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February 19, 2014

What We Know (That Isn't Necessarily So) About Sex

A few tidbits on this list of "gender myths" also amused our reverse side away extremely.

1. On the question of whether men desire more sex partners than women... well, it depends on whether you're interested in what the typical man/woman wants or an average calculated from what all men/women want. We would guess what most people really want to know is what the typical person wants. The average doesn't map to an "average person":

If you ask a lot of men and women how many sex partners they'd want in a given period of time, the numbers provided by men average higher than the women's numbers. But it seems that a few randy fellows at the top are skewing the results as a whole.

Calculating an average does not always give you the clearest view of the data. (If, for example, researchers asked 10 men how many sex partners they wanted in the next year and nine said "one," while one said "20," the average would be 2.9, and you might expect that any given man wants about three sex partners in a year.)

If you look instead at the "typical" response to the question of how many partners people want, you find that the majority of both men and women offer the same answer: one.

Again, survey responses may be more about what people believe they should say, rather than what they really want, Conley said. That issue may be exacerbated because most sexual preference studies are conducted using college students, she added, and the young men are eager to conform to expectations of masculinity.

How about how many sexual partners men and women actually have? Studies generally find that men report more partners than women. But in 2003, researchers reported in the Journal of Sex Research that if you trick research participants into believing that they are hooked up to a lie-detector test, men report the same number of sexual partners as women.

2. On whether men think about sex more than women do... Yes, but then they think about other things more too:

In a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Sex Research, psychologists asked research participants to record their thoughts throughout the day. They found that men pondered sex 18 times a day to a woman's 10 times a day, but men also thought about food and sleep proportionately more than women. That suggests sex doesn't hold as vaunted a position for men as you might expect.


3. On the whole hypergamy/hypogamy thing:

An underpinning of evolutionary psychology is that men look for sexy women who are likely to provide them with attractive, healthy offspring, while women are more concerned than men about getting a high-status mate who can be a good provider.

When psychologists ask research subjects (mostly college students) to imagine their ideal mate, that is indeed what they typically find. But when people in an actual speed-dating event rated the importance of attractiveness and status, these gender differences evaporated, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

When the research participants met potential dates face to face, there was no difference in the way they rated their romantic interest based on those people's attractiveness and earnings. So it seems real-world attraction may go beyond simple stereotypes.

Shocking, isn't it?

4. Women are more selective than men. Is this biology? Or culture? Or some combination?

A 2009 study published in Psychological Science found that people are choosier when they're approached by a potential partner, and less choosy when they're doing the approaching. The experiment, conducted in a real-life speed-dating environment, showed that when men rotated through women who stayed seated in the same spot, the women were more selective about whom they chose to date. When the women did the rotating, it was the guys who were pickier.

Posted by Cassandra at February 19, 2014 06:09 AM

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Comments

but men also thought about food and sleep proportionately more than women.

Though it might be suggestive that men do tend to think of sex in the same class as other standard routines of life.

It would be interesting to see if women's thoughts also followed suit.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 19, 2014 12:54 PM

”On whether men think about sex more than women do... Yes, but then they think about other things more too”

Priceless.

Posted by: Crown Prince Bippi The Bleeder at February 19, 2014 01:35 PM

Though it might be suggestive that men do tend to think of sex in the same class as other standard routines of life. It would be interesting to see if women's thoughts also followed suit.

I had the same thought. Here's an interesting (and possibly unrelated) question: what does it mean if you think about sex a lot?

Does that mean your sex drive is stronger? Or is it possible (I think it is) that there are other, equally valid interpretations?

I think about sex more when I am around a man I'm attracted to. My response to that is to refuse to entertain those thoughts. Maybe if I trusted myself more, I wouldn't do that.

What does that say about my sex drive? I'm guessing, "not much".

I think about sex a LOT less when my husband is deployed. Now that is really not a good indicator of my general interest in sex, because trust me - when you haven't had sex in 6 months you're plenty interested. Unhappy, even. I know I always have been.

But what good does it do to think about it? I'm hungry all the time but spend very little time thinking about food. The amount of time I spend thinking about eating has only a very weak relationship to my present degree of hunger and a very strong relationship to the proximity of food.

I've always thought that men give themselves permission to think about sex more than women do. I actively try NOT to think about sex in any context I believe to be disloyal to or undermining of my marriage. So if a thought comes into my mind, I dismiss it and focus on something else.

