In 2014, much credence is still given to the idea that men and women think about sex in a fundamentally different way. I’ve written about sex and relationships for the past 13 years, and many women have opened up to me about what trips their triggers. My takeaway is that men who buy into those purported differences are missing a golden opportunity to have a fully actualized sex life. Recent studies show that not only do women think about sex a fair bit, but they also have a much broader definition of what constitutes “acceptable” sex than men do.
It’s going to take a little introspection, but by following the steps below you could be on your way to earning a reputation as a guy who’s a go-to provocateur of sexual adventure and satisfaction.
Ever heard that men think about sex every seven seconds? Turns out there’s not a shred of evidence to back that up.
1. Forget what you’ve been told.
Regrettably, there remain some false yet pervasive perceptions about human sexuality that are intended to shame, humiliate and ostracize. Throughout history, women have been the target for much of that sexual stigmatization. “Slut-shaming” is a term given to describe the act of making women feel guilty for sexual conduct beyond what a society has deemed okay. Not only is slut-shaming a heinous bullying tactic, tolerating it—much less perpetrating it—is going to have a seriously negative impact on your own sex life.
Pernicious ideas still suggest that men are inherently more sex-focused than women. Ever heard that men think about sex every seven seconds? Turns out there’s not a shred of evidence to back that up. In 2011, Dr. Terri Fisher, a psychology professor at Ohio State University at Mansfield, decided to provide some bona fide data on how often men and women think about sex. She gave 283 students between the ages of 18 and 25 a clicker to record every time they thought about food, sleep or sex. Although on average, men noted more thoughts about sex than women, they also reported more thoughts about food and sleep. And a large portion of female participants thought about sex much more than many of their male counterparts.
Although Fisher’s results defanged an old double-standard debate, Professor Todd Morrison of the University of Saskatchewan authored a study showing a new one. In his research, he showed that men were more likely than women to think that many sex behaviors—watching pornography, masturbation, being physically restrained during sex, voyeurism and a slew of other activities—were “abnormal.” The bottom line? Making an effort to understand and cater to your partners’ sexual appetites and imaginations is always win-win.
2. Put it out there.
Unlike me (and a seemingly inexhaustible procession of elected officials), you probably don’t post your sexual escapades all over the internet. The advantage of living a big chunk of my sex life out in the open is that people, specifically women, quickly feel comfortable telling me about their own, thoughts, fantasies and experiences. “You went to a foot-fetish party? My past three boyfriends have been all about my feet!” “I like being choked during sex. Is that normal?
Ask the right questions, and she’ll describe her likes and dislikes in a way that you can put to good use.
Though it’s certainly handy (albeit inaccurate) for me to be introduced to people as a “sexpert” at parties, you don’t need to have a raunchy résumé to get current or even prospective partners to open up about their sexual side. If a conversation is getting appropriately saucy, offer up something you’ve done or think about doing. Whether it’s recounting the time you and a co-worker had sex in the supply closet or the fact that you have a leg-warmer fetish that you attribute to a childhood crush on Jennifer Beals, confidently, unapologetically put it out there. You’ll broadcast an attractive comfort with yourself and suggest that you won’t be quick to judge her sexual proclivities.
3. Be a hero.
Putting yourself in a position to hear about women’s sexual experiences is surefire way to learn from the best and the worst of them. Ask the right questions, and she’ll describe her likes and dislikes in a way that you can put to good use. Although I’ve noticed that there’s a huge amount of variation in what women want, there are a lot of common themes. These universal wants and watch-outs are probably the ones you want to address first. Everyone is different, but in my experience these are: Overeager “finger banging”, merciless pounding and sudden anal forays are seldom appreciated, while longer, more experimental sessions that vary in intensity, leverage anticipation and are informed by her various cues are going to score you big points.
A lot of people are reticent to delve into the sex lives of even casual partners. Though hearing about the person you’re having sex with can be a challenging practice at first, you’ll quickly get some reassurance that an overwhelming majority of men don’t have the first clue about satisfying women in bed and the minority who do are your new tutors.
The bottom line
Gird your loins and ask evocative questions. The payoff for your inquiries will be an opportunity to forgo a lot of sexual trial-and-error, the fastest way to become one of the good ones. I’ve learned that intimacy is about dropping what you’ve been led to believe, and getting comfortable with a real person, not a flawed archetype. The modern gentleman knows that by digging deep into your partners’ fantasies and seeing how they align with your own, an epic sex life can be unlocked.