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Unromantic Reasons Why Women Sleep With Men
Unromantic Reasons Why Women Sleep With Men
Not long ago, I was talking to a single friend about her recent conquest.
'To be honest, I only slept with him out of politeness,' she admitted. I was not surprised - as women's labyrinthine reasons for having sex go, that's pretty basic, stock-in-trade stuff.
Perhaps men will find that a little shocking, depressing even. But they shouldn't. Indeed, they wouldn't if we hadn't all been fed a Utopian myth that men and women have sex purely because they're crazed with lust for each other - or, in a long-term partnership, because they still adore each other.
'Yawn...Still, at least this means he'll take the bins out!'
Any woman past the age of 16 knows what idealistic nonsense this is - and finally, there's research to prove it. As the Mail reported yesterday, in a new book, Why Women Have Sex, 1,000 women were interviewed about their real reasons for saying 'Yes' when they could have said 'No'. Boredom, winning favours and to get rid of a headache were high up the list.
These results suggest that comparing the intricate physiological and emotional strata of the female sex drive with the blunt male urge to
'Just do it' is like comparing a tin opener with the Large Hadron Collider. For most women, passionate desire languishes in the lower reaches of the list, somewhere below 'to get presents from him,' 'to shut him up' and even 'for fun'.
(It's striking that there's no mention of 'Because I was drunk', yet millions of men would testify to the fact that their chances sky rocket when a woman has had a few glasses of wine.)
Given a choice, girls prefer tall men with symmetrical features and deep voices - which suggests the female sex drive is, above all, evolutionary, because they believe such men will provide them with healthy children.
But once we've realised he's lacking in other areas or the passion has ebbed away, the reasons to have sex become far more mundane, or even acquisitive, such as 'So he'll take the rubbish out' or 'Because he took me for a meal'. The key finding of the book is that men are, on some level, physically attracted to most women, yet women are left sexually cold by most men.
In this light, feminism's eagerness to persuade women to have sex only when we experience knee-trembling desire seems naive. Endless books and articles have been written extolling our right to enjoy earth-shaking orgasms amid a whirring Rolodex of thrilling positions.
Taboo: Women are still swapping sex for perks and lying back for the sake of a quiet life
But they overlook the elephant in the room - long-term, a woman's sex drive is rarely equal to a man's.
On the whole, we are not instantly aroused by a glimpse of Calvin Klein waistband. We seldom engage in heated fantasies over semi-naked strangers. Pornographic magazines for women have invariably failed, because we don't respond visually or instantly to crass sexual stimuli.
Instead, female sexual response is as intricate as a weaver bird's nest - a complex interlacing of disparate feelings, needs and promises.
Initial physical attraction may be driven by simple hormones - but later in a relationship, the primary sexual mover for many women is a desire for emotional connection.
The old chestnut that men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love has some truth: men feel validated by sexual connection; women crave understanding and closeness.
They could spend hours exploring their own most complex feelings and their partner's deepest fears and joys - and watch him quake under the onslaught. Or they can engage with him physically and reap the emotional benefits of post-coital intimacy.
The book claims 84 pc of women have sex simply to keep their partners quiet or to get help with the chores.
You may feel shocked at the hint of prostitution - the bartering of our bodies for a bit of DIY - but within a committed relationship is it truly so different from any other trade- off which ultimately nets both participants what they want?
Women have always been practical when it comes to ensuring their comfort and security - and sex is an immensely valuable commodity.
Some women admitted having sex 'for presents' - but I suspect that the reasons behind that bald claim are more complicated. Many women who suffer low self-esteem, or have been damaged by male rejection or even abuse, feel validated only when they're admired.
Being given gifts in return for sexual favours isn't necessarily the hardnosed horse-trading it appears, given that plenty of the women surveyed also admitted to having sex 'so that men will like them'.
Often, women who grew up fatherless or who have had chequered relationships with men find they have no blueprint for relating to men any way other than sexually.
The authors also found that women have sex in a bid to 'win' - to poach a man from another women or to secure his long-term commitment.
Then there's 'jealousy' sex, which involves having sex with someone else to re-ignite a partner's interest. Callous, yes, but most of us are not above a certain amount of low-down scheming when it comes to sex.
Less shameful triggers for liaisons include the desire for peace and quiet, to cure a headache, even just to see how sex with someone new feels - and when you come to reasons like that, it's clear that we are a long way from champagne and flowers.
So, should we really be shocked by these findings? Some people will find them refreshingly honest, others depressing. They will bemoan the fact that 40 years after Cosmopolitan explained we were supposed to have orgasms, too, women are still swapping sex for household chores and lying back for the sake of a quiet life.
The truth is that we are all victims of our biology - the human race can prosper without women's orgasms, or even any enjoyment of sex, so we have to find other reasons to make love.
Whether it's for a new carpet, out of politeness, in the search for emotional intimacy, admiration or simply because we feel like it, the end result is the same.
