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How many times have we heard the phrase, “All men want is sex?” When I was 17 years old I was sure it was true. When I was 37 years old, I suspected it might not be true. And now that I’m 73 years old, I know it’s not true. Now don’t get me wrong, sex can be wonderful at any age, but there’s something that is more important than sex, but it’s something that men have difficulty admitting and women have difficulty giving.
This understanding has dawned on me slowly and became most evident to me in my men’s group. I’ve been meeting regularly with six other guys for thirty-eight years and sex has been a topic that has run through our discussions over the years. Like all guys we are somewhat competitive and we all want to be seen as successful, but we also have learned to be honest with each other. We not only talk about our sexual successes, but also our failures, fears, and confusions.
Getting taken into her body gives us a sense of peace and homecoming that goes way beyond simple sexual pleasure.
From the time I was a young I learned that wanting sex was synonymous with being a man. In high school I remember overhearing a girl I liked talking about a guy we both knew. She wasn’t complaining that he was preoccupied with sex, but that he “didn’t come on to me like other guys do.” She went on to tell her girlfriend, “He’s not being very manly.” The message was clear, “real men” want sex and if you don’t “come on” to a girl, you’re not a real man.
You’re Dating Multiple People
This early lesson was validated through the years: Always wanting sex is the mark of manliness for many. It’s better to be turned down again and again and be seen as a jerk who is totally preoccupied with sex than to want something more than sex and be seen as “less than a man.”
So, what do men want more than sex? We’ve all heard that women need to feel loved to have sex, but men need to have sex to feel loved. Let’s look more deeply at what it is exactly that men are getting when they get sex. Sure, there is the physical pleasure, but there is a deeper need that is being satisfied. I call it the need for a safe harbor.
The world of men is a world of competition. On the most basic level, males compete with other males for access to the most desirable females. Males make the advances and females decide which males they will accept. Sure, in modern times these roles are less rigid than they once were, but for the most part, whether we’re peacocks or people, we strut our stuff and hope it’s good enough to get us chosen by the woman we go after.
Getting taken into her body gives us a sense of peace and homecoming that goes way beyond simple sexual pleasure. Of course, I’m talking about heterosexual men here. There’s a similar dynamic in the gay world, but here I’ll focus on men and women.
“Always wanting sex” is part of the male persona we wear to show we’re manly.
Many of us remember the early school dances we attended. If you wanted to hold a girl in your arms, you had to make the long walk across the room with everyone watching and ask the girl to dance. If she accepted, you were in heaven. If she refused you were in hell. The key here is that you must make yourself vulnerable to rejection to hold and be held by a girl.
By the time we become adults, we’ve already been battered and bruised by the world of competition and rejection. We long for that safe harbor where we don’t have to pretend to be something we’re not in order to be chosen. We long for someone who sees us for who we are and wants us anyway, who can hold us and touch, not just our body, but our hearts and souls.
“Always wanting sex” is part of the male persona we wear to show we’re manly. What we really want is a safe harbor where we can take refuge, relax, and be cared for. In other words, we want the feeling of being nurtured that most of us didn’t get enough of when we were children. But admitting these needs makes us feel like little boys, not big strong men. Better to be manly with our sexual desire and then once we’re inside her body, we can relax, be ourselves, and be infused with love. That’s the hidden desire we have when we have sex.
One of the things I love getting from my wife, Carlin, is to lay in her lap and have my scalp rubbed. This is one, wonderful, safe harbor. I don’t need to have sex in order to have this need satisfied. I just have to ask for it. Here, I’m being touched deeply, accepted completely. I don’t have to perform or prove myself. I just must be willing to be deeply vulnerable.
Just as it’s difficult for men to ask to be held, nurtured, and touched; it’s often difficult for women to give that kind of intimacy. There are three main reasons, which are often subconscious:
- First, women have their own conditioning about men being men. If he doesn’t want sex, they worry that they may not be attractive enough.
- Second, a man wanting to be held and nurtured, triggers feelings that they are dealing with a boy, not a man. I can’t tell you how many clients I have who say things like “It’s like I’ve got three children in the house. There’s our two sons, and then there’s my husband.” Women want a man, but worry they have another little boy.
- Third, women fear men who don’t feel manly. They know that the most violent men are men who feel weak and powerless. They’ve often had experiences of men allowing themselves to be gentle and vulnerable, only to have them respond with anger and rage later.
