You can download a printable copy of this page
When it comes to sexual behaviour in all its forms, men and women behave differently and even think differently... in fact the surprise is not that they are so different but that they ever manage to stay together at all.
One of the major differences between men and women is in sexual urgency. If sexual activity, including masturbation, is suspended for some reason, most women are able to get on reasonably comfortably with their life and will function fairly normally - more so with the passage of time. Not the male, though. After just a few days he's almost beginning to bite lumps out of doors and eat pillows! And after a few weeks, he will be looking at the backsides and/or breasts of females in whom he might not show a great deal of interest in the usual way. He has no choice in this matter - it's a function of the male psyche and he would be abnormal if he did not work that way. The following paragraphs might throw some light on the reasons behind this...
Expectation v. hope
Many women get understandably irritated because it seems to them that men expect them to join in sexual activity at the drop of a hat; the reality is that men hope, rather than expect, that their lady will be amenable to the idea. The problem is, they so often become bad-mannered and bad-tempered when it doesn't work out that way. And here is a possible reason:
Biologically, a man is designed to father 365 children a year and he knows this at a subconscious level; biologically, women are designed to produce one child a year. The window of opportunity to the female is quite wide and there is therefore sometimes little urgency associated with a single act of intercourse. But to the male subconscious, ONE missed chance equals one less progeny, one less procreative effort on behalf of the species. This is a threat to the survival of the species.
Obviously, it's not interpreted that way as far as the conscious mind is concerned and it's only a hypothesis, in any case. But it accounts for the way that a perfectly reasonable male suddenly transforms into a scowling, vehement individual - which serves to convince his partner that he was only interested in sex, anyway, and not in her. Not a surprise, then, that she might become irritated and unwilling when he wants to do it the next day... or compliant, but unenthusiastic.
Unfortunately, the male interprets this perfectly understandable response as if it means what it would if he were behaving the same way: "She's punishing me." Without communication, this situation can so easily self-cycle to the point where masturbation becomes more frequent than intercourse and ensuing guilt means an even greater block to sexual communications.
Always on, or always on standby?
One of the difficulties of maleness is that the sex drive, in normal health, is permanently on and can only be turned off with difficulty. They have no choice in the matter. Women, on the other hand, have a sex drive which is permanently on standby but can be turned on relatively easily... if the circumstances are just right (though they actually have somewhat more choice in the process than the male has in his). The possibilities for misunderstanding here should be obvious and it is important to recognise that neither male nor female has any choice in this basic method of functioning. Men do not choose to be constantly aware; women do not choose to be generally less speedy to arouse. Neither one is better or more responsible than the other, neither one deserves criticism for this inherited instinctive behaviour.
A sign of the times
Men often suffer sexual insecurity - in our modern life they know they cannot necessarily follow those inherited instincts for frequent sexual activity and yet it is a psychologically essential part of male behaviour patterns. This psychological need, when not met adequately, can sometimes result in depression.
Women tend to be less prone to this sort of insecurity for two reasons: firstly, the instinctive need tends to be lower, for the reasons discussed in the hypothesis given earlier; secondly, in general it is far easier for a woman to get sexual activity when she wants to, especially within a relationship.
Sexual insecurity manifests itself in many ways, two of which are immensely irritating to women:
- 'Pawing and grabbing' at every opportunity
- The constant harangue/innuendo
Must that always happen?
A female complained that her partner would always get an erection whenever he cuddled her. As far as she was concerned, this showed that 'that's all he thinks of'. She felt better about it when it was explained that a man doesn't actually have a great deal of control over the wretched thing - cuddle a lady he loves, and up it comes! It's actually a compliment, for it would not happen if he did NOT find her attractive.
Whilst it is perfectly possible for a man to want sex with someone without loving that person - just as it is for a woman - he simply cannot love a woman without wanting to have intercourse with her; and if she is clinically unable for some reason, it will create problems for him (though he may very well choose to discover a coping strategy to deal with those problems).
Women function differently here, in that it is far more likely that she could love an impotent man without suffering unbearable sexual frustration. This is not to say that she always will, only that research suggests that women find it far easier to deal with this difficulty.
Now here's something that tends to be anathema to women - until they've thought about it: What's wrong with a woman having sexual intercourse with her partner when she doesn't really want to? A man simply cannot, if, for some reason, he's not 'in the mood'; but a woman can, albeit with the aid of some KY jelly or baby oil to avoid discomfort. So, if she loves him, what on earth is wrong with just doing it? No need to harbour resent - if it's done from choice rather than to 'shut him up'.
The usual response to this idea is the 'it's my body' argument; this is, of course, true... but it's also your relationship...
But males don't escape here... what's wrong with a man encouraging and helping his partner to masturbate against his leg if she wants to when he doesn't? If he loves her, he'll be pleased at the intimacy this produces. This is actually a wonderful aid to couples where the male suffers impotence and it has helped many individuals to restore happiness and sometimes restored virility as a result of increased excitation and the removal of 'performance anxiety'.
The best evidence
Now, if you need a bit more convincing about the differences between male and female attitudes toward sexuality, try this: Tell a man something like: "If you take her out for a meal in a romantic restaurant and court her, buy her champagne and a red rose, tell her she's beautiful, and be attentive to her every need, then you'll be very likely to have good sex later on..." and he will more often than not decide that it's a good idea. Suggest to most women that they should behave in that manner toward a man in order to get good sex and most will make some disparaging remark... but then again, all women know that they don't have to do that - all they have to do is ask!
In a connected vein, offer a woman the choice of a wonderful meal in a wonderful restaurant or three hours of sex and most of the time, she'll choose the meal; offer the same thing to a man and... well, no contest!
To conclude this short article, here's a thought to ponder: none of us can help being turned on or not being turned on. We can't help being sexual or non-sexual. We don't actually choose any of it and we can't help finding the 'wrong' person attractive sometimes.
Man or woman, we do not choose our feelings and all feelings are valid, even if not rational.
© Copyright Terence Watts 2006