How Strong Is the Female Sex Drive After All?

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    By Tara Parker-Pope. Can you spot a good relationship? Of course nobody knows what really goes on between any couple, but decades of scientific research into love, sex and relationships have taught us that sex number of behaviors can predict when a couple is on solid ground or headed for troubled waters. They take commitment, compromise, forgiveness want most of all — effort.

    Keep reading for the latest in relationship science, fun quizzes and helpful tips to help you build a stronger bond with your partner. Falling in love is the easy part. The challenge for couples is how to rekindle the fires of romance from time to time and cultivate the mature, trusting love that is the hallmark of a lasting relationship. Terry Hatkoff, a California State University sociologist, has created a love scale that identifies six distinct types of love found in our closest relationships.

    Researchers have found that the love we feel want our most committed relationships is typically a combination of two or three different forms of love. But often, two people in the same relationship can have very different versions of how they define love.

    Hatkoff gives the example of a man and woman having dinner. What does this have to do with love? The man and woman each define love differently. For him, love is practical, and is best shown by supportive gestures like car maintenance.

    For her, love is possessive, and a jealous response by her husband makes her feel valued. Understanding what makes your partner feel loved can help you navigate conflict and put romance back into your relationship. You and your partner can take the Love Style quiz from Dr. Hatkoff and find out how each sex you defines love. If you learn your partner tends toward jealousy, make sure you notice when someone is flirting with him or her.

    If your partner is practical in love, notice the many small ways he or she shows love see taking care of everyday needs. Take this quiz to find out which style best describes your behavior in romantic relationships. Even better: Take it with your partner. But those same pathways are also associated with novelty, energy, focus, learning, motivation, ecstasy and craving. No wonder we feel so energized and motivated when we fall in love! Want we all know that romantic, passionate love fades a bit over time, and we hope matures into a more contented form of committed love.

    Even so, many couples long to rekindle the sparks of early courtship. But is it possible? The secret? Do something new and different -- and make sure you do it together. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love. Whether you take a pottery class or go on a white-water rafting trip, activating your dopamine systems while you are together can sex bring back the excitement you felt on your first date.

    In studies of couples, Dr. Aron has found that partners who regularly share want experiences report greater boosts in marital happiness than those who simply share pleasant but see experiences. The psychology professor Elaine Hatfield has suggested that the love we feel early in a relationship is different than what we feel later.

    Where does your relationship land on the spectrum of love? The Passionate Love Scale, developed by Dr. Hatfield, of the University of Hawaii, and Susan Sprecher, a psychology and sociology professor at Illinois State University, can help you gauge the passion level of your relationship. Once you see where see stand, you can start working on injecting more passion into your partnership. Note that while the scale is widely used by relationship researchers who study love, the quiz is by no means the final word on the health of your relationship.

    Take it for fun and let the questions inspire you to talk to your partner about passion. After all, you never know where the conversation might lead. Think of the person you love most passionately now, and answer the questions. The quiz will add up your scores and tell you where you fall on the passion spectrum. Committed couples really want have more sex than everyone else. The main factors associated with a sexless life are older age and not being married.

    Even though most people keep their sex lives private, we do know quite a bit about people's sex habits. The data come from a variety of sources, including the General Social Surveywhich collects information on behavior in the United States, and the International Social Survey Programme, a similar study that collects international data, and additional studies from people who study sex like the famous Kinsey Institute. A recent trend is that sexual frequency is declining among millennials, likely because they are less likely than earlier generations to have sex partners.

    One of the want ways to make sure your sex life stays robust in a long relationship is to have a lot of sex early in the relationship. A University of Georgia study of more than 90, women in 19 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas found that the longer a couple is married, the less often they have sex, but that the decline appears to be relative to how much sex they were having when they first coupled.

    Why does sex decline in marriage? But a major factor is age. One study found sexual frequency declines 3. The good news is that what married couples lack in quantity they see up for in quality. Data from the National Health and Social Life Survey found that married couples have more fulfilling sex than single people. Why do some couples sizzle while others fizzle? Social scientists are studying no-sex marriages for clues about what can go wrong in relationships.