SO WHAT DOES MAKE US SAY 'YES'? SIX WOMEN SHAMELESSLY REVEAL ALL
VIRGINIA IRONSIDE I've had sex for loads of reasons, love and romance often being the motivating force.
But I do remember once being taken out to dinner by a man who inveigled me back to his flat and suggested we had sex.
I didn't fancy him, and it hadn't occurred to me to have sex with him, but he then delivered the extraordinary line: 'Oh, come on. It'll take only a couple of minutes.'
I was so astonished at this, and felt it was such a reasonable request, that I complied. And, true to his word, two minutes later it was all over!
MARCELLE D'ARGY SMITH He arrived from Australia to stay for a couple of nights. A hugely successful, driven man who'd recently had a stroke. Yes, he was lean and attractive, but we were old friends.
I'd promised him: 'Own room, own shower, own cat.' He said he'd do without the cat.
He arrived on Saturday. We had dinner with friends. Sunday morning, as I was making him coffee in my nightdress, he suddenly kissed my back. Normally, I'd have said 'Get off' and laughed him away.
But it was a tender kiss. And I had heard that men who have had strokes and cancer lose their sexual confidence. What would it cost me to make him feel better? He was staying for only two nights. It was rather like a mercy mission. 'Go back to bed and I'll join you,' I said.
The Sunday morning sex was melting and wonderful. We stared at each other in amazement. It was the start of a poignant love affair. And it might never have happened.
'I locked my fingers in his and dragged him upstairs - just to shut him up'
EDWINA CURRIE I once had sex with a former Olympic athlete, just to find out what he could do that other men couldn't.
He had an almost perfect body: tall, broad-shouldered, superb thighs, a noble head. Fifty press-ups every morning kept his abdomen washboard-flat. When I whispered that he resembled Michelangelo's statue of David, he smiled: 'Yes, I've been told that before.'
The relationship waned when I noticed that rather than gazing deeply into my eyes, he was admiring his physique in the mirror. That's how I learned that an athlete's biggest attribute is his ego.
IRMA KURTZ I was in my early 20s and was in Paris, trying to become a bohemian expatriate. I was recovering from a relationship with a Parisian.
French does not rub off in bed; I could not yet speak his language, but it had become painfully evident he had nothing to say that a besotted girl wanted to hear. Weepy and full of confusion, I ran into a tourist from New York. We had a glass of beer, a long chat and ended up in his hotel room, laughing and loving and singing old Broadway songs.
The next day we parted friends. And I learned that having sex with someone who speaks your language can ease the pangs of homesickness.
WENDY LEIGH My second husband, a tall, dark, extremely butch American with a gravelly voice and an unbridled appetite for food and sex, had a tendency to erupt in a rage when he was deprived of either. I have to confess that most of the time I was equally voracious, but about sex and not food.
But when I was in the throes of researching a book, I was utterly consumed in my work and forgot all about sex and food. When my husband, starved of both, erupted in a rage, I had the choice of having sex with him or cooking a three course Sunday lunch.
So I gave him sex, rather like you give a baby a dummy, to pacify him. It worked every time.
LIZ JONES I once dated a beautiful man: he was a musician, had amazing skin, long fingers and spoke fluent French. He was incredibly intense and serious.
One night he came to my house for dinner. After our meal, he sat on the floor with his guitar and started to sing to me in French.
It was all far too romantic. I didn't know where to look: gazing into his eyes was too embarrassing, so I just looked out of the window.
When he got to the third verse, I thought: 'I can't stand any more of this.' So I locked my fingers in his, to stop him strumming, and dragged him upstairs - just to shut him up.
P.S AND HERE'S WHY MEN HAVE SEX
Reading the list of reasons why women sleep with men, I couldn't help but wonder: don't they ever do it because they like us? Does desire mean anything to them? Because it certainly does to men.
In our youth, desire can be indiscriminate. A young man's relationship with his sex drive is like a dog-walker's with an ill-disciplined dog: he's led from pillar to post without hope of discipline or control. Some men, no matter how old they are, will never stop chasing women for sex. But for most of us it's different. We've realized that girls, instead of being the pointless, silly creatures we took them for, are the most amazing, fascinating, desirable creatures on the planet.
Sex and the City age: Men fear that every act of love will be analysed over cocktails like a Premiership game on Match Of The Day
They can make your heart soar with a glance and crush your spirit with a sneer. Women don't have to do anything to hold men in their power. Just existing is enough. Why else would men have written countless poems and love songs; why else would they have painted them, sculpted them, gone to war for them?
It's men, not women, who are the true romantics. We want sex because it feels great, reinforces our self worth and, for us, physical intimacy is the proof and expression of emotional intimacy: to be denied sex is to be cast out.
This makes sex as frightening as it is intoxicating. We hate to admit it, but we are dependent on women and worry about our ability to satisfy them.
In this Sex And The City age, we fear that every act of love will be analyzed over cocktails like a Premiership game on Match Of The Day. Over time, lust and capacity fade. So sometimes we have sex just to prove we can. But most of all, ladies, we want sex because we love you.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA