30 May 2017
Sex is more than just a biological need for men.
It goes without question that men and women are different. The topic of sex is no exception. I think at times, this is a good thing. If men and women were equal in this area, we would have either a lot more people around because everyone would be pursing sex at the same frequency or a lot fewer people because everyone would be having less sex. The fact one gender pursues it and other gender controls the frequency has been good for the planet and the species.
How often we think about it, how often we want it and what it means to you differs between genders. Much of this is tied up in how we’re wired and brain chemistry. Let’s consider brain chemistry and neurotransmitters. Both men and women have the same neurotransmitters, but not necessarily send the same messages at the same time.
Two important neurotransmitters that are released during sex is oxytocin, dubbed the cuddle hormone and vasopressin which is responsible for bonding. Though both men and women release these hormones, their effects are not equal. In women, estrogen increases the effect of oxytocin in their brains. The release of this “cuddle hormone” helps explains why women generally are the caretakers. In men, testosterone increases the effect of vasopressin resulting in feeling attached and protective. Interestingly, men only release oxytocin with women they love. Another important fact is the effect of oxytocin goes away for men right after orgasm. If a men wants that feeling again he needs to have sex again. Hmmm, maybe that’s why men want more sex.
This brief return to science class helps explain one of the most important things that happens in relationships, Attachment. Attachment is the drive to feel connected, wanted, important, valued and desired by a significant other. The feeling of emotional closeness. As humans are social creatures, attachment is not really an option.
As you can probably guess, men and women differ here too. Not the need for it, but how we get it. In my practice with couples these differences are very apparent.
One way women get a feeling of closeness, an essential component of attachment, is through talking and the sharing of feelings. Women are far more likely to talk about how they feel then men. Our western culture supports and encourages women to express themselves and their feelings from the time they were little girls. Through this sharing of deeper emotions, women develop close bonds with others. A women needs to feel attached first to be in the mood for sex. In my experience with couples, for women, sex goes to the wayside when they feel emotionally distant from their partner.
Men on the other had are not supported or encouraged to express their emotions. On the contrary, to do so comes with the risk of being seen as “girly”. This inability to express ones emotions has seriously cut men off from how they feel. This is one of the bigger problems I see in relationships.
This leads us to the important points. One, in order for men to feel the effects that women get from oxytocin, they pursue more sex and want it from the women they love. Two, the fact that the women is willing to have sex with him helps him fell connected, wanted, important and valued, which is exactly what he needs for attachment. This helps him feel that he has made his woman happy and he’s doing a good job.
Sex then allows men to experience all the effects of those neurotransmitters that women get from just talking about and sharing their feelings.
For men, the need for sex is more than just the orgasm. It means that he’s wanted, needed, important, valued and desired. Sex then, is more than just a physical act. It helps fulfilling the primordial need to be attached to a significant other.
Think of it this way, “You like me enough to have sex with me and that’s how I know you think I’m pretty.”