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Do men really want sex more than women?

Yes, guys are hornier but the study also reveals many surprising tidbits which I’ll post after the abstract:

The sex drive refers to the strength of sexual motivation. Across many different studies and measures, men have been shown to have more frequent and more intense sexual desires than women, as reflected in spontaneous thoughts about sex, frequency and variety of sexual fantasies, desired frequency of intercourse, desired number of partners, masturbation, liking for various sexual practices, willingness to forego sex, initiating versus refusing sex, making sacrifices for sex, and other measures. No contrary findings (indicating stronger sexual motivation among women) were found. Hence we conclude that the male sex drive is stronger than the female sex drive. The gender difference in sex drive should not be generalized to other constructs such as sexual or orgasmic capacity, enjoyment of sex, or extrinsically motivated sex.

Source: “Is There a Gender Difference in Strength of Sex Drive? Theoretical Views, Conceptual Distinctions, and a Review of Relevant Evidence” from Personality and Social Psychology Review

Here are some interesting and surprising excerpts from the paper (most quotes refer to prior studies in the area):

  • “Over half the men in their national sample reported thinking about sex every day, whereas only one fifth of the women reported thinking about sex that often.”
  • “He found that “husbands continued to prefer intercourse more frequently than wives” (p. 274). In fact, wives consistently reported that they were quite satisfied with the amount of sex they had in their marriages, but men on average wished for about a 50% increase.”
  • “In a large Australian sample, McCabe (1987) found that the category of people who were in a committed relationship, who wanted to have sex, but who were not having sex, consisted almost entirely of men. For example, among 25-year-olds, 28% of men but only 2% of women were in this category of ‘reluctant virgins.’”
  • “Among 20-year-olds who had been dating for about 2 years, Davies, Katz, and Jackson (1999) found no mean gender difference in self-reported sexual desire, which does suggest that there may be a phase of equal desire. Still, other evidence for that conclusion remains sparse, and the weight of evidence shows unmistakably that at most points in relationships men want more sex than women.”
  • “Men and women agreed very closely that vaginal and anal intercourse constituted sex and that kissing did not, but they disagreed on the intermediate activities such as fellatio, cunnilingus, and manual stimulation of a partner’s genitals. Men were consistently more likely to rate those activities as sex than women.”
  • “Spanier and Margolis found that 26% of the unfaithful husbands had had more than three extramarital partners, as compared to only 5% of the unfaithful wives. Conversely, wives outnumbered husbands in the category of having only one extramarital partner (64% vs. 43%).”
  • “In a sample of several hundred respondents, far more gay White men (43%) than White lesbians (0%) reported having had over 500 sex partners.”
  • “Oliver and Hyde (1993) found that masturbation was the largest difference of all the variables they examined, with men nearly a full standard deviation higher than women, averaged across 26 different findings.”
  • “…apparently most priests do engage in masturbation (e.g., Sipe, 1995, reported extensive interviews with many priests; Murphy, 1992, reported similar conclusions from survey data)”
  • “Arafat and Cotton’s (1974) finding that more males (13%) than females (10%) reported feeling guilty after masturbation. By the same token, more males than females said they regarded their masturbatory activities as perverse (5% vs. 1%). Thus, if anything, guilt weighs more heavily on men.”
  • “They found that some women showed substantial fluctuations in total outlet. Thus, a woman might enjoy a full and active sex life for a period, then lose her partner and have no sexual activity at all for some time, and then resume active sex with a new partner. Kinsey et al. (1953) observed that such discontinuities were almost never found among men. More recently, Leiblum and Rosen (1988) confirmed that in-depth histories indicated that many women seem to adapt easily to a complete absence of sexual activity during long periods of involuntary abstinence, unlike men.”
  • “Reasons for not having sex were the explicit focus of a study by Leigh (1989). Among men, fear of rejection was the main reason given for avoiding sex. Women, however, reported that they avoided sex because a lack of interest and enjoyment. The significantly greater allusion by women than men to a lack of sexual interest and enjoyment fits the view that women have a weaker sex drive, as Leigh (1989) herself acknowledged.”
  • “…seven times as many husbands as wives were able to claim that they had never turned down their spouse’s request for sex.”
  • “More male clergy (62%) than female clergy (49%) reported having been sexually active since they took their vows of celibacy. Among the sexually active, the men had had more partners than the women. Thus, 24% of the sexually active men, but hardly any of the sexually active women (3%) reported having had more than five partners since taking their vows.”
  • “Men rated their girlfriends’ vaginas more favorably than the women rated their boyfriends’ penises. Thus, men rated both their own and their partners’ sex organs more favorably than women rated them.”
  • “A nonclinical sample of never married college students by Carroll, Volk, and Hyde (1985) provided converging evidence. Far more women (19%) than men (2%) claimed that they never felt that they wanted or needed sex. Moreover, even when sexual tension or desire was felt, it was apparently less intense among the women. Most of the men (80%) but only 25% of the women said they preferred to have sex as a way of releasing sexual tension when they did feel it. Instead, women said they preferred to engage in vigorous physical activity (50%) or even just watch television (20%)”
  • “Janus and Janus (1993) found that men were slightly more eager than women to report wanting to have a baby regardless of whether they married or remained single, and also more likely than women to agree that parenthood is the highest human attainment.”
  • “Unfaithful men far outnumbered women in the category of one night stands (29% vs. 5%), whereas unfaithful women outnumbered men in the category of long-term love relationships (41% vs. 11%)”

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About Eric Barker