Is Cheap Sex Causing Men to Give Up on Marriage?

I’ve been a marriage and family counselor for more than 40 years. My wife, Carlin, and I have been happily married now for 37 years. There are five important things I’ve learned in my personal and professional life:

  1. A joyful marriage is one of the greatest gifts anyone can have.
  2. Too many marriages go under, just when the couple could be enjoying their lives the most.
  3. Most people would like to have a joyful, juicy, relationship that lasts through time.
  4. Many people are reluctant to marry given the risks of unhappiness and divorce.
  5. An increasing number of men are choosing easy sex over marriage.

There are many reasons why men and women are having a difficult time with marriage these days. One reason may be the increase of cheap sex. The term “cheap sex” is an economic term meant to describe sex that has a low cost in terms of investment. If a person doesn’t have to invest a great deal to get the sexual return they want, the sex is cheap.

Of course, men, like women, don’t just want sex. In my popular article “The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex,” I say that more than the sexual pleasure of “getting off,” men want a safe harbor, a place where we can feel nurtured, care for, loved, and appreciated for who we are. Of course, developing the relationship skills to develop and maintain a caring, trusting, relationship between the members of a couple takes time and skill.

Generally, relationship skills are more easily developed by women than men. Further, men may start off with a disadvantage. According to Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, author of The Essential Difference: The Truth About the Male & Female Brain, “The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.”

The qualifying word “predominantly” is important. It’s not saying that all women have brains that make them more empathic than all men. But just as we can say that most men are taller and stronger physically than most women, we can recognize and accept that women are more skilled at developing and maintaining close relationships. [Read more…]

What Men Want More Than Sex But Are Terrified to Admit

My recent article, “The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex” has garnered more than 400,000 readers on the Good Men Project and my own site, MenAlive.com. Given the responses I received, it is a topic that resonates deeply with men and women. Since I only write about things that I’m interested in, I’ll say truthfully that I’ve been obsessed with sex since I was very young boy. I still remember our sex play with the little girl next door when I was 7 or 8 years old. It is innocent and exciting until we got caught and her parents wouldn’t let us play together.

So, sex always had a double edge of allure and danger. I suspect this duel aspect of desire and danger goes back to our ancient heritage where getting caught with your pants down could lead to getting eaten by the tiger that was stalking you. For women, getting pregnant could mean death for themselves, since many women died in childbirth.

But there are modern dangers as well. I still remember my first orgasm. I had found my mother’s vibrator (she called it her electric massager) when I was 10 or 11 years old and found that vibrating it around my genitals was not only stimulating, but highly arousing. My little penis was hard as a rock and my heart raced with excitement, when suddenly I had a massive release of energy and liquid flooded my hand and the vibrator.

My penis went from rock hard and large to wet, soft, and shrunken. I was terrified. I knew what had happened. I had been warned about the boy whose radio fell into the bathtub and he was electrocuted (it never occurred to me to wonder why anyone would have a radio plugged in above their bathtub). I was sure that’s what had happened to me. I had electrocuted my penis and had killed it.

I didn’t believe in God, but I prayed that if the almighty restored my penis to life, I would never vibrate it again. Well, God was good and my penis came back to life. But it took me years to overcome my fear of vibrators, despite my wife’s assurances that she would assume any risks if I joined her with her sex play. [Read more…]

The One Thing Women Want More Than Love Is The One Thing Men Find It Hard to Give

We’ve all heard that Women need to feel loved to have sex. Men need to have sex to feel loved. There seems to be some truth to here, but what does it really mean? In my article, The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex Is The One Thing Women Find It Hard to Give, I asked if it was true that, for men, sex was the most important thing in their lives.

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.

In this article, I want to explore the other side of the question. Is there something that women want more than love? And a broader set of questions including these. Do women want sex as much as men? Do men want love as much as women? Are there differences between women’s desires and men’s desires? Is the battle of the sexes inevitable or can there be peace and harmony between men and women, without losing our passionate connections?

In order to answer these questions, it helps to know a little bit about the field of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology seeks to reconstruct problems that our ancestors faced in their primitive environments, and the problem-solving behaviors they created to meet those challenges. Understanding our evolutionary roots helps us better understand why men and women are the way they are.

Biologists have a very simple and useful definition of what is male and what is female, whether we are fish, ferns, or human beings making our way in our African homeland. An individual can either produce many small gametes (sex cells) or fewer but larger gametes. The individuals that produce smaller gametes are called “males,” and the ones that make larger gametes are called “females.”

These obvious biological facts have huge implications for our lives. It’s easier to move the smaller gametes to the larger ones, than vice versa. As a result, males compete with other males to have access to the females. Females choose the male that she fancies the most to mate with. Female mammals, including humans, carry the baby inside their bodies, and nurse the newborn child.

