Men and women see sex differently

 “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.” —Billy Crystal

I am continually flummoxed by how men and women seem to see sex so totally differently. From my experience, it seems that men take sex much less seriously than women. I know I’m generalizing here. I know there are always exceptions, but stay with me.

chicken and pigIt dawned on me that the difference is similar to the old joke about the chicken and pig looking at the breakfast sign in the window. It said “ham and egg breakfast.” The pig turned to the chicken and said, “For you, it’s just a contribution. For me it’s total commitment.”

Many women, although not all, see having sex as a sign that there is a commitment to the relationship. Men, although I realize not all, seem to be more cavalier. Sex, it seems, is considered merely a very enjoyable physical release. And to do it with another, even someone they’re not particularly drawn to, makes the experience significantly better. With someone they are attracted to, it is one of the best experiences on the planet. But, if the man is immature or less evolved, he doesn’t seem to appreciate that the woman can have a very different relationship with sex.

Often a man will press toward doing the deed without exploring what it would mean to the woman. He may not ask her philosophy on sex, and if they do it, do they have similar expectations about behaviors afterward. Would they spend the night together, rather than one getting up and going home? Would she expect to talk every day and see each other regularly? Does it mean exclusivity? What, exactly, would he be getting himself into, other than her pants? Would he be opening himself up to constant phone calls, tirades when he doesn’t call, even visits to work, or other unpleasant behaviors, just because of a little roll in the hay?

It seems a lot of tension, strife, and upset could be avoided if there was an adult conversation about sex — not only the physical issue of protection, but the emotional expectations, implications and ramifications as well. If both had their rational wits about them before they plunged forward with their physical cravings, it would prevent a lot of angst on one or both parts.

So why isn’t this conversation common, since it makes so much sense? My theory is that passion can evolve rather quickly, and one thing can definitely lead quickly to another. And soon you are further along than you would have rationally decided to be. But it feels so good you don’t think (much) about stopping. Your animalistic urges trump your sensible, prudent, mature sound mind.

The only way I can see to avoid this is to have the conversation when you aren’t in the middle of a passionate embrace. I know, sometimes you don’t know that you’re going to be in a passionate embrace until it’s happening. But if you have the presence of mind to call a “time out” and discuss it, you can always pick up where you left off. What if he gets upset that you stopped the action to have this discussion? Then it’s great that you know that now so you can release him back into the dating pool. He really isn’t interested in having more than a booty call with you.

So be clear on what sex means to you. Do you care if he sleeps with others while sleeping with you? Do you think it’s OK for you to sleep with others concurrently? Do you expect you’ll both be exclusive? Do you think it means you’re now in a relationship and you will talk to and see each other regularly? Does it mean spending the whole night together, not going home right afterward? The clearer you are, the easier this conversation will be.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Dating after 40, Dating chemistry, Getting your dating attitude on, Releasing back into the dating pool, Sex: A Dating Midlife Woman’s Guide

18 Comments on “Men and women see sex differently”

  1. Steve Mertz Says:

    Goddess-Being a guy, I’m thinking something occured this weekend that promted this cerebral discussion? Women like to have sex as much as if not more than men-it just often comes with guilt for them. You are right about having “the talk” when you’re not right in the middle of a passionate embrace!


  2. Yes, Steve, I agree that women can love sex as much as men. It’s not about loving it — it’s about being willing to talk about it beforehand, and being clear on what meaning you make it have.

    And while it’s optimal to have the talk when not in the midst of passion, sometimes it’s not possible and you have to take a break in the action. But I do think it’s important to have the discussion.

  3. Liz Says:

    Certainly it’s not at all about men enjoying sex more than women. But you are right that in general, whether biological or social, it has a different meaning for women than for men. A conversation BEFORE should be REQUIRED! It’s horrible a week or so into a relationship having become sexual to suddenly realize that your partner could be having sex with somebody else and YOU never ASKED for the relationship to be EXCLUSIVE. You just can’t go back at that point.

  4. Bruce Daley Says:

    Women like to talk about sex, but then again they like to talk about everything else. As a man you know listening to them is just a price you have to pay to do your part for evolution.


  5. So Bruce, why don’t men think it’s important to talk about sex — safe sex specifically — when their health and life are potentially at risk if they don’t? I’ve come to learn that no matter what kind of rational discussion a couple can have about this, when things get hot, all memory of that — and pretty much any other rational thought — goes out the window.

  6. Bruce Daley Says:

    Men do think it’s very important to talk about sex. If you don’t talk about it, you don’t get it. From a man’s perspective there is no such thing as safe sex, there are just degrees of risk. As a man, you know one way or another, any time have sex you will end up paying for it. Some women make you pay in cash, some women make you pay in tears, a few women even make you pay in blood but as you point out in a previous column – talk is cheap – and therefore for many men a favorite way to pay.

  7. Mitsy Says:

    Quite frankly, a guy CAN say all the “right” words to lead a woman to believe he’s committed to the relationship BEFORE they sleep together and he can STILL bail later. This happened to me, and I learned my lesson about having sex too soon. I had only been with one other guy in my whole life until about 11 months ago. I do not believe in casual sex, and this guy “claimed” to be committed to me very early on. I really did believe we’d be together for years.

    Our relationship lasted a little over 3 months. He had many problems in his life and our relationship was a casualty of his inability to handle a relationship and life stresses. I only wished I had seen his immaturity and selfishness BEFORE I slept with him. I am trying to remind myself that I’m better off without him and also the fact that he had erectile problems he refused to acknowledge (which would only have gotten worse, not better).

    There are times that I still miss this guy and he’s been out of my life for over 7 months now. Maybe a year from now I will feel more healed, but I know that I will never let my passions overtake me to where I don’t know for sure where the relationship is headed before taking that plunge. It really was not worth it.