It takes a lot of time and maturity for men to admit to themselves that they need a safe harbor where they can be nurtured and embraced by a woman. It takes a lot of courage to let his woman know he may want sex, but more important is his need for security, love, and nurture. It requires a level of wisdom to know that allowing ourselves to be as vulnerable as a child may be the manliest thing a man can do.
You’re Dating Multiple People
For a woman, she must also go beyond her own conditioning and be open to a man who is making himself vulnerable in new ways. She must have a great deal of self-love and self-confidence to accept being a safe harbor. She must also have the strength to protect herself, when his shame at being vulnerable turns to anxiety, anger, or depression. It isn’t easy for men and women to take these kinds of risks, but the payoff is a life-time of deepening love and intimacy.
I look forward to hearing your comments and experience. Please leave a comment here and join the discussion or email me. Join me on Twitter.
Originally published on MenAlive.
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I was widowed a year ago after 58 years with the same man. I recently met someone I had 4 dates with who is younger than me. I am falling for him. He lives in another state so we text. He often promises to call/text and then I wait for days. Should I text him if I don’t hear from him? I really need to learn about men again and your site is very helpful.
Marjie, There is a lot to learn and we are living in such a divided world, our fears often get in the way of our ability to love deeply and well. I hope you continue to find support in what I and others are writing about here.
I appreciate this vulnerable sharing of feelings I’ve not heard expressed before and from which I can learn.
This sounds good; however, what do you say about a man that you provide all the things you mentioned above, yet is still not receptive? appreciative? open? It’s great to know that men want something other than/more than sex, but what happens when you provide that and it’s taken for granted? Or better yet, he continues to hide aspects of his life? The love will not deepen nor will the intimacy. What if you continue to try and question his behavior – i.e. being/acting disingenuous and he berates you?
Irma, these are all good questions. Men like you describe are usually wounded. They can heal, but they often need support that they are resistant to receiving. Too many men still believe that is unmanly to admit they don’t know how to love or connect in deeply authentic ways. A breakthrough for me was when I joined a men’s group. We have been meeting now for 44 years. My wife, Carlin, says she believes one of the main reasons we have such a successful 43 year marriage is my 44 years in my men’s group. That’s why the first rule… Read more »
Glad there is still interest in my article. Keep the comments coming.
I’m a 55 year old woman looking for a good partner. I found this article googling, pathetically, the phrase “what do men want.” I think the article is spot on. And its why I fear I will never meet a mate again. I have been on many first dates with men who approach me like I’m a living life raft. Exactly, what they do want, is a safe harbor. I can’t be a safe harbor on a first date. I was an incredibly supportive and nurturing wife. I really went to the wall for my husband, I was a strong… Read more »
Great article Jed.
No, I just need to have sex as often a possible. someday, I will reach an age when I’m either not able to have sex anymore, or the women that are my age won’t wanted to come or want it with me. So I need to get it all in now. Going months without sex is simply not an option as I near the age of forty
” women need to feel loved to have sex, but men need to have sex to feel loved” – You nailed it with this sentence. Great article Jed.
Do men have to have sex with their parents and kids to feel love for them or what? If not, why do they have to fuck women to love them?
I feel rather disappointed by this article. I mean I respect the honesty but come on, what do men REALLY want?
What he says is TRUE… Probably 99%
Why do you think this isn’t what men really want? I’d say it’s bang on accurate.
Thank you for this wonderful insight into ‘what’s reality’. I was having this discussion with someone yesterday, complaining of how a man who I talked to was interested in seeing me nuder than being with me actually. This then came up that what most men want is sex. Your article was actually the reality of what we perceive as being women and what men make us see because of this background of ‘looking manly’… We have complicated things and your article is very helpful in making things clear.
Nadia, Glad you found the article helpful. Love is wonderful, but passion is also complicated and loving someone deeply is more than sex and physical pleasure.
Fuck all article … writer has not understood the meaning of passion towards ur partner … worthless
Women in the US are actually trained to provide this safe-harbor. If you find yourself experiencing it, thank the women in your life. If you find yourself missing it, slow down and be more observant because all around you women are keeping their hands down in class until the guys get a chance to answer. They are letting you speak out of turn when they have their hands raised. They are waiting for a chance to speak on a date with you. They are celebrating your ordination when the valedictorian of your M.Div class can’t get sponsored by a church.… Read more »
In fewer words, what you want is your mommy. Grow up! As a woman, I didn’t come to maturity to be a man’s mother.
