Everyone wants a great sex life, but few people know how to achieve it and even fewer know how to maintain it in a long-term relationship. Couple’s try new positions and look for “sexy” things to wear. They try to improve their communication and relationship skills. But to really have a great sex life you have to know the secrets of what it means to be male and female. Of course, there is great variation in what it means to be a man or a woman, but understanding our differences, as well as our similarities, can go a long way towards helping us develop greater passion and love.
Sex Secret #1: Start early to take control of our sex life.
I still remember going to the store with my mother to get my first “boy shoes.” I had outgrown my white baby shoes and was excited to be moving into the gendered world of males and females (though I had no conscious thoughts in my 4 year-old mind at the time).
The shoe store was alive with color and choices, but I went straight for the red Keds. I didn’t know that Keds were first manufactured by the U.S. Rubber company (known today as Uniroyal) in 1916 or that they were the first shoe to be made with soft rubber soles that enabled the wearer to quietly sneak up on people, hence the term “sneakers. I did know that Red Keds were the finest things I had ever seen.
After measuring my feet, the salesman went into the back to bring out the shoes. When he opened the box, I was shocked and disappointed to see that they were blue, not red. I could understand that they had sold out all the Red Keds in my size. But it made no sense to me when the salesman said to my mother, “He’ll want the blue of course, being a little boy.” I didn’t wait for my mother’s response, “I want the Red Keds,” I told him. My mother shrugged, but supported my assertiveness and I walked out of the store wearing my first red Keds boy shoes.
Sex Secret #2: Understand that every cell in our body is either male or female.
David C. Page, M.D. is a world-renowned research biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) specializing in the study of the Y chromosome, “There are 10 trillion cells in human body and every one of them is sex specific,” says Page. “Men and women are not equal in our genome and men and women are not equal in the face of disease.”
There are sexual differences in everything from arthritis to Alzheimer’s to heart disease. According to Marianne J. Legato, M.D. Founder and Director, Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, “Everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their internal function but in the way they experience illness.”
Dr. Page concludes, “All your cells know on a molecular level whether they are XX or XY.”
Sex Secret #3: Accept that males are the more vulnerable sex
All human cells, other than mature red blood cells, possess a nucleus which contains the genetic material (DNA) arranged into 46 chromosomes, themselves grouped into 23 pairs. In 22 pairs, both members are essentially identical, one deriving from the individual’s mother, the other from the father. The 23rd pair is different. While in females this pair has two like chromosomes called “X,” in males it comprises one “X” and one “Y,” two very dissimilar chromosomes. It is these chromosome differences which determine sex. That’s the good news about the Y chromosome. If we didn’t have it we would all be females.
However, the bad news is that the Y is very short compared to the X with which it is paired. As a result males suffer more genetic problems than females such as color blindness and muscular dystrophy. From the moment of conception males are more fragile and vulnerable than females. Male fetuses die more often than female. So do male newborns. So do male infants. So do male adolescents. So do male adults. So do old men.
Males may act strong and puff out our chests to make us appear bigger than we are, but the truth is that we are forever trying to make up for our inherent vulnerabilities. Why are males so insecure? Because we exist in bodies that are inherently less stable than those of females. Knowing that truth can go a long way to helping us all understand males better. And better understanding leads to better sex.
Sex Secret #4: Know That Sperm Are From Males, Eggs Are From Females
Whether we are ferns, fish, or human beings, males are the ones who produce lots of small gametes (sex cells) and females are the ones who produce a smaller number of larger gametes.
Ultimately, it is the type of gamete—egg or sperm—an individual produces, rather than penis or vagina, breast or beard, color or costume, red shoes or blue shoes, that determines the difference between maleness and femaleness.
Nature has worked it out for the small gametes to fuse with the large gametes to begin the process of creating the next generation of ferns, fish, or human beings. Since it’s easier to move the small gametes to the large ones, rather than vice versa, it is the sperm that do the swimming to seek out the egg that awaits the winner.
How big are eggs compared to sperm? Although the human egg is microscopic, it is large enough to house 250,000 sperm. An egg weigh 85,000 times as much as a sperm.
What’s the numbers ratio of eggs to sperm? A woman ovulates about 400 eggs in her lifetime. The male strategy is to produce as many gametes as possible, to increase the chances of finding a large one. A healthy male produces 500,000,000 sperm per day.
