There is no use in denying: If you are a man, you fantasize during sex. Not about the woman you are with or the situation you are in, but probably about another (imaginary or not) woman or another (the next or the ideal) situation.
No, you won’t be the first to dream about Pamela Anderson while having sex with your wife or girlfriend. Neither will you be the first to actually want entirely different things than what you are doing. And there is nothing wrong with that. Guess what, most women do exactly the same.
Then why is it that even men who are in a happy relationship will still look at the women around them? Why do you – as a man – still feel sexually attracted to other women as well?
You are a seed factory
One answer to the above questions comes from genetic factors. You are programmed to spread your seed – not only as often as you can, but also in as many women as you can. This is socially unacceptable, of course, but genes do not care about conventions. Genes care about one thing only: to mix themselves with as many other genes as possible so the species will move on and actually grow by combining strong genes with other strong genes.
Remote Innuit (Eskimo) tribes sometimes STILL will invite visitors to their villages to mate with their daughters or even wives. The idea behind this is that their communities are very small and the risk of inbreeding is high. While this may seem to be a rather animalistic approach to the problem of inbreeding, if you (or your set of genes) have no other option, that is what you will do.
The concept of men as more sexually driven than women was raised as a scientific issue by the sociobiologists, who strove to explain human behavior on the basis of genetic influences reaching far back down the evolutionary tree. As a generality, the dominant male(s) in a society will have to win the right to impregnate – and they do this by fighting, by competition, by wooing the females with displays of their strength and size. Of course, much of this behavior does exist in the animal kingdom, although it is certainly not an exclusive pattern of male behavior – many animal species mate for life, and many of those that do not will form exclusive partnerships for the breeding season. Even some of the notoriously sexy primates will form long lasting pair bonds. Back to Innuit, if there is little or no risk for inbreeding and if there is no lack of healthy, strong genes, the evolutionary need to “spread seed” reduces and the mono-amorous (one male, one female) relationship prevails, because it has a lot of other benefits as well.
Humans are not animals (anymore) in the sense that they – as a species – have developed things none of the other species of this planet have: brainpower, for example, and the ability to read and write. Thus, our society is much more complex than any other society on the planet and it is based on conventions (rules, regulation and legislation) and not on reflex behavior and instincts. But that doesn’t mean our prime-instincts have all gone.
It takes evolution thousands and thousands of years to adapt any species to the situation it is in (in that sense evolutionary development is usually way behind the actual situation!). As a result, while every species adapts (or mutates, if you like), “old stuff” is not thrown away very quickly. Apparently, that is especially true for the reproduction process.
As opposed to the vast majority of other species humans do not have a specific “mating season”. In biological terms: there is always a large quantity of fertile females available every day (as opposed to, for example, all females are fertile in the month of May only). So the human male is biologically programmed and designed to be ready for mating every day, all day. And that – albeit redundant – ability is still there, including the “need”. Again, genes do not care about conventions.
Your sexual behavior is a choice
At the same time humans feel that it is almost an insult to our human condition to be seduced by arguments that sexual behavior is governed by our genes. We are, after all, supposedly the most evolved species on the planet. How distasteful, then, that our genes might be responsible for our behavior. Do we not have the ability to overcome our genetic inheritance and behave in a human way?
The answer is that we have the choice of doing so, but that we may sometimes be driven in a way that comes from deep within our genetic programming that we cannot fully see. Studies show that gay men, once out of the closet and freed from the social or emotional restrictions of society or their female partners, will seek out sex, enjoy it, and basically have as much of it as they can, even though the cost is an emotional one – emptiness, guilt maybe, lack of intimacy, and so on. And since they are free from the social (and economical) risk of making their partner pregnant and reproduce, a strong other impulse (responsibility for potential offspring) is also gone.
Through another angle, it rapidly becomes apparent that our sexual “behavior” is largely the result of conventions that have little or nothing to do with our sexual needs or even our personality. The concept of a “family” (one man, one woman for life) historically speaking is a relatively new concept. Before that, the concept of “communities” ruled (and in many tribes still does) for thousands of years. The village, the tribe, the group was what was originally – and for a long time – important. That entity collectively took of care of tasks such as raising kids, caring for the elderly, education, hunting for and collecting food and even sexual needs and (sexual) education (some tribes and cultures still will).
The “family” as we know it is largely an invention of those, wanting to control society. Religions and governments mainly. With the need for improved administration the need of a structured society came about. Identity (and something to prove it) became important, so things like birth-certificates were invented, which eventually formed the basis for other things, such as marriage certificates, drivers lincenses and tax forms.
With that – unfortunately through a complex and widespread system of false arguments – the concept of the everlasting one man / one woman family was introduced. Suddenly it became a “sin” to mate with more than one woman. Sex before marriage became a “sin”. Why? Because religion or the governmenet (usually one and the same) needed the administrative entity called “the family” and since everyone knows sex is a huge (if not the main) incentive to get things done, sex was suddenly presented as a reward for good behavior (marry first and THEN have sex – you have fulfilled your administrative obligation, now you can have the sex you want). Simultaniously, of course, a system of social and other penalties was introduced.
