Indiana University’s recent sex survey found that men were more likely to climax if they were in a relationship. But women had more difficulty with arousal when they were in one.
Surprising! What’s up?
Today we’ll explore men. (A past post explored women.)
On the one hand, men say they’d like a lot of partners. According to The Male Brain, men report wanting 14 partners, lifetime, while women say they want only one or two. In my women’s studies classes many men felt that their friends would like to have sex with as many women as possible. Researchers at the University of Texas found that men were far less picky than women, and were more likely to have sex simply because the opportunity presented itself. An awful lot of porn (men’s fantasies on screen) revolves around sex with lots of random women, too.
So the Indiana University study doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. You’d expect that men would be more sexually satisfied with a lot of casual partners.
But that’s not what the data showed. Researchers asked men and women about the last time they had sex: Were you with a relationship partner or not? What activities did you engage in? Did you have an orgasm? How much did you enjoy the sexual experience?
When controlling for age and health, men aged 18 to 59 were more likely to enjoy sex and achieve orgasm when they were in a relationship than when they were with a new partner. They indicated greater arousal, greater pleasure, less pain, fewer problems with erectile dysfunction, and greater chance of orgasm.
So what’s up?
Imagination versus reality: Fantasy may seek novelty and variety, but men feel more comfortable and relaxed with their partners, who show patience and give reassurance if there are problems, leaving men with less performance anxiety. Partners who have been together a while may have honed their techniques, too.
Sure, men can feel relaxed with dream partners. Reality can be different.
Something deeper may be at play, too. Women often say sex is best in a context of love and connection. Men don’t talk about this as much, but sex can take on a deepness and richness in relationship that casual sex can’t match, whether you are male or female.
Popular culture sees women as out to trap men, becoming the old “ball and chain” when they succeed. But men need companionship. They rarely leave their partners unless they’ve got someone else lined up. After a death or divorce men are much quicker than women to remarry, forgoing an unfettered sex life. Partly because women care for men, support them, and create emotional closeness.
But relationship may also bring men better sex.
Researchers at Indiana University recently released the most comprehensive sex survey since 1994. They made some surprising discoveries. Among them: men are more likely to enjoy sex and reach orgasm if they are in a relationship than if they are not. But women have more difficulty with arousal and bodily response when they are in a relationship.
This goes completely against stereotype. It also goes against what women and men report about their preferences.
What’s going on?
Today let’s explore women. We’ll look at men in an upcoming post.
When I’ve asked who likes sex better, males or females, I repeatedly get the same response from women. It begins with “Women enjoy sex as much as men, but…”
Some of us prefer to be with someone we love and who loves us back rather
than some crazy one night romp with a random person.
Women place more emphasis on the emotional aspects of sex.
Women like sex more when it has depth and meaning. It is much more intense
and romancing to women when they are in a relationship.
Researchers at University of Texas, Austin concluded that for women, sexuality is more linked to love, emotional bonding and connection.
Yet recent data suggest something different.
Indiana University researchers asked women and men about the last time they had sex: Were you with a relationship partner or not? What activities did you engage in? Did you have an orgasm? How much did you enjoy the sexual experience?
Finding: Women were less likely to climax when they were in relationships.
What’s going on? Here are some possibilities.
Women who really love sexuality may be more likely to have sex with different partners, affecting the average.
What about more typical women? Women need to feel sexy and desired to get aroused. They want to feel chosen. With a new partner, a woman will feel she’s been chosen because she’s so attractive. But in committed relationships it can seem that her partner is simply trapped into having sex with her. Not a big turn-on.
Men also seem to experience a slight drop in interest over time with long-term partners, and women may sense that, leading to an even bigger drop in their own libido.
Why a bigger drop for women? Marta Meana, a psychology professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says women have a lower sex drive (influenced by a culture that represses women’s sexuality) and need a bigger jolt to turn on libido. “If I don’t love cake as much as you,” she told a New York Times reporter, “my cake better be kick-butt to get me excited to eat it.” Something for men to think about.
At the same time relationship is helpful because women (and men alike) need to feel relaxed in order to climax. The Indiana University data isn’t clear on whether the more-aroused women were having sex with men whom they saw as potential committed partners – the beginning of relationship. In that case they might have felt an excitement at feeling chosen, but also safe enough to create the necessary comfort to climax.
But sex isn’t just about orgasm. The emotional component of feeling loved and connected creates a rich, multidimensional experience which may be what so many refer to when they say they want more than a quick roll in the hay.
Meanwhile, some advice for men: let your lady know she’s desired and chosen.