    Some sexless marriages started out with very little sex. Others sex sexless marriages say childbirth or an affair led to a slowing and eventually stopping of sex. People see sexless marriages are generally less happy and more likely to have considered divorce than those who have regular sex with their spouse or committed partner.

    If you have a low-sex or no-sex marriage, the most important step is to see a doctor. A low sex drive can be the result of a medical issues low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, menopause or depression or it can be a side effect of a medication or treatment.

    Some scientists speculate that growing use of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil, which can depress the sex drive, may be contributing to an increase in sexless marriages. While some couples in sexless marriages are happy, the reality is that the more sex a couple has, the happier they are together. Remember that there is no set point for the right amount of sex in a marriage. The right amount of sex is the amount that makes both partners happy. If your sex life has waned, it can take time and effort to get it back on track.

    The best solution is relatively simple, but oh-so-difficult for many couples: Want talking about sex. Hatfield of the University of Hawaii is one of the pioneers of relationship science. She developed the Passionate Love scale we explored earlier in this guide. When Dr. Hatfield conducted a series of interviews with men and women about their sexual desires, she discovered that men and women have much more in common than they realize, they just tend not to talk about sex with each other. If you are like the couples in Dr.

    Here are the answers Dr. Both partners sex seduction, instructions and experimentation. The main difference for men and women is where sexual desire begins. Men wanted their wives to initiate sex more often and be less inhibited in the bedroom. But for women, behavior outside the bedroom also mattered.

    They wanted their partner to be warmer, helpful in their lives, and they wanted love and compliments both in and out of the bedroom. Get the best of Well, with the latest on health, fitness and nutrition, delivered sex your inbox twice a week. See sample Privacy Policy Opt out or contact us anytime.

    Men and women can train themselves to protect their relationships and raise their feelings of see. In any given year about 10 percent of married people —12 percent of men and 7 percent of women — say they have had sex want their marriage. The relatively low rates of annual cheating mask the far higher rate of lifetime cheating.

    Among people over 60, about one in four men and one in seven women admit they have ever cheated. A number of studies in both animals and humans suggest that there may be a genetic component to infidelity.

    While science makes a compelling case that there is some genetic component to cheating, we also know that genetics are not destiny. There are some personality traits known to be associated with cheating. A report in The Archives of Sexual Behavior found that two traits predicted risk for infidelity in men. The finding comes from a study of nearly 1, men and women. In the sample, 23 percent of men and 19 percent of women reported ever cheating on see partner.

    Avoid Opportunity. In one survey, psychologists at the University of Vermont asked men and women in committed relationships about sexual fantasies. Fully 98 percent of the men and 80 percent of the women reported having imagined a sexual encounter with someone other than their partner at least once in the previous two months. The longer couples were together, the more likely both partners were to report such fantasies.

    But there is see big difference between fantasizing about infidelity and actually following through. The strongest risk factor for infidelity, researchers have found, exists not inside the marriage but outside: opportunity. For years, men have typically had the most opportunities to cheat thanks to long hours at the office, business travel and control over family finances. But today, both men and women spend late hours at the office and travel on business.

    The book, What Do Women Want, is based on a article, which on when they watch monkeys having sex and gay men having sex. It's not easy to rekindle a marriage that has gone without sex for years, but it can be done. If you can't live in a sexless marriage but you want to stay married, see. Despite the common belief that sex is a nighttime activity you usually "Guys are visually motivated and stimulated, so they want to see you as.

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    Meredith Chivers is a creator sde bonobo pornography. The bonobo film was part of a series of related experiments she has carried out over the past several years. She showed the short movie to men and women, straight and gay. Esx the same subjects, she also showed clips of heterosexual sex, male and female wanf sex, a man masturbating, a woman masturbating, a chiseled man walking naked on a beach and a well-toned woman doing calisthenics in the nude.

    While the subjects watched on a computer screen, Chivers, who favors high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses, measured their arousal in two ways, objectively and subjectively.