And one of the things men still struggle with is the fact that since men were at the top of both governments and religions the system was invented, men are much more likely to abide by it – since it was a male invention.
You are a powerful copy machine
If it is social conditioning, how do we explain the fact that some aspects of male behavior happen so often? That, for example, men will have sex with anyone when they’re drunk? Or, as women might have it, that men can’t be trusted? That they care more about beauty than brains? That they will abandon their wives of twenty years when success strikes in middle-age and then set up with some much younger bimbo? Does it mean that women are attracted by power and success – evidence of dominance, perhaps, in our material society? Does it mean that the more attractive women have a sexual advantage because they will attract the stronger, richer, more powerful males – who can, of course, afford to buy their company?
One answer, according to the sociobiologists, lies in the fact than men can have many more offspring than women – they can plough the furrow and spread the seed, with little care for what happens afterwards. Thus the men who were sexually promiscuous way back in our evolutionary history would be the ones who were evolutionarily successful – in other words, they would have more children and the behavior would spread.
But of course females might want the opposite – faithfulness, and evidence of commitment to child-rearing: thus they would tend to test the patience of males who offered themselves as potential mates, to see how prepared they were to stick around.
Another answer lies in the fact that somewhere along the line we became two-legged. Humans are one of the few species that have sex “from the wrong end”. That is the result of the fact that we are upright and on two legs, instead of on all fours (which technically makes mating a lot easier). Our sex organs, however, (male as well as female) are still very much positioned for the four-legged position. The result – many scientists believe – is that “sex” for humans became something that requires “bargaining” (communication). In fact, one of the few species that has a somewhat similar “problem” are sharks. They too need to mate belly-to-belly.
This belly-to-belly position presents the male with a whole new set of problems to overcome. The four-legged mating position (doggy style, if you like) leaves the female in a position where she cannot defend herself against an invader (her legs and claws cannot protect her and her teeth are useless as well), while the male has all advantages and quite literally all his weapons (teeth, claws, legs and body weight) in an ideal position. Additionally, his penis is in the ideal position so he doesn’t need to guide it, rather, he can just plunge it in. The human male thus has an evolutionary “disadvantage” (the female can suddenly defend herself against invasion and is largely, as any martial art expert will tell you, in the advantage since she’s on her back and in the ideal defense position with all her weapons ready at hand). Sharks deal with this problem by forming male partnerships and simply raping the female (two males will hold her down while number three invades her). Humans (having the advantage of brainpower and communication) have developed the bargaining technique to deal with the “problem”.
And, in fact, there is evidence to support some of these ideas. For example, there are now, and have always been, many polygamous human societies – those where the dominant males especially have been allowed to have several wives. This fulfills exactly some presumed biologic pattern, but the dominant male has to be able to keep his power and provide for the children. Similarly, psychologists report that men fret about their wives having sex with other men (you know, the scenario where a man ends up looking after some other man’s child – a sneaky fucker’s child, to use a graphic term from the field of sociobiology, while he supports his wife in the belief that it’s his child; great from a human point of view, but very, very bad from the point of view of the man’s genetic investment in the next generation), while women, so we are told, fret about their men being emotionally attached to someone else.
Even more bizzarre, it has been proposed that the classic male double standard – bed a whore and marry a virgin – is underpinned by this biological urge to ensure that as a man, one brings up one’s own genetic offspring while bedding a sexual woman is a way of spreading the seed that will not result in long term commitments. (Of course, with contraception it probably won’t result in offspring either, but that isn’t the point: it is the imperative behind the behavior that is either genetically determined or not).
There are scientific studies that bear this out. David Buss, a psychologist and author of the “Evolution of Desire” has surveyed many people in over 30 countries. He found that men wanted sex and women wanted success. Another great source for this is “The Anatomy of Sex and Power” by Michael Hutchison, a scientific study that leads to controversial yet interesting conclusions, based on many sources from many scientific fields.
Bargaining, negotiation, communication and fantasies
Picture the evolutionary clock again. Recent human history (recent as in the last few thousand years) is only five minutes or less on a scale of 24 hours. In other words, in an evolutionary sense we are still very much developing and learning “new” concepts. That is why the “bargaining” (communication) system between the human male and female is (yet) far from perfect.
The human need for conventions has largely interfered with the negotiation concept. For a long list of reasons, the concept of free thinking has (and very much still is) hindered by a wide variety of labels and conventions, that – quite frankly – obstruct the concept of learning though free communication and free association (both are two basic human learning concepts). Simply because, when it comes to sexuality, a lot of ideas and fantasies have quickly been labeled “wrong”, “dirty” or “perverse” (anything from gay sex, to polygamous situations to non-mainstream or kinky sex has – at some point – been given a negative label, most of which are still very much in place). Again probably as a result of evolution, men are not very good at this sexual bargaining process. Scientists tend to believe that the reason for this is because they never had to bargain. Males fight off other males to gain access to females – they do not bargain with females. Females, on the other hand – the biological “prey” of the strong, dominant males – have learned to bargain from day one.
