What women need from a man before having sex

Laws of the Jungle: Dating for Women Over 40 co-authors Gloria MacDonald and Thelma Beam interviewed midlife women and asked how they knew they wanted to have sex with a specific man. Filtering through the answers, they came up with some commonalities for the women’s description of chemistry, a term that seems elusive.

chemistryThe components of chemistry for women boiled down to four things:

  1. Liking and respecting the man; his self-confidence and presentation; kindness, generosity, protectiveness, chivalry and other positive traits; acceptability in terms of status, income, personality, etc.
  2. The possibility that the relationship will continue; that some potential exists to make it permanent; that this man could be a suitable life partner for them and they can visualize what their future would be like.
  3. The man is willing to invest in her emotionally and materially, shown by cuddling, talking, kindness, acts of service, love talk, generally taking an interest in things that make her happy, gift-giving, paying for outings, having an adequate income. She could envision him willing to commit to a monogamous relationship; that his affections are not otherwise engaged by a former wife/girlfriend or current love interest.
  4. That there is at least some physical attraction on both sides, or at least that there are no physical turn-offs.

Contrast that with what they learned from single midlife men about what they need to have sex with a woman:

  1. He finds her physically attractive.
  2. She is willing.

Women report that without many or all of the 4 criteria, sex is unfulfilling and pointless.

But you can see that women and men approach sex from different places. Only after having sex with a woman will many men decide whether to further invest in the relationship. They will expend time, energy, attention and money to get sex, and women misinterpret this as an investment in the relationship. Men would start a relationship with sex, for women sex is the point at which many other criteria have been met.

Before any male bashing and name calling, hold on. MacDonald and Beam explain the differences logically based on human evolution and it makes sense. From back to cave people’s time, women are wired to want to make sure a man will stick around if she has his children. And men are wired that this isn’t that important. Yes, modern men and women have evolved socially, intellectually, and emotionally. Yet, the authors argue, there are still some remnants of that old thinking that is just hard wired for both sexes.

What do you think of their findings? Do you agree with the four criteria they listed? Or do you have different criteria?

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30 Comments on “What women need from a man before having sex”

  1. Elena Says:

    Seems to me like what midlife men and women want is no different from what younger men and women want.

    • bamapilot Says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. A man should, at a minimum be willing and able to meet all 4 of these criteria. He should be patient and considerate and place the deires of his woman ahead of anything that he desires. After all, if he is unwilling to place her first and foremost in his life, he has no business being with her. The love that he recieves in return will be far beyond anything that he could ever imagine. This is from a man over 60 years old and the love of his life is 60 years young and the most beautiful and desireable woman that he has ever seen.

  2. chrisfiore5 Says:

    hello adventure,

    just droped by to check out the latest entry in your blog…

    hope allis well.


  3. Catherine Says:

    They hit the nail on the head for me! Based on my dating experiences in the past 10 years, the guys are looking to score and the sooner the better, while most of the mid-life women I know, are looking for a “relationship” as demonstrated by the 4 criteria before they jump into the sexual arena. This is not from a sense of prudishness, but because the meaningless sex just isn’t fulfilling.

    My other observation from experience is that 10 years ago a guy was much more willing to invest some time in the relationship before pressing for a physical relationship. Today it seems like if you don’t put out by the third date, there is something “wrong” with you, and you get dumped. I actually had one guy try to turn our initial meeting into two “dates” so that after the next one he could start pushing the “3 date rule”. When I wouldn’t sleep with him on date number 3 his 4, I got a nasty email saying I must have been “hurt by bad men because he just wants to have fun and there is obviously something wrong with me…” Sad thing is he was a football coach at a catholic high school, so he continues to teach young men that this is an appropriate way to treat women….

    So how do we resolve this catch-22? Is there anything inherently wrong with the differences between what men and women want?

    I have tried the up front approach, saying “I understand that most men are looking for a physical relationship early in the relationship, and here is what I need to be comforatable getting intimate.” We then talked about spending time together and other ways to get to know each other. My experiment didn’t work… he went pouf.

