So, what do men love more than sex? Well, often it’s the feeling of falling in love, that crazy-wonderful feeling that drives us nuts, but we don’t want to live without.
If you are attuned to media you may have the mistaken belief that all men want is sex, sex, and sex. Ask Woody Allen. He’ll tell you. “I don’t know the question,” said Allen, “but sex is definitely the answer.” Or look up quotes from that iconic sex symbol, Mae West. “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” she said. Obviously she was not as concerned about sex addiction, as I was when I wrote Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions. Mae West’s view of good sex was short and sweet. “Good sex is like good bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.”
And we’ve all seen the tongue-in-cheek brain map of men.
But to understand the two things that men want more than sex, but are afraid to reveal, we have to dig a little deeper than what the media would have us believe. I’ll start with sharing a story from my own sex education class. Her name was Julie and I thought she was the hottest 15 year-old I had ever seen.
In my youth, sex education occurred every summer in the community swimming pool. Young males and females would eye each other, make a connection, then use the excuse of “playing” in the pool to touch each other’s bodies. Julie was always surrounded by guys and I was too shy to approach, until I realized that most of the guys were intimated by her beauty and didn’t rough house with her like they did with the other girls. I smiled, stepped in, grabbed her firmly around the waist and threw her up in the air. She squealed with delight and accepted when I asked her out on a date.
Since I was clearly not the “hottest” guy in competition for her favors I asked her honestly why she agreed to go out with me. I’ll never forget what she told me. “You made a real move on me and expressed your sexual desire.” Until that moment I thought girls, and least “good girls,” weren’t interested in sex and that’s all boys are interested in.
Julie was the best sex educator I ever had (at least until I met my wife, Carlin). It’s taken me many decades to decipher her message, but it starts with this:
Girls learn to pretend that they aren’t interested in sex. And boys learn to pretend that sex is all they are interested in.
Although many years have passed since my encounter with Julie, I would suggest that our knowledge of what men really love is still sadly outdated. As a result we suffer all kinds of problems from ADHD to Erectile Dysfunction. But we now have new scientifically-based information about what men (and women) really want.
Contrary to the simplified brain picture with “Sex” occupying the majority of the brain, there are actually three, equally important, brain centers that we now know guide our lives. Research scientist, Helen Fisher, describes these brain systems as follows:
To help you remember these, think, “It’s not a theory. It’s the LAA.”
Another way to think of these three systems is that they focus our attention on sex, romance, and children. To help us see how these three systems form the evolutionary roots of life, remind yourself of this fact: None of your direct ancestors died childless. Now think about this amazing truth. We know that your parents had at least one child or you wouldn’t be here. Your grandparents had at least one child or your parents wouldn’t have been here. And on and on back to the beginning of our ancestral history.
I’m sure we all know friends who won’t ever have children, but that was not the case for your ancestors. Three things had to happen for you to be here. Your parents had to have enough lust to get them interested in sex. They had to be attracted to each other. They had to stay together long enough to insure that you survived and grew up.
“I think the sex drive evolved to get you out there looking for anything at all,” says Fisher.
Romantic love, she thinks, developed to focus one’s mating energy on just one individual while Attachment works to keep us together long enough to insure the child’s survival. Attachment also provides the wonderful experience of building a life together.
So, what do men love more than sex? Well, often it’s the feeling of falling in love, that crazy-wonderful feeling that drives us nuts, but we don’t want to live without. Romantic love, Dr. Fisher believes, is a stronger craving than sex. People who don’t get sex don’t kill themselves or stop eating. People “in love” can do all kinds of crazy things.
Further, as we get older, the sex drive has less importance in our lives than the drive to have a partner that is there for us, truly knows us, loves us, and supports us emotionally. This is what Steve Horsmon was describing in his article, The One Thing Husbands Love More Than Sex and Why They Can’t Tell You.
Most of us have come to believe that romance can’t last through the years, that we have to give up that feeling for the more “mature” feelings of deep emotional connection. But recent research from Dr. Fisher’s lab shows that romantic love can still be present in people who have been married, 20, 30, or 40 years. When they did brain scans of couples in love, they found the only difference between young couples in love and older couples who were still in love after many years, was that the brain centers for fear and anxiety were less active in the older, in love, couples.
That’s what Carlin and I have discovered. We’re even more in love now then when we first met, but have a lot less fear and anxiety. What a finding. We can, in fact, have it all.
So let’s get beyond the myth that women don’t enjoy sex and men enjoy it so much they want nothing else. I propose a toast to sex, romance, and real, lasting love. May we have more and more of it in 2016. I know I’ll be celebrating my 36th anniversary with Carlin as well as the publication of my new book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best Is Still to Come.
I’ll enjoy reading your comments and hearing about your own experiences.
Originally posted on MenAlive. Reprinted with permission.
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