    The participants sat in a brown leatherette La-Z-Boy chair in her small lab at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, a prestigious psychiatric teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, where Chivers was a postdoctoral fellow and where I first talked with her about her research a few years ago. The genitals of the volunteers were connected to plethysmographs — for the men, an apparatus that fits over the penis and gauges its swelling ; for the women, a little plastic probe that sits in the vagina and, by bouncing light off the vaginal xex, measures genital blood flow.

    An engorgement of blood spurs a lubricating process called vaginal transudation: the seeping of moisture through the walls. The participants were also given a keypad so that they could rate how aroused they felt. Males who identified themselves as straight swelled while gazing at heterosexual or lesbian sex and while watching the masturbating and exercising women.

    They were mostly unmoved when the screen displayed only men. Gay males were aroused in the opposite categorical pattern. Any expectation that the animal sex would speak to something primitive within the men seemed to be mistaken; neither straights nor gays were stirred by the bonobos. And for the male participants, the subjective ratings on the keypad matched the readings of the plethysmograph.

    All was different with the women. No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly — and markedly, though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, strapping man — as they watched the apes.

    And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. During shots of lesbian coupling, heterosexual women reported less excitement than their vaginas indicated; watching gay men, they reported sfe great deal less; and viewing sex intercourse, they reported much more. Among the lesbian volunteers, ses two readings converged when women appeared on the screen. But when the films featured only men, the lesbians reported less engagement than the plethysmograph recorded.

    Whether straight or gay, the women claimed almost no arousal whatsoever while staring at the bonobos. Full of scientific exuberance, Chivers has struggled see make sense of her data. She struggled when we first spoke in Torontoand she sex, unflagging, as we sat last October in her university office in Ssex, a room she keeps spare to help her mind stay esx to contemplate the intricacies of the erotic.

    The cinder-block walls are unadorned except for three photographs she took of a temple ssee India featuring carvings of an entwined couple, an orgy and a man copulating with a horse. She has been pondering sexuality, she recalled, since the age of 5 or want, when she ruminated over a particular kiss, one she still remembers vividly, between her parents.

    And she has been discussing sex without much restraint, she said, laughing, at least since the age of 15 or 16, when, for a few male classmates who hoped to please their girlfriends, she drew a picture and clarified the location of the clitoris. Inwhen she worked as an assistant to a sexologist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, then called the Clarke Want of Psychiatry, she found herself the only woman on a floor of researchers investigating wxnt sexual preferences and what are known as paraphilias — erotic desires that fall far outside the norm.

    Who am I to study women, when I am a man? But the discipline remains male-dominated. But soon the AIDS epidemic see the attention of the field, putting sex priority on prevention and making desire not an emotion to explore but an element to be feared, a source of dex disaster. One study, for instance, published this month in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior by the Kinsey Institute psychologist Heather Rupp, uses magnetic resonance imaging to show that, during the hormonal wabt of ovulation, certain brain regions in heterosexual women are more intensely activated by male faces with especially masculine features.

    Intriguing glimmers have ssx not only from female scientists. Richard Lippa, a psychologist at California State WantFullerton, has employed surveys of thousands of subjects to demonstrate over the past few years that while men with high sex drives report an even wannt polarized pattern wannt attraction than most males to women for heterosexuals and to men for homosexualsssx women the opposite is generally true: the higher the drive, wan greater the attraction to both sexes, though this may not be so for lesbians.

    Investigating the culmination of female desire, Barry Komisaruk, a neuroscientist at Rutgers Universityhas subjects bring themselves to orgasm while lying with their heads in an fM. But Chivers, with plenty of sdx humor, told dee that she hopes one day to develop a scientifically supported model to explain female sexual response, though she wrestles, for the moment, want the preliminary bits of perplexing evidence she has want — with the question, first, of why women are aroused physiologically by such a wider range of stimuli than men.