    So now I am in the position of being really clear on what I want and need, being confident enough to communicate it to a prospective partner, but not finding anyone willing to put in a little effort. My current plan is to hold out until I meet a guy that will play by my not to difficult rules. Am I being too much of a princess here?

    • morgan Says:

      I know this is about a year late in reply, but here it is: date a different type of guy. I used to have problems all the time with hosing down my dates who mistakenly thought they got backseat benefits because I agreed to go out with them. I never had considered dating the “nerdy engineer” type. I went with handsome, smooth operators.

      Once I switched to nerdy. I was amazed how polite, creative and sweet they could be. My man, current and forever, was unsure if I even liked him on our fifth date when I allowed him to pick me up at my house. Ladies, do not overlook the bashful engineer type. It takes work to bring him out of his shell, but you’ll have your prince. Good luck. On another note, avoid jocks, former jocks, coaches of jocks because they have a reputation of not treating women well.

  4. greendaze44 Says:

    Well, that is all very nice and all, but I don’t mind having some good hard sex myself, once in a while. I know a guy might not be marriage, but if he looks good and looks like he would be good in bed, I’m not going to pass it up once in a while. And yes, I am 44 and am about to get divorced from a man who has been a lazy lover and has premature ejaculation and then blames it on me. So I may be a bit tainted in my info because I’m ready for a good romp in the bed after 12 years of being with this man.
    So I guess it all depends on where you’re coming from.

  5. Gray Ghost Says:

    The following are my thoughts from the last 2 blogs, so please bear with.

    Hmm, I realize that I’m probably a screwball statistic for the guys side of things but at this point in my life (49 years young), while being sexually active is great, what I’m really wanting anymore is a, and now all the hokey terms come to mind so I’ll edit to just this, partner/soulmate/someone who I can actually BE with and not have to ‘change to meet their ideals’.
    I was going to ‘rant’ a bit more but you probably really don’t need to hear that *small smile* so I’ll just say that some of my friends, both younger and older, are all for only spending enough time to know a women to get them in bed, so I can completely understand where this book gets it’s focus from, all too many men (and some women) are out there to only ‘play the field. Though curious thought does strike, did the book have any stat’s/numbers as far as this train of thought?
    Just a thought, or start of series of thoughts from one guy out here.

  6. PAULY Says:


  7. Alison Says:

    I have many thoughts on this topic and hopefully will compile and compose them at some time for consumption (umm). Here are some.

    On an important note.
    What women and men say may reflect more on their own awareness of their motivations than actuality.

    Men’s quick and gut reactions ARE as they say-
    A woman should be attractive and willing-

    But they too may have other desires and qualifications especially as they mature.

    Importantly for midlife daters- (and others)
    A woman and a man may want to know that the prospective partner is STD free –

    and to determine that and whether to trust your partner may take time.

    Women may have better impulse control and so choose to take more time to ‘investigate’.

    Women may be concerned with attractiveness and certainkly also need to test a man’s ‘willingness’ and want sex as much as men, but understand the implications of ACTING too quickly on this.

    Yes, much may be the same for a younger woman, or younger and older men. And Age may not be as relevant as objective and experience with dating and relationship building.

    Objectives change over the course of one’s life.

    Many women DO want sex and not necessarily ‘committed’ or ‘exclusive’ relationships, especially when working on their careers or coming out of a divorce or sexless/loveless marriage.

    Many women may be judged more harshly for admitting this or acting on this. It is more acceptable if in a ‘relationship’.

    Being open to sex, does not mean not ALSO wanting affection, caring or consideration- attention.

    This also goes for men.

    Defining commitment is important. One can be ‘commited’ to an ongoing relationship and yet not present in the moments you are sharing with a partner.

    Ability to be committed and attentive in the moment, whether it is one date or more, may be more important for a woman in determining if she wishes to have sex.

    Many maturer men and women may find that disconnected, inattentive, slam-bang, eyes tight shut sex becomes more and more unfufilling and unmeaningful over time.

