Help me show my wife that men aren't as sex-crazed as she thinks?
May 16, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

I believe that my wife has an inflated view of the male sex drive, which has been a bit of a source of contention over the course of our 12 year marriage. Due to a whole host of factors my wife believes "normal" men do nothing but chase their woman around the house 24/7. Are there any resources (web pages, articles, blog posts, forum posts, etc.) that might help me make my case?

Don't get me wrong, we actually have a very active and satisfying sex life. We have sex on average 2-4 times per week. The problem is not so much that she wants more sex, but that she believes that it is abnormal for me to be satisfied with that amount. Subsequently, she alternates between feeling like there's something wrong with me and feeling like there's something wrong with her. I've tried countless times to talk to her about this and sometimes I actually make some progress, but then she talks to a friend that complains about her husband wanting sex 1-2 times a day, every day. Married for years. With 3 kids. Goodbye progress.

This is particularly frustrating because it feels like I'm swimming against the tide here. Media and society at large seem determined to reinforce the view of men as sex-crazed animals that literally can't get sex off their minds. Women lament about their men wanting sex day and night, men brag about it, and on and on. I'm convinced that, while some people do have/want sex that much, there is a lot of exaggeration going on out there. Due to any number of insecurities I'm sure many women play up how much their man "chases them around the house" and, for the same reason, men do the same. Beyond that, I firmly believe that many (not all!) of the men that do want sex that much are desperately trying to "play the part" and act the way they believe real men are expected to act. But I digress...

At the end of the day, she just has a very hard time believing that I could find her attractive, not be getting anything on the side, and be perfectly satisfied with 2-3 times a week.

I'm just looking for anything that might help show her that much of what passes for the "average guy" sexually-speaking is often hyperbole and stereotype. It would be helpful if it was written from a guy's perspective, rather than a study. I think just hearing it from someone other than me would go a long way.

If you like, you can contact me at anon.helpmemefi@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
she alternates between feeling like there's something wrong with me and feeling like there's something wrong with her.

Oh, good Lord, you're both normal, and in fact, Doing It more than lots of people.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:46 PM on May 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


At the end of the day, she just has a very hard time believing that I could find her attractive, not be getting anything on the side, and be perfectly satisfied with 2-3 times a week.

This is not a problem that can be solved by a citation.
posted by Zozo at 2:47 PM on May 16, 2011 [20 favorites]


Maybe have her look through some old Savage Love columns -- he often reiterates that sex drive is based on the individual, not the gender
posted by freshwater at 2:49 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


She apparently thinks all men are stuck at age 14, where we all took three "showers" a day.

(kidding...no, you're in the normal-to-frequent range.)
posted by notsnot at 2:49 PM on May 16, 2011


Well, here's a try about a quarter of the page down.

But Zozo's probably right--she's probably measuring against something imaginary, not actual data.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:49 PM on May 16, 2011


Rational thought is not what will win the day here. She's got a skewed view of male sexuality and herself that I think can best be helped by therapy. Just as she won't be helped by increasing the frequency of you having sex, she won't be helped by any quote anywhere showing that there's no such thing as a common sex drive in men or women. It varies due to a variety of factors.

And you're above average in frequency of sex as far as I've read.
posted by inturnaround at 2:50 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


she alternates between feeling like there's something wrong with me and feeling like there's something wrong with her.

Oh, good Lord, you're both normal, and in fact, Doing It more than lots of people.


Agree.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My nonexistent therapist training is informing me that your wife has self-confidence or self-image issues that she is manifesting as issues with your sex life. Either that, or she is feeling unfulfilled with her life as a whole (or your relationship as a part of it) and has fixated on sex as the reason.
posted by mikeh at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Somewhat relevant, though unlikely to cheer her up, is the Coolidge Effect.

Really, though, as mikeh suggests, the likely root of this is not her beliefs about men and male sex drive, but her beliefs about her own attractiveness and value.