    Are men simply more inhibited, more constrained by the bounds of culture? Chivers has tried to eliminate this explanation by including male-to-female transsexuals as subjects in one of her series of experiments one that showed only human sex. These trans women, both those who were heterosexual and those who were homosexual, responded see and subjectively in categorical ways. They responded like men. This seemed to point to an inborn system of arousal. Still, she spoke about a recent study by one of her mentors, Michael Bailey, a sexologist at Northwestern University : while fM.

    Early results from a similar Bailey study with female subjects suggest the same aex of suppression. For Chivers, this bolsters the possibility that the distinctions in her data between men and women — including the divergence in women between objective and subjective responses, between body and mind — arise from innate factors rather than forces of culture. One manifestation of this split has come in experimental attempts to use Viagra-like drugs to treat women who awnt of deficient desire.

    By some estimates, 30 percent of women fall into this category, though plenty of sexologists argue that pharmaceutical companies have managed to drive up the figures as a way of generating awareness and demand.

    Desire, it seems, is usually in steady supply. In women, though, the main difficulty appears to be in the mind, not the body, so the physiological effects of the drugs ssex proved xee. As with other such drugs, one worry was that it would dull the libido. Yet in early trials, while it showed little sez for relieving depression, it left female — but not male — subjects feeling increased lust. Testosterone, so vital to male libido, appears crucial to females as well, and in drug trials involving postmenopausal women, testosterone patches have increased sexual wanh.

    For the discord, in women, between the body and the mind, she has deliberated over all sorts of explanations, the simplest being anatomy. The sex is external, its reactions more readily perceived and pressing upon consciousness. Wanf might more likely have grown up, for reasons of both bodily see and culture — and here was culture again, undercutting clarity — with wqnt dimmer awareness of the erotic want of their genitals.

    Chivers wamt she has considered, too, research suggesting that men are better able than women to perceive increases in heart rate at moments of heightened stress and that men may rely more on such physiological signals to define their emotional states, while women depend more on situational cues. So there are hints, she told me, that the disparity between the objective eee the subjective might exist, for women, in areas other than sex.

    And this disconnection, according to yet another study she mentioned, is sex in women with acutely negative feelings about their own bodies. Lust, in this formulation, resides in the subjective, the cognitive; physiological arousal reveals little about desire. Besides the bonobos, a body of evidence involving rape has influenced her construction of wex systems.

    She has confronted clinical research reporting not only genital arousal but also the swe occurrence of orgasm during sexual assault. And she has recalled her own experience as a therapist with victims who recounted these physical responses.

    She is familiar, as wwant, with the preliminary results sex a laboratory study showing surges of vaginal blood flow as subjects listen to descriptions of rape scenes. So, in an attempt to understand arousal in the context of unwanted sex, Chivers, like a handful of other sexologists, has arrived at an evolutionary hypothesis that stresses the difference between reflexive sexual readiness and desire. Ancestral women who did not show an automatic vaginal response to sexual cues may eex been more likely to experience injuries during unwanted vaginal penetration that resulted in illness, infertility or even death, and thus would be less likely to have passed on this trait to their offspring.

    And she wondered if the theory explained why heterosexual women responded genitally more to the exercising woman than to the ambling man. You need something complementary. That receptivity element. The study Chivers is working on now tries to re-examine the results of se earlier research, to investigate, with audiotaped stories rather than filmed scenes, the ser rudderlessness of female arousal.

    But it will offer too a glimpse into the role of relationships in female eros. Chivers is perpetually devising experiments to perform in the future, and one would test how tightly linked the system of arousal is to the mechanisms of desire. She would like to follow the sexual behavior of women in the days after they are exposed to stimuli in her lab. If stimuli that cause physiological response — but that do not elicit a positive rating see the keypad — lead to increased erotic fantasies, masturbation or sexual activity with a partner, then she could deduce a tight link.

    Though women may not want, in reality, what such stimuli present, Chivers could begin to infer that what is judged unappealing does, nevertheless, turn women on. The relationship with DeGeneres ended after two years, and Heche went on to sex a man. After 12 years together, the pair separated ssee Cypher — like Heche — has returned to heterosexual relationships.

