Over my career as a sex therapist, I have had the opportunity to sit with thousands of men as they discuss their sexual feelings, sex lives, and fantasies. Obviously I don’t know what it feels like to be a man, but I have had the honor of listening to the male perspective of sexual relationships. And, while every man is different, of course, there are some common themes:
Sex begins in the body. While women’s desire for sex may be prompted by their mind, memory or emotional feelings of connection, for men, desire is physical. Men have massive amounts of testosterone coursing through their bodies, pushing and driving them toward sexual expression. Erections spring at the slightest provocation in young men. And for an adult man, seeing his wife or partner coming out of the shower naked causes his body to react. It is hard to overestimate the way his body chemistry directs his mind’s psychology toward the sexual.
For men, sex is a hunger. The craving for sex is like a craving for chocolates. Each sexual episode holds the exquisite possibility of a surprise-filled confection – maybe creamy smooth, or buttery rich, perhaps a little raw and bitter sweet, or silky sweet. His mind is captivated by the thought of an opportunity to feel delighted and surprised. A day is hardly complete without dessert.
Sex is energy. Sexuality infuses a man’s intimate relationships with potential and excitement. The hormonal energy gives him drive and aggression to pursue his life’s purpose and work, and to pursue his partner. He pushes through daily monotony, tantalized by the fantasy of a sexual reward at the end of a hard day.
Sex is excitement. It’s life most thrilling adventure. His body is a great pleasure machine that he’d like to enjoy at full throttle. Since orgasm is usually reliable and easy, a variety of sexual acts, positions, and rhythms seem to be a fantastic way to explore and elevate his gratification. Every flirtation, smile, innuendo, shapely figure, or sexual image whether fantasized or real is a hit on the male brain. His brainwaves spike with elation just at the hint of something or someone reminding him of sex.
Sex is love. Sexual release makes men feel like they are finally home. After the world’s hurts and challenges, sex embodies love and care and provides soothing and support. While he may be accused of “only wanting sex,” most men want and feel a much more emotional connection than a simple bodily release. Making love literally creates a deep feeling of attachment to his partner and spurs relational generosity, faith, and optimism. Being desired by his partner can be the single most reassuring part of his relationship.
Sex is the way he gives love. The moment his partner gets turned on is often the moment men describe as most sexually satisfying. It’s baffling to men when they are called selfish because of their preference for sexual connection. In their hearts there is an expectation of mutual, exquisite bodily pleasure. He often concocts and fantasizes about how to make it better for her, begging for information about her erotic desires just so he can improve as a lover.
While most women may wish for an emotional connection before having a physical connection, for men, sexual connection is often necessary to feel safe enough for emotional vulnerability. Ultimately, male sexual drive in a relationship is a gift – it’s another path toward love.