To understand what women want more than love, you have to place yourself in the shoes of our female ancestors. Imagine that you live in East Africa 100,000 years ago. You are born and raised in a closely knit family and when you come of age, you hope to have a man who will be a good hunter and provider and a good protector. [Read more…]

The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex Is The One Thing Women Find It Hard to Give

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.

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.

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.
[Read more…]

When it Comes to Intimacy, is Sex Overrated?

6645813335_7b38c2596b_oWhen I was a young man I thought sex and intimacy were linked inexorably together. Actually I thought sex was linked to just about everything. Once I discovered one linkage, I wanted to find the next one. I was a precocious kid and began sexual experimentation young. My next door neighbor and I played “doctor” when we were six or seven. Somehow we had the idea that if I peed inside her that would be fun. I have no idea how I got that idea. Getting my little penis hard was easy, getting it inside her, sort of, wasn’t too difficult, but peeing was impossible. I learned an early lesson that some things went together and some things didn’t. Being hard and peeing at the same time didn’t go together.

Seven year-old sex was forbidden. So being adventurous 7-year-olds, we had a great time playing, until we got caught. We were both punished and forbidden to see each other for months. I went back to playing with sticks and stones and looked forward to my next big sexual adventure.

When I was 8-years-old, my 10-year-old sleep-over buddy introduced me to masturbation. He didn’t call it that. He just said, “Stroke your penis up and down, faster and faster. It will feel great, and you’ll get a surprising reward.” I did as instructed. And it did feel good, but the only reward I received was chafed skin. He said I might be too young, but to keep trying. It didn’t seem worth it to me to try harder and I went back to sports and my balls and bats.

I discovered my mother’s vibrator when I was 9-years-old. She said she used it for sore muscles. You plugged it in and it vibrated like crazy, giving off a very unpleasant buzzing sound. One day when she was away I plugged it in and ran it around my genitals. At first the sensation was, well…, weird. But it gradually began to feel pleasurable. I was getting a massive erection (or at least as massive as a 9-year-old’s erection can be) and I was on the brink of some kind of physical explosion. I was sure I was on my way to the “surprising reward” my 10-year-old buddy had promised me. [Read more…]

Red Hot Sex and Real Lasting Love: Understanding the New Science of Desire

3073421287_f8cb2c5726_zAs we come to the time of year where we think of sweets, flowers, and good food as expressions of love, we need to acknowledge that what people really want in their lives is more passion. Buying more “stuff” just doesn’t give us what we really want and need: RED HOT SEX and REAL LASTING LOVE.

To get what we really want, we need to turn to the scientists, not the marketers. Forget candy and flowers. Here are some things that can really light up your life:

  1. Learn About Testosterone

It’s been called the hormone from hell, the fountain of youth, the male aphrodisiac.

It is blamed for wars, gang violence, rape, and the monosyllabic grunts of Sylvester Stallone.  It is credited with making men strong, shrinking their bellies, protecting their heart, and boosting sexual desire in both men and women.

It is perhaps the most misunderstood player in the human sexual symphony.  It is what makes those born with an XY chromosome, male.  It is testosterone.    Here’s how it works:

In the first weeks in the womb, the tiny fetus is neither male nor female.  It has all the basic equipment to develop as either sex.   At around six weeks, the sexual identity is finally determined when the special cells in the testes produce male hormones, the main one being testosterone.  “It usually does a nice job,” says Theresa Crenshaw, M.D., an authority on hormones in men and women, “crafting the penis and its neighbors, the scrotum and testicles, along with the requisite body contouring.”

We don’t get much action from this hormone until it is awakened with a bang when the boy reaches puberty and testosterone levels rise 400-1000%.  “Teenage boys become walking grenades, just waiting to go off,” says Dr. Crenshaw.  “As production kicks into high gear, the psychological and physical impact of testosterone is overwhelming.  More than any other substance, testosterone controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics.  Facial hair sprouts, competing with crops of acne.  The voice cracks and deepens.  Shoulders broaden, hips narrow.  Muscles become lean and powerful.  Body hair and body odor make fine companions.  Sperm gets produced and wants release, often.”

But it isn’t only men who need testosterone in order to develop their full sexual potential, women need it as well. Though present in much smaller amounts, women too, have testosterone in their bodies.  Those women who feel that the world would be a much better place if testosterone were eliminated are probably not aware of recent research which shows the importance of testosterone to the developing female.  [Read more…]

Red Hot Sex: 6 Little Known Secrets For A Lifetime of Passion and Love

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. [Read more…]