I have a secret I need to confess, up front. For most of my life, I believed there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t always interested in sex and ready to jump at every opportunity to have it. Like many boys reaching adolescence, I was very interested in sex and talking to my buddies I learned I wasn’t alone. I also learned, from these same buddies, that guys always wanted it and girls were reluctant to give it and had to be coaxed, cajoled, and talked into it.
As I got older and later got married, I learned that my wife was also interested in sex. But I continued to believe I must want it all the time because I’m the man. Further, I knew that I must show my wife I wanted it all the time. Otherwise, she would think I wasn’t a man and she might go looking for someone who was more manly than me. Although I learned to play the role of a manly man, and sometimes I actually believed I was one, deep inside I felt insecure and worried.
What do I do if I’m too tired for sex? What if I’m just not that turned on? Will she think she’s not attractive to me if I don’t push for more sex? Will she think I’m having an affair if I’m not always interested in sex? I learned that it was better to act like I wanted it all the time and be rejected by her than to have to deal with these disturbing questions.
Fortunately, times are changing. I’ve gotten older and a bit more mature. My wife, Carlin, and I can talk more openly about sexual matters. Yet until I heard about a new book, Not Always in the Mood: The New Science of Men, Sex, and Relationships by sex researcher, Dr. Sarah Hunter Murray, I never fully realized that I wasn’t as much of an oddball as I feared. Of course, my wife will tell you I’m still pretty odd.
There is one thing we know about men and sex,” says Murray. “It is that men are always in the mood. Any time, any place. Right? WRONG.” She goes on to say that men’s sexual desire has long been depicted as high, simple, and unwavering. But the new research around this topic tells us that this is far from true and that good sex and relationships are suffering from this long-held misconception.
In her excellent book, Dr. Murray shares the latest research findings in the field which is good news for all men and women who want to feel less stress and worry about sex, which is most men and women I know. Her book goes a long way in helping us all have a more relaxed, joyful, and passionate love life.
One of the related myths that “men are always in the mood” is that “men don’t need anything to let him know he is sexually desired.” Since he’s all turned on and ready to go anytime, he just has to focus on doing things that let her (in heterosexual relationships) know she is desirable.
It turns out men need to feel desired just as much, or even more, then women. Dr. Murray asked 237 heterosexual men aged 18-65, who had been in a relationship six months or longer, how important feeling sexually desirable was to their sexual experiences. As an older man, I assumed that guys over 40 would want and need to feel desired since they are losing some of their sexual mojo, but the younger guys, overflowing with testosterone, wouldn’t much need it.
So, I was surprised to learn that while 5.5 percent of the participants indicated that it was not important to their sexual experiences, a whopping 94.5 percent of study participants indicated that it was “very” or “extremely” important to their sexual experiences. This was a real myth buster for me and made me want to share her results and my own experiences with my readers.
Carlin and I have been together now for nearly 40 years. We’ve learned that we both need to know we are sexually desired. Here are some things I’ve learned that I needed and other men need as well.
- Non-Sexual touching.
Certainly, sexual touching is desirable when we’re enjoying sex together, but non-sexual touch let’s me know I’m desirable. Carlin will often ask, “Would you like to have your head rubbed?” I love it when she asks and I love to lie in her lap while she massages my scalp.
- Appreciation for what I do.
Carlin usually makes the dinners and I usually do the dishes. But I also do dishes unexpectedly, like after her women’s group. “It turns me on when you do the dishes,” she’s told me on numerous occasions. And she really means it. It’s nice to feel that doing regular things can be a turn on. Like most men, I don’t like going to doctors and often forget my annual check-up. When I do go and hear “It turns me on when you take care of your health,” you can bet I remember more often.
Carlin used to be very flirtatious when we were first dating and let me know she felt I was a real “hottie.” But in the day-to-day busyness, we both let our flirtatious selves get lost. When she remembers to be provocative, to wear sexy clothing just for me or to let me know she’s interested in sex with me, it feels extra special and I feel like I still am desirable, even after being together forty years.
- Letting me know that she likes what I do when we make love.
“I love it when you that,” is music to my ears. Pleasing her is one of the joys of my life and her telling me that things I do give her pleasure, lets me know I still have the magic touch. In an age where we’re told we must each be responsible for our own sexual pleasure, I want to know that there are things I do to turn her on that only I can do.
- Compliments and appreciations for just being me.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that sex is more than just, well…sex. It’s really part of the little day-to-day connections that let me know that who I am and what I do are appreciated. We thrive on the small compliments and appreciations that let us know we’re special. I love it when Carlin tells me, “thanks for sweeping the floor. I noticed,” or when she says, “You look particularly nice today.”
- Letting me know, “I’m da man.”
We all want to be heroes for the person we love. Generally, large, heroic acts of love, kindness, and generosity are few and far between. At a time when men are often denigrated in the media, seen either as fools or predators, we need to know that our maleness is appreciated that we’re respected for being men. I love it when Carlin brings me a jar to open. I can do something that she can’t do. A small thing, perhaps, but important.
I look forward to hearing from you. If you’re a guy, let me know what things make you feel sexually desired? If you’re a woman, what are the things you do that make the man in your life feel he’s a hottie? or drop me a note at [email protected] and put “hottie” in the subject line.
Originally published on Men Alive
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