    Ones perception of ‘boredom’ may have as much to do with the openess and creativity in one’s own mind as to do with the behavior of another.

    Women may wish to test the prospective creativity of the mind of the man she may choose to have sex with,m to assess the quality of the sex they might have together.

    A wise and maturer man may choose to do the same even if he feels that immediate tug of chemistry.

    Again much depends on objectives, stage of life, skill set and esxperience.


  8. The Highballer Says:

    This piece is not even an oversimplification. It’s just generalizing. It’s female sexual tunnel vision, a condition that causes women to view only the males they find attractive as “men.” The rest of us, regardless of our conduct or motivation, simply don’t count. So Pauly, don’t worry about being pidgeonholed; you don’t fit the definition of being a man any more than I do. This article doesn’t apply to us.

  9. Cosmos Says:

    I agree with The Highballer. Women have their tunnel visions. Sex is a language for women to express thir emotions and for that emotional meeting they need their men to be up to that. A woman once told me that they “size up” a man the moment she meets him. It really does not matter what or how the man acts. THEY know all. So, if she finds you emotionally correct, she will take all initiatives. If not, nothing of whatever you do is likely to change her attitude. At most you might be pushed into the dreaded “friend zone”.


  10. not25.com Says:

    I have an even more primal take on the man/woman dynamic. Have you ever had a pet reptile? They will not food that doesn’t run away. Men are like that. (I like men but they are like this; even the great ones.) If you run, they hunt. They can’t help it. If you chase them, they run away. They can’t help it. This is how the term hard-to-get came about but it can be played simply with confidence instead of as a game. If he isn’t chasing you, don’t chase him. Leave. That way you give him a chance to hunt. And if he isn’t making any effort to catch you, you probably don’t need him anyway.

    I think that confidence could have a lot to do with the different takes women have in their 20s and 40s on dating.

  11. Cosmos Says:

    Dear not25.com,
    You have pointed out a very important feature of a woman. But in the end, your suggestions seem a bit contradictory or am I missing something? I would appreciate if you say more.

  12. dancebabe Says:

    Well…wow…I have to say that I think women should check out all dating options, have lots of fun…but no matter what…bottom line is being treating very, very well regardless of what direction the relationship takes. And I think women are HUGELY concerned with attractiveness…i’m talking about the subjective kind…it may be deeply linked to all the ‘cognitive’ needs…after all attraction is say 50% the mind and 50% the body…chemicals and all. I think there’s too much focus on commitment…long term potential can be a bit destructive…have fun…and when a longterm dude shows up have more fun.

  13. hunter Says:

    to Pauly,

    Try dating women that are not as sexy. They haven’t been hurt, runover, used, etc……

  14. […] lessons we’ve learned about jumping in the sack too soon. I shared what I reported in “What women need from a man before having sex” — that women need to have an emotional connection to make the physical part […]

  15. Suze Says:

    Wow…I can’t believe how bitter some of the guy respondents are on this thread. Sounds like self entitlement to me and very direspectful of women’s emotional vulnerability. No wonder women are cautious, with this type of callous attitude.

    I know of few women who were able to jump head first into a sexual relationship and leave their emotions at home.

    Women have historically controlled the pace of sex–and that is so they can get their needs met and not foolishly settle for the dregs out there. Making men wait, and pacing the relationship weeds the losers out.

    So ladies, if someone dumps you for waiting to have sex, congratulate yourself for a job well done. You eliminated a bad prospect.

    On a related note, if you are marriage minded, consider waiting until engagment before taking that kind of gamble. Hard to do, but it definitely lets the guy know where you are at…instead of blind guessing games and wishful thinking.

    And remember: that which is given away too easily is not valued. Human nature.

  16. hunter Says:

    to suze,

    we sound bitter, really?…..hmmmhh..