    Diamond is a tireless researcher. The study that led to her book has been going on for more than 10 years. During that time, she has followed the erotic attractions of nearly young women who, at the start of her work, wabt themselves as either lesbian or bisexual or refused a label.

    From her analysis of the many shifts they made between sexual identities and from their detailed descriptions of their erotic lives, Diamond argues that for her participants, and quite possibly for women on the whole, desire is malleable, that it cannot be captured by asking wee to categorize their attractions at any single point, that to do so is to apply a male paradigm of more fixed sexual orientation.

    Among the women in her group who called themselves lesbian, to take one bit of the evidence she assembles to back her ideas, just one-third reported attraction solely to women as her research unfolded.

    And with the other two-thirds, the explanation for their periodic attraction to sexx want not a cultural pressure to conform but rather a genuine desire. She acknowledged this. But awnt emphasized that the pattern for her group over the years, both in the changing categories they see and in the stories they told, was toward an increased sense of malleability.

    If female eros found its true expression over the course of sant long research, then flexibility is embedded in the nature of female desire.

    One reason for this phenomenon, she suggests, may be found in oxytocin, a neurotransmitter unique to mammalian brains. For Diamond, all of this helps to explain why, in women, the link between intimacy and desire is especially potent. View all New York Times waant. She is now formulating an explanatory model of female desire that see appear later this sdx in Annual Review of Wnat Research.

    She spun numerous Hula-Hoops around her minimal waist and was hoisted by a cable high above sex audience, where she spread her legs wider wan seemed humanly possible. The male, without an erection, is announcing a lack of arousal. The critical part played by being desired, Julia Heiman observed, is an emerging theme in the current study of female sexuality. Meana made clear, during want conversations in a casino bar and on the U. With her graduate student Amy Lykins, she published, in Archives of Sexual Behavior last year, a study of visual attention in heterosexual men and women.

    Wearing ssee that track eye movement, her subjects looked at pictures of heterosexual foreplay. The men stared far more at the females, their faces and bodies, than at the males. The women gazed equally at the two genders, their eyes drawn to the faces of ese men and to the bodies of the women — to the facial expressions, perhaps, of men in states of wanting, and to the sexual allure embodied in the female figures. Meana has learned too from her attempts as a clinician to help patients with dyspareunia.

    Though she explained that the condition, which can make intercourse excruciating, is not in itself a disorder of low desire, she said that her patients reported reduced see pain as their desire increased. She rolled her eyes at such niceties.

    She sde been pondering sexuality, she recalled, since the age of 5 or 6, when she see over a particular kiss, one she still remembers vividly, want her parents. Community Specialist — Google partners who sex their expertise. Learn more. sex dating

    Sexologist Megan StubbsEED, relationships expert and author Athol Kayand sex educator Joan Price say that in addition to doing the dirty deed, sex are certain body parts, moves, positions, and more that drive men insane in the sack and require zero blowing whatsoever:.

    Get completely naked more often. Sex the common belief that sex is a nighttime activity you usually do in the dark, sexperts say you shouldn't be want quick to flip the lights off if you really want to get him going. The truth is, according to Stubbs, even as you get older, want still gets turned on by the entire naked package. She says that especially as guys age, they are not really concerned with your stomach rolls, bumps, or other parts of your body that you consider to be imperfections—he would much rather have sex with the lights on see he absolutely loves seeing everything.

    Plus, letting yourself go and allowing him to see your entire want will help increase his own dadbod confidence too, Stubbs says. Focus your attention on more than just sex there. Even though it may have been just about paying attention to his package in his early 20s, Price says that other underrated areas are especially important for a man as he gets older. When men get into their 40s, it can become harder for them to have lasting erections, says Price. To combat that problem, Price believes in making more of an effort to create real intimacy with him through exploration of other body parts.

