basic survival terms, then I can see the connection to womyn’s behaviors nowadays still being very focused on the home and the raising of children. It is just incredible how much things have changed in terms of our surroundings, environment, necessities, etc., and yet how much of the hard-wiring of our bodies and minds is still ‘thinking’ in terms of our lifestyles thousands of years ago.
    Very curious about these previous (and maybe there are still some current) sex-positive cultures – I’ll have to do some more investigating : )

    and in response to @Moona above –
    I think what you’re describing is the case for some womyn, but certainly not all womyn. Just as some men enjoy casual, no commitment sex, some womyn enjoy that as well. And as I said in my comment above, I can see how the evolutionary hard-wiring is still a factor, I don’t think that means that we can generalize that absolutely ALL womyn “should have” and want emotionally connected love.
    We see a lot of shifts happening in terms of these age-old concepts we (as a society, culture) hold about gender roles. With people I’m close to – in some cases, definitely not all – men are becoming more comfortable with being expressive and showing emotions that are considered feminine in western culture, and womyn are becoming more independent and expressive on various levels including with sex and sexuality.
    It’s all changing!…….. But are we still influenced by genetics, that want us to have babies and want those babies to survive??….. Probably.

  8. It´s a normal and natural human instinct to find a couple to mate with, and for women is much more important that for men. As a proof, we just need to think about how in the history women looked for a man that gave them kids, brought food, and did all those commonly known “man things.” In the actuallity I can dare to say for experience that it doesn´t matter who you have sex with how many times you do it, or what instruments you use, you enjoy it the most with a person whom you are connected with, someone that loves you enough to love your defects and make you forget about what to wear next day. Most women care about waking up with somebody with them, being filled with emotions has no price compared to an occasional partner that will only provide sex.
    I had some friends with benefits forr a long time, but it ddn´t matter how many times we met a week, where, or how we did it, I had never experienced an orgasm until I fell in love. So women should have and deserve emotionally connected love.

  9. I’m sorry but you talk about women not being seen as sex objects but then condone emotionally detached sex which is just a woman begging to be seen as a sex object not a person. I’m sure that whatever man sleeping with her is not going to care whether or not she likes sowing or if she can play the guitar. He especially won’t care what she’s thinking or feeling when he’s not there in the morning or worse, tells her to leave. There’s nothing empowering about being disposable. Passion and intimacy without commitment is succesful when two people are emotionally sadistic, selfish and cold enough to not stay. Not only this but encouraging women to be on the prowl, hook up and leave is also condoning women to see men as sex objects and not people. Only sociopaths are unfeeling, manipulative and use others for their own gain, I mean thats exactly whats happening with people into hook up culture. They are being socially engineered to become sexual sociopaths. Men actually hate being objectified even though they might say something to the contrary and don’t tolerate it as they get angry, as they should. As we should. Objectifying somebody is to dehumanize them. Making matters worse is to condone using that person for selfish, hedonistic purposes without so much as giving it a second thought. Selfishness is the root of all evil and we seriously don’t need anymore entitled, selfish jerks from EITHER gender. The hypocrisy needs to stop.

  10. Women are emotional and work off feelings filled with emotions. Women prefer to have sex with someone whom they feel close to. Also when having sex they are looking for a relationship not just a one night stand. As the article stated most women are monogamous; most women probably couldn’t be with more than one man at the same time. If a women displayed this type of behavior she would be looked as the article put it a slut, hussy, whore, hoe and some other stereotypes related to having sexual relationship with more than one man. Women are looking for that feeling of intimacy and attachment when having sex without this sex is meaningless.

  11. Why? Because Society says so.

  12. Last week Rush Limbaugh launched a misogynistic public assault on women when he viciously attacked Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student for her voluntary testimony before a Congressional committee about women’s need for contraceptive health insurance. For three days Limbaugh continued to verbally rape and assault Ms. Fluke calling her “a slut”, “a prostitute who wants to be paid to have sex”, ” an anti-catholic plant” and a parasite that wants to feed off of the decent, God-fearing taxpayers of America. Then when he is faced with the backlash he backpedals claiming he was just joking and “illustrating the absurd with absurdity”. Hardly, Limbaugh knows exactly what he’s doing, he’s feeding the beast. In The New York Times March 4, 2012, Maureen Dowd calls him out as,”the puppet master for the Republican Party by stirring up blood lust”. Limbaugh attempted to equate a woman’s right to reproductive control over her own body as some bizarre demand the the US Government should pay for her sexual services. It is so far beyond the pale that it is almost impossible to fathom. One simply doesn’t want to enter the fray. And it seems very few did. Speaker of the House, John Boehner only called the insults “inappropriate” , Rick Santorum wrote it off as” an entertainer being absurd”, Mitt Romney said “it’s not the language I would have used” to which Ms. Doud asked, “Is there a right way to call a woman a slut?”

    So, the lesson here is crystal clear. Women, if you are not in a monogamous, committed, sanctioned relationship you have chosen to be a target for sexual assault, abuse, humiliation
    and defamation.The G.O.P. has gone even further and waged war on US women. Their entire campaign is shaping up to be nothing more than platform of fundamentalist terrorism.

  13. Everyone wants to be loved on way or another. Some women feel as though sex can give them the love connection they long for in a monogamous relationship. In many cases having one partner can make a woman feel good about herself in the harsh reality of society (always being judged). Through sex with a spouse or boyfriend women to some extent can let their guard down–not thinking about being fat, too short, or not having manicured nails because they know their partner loves them enough not to care about the little things all the time. On the other hand, women who want children have a great desire to feel a connection with someone/potential spouse because the American dream of owning a house, children and the financial stability of their mate to take care of the extra responsibilities to provide such lifestyle (keep in mind some women, not all). The post stated “Women have varieties of social experiences and personalities, so despite the culture some will certainly be up for sex with anonymous others.” I know some women who just enjoy having sex, and the emotional connection isn’t a concern. Then there are others who promise themselves they won’t get attached to their sex partner, but continuously have intercourse with them. Eventually feelings develop and their emotional connection affects their primary intentions.

  14. I actually agree that not all women are all that monogamous free willingly. Not according to my circle of friends anyway. And none of them are “tarts”. In fact, they are respectable, professional, productive, and kind women. Having said that however, they don’t go around boasting about their adventures because they don’t want to be thought of as promiscuous, which is exactly the label which would be assigned to them if they did. Further, they indeed are also looking for someone to settle down with, have a long lasting relationship with, and experience the emotional bonding mentioned. They seem to not be part of the 43%, BUT, they do worry about how they look — so who knows how things can change as they age — especially as instant access to visual technology advances. Ultimately I think that we have a long way to go as far as choice goes for women. In a true realistic sense, if a woman connects with a man, and he wants the relationship to move forward monogamously, yet, she is the one to want to continue to “date” other men, she spirals down into a no win situation. She is thought of as selfish or cold for not appreciating his affections and yet haphazard in her relations. So now she is hot and cold at the same time. To avoid this, she may actually acquiesce to his advance, get married or into a committed relationship, and then, well, may find herself no longer in the “sex-for-fun” category. In this sense, the emotional connection and sex can end up on opposite ends of the spectrum.

  15. i do feel that women would rather have a more emotional connection then men would. sometimes i feel that with most men are age, it;s about how many girls he has, or how many girl want him, and hes a “player” and such. if a girl was caught trying to achieve this status, she would instantly be called a hoe, slut, loosey, whore, etc, but both man and women. i don’t think if far at all how separated we are, and how we we do the same actions, but get different results because of our race, or gender. it really shoulder matter.

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