What Men Really Want Out of Sex, According to Science

by ParentCo. November 16, 2017

There’s no doubt the American marriage has changed drastically in recent years. For the most part, however, the perception of married people’s sex lives hasn’t. That perception, of course, is that marriage is to sex what a flu shot is to influenza; the former makes getting the latter a very, very rare occurrence. Most people believe the majority of married couples have unfulfilling, if not virtually non-existent, sex lives. Think I’m exaggerating? Head over to your local comedy club and listen to how many married comics complain about the lack of sex in their marriage. I know several comedians who have virtually created an entire act based on the comfortable sweats their wives wear to ward off unwanted sexual advances by their husbands. But here’s the thing – people lose their shit over jokes about how terrible married sex is. It doesn’t matter how tired the premise or how obvious the punchline. The I’m-married-so-I-don’t-have-any-sex-anymore bits kill with 90 percent of audiences. And it’s not necessarily because the jokes are hilarious. It’s because people can relate. On top of being a safe topic for comedians, lack of sex is a reality for a lot of married folks. True, time is a major obstacle. The pace of everyday life, particularly the pace of life with young children, makes finding the time for sex a challenge for many couples. And let’s not forget about the stereotypes about what men and women want out of sex. Women need romance, foreplay, and John Mayer playing lightly in the background at a sensually stimulating volume, while guys need...well, guys need all that filthy, depraved porn they stream (and religiously delete from their browser history) after their exhausted, sweatpants-wearing wives fall asleep. When it comes to sex problems, the assumption that men and women want completely different things from sex could be just as much to blame as the lack of time. But what if there was clear evidence that men and women want the same thing? A comprehensive, first-of-its-kind study by Indiana University researchers could very well constitute such evidence. The study asked more than 2,000 men and women about whether they engaged in more than 30 sexual behaviors. It also asked participants about the level of appeal of some 50 odd sexual behaviors. My first thought upon reading the study’s summary was 50 sexual behaviors!? I can barely come up with 12! I have so much to learn.... Luckily, after scanning the list, I was at least familiar with most of the sexual behaviors, which ran the gamut from “making the room look more romantic” to “going to a BDSM party or dungeon” (not entirely sure what this entails, will research further). For the record, just one percent of men and women find the BDSM party/dungeon thing “very appealing,” a figure in stark contrast to new research in “Modern BDSM Dungeonmaster Weekly” – but that’s beside the point. The surprise find of the study is this: Romance and affection top most popular sexual behaviors from a male perspective. As Debby Herbenick, a professor and lead author of the study, put it: “Contrary to some stereotypes, the most appealing behaviors, even for men, are romantic and affectionate behaviors. These included kissing more often during sex, cuddling, saying sweet/romantic things during sex, making the room feel romantic in preparation for sex, and so on.” This revelation about romance and men was downright shocking to a lot of people, and the study received a ton of national media coverage as a result. But as a straight married guy, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me. Don’t get me wrong, sex is amazing when it’s new and fresh and exciting, and couples should always be working to keep things from getting stale. Sometimes it’s just not realistic for sex and romance to always go hand and hand. After all, a five-minute window in a Cracker Barrel bathroom is hardly conducive to the romantic behaviors cited in the study. Real intimacy, though, the kind that always includes love and romance and genuine affection, has never been something only women crave. It’s something humans crave. And when it works, there’s nothing better. If anything, this “shocking” study could serve as a wake-up call for sexually frustrated dudes everywhere – especially the ones who do want romance and affection instead of just penetration and sleep. If you’re not having sex as much as you’d like, maybe it’s because your wife thinks she has to live up to something she saw when you forgot to clear your browser history. Maybe you just need to communicate a little better. Maybe all you need to say is, “Look honey, I know you saw that BDSM dungeon video on my laptop, but I was just curious. That’s not what I want. I think we both want the same thing, and we need to make it happen more often.”



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