On a biological level there is competition between sperm to have access to the valuable egg. Males also compete with other males for access to the most attractive and desirable females. Females are the ones who then make the choice of accepting or rejecting male suitors. Though roles are changing, this biological reality still is an influence on our desires and behavior in the mating dance of life.
Of course, we need to remember that we are more than biological beings and even though we may have evolutionary-driven, biological tendencies, it doesn’t mean we are powerless in the face of our biology. We have an evolutionary-driven, biological tendency to eat as much sweets, fats, and salty food as possible, since they were valuable and scarce in our evolutionary past. Though we have that strong desire, it doesn’t mean we all will get fat (though two-thirds of us are), but it does mean we constantly feel the pull of our biology.
Sex Secret #5: Accept That Males Are Drawn to Multiple Partners and Females Prefer One Partner at a Time.
One of the things I hear over and over in my counseling practice is a woman saying, “How could he really love me and become interested in another woman.” Men will tell me, usually in confidence, “I love my wife and want to be with her, but I am still drawn to wanting to be with other women.”
All sex studies show this difference. “Among all peoples, everywhere in the world,” concluded noted sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues, “it is understood that the male is more likely than the female to desire sexual relations with a variety of partners.”
Why? We can decry the morality of this, but the truth is that promiscuity has different biological consequences for males and females.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying these tendencies are true of all men or all women. I know some women who have sex with multiple men and I know men who are absolutely sexually monogamous. Also, just because a man may be drawn to wanting multiple partners, doesn’t mean he has no choice. Understanding our biological “pulls” can help us make wise choices about how we want to live our lives. By ignoring our biology and insisting “I would never get involved with someone else,” we often set ourselves, and our partners up, for disaster.
Be Aware of the Coolidge Effect:
Here’s a well-known story that illustrates this propensity in men. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife were touring a model farm during the 1920s. While the President was elsewhere, the farmer proudly showed Mrs. Coolidge a rooster that “could copulate with hens all day long, day after day.” Mrs. Coolidge coyly suggested that the farmer tell that to Mr. Coolidge, which he did.
The President thought for a moment and then inquired, “With the same hen?”
“No, sir,” replied the farmer. “With different hens. “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge,” retorted the President.
Again, because a man may be drawn to having sex with multiple partners, it doesn’t mean he must act on his desire and not all men have the desire. But if you’re going to have great sex, you have to accept the biological roots of our desire.
Sex Secret #6: When Men Have Sex, They Tend to Feel More Intimate. When Women Feel Intimate, They Tend to Be More Desirous of Sex.
“Not tonight, dear,” goes the familiar refrain. “I have a headache.” Or “I’m tired. Could we wait until the weekend?” We more often hear this refrain coming from a woman, rather than a man. Though, like all “tendencies,” there are many exceptions.
Again biologically speaking women have a lot more to lose when having sex, so they are choosier about who they mate with and what the circumstances are. Men, particularly young men, are happy to have sex any time, any place, and sometimes with anyone who is handy.
We see the biological basis of the males desire for sex by studying gay men (before the AIDS epidemic). Generally gay men had many more sexual partners than lesbian women. If the partner they desired wanted to have sex as much as they did, most men would want more sex than they often get with their female partner, and with different partners.
Most women, on the other hand, are desirous of less sex, but higher quality sex. By that, most women mean that they need to feel an emotional connection with a man, to be romanced, before they are ready for sex. “Sex is most often something the man wants and the woman agrees to,” say David Barash and Judith Lipton, authors of Making Sense of Sex. “Among men,” writes evolutionary biologist Donald Symons, “sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.” Again, we have to remember these are tendencies, not absolutes.
We can all enjoy “red, hot sex” if we understand more about what it means to be male and female. Understanding our evolutionary-driven biological tendencies doesn’t mean we are prisoners of our biology. Quite the contrary, I believe. The more we understand the biological tendencies of males and females, the freer we are to make choices that will lead to our own joy and happiness. Denying who we are as males and females makes us more likely to have our joy undermined by unconscious drives and desires.
Talking about sex, males, and females, kicks up a lot of feelings in most of us. I’ll be interested to hear your own thoughts and feelings about this “red-hot” topic.
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