Intellectually, you could allude to novelty, age, and individual biological variation... but again, facts probably don't matter that much in this case.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:24 PM on May 16, 2011


Here are the current Kinsey stats. Scroll down to "frequency of sex." You are on the very happy end of that curve.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:24 PM on May 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I agree with the posters above, that it is not simply an misconception about male sex drive and I agree with you that the media does push it, from the non-existent study that purportedly claimed that men, on average, think about it every 7 second. I wonder if you could talk to her about how:
a. suspecting you of infidelity is hurtful
b. expecting a higher drive than already high one you have is like asking her to grow longer legs
c. is there a problem in the way you show your love and affection and desire for her (conversation on non-sex days, share of household tasks)

I personally used to be believe that all men wanted it daily, but having lived with a man who didn't want it at all (for years on end), and was also very clearly not getting it on the side, my views changed. I can tell you tho', it eroded my idea of my self as an attractive, sexually desirable woman. I'm trying to be open-minded and see how this is similar to your wife's experience, I really am. Because it feels awful to think that nobody will ever want you again, especially when the female media-brainwashing experience is all about being desired. But 2-3 times a week - oh embarrassment of riches!

Talk. You guys have to talk. And if she stops listening, or starts arguing a point of fact, then you both need to learn how to argue constructively - counselling for you together.
posted by b33j at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


then she talks to a friend that complains about her husband wanting sex 1-2 times a day, every day.

Does her friend actually have sex with her husband 1-2 times per day, every day? I bet if they started having sex that frequently that the husband would very quickly stop wanting sex so often.

It sounds like she's insecure, and any sort of rational discourse about the topic at hand will be able to change her mind. You should, instead, try to assure your wife that you're perfectly happy with your relationship.
posted by kdar at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


....but then she talks to a friend that complains about her husband wanting sex 1-2 times a day, every day.

Wanting, and getting, are not the same thing. I sound like an ass here, but maybe her friend's husband bugs her about wanting sex a couple of times a day, hoping that he'll "get lucky" a percentage of the time.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 3:44 PM on May 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


If this has been going on for 12+ years, nothing you or the internetters can say will help this.

Have her talk to a doctor, counselor...whatever...some kind of professional.

This has less to do with whether she is right or not...and more to do with why she does not believe you.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't need a citation, though Dan Savage would be a good one. You need a distraction from this entrenched discussion.

"Yes, actually I want more, a LOT more.." and start licking her ear or pawing at her in an obviously joke-y silly way.

and then, other times,
"Nah, woman, you tire me out with your insatiable sex goddess needs. I am a mere mortal, and cannot satisfy such an amazingly sexy woman as you" and start licking her ear or pawing at her in an obviously joke-y silly way and "But I plan to keep trying because it's so much fun."

Reassure her that she's sexy, always a \good plan.
posted by theora55 at 3:56 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


You need to tell her that her perception of the male sex drive is wrong. And this is one of the rare occasions when I would recommend actually showing her the replies on an AskMe thread.

If you are in a reasonably long-established relationship and you are still happily doing it 2-4 times per week, you're in good shape. Really.
posted by Decani at 4:03 PM on May 16, 2011


Maybe she just wants more sex.
posted by delmoi at 4:25 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell her this: that those guys who want it all the dang time are those who probably are not GETTING it as often as you guys are. And THAT is why they are 24/7 carrying on about it.

Your numbers are pretty darn awesome at your stage of marriage. Tell her this old married lady thinks she should be patting herself on the back.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:50 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just looking for anything that might help show her that much of what passes for the "average guy" sexually-speaking is often hyperbole and stereotype. It would be helpful if it was written from a guy's perspective, rather than a study. I think just hearing it from someone other than me would go a long way.

I think that checking out or buying a copy of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and reading pertinent excerpts would actually help a lot.

