During my many years of counseling couples, I have frequently worked with the sexual problems that often occur in committed relationships. The most common complaint from men regarding sex is frequency, and the most common complaint from woman is lack of emotional intimacy.
There is a very good reason why these are the most common complaints – men and women are very different when it comes to sex!
The biological sexual drive, or lack of it, relates to how much testosterone is present. Men biologically have much more testosterone than women. Men’s biology equips them to be ready for sex most of the time, which is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the species. Women, on the other hand, often do not experience a biological sexual drive unless they are in the middle of their menstrual cycle. This fact can create a big problem in relationships.
I’ve often heard men complain that:
"It’s not fair. My wife is in control of our sex life. If she wants it, then we have it. If she doesn’t, then I have no say about it. Why does it always have to be her way?"
"My wife complains that she needs to feel intimate before we make love, but I get to intimacy through making love."
"I don’t reach out for sex much anymore because I’m tired of being rejected, but my wife says she wants to be pursued in a romantic way. This feels like a no-win to me."
"I think if my wife really cared about me and my needs, she would have sex with me even when she wasn’t turned on."
I’ve often heard women complain that:
"He always seems to be ready for sex, but I don’t feel turned on unless we are feeling close. I can’t just watch TV all evening and then feel like making love."
"I often feel pulled on for sex, as if having sex is more important than caring about me. When I do what he wants, I feel used, and when I don’t, I run into his anger, resentment, blame or withdrawal. It feels like a no-win."
"My husband often comes to me like a needy little boy, wanting me to pacify him or validate him with sex. Ugh! There is nothing erotic about an insecure, needy little boy!"
"There must be something wrong with me. I just don’t ever feel turned on anymore."
The very real issue here, at least for most men under 40, is that they are biologically motivated and women are mostly emotionally motivated. Heterosexual women get turned on when their man is warm, open, caring, and personally powerful. Most women are not turned on by a man who is closed, distant, angry, blaming, or needy.
The problems of frequency can get resolved as men and women learn to understand and accept each other’s differences. Men need to understand and accept that women are not as biologically motivated as men are. Many women rarely even think about sex, while most men will tell you that they think about sex frequently throughout the day. When men understand that women are turned on by love, romance, emotional intimacy, warmth, caring, and personal power, then men may be motivated to learn to be the loving, powerful and romantic partners that women want and need.
When women can accept that men’s biology is very present for them, they can stop putting men down for it and start supporting their men in creating more emotional intimacy, romance, and personal power. When women criticize men instead of understanding and accepting them, they help to create some of the insecurity that is such a turn off to many women. When a woman can appreciate rather than demean her man for his sexuality, she can find ways of meeting his needs without feeling used.
Understanding and accepting each other’s differences and needs can lead both men and women toward more satisfying sex lives.