Men and women see sex differently

 “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.” —Billy Crystal

I am continually flummoxed by how men and women seem to see sex so totally differently. From my experience, it seems that men take sex much less seriously than women. I know I’m generalizing here. I know there are always exceptions, but stay with me.

chicken and pigIt dawned on me that the difference is similar to the old joke about the chicken and pig looking at the breakfast sign in the window. It said “ham and egg breakfast.” The pig turned to the chicken and said, “For you, it’s just a contribution. For me it’s total commitment.”

Many women, although not all, see having sex as a sign that there is a commitment to the relationship. Men, although I realize not all, seem to be more cavalier. Sex, it seems, is considered merely a very enjoyable physical release. And to do it with another, even someone they’re not particularly drawn to, makes the experience significantly better. With someone they are attracted to, it is one of the best experiences on the planet. But, if the man is immature or less evolved, he doesn’t seem to appreciate that the woman can have a very different relationship with sex.

Often a man will press toward doing the deed without exploring what it would mean to the woman. He may not ask her philosophy on sex, and if they do it, do they have similar expectations about behaviors afterward. Would they spend the night together, rather than one getting up and going home? Would she expect to talk every day and see each other regularly? Does it mean exclusivity? What, exactly, would he be getting himself into, other than her pants? Would he be opening himself up to constant phone calls, tirades when he doesn’t call, even visits to work, or other unpleasant behaviors, just because of a little roll in the hay?

It seems a lot of tension, strife, and upset could be avoided if there was an adult conversation about sex — not only the physical issue of protection, but the emotional expectations, implications and ramifications as well. If both had their rational wits about them before they plunged forward with their physical cravings, it would prevent a lot of angst on one or both parts.

So why isn’t this conversation common, since it makes so much sense? My theory is that passion can evolve rather quickly, and one thing can definitely lead quickly to another. And soon you are further along than you would have rationally decided to be. But it feels so good you don’t think (much) about stopping. Your animalistic urges trump your sensible, prudent, mature sound mind.

The only way I can see to avoid this is to have the conversation when you aren’t in the middle of a passionate embrace. I know, sometimes you don’t know that you’re going to be in a passionate embrace until it’s happening. But if you have the presence of mind to call a “time out” and discuss it, you can always pick up where you left off. What if he gets upset that you stopped the action to have this discussion? Then it’s great that you know that now so you can release him back into the dating pool. He really isn’t interested in having more than a booty call with you.

So be clear on what sex means to you. Do you care if he sleeps with others while sleeping with you? Do you think it’s OK for you to sleep with others concurrently? Do you expect you’ll both be exclusive? Do you think it means you’re now in a relationship and you will talk to and see each other regularly? Does it mean spending the whole night together, not going home right afterward? The clearer you are, the easier this conversation will be.

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11 responses to “Men and women see sex differently”

  1. Steve Mertz Avatar

    Goddess-Being a guy, I’m thinking something occured this weekend that promted this cerebral discussion? Women like to have sex as much as if not more than men-it just often comes with guilt for them. You are right about having “the talk” when you’re not right in the middle of a passionate embrace!

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Yes, Steve, I agree that women can love sex as much as men. It’s not about loving it — it’s about being willing to talk about it beforehand, and being clear on what meaning you make it have.

    And while it’s optimal to have the talk when not in the midst of passion, sometimes it’s not possible and you have to take a break in the action. But I do think it’s important to have the discussion.

  3. Liz Avatar

    Certainly it’s not at all about men enjoying sex more than women. But you are right that in general, whether biological or social, it has a different meaning for women than for men. A conversation BEFORE should be REQUIRED! It’s horrible a week or so into a relationship having become sexual to suddenly realize that your partner could be having sex with somebody else and YOU never ASKED for the relationship to be EXCLUSIVE. You just can’t go back at that point.

  4. Bruce Daley Avatar

    Women like to talk about sex, but then again they like to talk about everything else. As a man you know listening to them is just a price you have to pay to do your part for evolution.

  5. Dating Goddess Avatar

    So Bruce, why don’t men think it’s important to talk about sex — safe sex specifically — when their health and life are potentially at risk if they don’t? I’ve come to learn that no matter what kind of rational discussion a couple can have about this, when things get hot, all memory of that — and pretty much any other rational thought — goes out the window.

  6. Bruce Daley Avatar

    Men do think it’s very important to talk about sex. If you don’t talk about it, you don’t get it. From a man’s perspective there is no such thing as safe sex, there are just degrees of risk. As a man, you know one way or another, any time have sex you will end up paying for it. Some women make you pay in cash, some women make you pay in tears, a few women even make you pay in blood but as you point out in a previous column – talk is cheap – and therefore for many men a favorite way to pay.

  7. Mitsy Avatar

    Quite frankly, a guy CAN say all the “right” words to lead a woman to believe he’s committed to the relationship BEFORE they sleep together and he can STILL bail later. This happened to me, and I learned my lesson about having sex too soon. I had only been with one other guy in my whole life until about 11 months ago. I do not believe in casual sex, and this guy “claimed” to be committed to me very early on. I really did believe we’d be together for years.

    Our relationship lasted a little over 3 months. He had many problems in his life and our relationship was a casualty of his inability to handle a relationship and life stresses. I only wished I had seen his immaturity and selfishness BEFORE I slept with him. I am trying to remind myself that I’m better off without him and also the fact that he had erectile problems he refused to acknowledge (which would only have gotten worse, not better).

    There are times that I still miss this guy and he’s been out of my life for over 7 months now. Maybe a year from now I will feel more healed, but I know that I will never let my passions overtake me to where I don’t know for sure where the relationship is headed before taking that plunge. It really was not worth it.

  8. Dating Goddess Avatar


    The challenge is we can never know for sure where any relationship is headed. It could have been you who changed your mind after getting to know the guy even better, even after declaring a commitment. As people get to know each other, they let their guards down and their raw, true self comes forth. People change, which is part of why the divorce stats are so high.

    So while it is a good idea to slow down the physical part of a relationship until you’ve spent enough time together to see the others’ true self, you can never know anything for sure. At some point we have to trust we have enough information to move forward. If we’ve misread the information, or more comes out later and we change our minds, that is just part of life.

  9. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    Great article. I agree, men and women do view sex differently, as a woman I can’t imagine using someone jst for sex and then blowing them off the way most of the guys I’ve been with have done to me. Needless to say this old lady learned her lesson (and learned and learned…) and is keeping her legs together til there’s a ring on my finger.

    Mistsy, I can relate, my ex did this to me, he told me he loved me over and over again and yet when things got tough, he bailed on me. I am physically disabled and that is hard enough to deal with on a daily basis without some idiot bailing on me when I need him the most.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  10. Lisa Avatar

    I personally don’t know any women, especially the ones over 40 where sex comes with guilt. Most women do love sex as much as men. I have just learned from my own personal experience that most men can have casual sex forever and never get invested emotionally. They can have sex with women they’re not all that crazy about or even that attracted to. I personally realized after my divorce and my experiencing dating again after 25 years, that I can only have sex with men who I have incredible chemistry with and who I have feelings for. So, casual sex doesn’t work for me. After a couple of times, I get emotionally invested. He’s not on the same page and it’s over. It hurts too much to go through that. I just know myself very well. Problem is, as I believe someone else mentioned before, a man can tell you anything. Some are very good at figuring out who you are and what you want and be lying. I know one that has been juggling several women all his life, even marrying some of them and still has them all convinced they’re the only one.

  11. hunter Avatar

    to lisa,

    you are right, be careful, I have heard therapists say, the female brain is built to follow men…..up until a certain age, then, women intellectualize…