  8. Mitsy:

    The challenge is we can never know for sure where any relationship is headed. It could have been you who changed your mind after getting to know the guy even better, even after declaring a commitment. As people get to know each other, they let their guards down and their raw, true self comes forth. People change, which is part of why the divorce stats are so high.

    So while it is a good idea to slow down the physical part of a relationship until you’ve spent enough time together to see the others’ true self, you can never know anything for sure. At some point we have to trust we have enough information to move forward. If we’ve misread the information, or more comes out later and we change our minds, that is just part of life.

  9. bookyone Says:

    Hi DG,

    Great article. I agree, men and women do view sex differently, as a woman I can’t imagine using someone jst for sex and then blowing them off the way most of the guys I’ve been with have done to me. Needless to say this old lady learned her lesson (and learned and learned…) and is keeping her legs together til there’s a ring on my finger.

    Mistsy, I can relate, my ex did this to me, he told me he loved me over and over again and yet when things got tough, he bailed on me. I am physically disabled and that is hard enough to deal with on a daily basis without some idiot bailing on me when I need him the most.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  10. Lisa Says:

    I personally don’t know any women, especially the ones over 40 where sex comes with guilt. Most women do love sex as much as men. I have just learned from my own personal experience that most men can have casual sex forever and never get invested emotionally. They can have sex with women they’re not all that crazy about or even that attracted to. I personally realized after my divorce and my experiencing dating again after 25 years, that I can only have sex with men who I have incredible chemistry with and who I have feelings for. So, casual sex doesn’t work for me. After a couple of times, I get emotionally invested. He’s not on the same page and it’s over. It hurts too much to go through that. I just know myself very well. Problem is, as I believe someone else mentioned before, a man can tell you anything. Some are very good at figuring out who you are and what you want and be lying. I know one that has been juggling several women all his life, even marrying some of them and still has them all convinced they’re the only one.

  11. hunter Says:

    to lisa,

    you are right, be careful, I have heard therapists say, the female brain is built to follow men…..up until a certain age, then, women intellectualize…

  12. Sean Says:

    Personally I don’t get anything out of sex and I’ve lost potential relationships because I’m not as responsive as they would like. The times I have had sex, I honestly had no feelings or I was numb at best. Everyone has said that there’s something wrong with me or that I’m crazy but I honestly don’t feel that that is the case.

  13. janice Says:

    I am totally emotional wrecked! I agreed that I have been a total fool when i have sex with this guy that i befriended a year ago and became closer when we started dating. I guess that i have allowed passion to take over instead of knowing him a little better. I felt emotionally unstable when i knew that he didn’t response as much as i have expected him to be.

  14. tina Says:

    i feel that sex changes things because felmales get to invoulved after wards but my question is why do men take sex as a game and they don’t have any feelings afterwoards and how do females get like that.

  15. jake Says:

    Well…Fisrt of all, let’s clear up a few key points here. There are two types of responses. Affection (deep emotions, friendship, love) and attraction (physical side of love, “an animal sex drive”). Unfortunately, too many people (both men and women)are not capable to distinguish them. But as soon as two mature adults fully aware of their intentions than there is no need for any discussions, as the two of them will clearly understand what is going. It is usually happens to mature adults (at least 25+) and develops with life experience and self-awareness.

  16. Mark Says:

    Men generally categorize their lives according to the different aspects of their lives: work, home, hobby, relax time, etc. Women tend to categorize their lives according to their relationships. So when a man has sex, it’s just sex – although with a mature man, it can certainly be an expression of genuine love.
    When a woman has sex, it’s a holistic thing to her (generally speaking)… an expression of the depth of her relationship.
    It makes men seem shallow. Most of the time when I hear a woman bashing men for it, it’s a safe assumption that she hasn’t taken the time to learn how men think, see the world, or work.
    And a man who thinks sex is a game to be won by convincing a woman that he’s genuine when he’s not, really doesn’t understand how women think, work, or how important relationships are to them.
    Thoughts?

  17. Kind hearted Says:

    I think that the more mature the woman and depending on her circumstances in her life, if she decides to have a male sex partner, that is her decision. What if she was married, divorced, has the children she has always wanted, has a successful career, retirement plan, etc., and does not want all of the drama, efforts and energy of a full relationship of exclusive nature again. She may very well enjoy the male in the bedroom without the entire “relationship” aspect of what most entail. I think each individual’s needs and desires have to be addressed and less male versus female. A female in her early 40’s, who is no longer in her 20’s or 30’s and looking for the Cinderella story – may very well just know what she wants and enjoy all that the less invested relationship has to offer. Of course the mutual respect for each other and the appreciation for the acts partaken are paramount. The same person may also be one to have fun dates and other experiences with as well – may be all that is on the radar screen!

  18. Brenda Says:

    43 year old female here.

    Well after years of celibacy over 4 this round and many other years previously thanks to fake engagements to guys that Thank God didn’t really want to get married and getting dumped every time I expressed even feeling something.. Hey I’m finally ready for just some good sex with a younger man, I like younger men they treat me better and are more fun.

    If I meet the right one fine if I dont fine mot gonna TRY anymore.

    So to you young ones hurting and people that been waiting.. Just live don’t let life drag you down.

    Honestly I can’t say I ever had REAL love and I was married once. I loved a friend I never met his “personality” and that’s how I realized that hey I never even liked those other guys much, It was just disappointed and put in too much effort and wasted too much time.. and that was all.

    Forget wasting anymore time I wish I knew then what I know now I tell you that. forget trying to love them despite their lack of things, Go get someone that had more to offer in what you like. Cheers!


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