So here you are: still not very well equipped when it comes to communication and forced to try and overcome lots of labels, guilt feelings, your overly developed sense of responsibility and deal with conventions. That conflict with your genetic programming. Now what?
Men are not good at talking about emotions and feelings
Actually: YOU ARE DAMNED GOOD WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNICATING ABOUT FEELINGS! You can show your buddies what you feel, right? You don’t need to tell them. You can be enthusiastic, you can be a buddy, a partner, a colleague, a teamplayer. Oh yes – the human male is very, very good at communicating feelings. Fact of the matter is that men and women communicate in different ways!
When it comes to feelings, men (as opposed to women) do not talk and aren’t subtle. They largely communicate through body language and power signals. They hug, they bang shoulders, they have handshakes, they dress, walk and move in specific ways, they look at each other and when it comes to sex they have a very powerful chemical weapon: pheromones! The sex-smell that attracts females and pushes away other males (and makes it obvious to other males what you want). Women have pheromones too, but due to the use of perfumes as well as “social weapons”, such as make up and hairdo they have very little impact and in fact women largely use the end-products of the cosmetic industry for their non-verbal communication (including their competition with other women). In other words, men largely communicate physically and in many ways their non-verbal communication is theirs and doesn’t come out of a bottle (as it frequently and literally does for women). Besides, they expect to be understood (which is true, but only by other males).
You don’t bring me flowers anymore
When it comes to men/women sexual communication it is first of all important to understand that both sexes are on different levels. A woman (generally speaking) emphasizes shelter, comfort and intimacy and wants confirmation of that – frequently! The man, however, feels he has won his most important battle at the start of the relationship (or actually even before that): he got her and has outsmarted other males (imaginary or real) in doing so.
Plus, he has a problem: it is very likely that whenever he talks about his fantasies (other women, more women, ideal women, you name it), his partner will very likely see that as competition AND as a personal defeat! In simple terms: every time you tell her you think Pamela Anderson is beautiful she’ll think she’s too old, her breasts are too small, her hair isn’t blond or her legs aren’t long enough. While that is not what you mean, that is what she feels. Bang! Dead end! And you end up reassuring her that you still think she’s the most beautiful creature on the planet. And you do that while all you wanted was (to talk about) good sex. While she tells you that she is good enough to have your children, do your laundry and cook your dinner while you go out looking at other women.
Yes, that is a (if not THE) major problem and there simply is no “five easy steps” system to deal with that. But what does help is to be honest and open about it. Communication is a learning game: the communication process itself as well as the subjects you communicate about.
Commerce and social conventions have brought about a very crummy system of communication between the sexes: communication through gifts. If you love her, buy her flowers (or diamonds, or chocolate – depending on the commercial and your budget) is the message that commerce especially is grinding in all the time. Well, guess what, it’s nice to buy each other gifts every now and then, but it is lousy communication. Ten to one, whenever you bring a gift she’ll think you have something to hide (which is also the result of social programming). For effective sexual communication you need to do what you haven’t been taught: talk!
Are there easy tools? The answer is: unless we want to make the same mistake others did and come up with Venus and Mars theories, no there are not. But what we can do is give you hints. Such as:
1. Start to communicate about your fantasies early – in the early stages of the relationship. If you’re into leather: tell her (it’ll come up sooner or later anyway and it may cause bigger problems if you bring it later).
2. Don’t be afraid of your fantasies. Yes, they may bring up difficulties, such as the one sketched above, but trying to dodge these by not talking about them isn’t going to help.
3. Don’t be guided by social stygma, conventions and fears. You do not have to do everything you think about (apart from the fact that fantasies are often impossible to bring to life, Pamela Anderson can only handle so much men) but it is important to bring them up, out in the open.
4. Ask about HER fantasies (many women will tell you they do not fantasize, that’s usually not true, the difference, however, is in the fact that female fantasies are usually less specific and more about “situations” and “emotions”, in other words more abstract).
5. Don’t think your fantasies will chase her away. Sexuality to many women may sometimes be less important than it is to you – in any case other aspects of the relationship to her may be just as important as sex. Besides, women are open to a lot more than you might think and quite often you’ll find that her fantasies are actually a lot rougher and tougher than yours.
6. And there is another thing – while you (man) are probably uncertain about some fantasies, have seconds thoughts about it and want things like “carefully trying them out”, women are a lot more direct when it comes to accepting what they are and want and they are a LOT quicker in accepting that.
7. Educate yourself about your sexuality, her sexuality and about any fantasies, ideas or non-mainstream feelings and fantasies you have. Come prepared! (that is what she does – women tend to inform themselves through reading and research).
8. Probably your biggest and most important source for information is: YOUR PARTNER (i.e. not your friends and buddies, not Playboy, not porn-magazines – although there is nothing wrong with some fun and exitement).