Total sexual activity for the week (masturbation, petting, intercourse, bestiality, nocturnal emissions), can range from 0.5 orgasms per week to 30 orgasms per week. This is normal. Men are all over the place in terms of sexual activity, and it varies individually. There is no average guy.
posted by chinesefood at 4:58 PM on May 16, 2011


On average, male sex drive peaks at 19 then it's all downhill from there (in sexual appetite), whereas female sex drive peaks at 35.
How old are you two?
posted by Neekee at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


any sort of rational discourse about the topic at hand will not be able to change her mind

Fixed, sorry.

posted by kdar at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2011


a friend that complains about her husband wanting sex 1-2 times a day, every day
I had a partner like that once. It was annoying. I learned quickly not to complain to my friends. There's a frequency/quality curve and it truly, TRULY isn't something worth bragging about.
I also had a friend who complained about her husband like that. Once I became closer friends, I realized she was full of crap and just saying that to show she was "SO PRETTY HE CAN'T NOT WANT ME! OUR MARRIAGE DOES NOT HAVE ISSUES!"

Your wife is worried. She's watched too much "Benny Hill" or something. Work on the other things and tell her its OK to masturbate without you.
posted by Gucky at 5:30 PM on May 16, 2011


Here's an article from Elle magazine. Basically it says that every couple is different and many men boast and exaggerate.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 5:43 PM on May 16, 2011


http://www.elle.com/Life-Love/Sex-Relationships/The-Number-How-Often-Should-Couples-Have-Sex
posted by lockestockbarrel at 5:44 PM on May 16, 2011


I'm worried this is the real problem here:

"...not getting anything on the side,..."

You slipped something fairly significant in there and really played it down. And I can see how your wife could go from worrying that you don't find her attractive to thinking you must be cheating. I'm not saying it's realistic under the circumstances you describe, I'm just saying I get it.

If you have never been unfaithful in your marriage, then this is your wife's issue and you should seek counseling together and for her alone so she can work on the source of her insecurities and achieve a more peaceful inner life. And if you've contributed significantly to this insecurity of her's (either with words or actions) then be prepared to work through some issues of your own, too.
posted by jbenben at 7:53 PM on May 16, 2011


I struggle with the same feelings as your wife: somewhere along the way in life I became convinced by the media or some boyfriend or something that men want sex ALL THE TIME. So now, if my SO is ever not really into it because he's tired, or whatever, I tend to take it super personally. Honestly, it was only after reading some similar AskMes that it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't. I don't really have advice for you except to say that I don't think your wife's feelings are really uncommon; we're conditioned to believe that men are sex maniacs.
posted by amro at 8:15 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


1. It doesn't matter what the average man's sex drive is, it matters what your sex drive is. The variation is huge (as it is for women). You sound normal.

2. I agree with other folks' assessment that your wife is probably indirectly expressing some other worry. As you say, in our culture the men are supposed to be always asking for sex, and women are supposed to be the gatekeepers. When that preconception isn't met it can throw both parties for a loop; it's a deeply ingrained assumption, not one that's easy to change even when it's obviously false.
posted by hattifattener at 9:09 PM on May 16, 2011


You've been struggling with this same issue for years now. Turn it around on her.
Somehow you've been put in a position of defending who you are and trying to prove a variety of things to her that really aren't provable, not to her, not as long as she feels this sort of insecurity.

Sit her down and explain to her how much you've been troubled by this over the years and tell her that you are going to stop even entertaining the idea until she provides YOU with proof that your sex drive is somehow abnormal. Tell her that word of mouth doesn't count as proof, nor do fictional depictions of males on tv shows/commercials.

Encourage her to do her own research, encourage her to try counseling, tell her how much you love her and how sexy you find her, and then just step the fuck out of the game. Do not rise to her worries or accusations. Be calm and non-committal.
She will almost certainly be upset for a while, but as long as you stay calm and continue to show your love and attraction for her, she will have to start taking a hard look at her own reasons for feeling this way and exactly why she's trusting advertising and fiction and unverifiable comments from friends more than you.