Men seem to deliberately seek out what they have decided to forego. But if I'm on a diet, I"m not going to dwell on food.

It's a different mind set. I want to stay married and stay attracted to (and appreciative of) my spouse, so I don't dwell on what I have already decided I won't allow myself to have. There's no point, and doing otherwise only makes me unhappy and dissatisfied.

All of which says precisely nothing about my natural sex drive.

Posted by: Cass at February 19, 2014 05:45 PM

Posted by: Joatmoaf at February 19, 2014 07:08 PM

He's a funny guy :)

I do think he exaggerates quite a bit but he has a great way of explaining a lot of things that does strike a chord. I've always loved the Nothing Box video.

I had seen the sex drive one, but not the "Ask him more than once" (ummm.... isn't it called "nagging" when women do that???) :)

Geez - nothing makes my husband dig in his heels faster than even the slightest repetition or hint that I'm trying to pressure him. That's why I decided well over 35 years ago that it was easier to just do stuff myself and let him decide if he wants to help. Luckily for me, he does more often than not, now.

Didn't realize he had a blog - thanks for the link!

Posted by: Cass at February 19, 2014 09:37 PM

What's there to know?

Know sex....Good.
No sex....Bad.

Must I explain *everything* to you? Maybe I should just send pictures....
0>:~}

Posted by: DL Sly at February 20, 2014 02:10 PM

Must I explain *everything* to you? Maybe I should just send pictures....

SHHHHHHHH!

Sly, you ignorant slut. *Everybody* knows that women have to be forced to feign interest in sex by scheming feminists. In our pure, natural state we spend the majority of our time thinking about cross stitch and purses and men with big fat wallets who will take care of us.

Dang. Now I *am* getting turned on...

Posted by: Cass at February 20, 2014 02:36 PM

"Sly, you ignorant slut."

Hey!
I am not ignorant!
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at February 20, 2014 03:49 PM

what does it mean if you think about sex a lot?

I think it's trying to assess relative importance.

Whether correct or not, it doesn't sound unreasonable to assume that people spend more time thinking about things that are important to them than things that aren't.

All those issues you bring up which can effect the rates would, at least in theory, wash out to noise if the sample size is large enough (because you'll have some people in a new relationship, some in an old relationship, some in close proximity while others are separated, etc).

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 21, 2014 11:14 AM

Whether correct or not, it doesn't sound unreasonable to assume that people spend more time thinking about things that are important to them than things that aren't.

While I agree that's not a completely unreasonable theory, I don't think it's necessarily correct.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about all sorts of things that are tremendously important to me. My children, for instance, and husband are important to me, but as I have a secure relationship with them and they are currently doing well, I don't think about them often during the day. I can completely put them out of my mind while I'm at work, for instance.

But if something is going on with them, they're in my mind a lot. Health problems are a good example of this. My parents were on my mind constantly last year b/c of health issues.

My marriage is tremendously important to me, but I don't think of it often during the day. There's no need. But if I argue with the Unit, you can bet I won't be able to think of anything else until it's resolved :p

With sex, seeing a lot of sexual content on the web makes me think of sex more often during the day. Did sex just become more important to me? No, not really. I'm responding to stimuli. That's why I find it so irritating to see strong sexual content on news sites and blogs where I'm not expecting it - it harms my ability to concentrate on things that are actually far more important to me (getting my work done, or my satisfaction with my marriage).

If I stumble onto a recipe site, I'll probably think about food a LOT more than I was doing before that too! Did food just become more important to me? Nope. So I think habits, context, and a person's surroundings probably have a stronger influence on how often one thinks about sex than one's innate interest or drive.

Years ago, I happened to see a pretty racy photo of a young man on a friend's blog. For the rest of the day, that image kept intruding upon my consciousness. I can't honestly say that it increased the importance of sex in my mind though. Let's face it - I wasn't going to have sex with that image :p That really made an impression on me.

Posted by: Cass at February 21, 2014 11:49 AM

Depends on what you mean by correct.

If by correct, you mean it's a major determining factor, I suspect you are right.

If by correct, you mean that it's possible to determine that the factor has *some* effect greater than 0, then I suspect they are right.

As I have to remind my dad from time-to-time: Statistical Significance != Give a Crap.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 21, 2014 02:49 PM

I waited.
Until Friday.
heh
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at February 21, 2014 03:33 PM

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