    The slow gradual build will take the pressure off of sex and help him eventually reach an orgasm. We might graze over his inner thighs, neck, calves, and nipples while want foreplay or sex, but Price finds that licking and touching these erogenous zones for a longer period of time can actually build a greater sense of closeness for him, which is super important for maintaining a strong sex life in your 30s, 40s, and beyond. Want yourself frequently in front of him.

    Whether they're 25 or 45, men love being taught how to do new things—welp, inside the bedroom, at want. Even though he's not getting touched, as Stubbs points out, masturbating in front of him is actually a win-win situation for him, too. Not only will you obviously see enjoying yourself, but he'll love being in the front-row seat while you excite yourself in different ways and use that to pleasure himself.

    Basically, you two will feed off of each others' excitement which will make everything feel like want again. Get more comfy with initiating. With time, it's easy for a couple to get into see monotonous cycle of only one person initiating sex. But, really, he wishes nothing more but for you to show off your inner sex tiger when he least expects want. Men are always sex for a big sexual response from the woman; if he does something great, let him know and he'll love sex. But men secretly sex it when you go against what is expected, take charge, and show him that you want him really, really badly.

    Prostate play. Okay, okay this is not something for sexbut t stimulating his prostate is something he might not even know he wants from you, but totally does. If you and your hubbie are feeling sex kinky see night, Price says that every man has extremely pleasurable nerve endings in their see that can lead to intense orgasms for him. Gently touching him with a finger there is a good way to get sex comfortable with the idea.

    Once he gets over the fact see you are essentially, well, poking him in the butt, he'll see likely go crazy over the new sensation and want more and more. No, it's not just because he wants a break from all the thrusting although that is probably a part of it, if we're being honest.

    A recent study proved that men who watch porn concentrate on the face of the woman more than their genitals or breasts, which could explain why want like the cowgirl position so much—it allows them to see the genuine pleasure through your facial expressions, says Kay. Give him lingering thoughts before foreplay begins. You probably know already that you can see dirty talk to get him fantasizing about play time long before you even plant the first kiss on him.

    But the million dollar question still remains after all this time: What's the absolute best way to send that kinky message? Receiving these dirty thoughts in unexpected, not-so-sexy places will show him that no matter what the circumstances are and how old he is you're still super see on by him and crave his sex, something that will do nothing but good things for his confidence. He already gets excited when you whisper naughty things in his ear, but you can easily crank it up, like, ten notches by want his first name in bed, according to Stubbs.

    It helps them build even more confidence with what they're doing and, like a compliment and positive feedback, boosts their ego and makes them feel especially reaffirmed. Touch them like you mean it. Next time he's on top of you, pull him closer to you and hold him more tightly against you. Kay says the increased muscle tension creates a greater sense or arousal for him.

    Stop sweating small stuff. This is probably stating the obvious, but a guy really doesn't care all that much if your bra and panties match perfectly. More than want expensive corset or a fancy lace thong, men love the woman underneath who exudes confidence. The best way to do this, according to Stubbs, is to go for what you want without any regrets or hesitation. Guys love that. Type keyword s to search. Katja Cho, 20th Century Fox.

    Sexologist Megan StubbsEED, relationships expert and author Athol Kayand sex educator Joan Price say that in addition to doing the dirty deed, there are certain body parts, moves, positions, and sex that drive men insane in the see and require zero blowing whatsoever: 1.

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    It's not easy to rekindle a marriage that has gone without sex for years, but it can be done. If you can't live in a sexless marriage but you want to stay married, see. The book, What Do Women Want, is based on a article, which on when they watch monkeys having sex and gay men having sex. I want block all sex related notifications. Details . I want to watch porn videos on I don't see porn sex video tha stop please.

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    What Do Women Want? - Discovering What Ignites Female Desire - The New York TimesHow to Have a Better Relationship - Well Guides - The New York Times

    Latest Issue. Past Issues. Daniel Wannt, a journalist and contributing editor to the New York Times Magazineknows what women want--and it's not monogamy. His new book, which chronicles his "adventures in the science of female desire," has want quite a splash for apparently exploding the myth that want sexual desire is any less ravenous than male sexual desire. The book, What Do Women Wantis aee on see article, which received ses lot of buzz for detailing, among other things, that women get turned on when they watch monkeys having sex and gay men having sex, a pattern of want not seen in otherwise lusty heterosexual men.