To actually answer your question, though, you should give her Nancy Friday's Men In Love. She will have to acknowledge the vast differences between individual men if she reads that.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:21 PM on May 16, 2011


I've been married to a man with a very low sex drive, and to a man with a very high sex drive.

When I was married to Low Sex Drive Guy, I didn't feel attractive or wanted for the obvious reason that he wasn't interested in screwing me very often. Even though he showed me plenty of love and physical affection, my ego wanted him to chase me around the bed on a regular basis.

When I was married to High Sex Drive Guy, he wanted sex 1-2 times every day. It was annoying as hell to be pawed over all the time and to feel like I could never satisfy him. Even if we just did it yesterday he was genuinely disappointed if I didn't want to do it again today. And it didn't make me feel attractive and wanted.... it didn't feel like it was about me at all. I felt like he just wanted to get laid and I was his only option.

The grass is not always particularly green on either side.

I'd love to be able to dictate the perfect balance of being pursued when I want to feel sexy and being left alone when I don't feel like being messed with, but that's not the way it works. Sex drives almost never match up perfectly in couples.

Also, 2 to 4 times a week is a LOT of sex, if you're over the age of 25 and presumably have other responsibilities like jobs and whatnot. Seriously, if she likes that much sex and you're up for it I think she's got herself a pretty good deal and needs to get over her ego. She could really have it so much worse, in either direction.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:55 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your wife needs to speak to a professional. The danger here is that if she is allowing her self-esteem to be damaged by measuring your sex life against what she (incorrectly) perceives to be "the norm". Women who allow their self-esteem to be tied to the male sex drive are always going to be disappointed, one way or another.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:38 AM on May 17, 2011


Mod note: From the OP:
"Hi all. OP here.

First, thank you so much for all the thoughtful responses. I have a number of items I want to address based on the responses so far, so here it goes:

- We're 31 (yep, married at 18) with 3 kids. Both in decent shape, good health, and pretty darn well adjusted :-).

- After thinking about it, I really ought to revise my average to 2 times per week (maybe 3). Occasionally we hit 4, but that would be at the high end and isn't indicative of an average. May not be a big deal, but just for full disclosure.

- As far as the "getting some on the side" thing, porn is far more relevant than any actual (or potential) infidelity. Nothing recently, but in the past porn has been an issue as far as making her feel less desirable. But the fact that most, if not all, of the "stereotypical" guys have some involvement in porn makes this a moot point in my mind. Of course, that may be over-rationalizing a very emotional issue.

- For years we chalked it up to her just having a higher sex drive than me (which wasn't without it's own fallout). But recently we're realizing that's it's far more about her drive to feel desired than it is her drive to scratch an itch. In other words, her masturbating on her own (which she has no problem with) doesn't solve the problem. That's really not the root of the issue.

- The root of the issue. She would freely admit that she sees a man's sex drive as a measure of the desirability of the woman they're with. An imbalance necessarily points to a deficiency in one or the other (or both). She also recognizes that, to an extent, this is a warped perspective. HOWEVER, in her mind her own experience in the past and the ongoing experience of her friends bears this out over and over again. To the point that she feels like she just can't get away from it. Of course, by some crazy fluke she could have been surrounded by all these deviations (in the statistical sense), but that's a bit hard for her to believe, so there must be SOMETHING to her perception of this issue. While she would readily acknowledge that there are all kinds of guy's out there considered "normal", her experience just speaks too loudly. I can't speak for her, but I'm pretty confident she'd agree with this.

Finally, despite how this must sound, we actually have an incredibly good relationship. The sex we have to pretty amazing and we have unbelievably good communication. If anything, we probably talk about this stuff too much. More than any of that, we love each other like crazy. In this one particular area I've just run out of ways to explain my view of reality to her and I was hoping for a little additional insight.

So thanks, again!"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:20 AM on May 17, 2011


She would freely admit that she sees a man's sex drive as a measure of the desirability of the woman they're with.