I think that’s true in some cases, but most men actually want to be treated like men. It’s deep-wired in them to be masculine (The real men anyway) – If you want to understand what men really want, I recommend checking out Amy’s obsession formula at: http://www.devotionmethod.info – When you learn that men want other things besides sex, everything makes much more sense.
I feel sorry for your partner! I have no issue providing support to my husband, whether it be physical or emotional in nature. It’s a give and take parternership, not a one way street. You just sound bitter, selfish, and triggered!
Give and take, haha.
Most men don’t know how to support other people emotionally… and women are definitely NOT being provided for physically. Most women do not experience orgasms or any significant bigger pleasure when having sex with men, most of the times.
Anamaria is right on target with this one. I’ve been married 48 years loving and nurturing my husband. Keeping myself in good health and shape. However, he prefers porn instead of sex with me. And is basically emotionally bankrupt.
I agree that a safe harbor is what men really want, but the truth is that when you give a man his safe harbor, he does not respond in kind. Instead, he becomes selfish, even resentful. You this admit yourself (using other words) but your only answer is to tell us that we women need to learn to protect ourselves from it? Stuff that! Men just need to get over their Mommy issues!!!!
Seriously who are the douchebags they describe in this article, there’s so much stereotyping going on I want to vomit
“We long for that safe harbor where we don’t have to pretend to be something we’re not in order to be chosen.”
Are they describing high school age millennials here?
High-schoolers aren’t millenials you retard
You just realized this at 73? I figured this out during my first real intimate relationship at 23.
Seriously, who are these guys, am I some kind of alien?!?!?!?
I think your on point with this one.probably why my marriage didnt work out .Im an Entrepreneur and run into some hardships now and again and yearn for some of that nourishing . My. x wife was’nt the type for that haha.
A man needs to remember that NO matter WHAT You do, there is ALWAYS a “possibility” for your woman to see you less manly. I’m not saying she will. I’m saying that you’ve got to accept that as a possibility. To be seen by your woman as manly all the time is an impossibility. The more you try to be honest with yourself, the more you encounter so called weak, soft parts of yourself. And you can’t go around ignoring those parts of you. Instead learn to acknowledge that part. It’s there. It’s part of you at this moment. Ofcourse… Read more »
Your with the wrong woman, tell her not to let the door hit her in the ass on the way out……get a dog and quit trying to please\chase other people.
The 73 year old man who’s probably impotent has spoken; thanks for that, old timer… now, can someone who doesn’t need Viagra to get a hard on speak for us without throwing us all under the bus?
Typo! I’m sorry. It’s ‘fazed’ not ‘phased’. lol
I just saw your article and would like to weigh in. As a matter of fact I would like your input on a peculiar situation. My ex- and I had been together for 7 years. We were not married but he asked me to marry him almost 3 years into our relationship. That went nowhere as subsequently he appeared reluctant to speak about solid plans although he would frequently ask where I would like to live etc, etc. Because of his prior marriage and past relationships he has this tough exterior but i had seen pass it and was not… Read more »
Some men are ambivalent about relationships and about life. They can’t make up their mind. To combat their ambivalence, some will become very decisive in saying “no.” They totally turn off, close down, and run away. This may be what happened with the man you describe.
Thank you for this! Your article gave me a much needed perspective change in regards to my husband. We have been out of synch for a while when it comes to his sexual needs vs my emotional needs. I didn’t see sex as way for me to be a “safe harbor,” but looking back at his “annoying” desire to always have his back scratched, his head and feet rubbed now makes more sense! His mother wasn’t very nurturing. Perhaps it is time I shift my attitudes. 🙂
Awesome. So true. I liked my girlfriends that could see the girl in me too. My question, how can a man to recieve this much needed affection and nurturing in absence of sexual relationship? Friendships tend not to have a lot of physical affection for men either, and affection from males not only is less comfortable socially than between women, but less nourishing since our mothers are that ultimate nurturer. Its sad our society in this way, obviously ill
That source of nurturing is indeed very important for all men. But it’s a far stretch to call it the crux of the act of sex. But I’d say your views and my view are fairly close. Through the act of sex, your emotions undergo a massive regulation. I think that is the main reason men crave it. The act itself is nice, but that emotion regulator is what men crave. It’s the easiest and most simplest way of hitting that much needed reset button. Think about it, what part do you enjoy most when you sleep with a woman?… Read more »
This is the best thing i’ve read in a decade regarding men and women. I totally understand what you’re saying and it affirms what I have come to see and believe to be true in my own experience.
Tanya, Thanks and glad it resonated so strongly with you. I appreciate your taking time to comment.