Busting Sex Myths
Studies have existed for years about the sexual habits of men and women - how often, with whom, average number of partners - but there has never been a book detailing the reasons behind this behavior. Dr. Cindy M. Meston, co-author of Why Women Have Sex, explains: "For me, as a clinical psychologist, if you're trying to enhance women's sexual pleasure, or anyone's sexual pleasure, it seems like that's the more important question - why they're doing what they're doing." Dr. Meston breaks down a few of the myths that surround women's desires and their motivations for sex:
Myth: Women love a man wearing cologne.
Dr. Meston: "Scent really triggers emotional memories, so what you don't want to be doing is wearing the cologne that the last jerk wore that she just got rid of, because that's not going to be a good thing. That's going to trigger some bad memories."
Myth: Women want men to have muscular, beach-bodies.
Dr. Meston: "Women definitely like the V-shape torso and the broad shoulders compared to the thinner waist and hips. But men tend to overestimate the amount of muscle that women really like. If you look at women's magazines, the men depicted in those magazines are muscular and tall, but not terribly muscular - they're exactly what women are looking for in terms of the amount of muscle. If you compare that to men's health magazines, you have much more muscular men, and more muscles than women actually deem as attractive."
Myth: Women love tall men.
Dr. Meston: "It's true, women do say that they like tall men. In research on personal ads, 80% of women say they want a man 6 feet or taller, and men who put in their ads that they're tall get more calls. But, there's a huge variability in what women like."
Myth: Women care most about looks.
Dr. Meston: "Men place a greater emphasis on physical attraction when they are picking their partners than do women. Of course, physical attraction is important, but women equally weigh things like personality, sense of humor, status, what they smell like - all sorts of things. And the most important personality characteristics are sense of humor and self-confidence; women want a guy who makes them laugh."
Myth: Women are more emotional about having sex than men.
Dr. Meston: "Nobody would argue that women are more emotionally expressive than men, but when it comes to having sex for emotional reasons, one of the main findings is that there were not significant differences between men and women. Men were just as likely to say that they wanted to have sex because they wanted to feel emotionally connected to their partner. The main category of reasons why women wanted to have sex was not because they were in love with the guy, not because they wanted to have a baby, and not because they felt emotionally connected. It was because sex was fun, it was exciting ... they wanted to be physically gratified."
Myth: Women are more apt to fall in love at first sight.
Dr. Meston: "Science shows that men are actually more likely to fall in love at first sight than women. Men place a greater emphasis on physical attraction. In general, women also want information about their humor, their smell, their status, their earning, their confidence, etc."
Myth: Women want a man who can dance.
Dr. Meston: "A lot of women in our book talked about how seeing a man who was a good dancer was a real sexual turn on for them. Most women appreciate a guy who'll get out on the dance floor and have the self-confidence to have fun and not take themselves too seriously. An added benefit is getting out there and getting your energy up and your heart rate going. In women, when you activate the branch of the nervous system that gets your heart pumping and you do aerobic exercises like dancing, it actually serves as a jump start for physiological sexual arousal. So it's good foreplay!"
Dr. Meston suggests that not only can women benefit from learning about their various motives for having sex, but that men could also learn a thing or two. "Thinking about these different motivations will help women to think, 'Oh yeah, when I had sex for that reason I felt good afterward... when I had it for that reason, not so good;' so it'll help women to seek more physical gratification and to make better decisions for themselves. And it might unravel some of the mysteries for men; why one week the woman was all over him and the next week she didn't want anything to do with him. It will get into the sexual psyche of women."
Click here to read an excerpt from Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between).
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