I absolutely understand where that comes from, but she also needs to recognise that that is both fundamentally fucked up and unsustainable. This is very, very important for the two of you to sort out at 31 because this has the potential to become a very serious issue at 51, 61 and 71.

It's great that you two have fabulous sex and great communication. You will be a DELIGHT for a couple's therapist. Which is absolutely where you should go because in order to maintain the health of your marriage, you need outside help in re-framing this issue. Marriage therapy is not a de facto sign of troubled marriages or lost causes; it is a sign of smart, connected people who make managing change in their primary relationships a priority.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:31 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has she considered that her friends may be lying, misperceiving or exaggerating the level of sexual interest their husbands have in them? Maybe some of the wives feel like the husband "always" wants it because they feel like they are being pestered a lot. And maybe some of the other women are lying to "keep up" with the misperceivers/exaggerators.

I just find it very hard to believe that in her social circle, nearly every woman is married to a complete horndog except for her. As somebody mentioned above, are these women actually putting out once or twice a day? Because I would almost guarantee that very few 31-year-old men would be that hot to trot on an ongoing basis for the same woman he's been balling for a decade if she were actually giving it up daily.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:51 AM on May 17, 2011


Also, you might consider reading (and possibly having her read, if after reading you believe it will help make your point) these two books:

The Sex Starved Marriage

The Sex Starved Wife

While I would hardly call your marriage sex starved, the books do give a lot of good information about "normal" sex drives, and desire discrepancy in relationships.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:00 AM on May 17, 2011


Okay, the porn is not a moot point. The porn is a big part of this. I don't think convincing her that you have a normal sex drive is going to fix this problem. (Also, consider that you thinking she should ditch her pre-conceived notions about "normal" mens' sex drives is very, very comparable to your preconceived notions of the role porn plays in every man's life: not all of them look at it when in a relationship, and the frequency can vary as well).

Anyway. It sounds like her sexual worth (possibly self-worth to an extent) is very much dependent on how much you want her, on how sexually desirable you find her and how much you want to have sex with her. When you look at porn, particularly if you are masturbating, then you are doing something sexual without her. Regardless of how you see it, she probably views this as you wanting these women over her, because you are choosing to orgasm to their sexual stimulation rather than hers. I would be willing to bet anything that your involvement in porn is making her feel less desirable and a big part of the problem. She probably thinks you shouldn't need or want to look at porn if she's enough to satisfy your sex drive and, because you do look at porn, has concluded that she isn't satisfying your sex drive.

If you have some way to make her feel okay about porn, like somehow explaining how it isn't disrespectful to her or at all indicative of you wanting sexual stimulation elsewhere (no idea how you do that), then that could help. Otherwise, how do you treat her when you don't want sex? Do you behave in a way that indicates that you find her sexually attractive and look forward to whenever you next will have sex? Or do you pretty much treat her as a non-sexual person aside from when you want sex? I don't mean pawing at her all the time, but just letting her know that you are always attracted to her, not just when you're horny. That kind of thing helps reinforce sexual desirability a lot.
posted by Polychrome at 3:30 AM on May 18, 2011


There's a fairly old metaphor for the typical curve for most long-term couples: the pebble jar. If you put a pebble in the jar every time you have sex for the first two years of the relationship, and then took a pebble out every time you have sex thereafter, the jar will never be empty. So, unless you had sex a lot in the early years of your marriage, you'd probably have emptied out the jar by now. By that standard, and my own personal experience, you're waaaaaaaaay ahead of the curve.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:08 AM on May 18, 2011


Geez, 3 kids and sex 2-3 times a WEEK? That's crazy good. A month would be more normal.

One thing you could try, short of having more sex, is just telling your wife she's hot. My husband said one time that he still found me hot (this after 14 yrs of marriage); he said my wrists were sexy. I mean come on. That's so weird, and one of the sweetest things that's ever been said to me.
posted by torticat at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2011


the answer is ALWAYS SAVAGE LOVE.
posted by custard heart at 6:42 PM on June 2, 2011


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