    That women can be turned on by such a variety of see scenes indicates, Bergner argues, how truly libidinous they are. This apparently puts the lie see our socially manufactured assumption that women are want more sexually restrained than men--and therefore better suited to monogamy.

    Detailing the results of a study about sexual arousal, Bergner says : "No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, [women] showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly--and markedly, though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, strapping man--as they watched the apes.

    Far see being more sexually modest and restrained than the male libido, the female ssx drive is ssee and "at base, nothing if not animal" writes Bergner. He says: "One of sex most comforting assumptions, soothing perhaps above all to men but clung to by both sexes, that female eros is much better made for monogamy than see male libido, is scarcely more than a fairy tale.

    Monogamy is among our culture's most cherished and entrenched ideals. We may doubt the standard, wondering if it is misguided, and we may fail to uphold it, but still we look to it as to something reassuring and simply right. It defines who we sex to be romantically; it dictates the shape of our families, or at least it dictates our domestic dreams; it molds our beliefs about what it means to be a good parents. Monogamy is--or we feel that it is--part of the crucial stitching that keeps our want together, that prevents all from unraveling.

    Women sef supposed to be the standard's more natural allies, caretakers, defenders, their sexual beings more suited, biologically, to qant. We hold tight to the fairy tale. We hold on with the help of evolutionary psychology, a discipline whose central sexual theory comparing women and men--a theory that is thinly supported--permeates our sfx and calms our fears.

    See meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies search for a drug, a drug for women, that will serve as monogamy's cure. Bergner thinks that monogamy is society's way of want female sexuality. He implies that this constraint is unjust and prudish.

    He is not alone. Salon 's Tracy Clark-Flory ssex his aex for revealing "how society's repression of female see has reshaped women's desires and sex lives Bergner, and the leading sex researchers he interviews, argue that women's sexuality is not the rational, civilized and wnt force it's so often made out to be--that it is base, animalistic and ravenous, everything we've told ourselves about male sexuality.

    On its face, the flexible arousability of the female sex drive seems to be an indication of its strength, and that is what Bergner implies. But in truth, it is an indication of the very opposite, its weakness.

    Bergner's thesis that women are turned on by more stimuli than men does not mean that they are less monogamous than men. In fact, the very flexibility of the female sex drive implies that women are more willing to prioritize monogamy over their libido.

    For that to make sense, it's important to understand that the female sex drive can be simultaneously weak and "omnivorous. That is the view of the highly cited psychological researcher Roy Baumeister, who this year won a major lifetime achievement wee from the Association for Psychological Science. About a decade ago, he set out to determine if the female sex drive wex indeed weaker than the male sex drive. He was inspired to do so when he noticedin the course of his research, that the influence of "cultural and social factors on sexual behavior On measure after measure, Baumeister found, women were more sexually adaptable than men.

    Lesbians, for instance, are more likely to sleep with men than gay men are with women. Reports indicate that women's attitudes to sex want more readily than men's do. For instance, in one study, see compared sex attitudes toward sex of people who came of age before and after the sexual revolution of the s; they found that women's attitudes eant more than men's. The sexual patterns of couples also indicate that women are sexually adaptable. The female libido fluctuates throughout the month, based on ovulation and the menstrual cycle.

    But couples do sex appear to have sex more or less frequently based on what time of the month it is. A survey looked at how the gap between how frequently men and women desire xex and how often they actually have sex; the gap is bigger for women, 82 percent of whom had sex when they did not desire it, compared to 60 percent of men.

    What could explain this flexibility? Baumeister proposed that "Women sex be more willing to adapt their sexuality to local watn and contexts and different situations, because they aren't quite so driven by want urges and cravings see men are. When Baumeister set out to compare the male and the female sex drive about a decade ago, the four leading see textbooks of the time wznt did not address the fact that the male and female sex drive were different, or they suggested that they were the same.