  17. Julia Says:

    Well just to confuse things and to confirm my exceptionally bad attitude towards sex I am a woman who met someone recently who I experienced a very rich chemistry with across many aspects of our lives. I was so taken back by this meeting of minds, bodies and souls that I was happy to enter a sexual relationship almost immediately (3rd date). That was a first for me. In the past (having only been with 2 men in 18 years, both long term relationships and had not had sex for four years) I had always been the person to set the pace and so perceived myself to be quite disciplined and restrained. However on this occasion, my willingness to move the relationship to the next level so quickly was perceived by my male as promiscuous and desperate. I was shocked but i managed to hold myself in. After 8 dates though when I was been told that it was character building to keep restraining myself I lost the plot and dumped the guy. I was resistant primarily to his control of pace…Now I regret it all but what can I say. Am I the only woman whose libido is so demanding and problem causing.

  18. bookyone Says:

    Hi DG,

    I think you can whittle the male needs list down even further, (based on the regular weekend behavior of my numerous randy neighbors), to one simple criteria:

    1.) She’s breathing. 😀

    Hugs and best wishes for the New Year from bookyone 🙂

  19. Punk-Guy Says:

    Hey people,
    There are a few guys out here who are looking for more than just looks and willingness!
    I agree that attractiveness is important, otherwise why would us guys approach women, but theres loads of other things we look for!
    We don’t want to get hurt by women, and in my mind that means tryin to find the best woman around!
    I look for all 4 of the “womans wants”! If you havn’t got them then theres no chance of a relationship that’ll work!
    Just like every woman is different, so are we! some guys want more out of women than just a quick shag!

  20. laddert Says:

    I’m a male, and typically, I wait as long as it takes to get to the sex part. What’s the alertnative? Spending the rest of your life without sex…

  21. linio Says:

    I was in love with a mid-20 girl and treated her like a queen, she moved to my flat and were having sexual intimacy since the first day but not sexual intercourse. she have had 8 previous boyfriends and having sexual intercourse with them and she kept on repeating me i like her but she only have sex with “boyfriends”. After a month i dumped her because she was taking my self-steem to dangerous levels. I won’t go through a situation like that anymore.. anyone her knows the definition of a “boyfriend” by the way..

  22. jeff Says:

    i think its great that womens needs have to be met before having sex.. just remember the mans needs have to be met too eventually. I feel like its one side, until sex enters the relationship

  23. redsky Says:

    intelligent women will have sex with alfa-men right away; intelligent women will look for beta-men when interested in a long-term relationship.. what kind of man are you?; What kind of woman are you?

  24. joseph Says:

    my name is joseph i need a woman that can help me ples good one that i we love we will be togather as one familer live, i belive with God all thing are bosebor

  25. Y!Corrupt Says:

    Heart Must be beautiful like face.
    Personaly makes us In-self beautiful
    we Must not hurt any one from our body parts Such as Eye.
    Yea it is true every one got behind his eye a girl
    thoughts of girl /thoughts of men.
    But the reality is ‘ God is already perpaired a pair of you.You Must think that what you are doing(sex) and if your love hear about that honey event
    what she wil think about you and your personalty !
    even u cant talk with her with those emotion , u have been met in last time.
    even u cant see your face in mirror if you did some think like that.

  26. bryon Says:

    looking for a women that would like to take care of a man i live in cali. whant to reside somewere in the country i live here too long i want a country old gal iv been in automotive all my life i know evrey thing about cars & constuction.i have two kids,a girl & a boy there all growen up.im very good looking i got blond hair & blue eyes im 175 pds very fit.i came down with copd,from painting cars,autobody indust,looking for for someone that i can love and i will be everything she ever wanted.i love motor sports jet sking,love the snow,please replay,im very lonly.im a very nice gay & loves top cook.call 209-214-3952 my name is bryon lantz

  27. bryon Says:

    my address is boscolantz@gmail.com.my name is bryon lantz

  28. […] lessons we’ve learned about jumping in the sack too soon. I shared what I reported in “What women need from a man before having sex” — that women need to have an emotional connection to make the physical part […]

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