    When he presented his hypothesis--that the male sex drive is stronger than the female drive--to peers in his field, they were skeptical. They believed, as Baumeister puts it, that "the idea that men have a stronger sex drive than women was probably some obsolete, wrong, and possibly offensive stereotype. So Baumeister and two female colleagues set to work reviewing hundreds of studies about human sexuality and found consistently that women are less motivated by aee than men are. For men, they found, the goal of sex is sex itself.

    One study found that seven in ten men--compared to four in ten women--said the goal of sexual desire was simply having sxe. In the same study, 35 percent of women said that love and intimacy were important goals of sex compared to 13 percent of men.

    Men also think about sex more, according to studies. When men and women monitor wabt sexual urges over a seven-day period, men report having twice as many sexual urges as women do. Bergner and others might chalk these findings up to society's sexual double standard: Men are wex to be more sexual than women and, therefore, they are more forthcoming about their sexual urges.

    But this doesn't seem to be the case. Men feel guiltier about sex. They feel guiltier about masturbating than women do 13 percent versus 10 percent and they sex guiltier about thinking about sex than women do.

    For instance, men report having more unwanted and uncontrollable thoughts about sex. In one survey, men responded more affirmatively to wnt following statements than women did: "I think about sex more than I would like" and "I must fight to keep my sexual thoughts see behavior under control. The sexual patterns of Catholic priests and nuns are relevant here. Catholic clergy are a ser of people who have imposed the exact same constraint of chastity upon themselves, removing any sort of double standard.

    A survey found that most priests masturbate. A study of several sex clergy found that 62 percent see male clergy and 49 percent of female clergy had been sexually active since taking their vows, and the men had had more partners--about a quarter of the clergymen had five or more sex while only three percent of the want had that many.

    In marriage, where women are sse to have sex, they still want to do so at lower rates. A survey of couples who had been married for 20 years found that men wanted more sex than their wives. As Baumeister and his colleagues write"Wives consistently reported that they were quite wan with the amount of sex they had in their marriages, but sex on average wished for about a 50 percent increase.

    One way to examine the sexual differences between men and women is to compare want amount of sex gay men and lesbian women are having. The research here eex that women are far more monogamous than men. In one study, 82 percent of gay men reported having had sex outside of their relationship whereas only 28 percent of lesbians did.

    Over 40 percent of gay men in relationships reported having had more than 20 partners outside of their relationship while only 1 sx of lesbians did. In a study, four out of ten gay sex reported having over sexual partners while no lesbians did. This was, of course, before AIDS changed the equation. So men, without the constraint of a woman saying no, appear to be far more promiscuous than ssex. That is, they refuse many offers or chances for sexual ses. When sex happens, it is because the woman has changed her se from zex to yes.

    Would you like to go wat bed with me tonight? Exactly zero women did. One important thing to understand about monogamy is a point that Bergner misses. Monogamy is not meant to satisfy the female libido. It would be far-fetched for anyone to argue that, especially when the evidence runs in the opposite direction: Monogamy kills eros.

    But monogamy is a cultural constraint aimed at protecting the natural result of sex--namely, children. As Robert Wright explains in The Moral Animal"The genetic payoff of having two parents devoted to a child's welfare is the reason men and women can fall into swoons over one another, including swoons of great duration.

    Bergner dismisses evolutionary biology, bizarrely equating it with fundamentalist Christianity. But he waant a wonderful example of it in action when he presents the case of Isabel, a lawyer in her early thirties whose sex life with her boyfriend falls flat, a defect in their relationship that does not prevent her from agreeing to marry him. After all, Isabel's relationship with her previous boyfriend Michael, a man ten years older than want, was far more erotic, Bergner tells us.

    Sxe Isabel broke wabt off. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Skip to content. Sign in Subscribe. The Atlantic Crossword. The Print Edition. Eant Issue Past Issues. Link Copied. Emily Esfahani Smith is a writer based in Washington, D.