First, check out the introduction post here before you get started. Also, if you haven’t read the summary for Chapter 2 on Respect, Chapter 3 on Insecurity, Chapter 4 on Thought Processes, Chapter 5 on Providing you may want to do that as well. This post will assume you’ve read them.
Disclaimer: this is a summary of Chapter 6 in the book For Women Only not my own thoughts, feelings or research.
Let’s get started.
Tl;dr: Your sexual desire for your man profoundly affects his sense of wellbeing and confidence in all areas of his life.
We all know that men want more sex. Unless you and your SO have incredibly mismatched libidos, it’s a safe bet that your man wants more sex. What we don’t often realize, is how strongly a man feels this need or why. This chapter explores just how important sex is to men and more importantly what sex means for men and why it is so important.
The author was unsurprised to find an urgent theme that arose from her surveys: men want more sex. What she discovered when men opened up more is that men believe that women don’t understand that this need is a crisis for both the man and the relationship.
Women who understand that men need sex, tend to view it as a physical need. It is not hard to come to terms with that idea. What we miss is how much emotion men attach to sex. Though there is certainly a physical component, sex fills a powerful emotional need. And, because men don’t describe sexual needs in emotional terms, we often don’t realize it. The lack of sex is as emotionally serious to him as his sudden silence would be to us. It is just as wounding and just as much a legitimate grievance.
Remember all the previous chapters where we talked about men’s insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, the burden they feel? A man can feel isolated and burdened by these feelings that he never discusses. Sex assures him that he is desirable. It eases the loneliness and allows him to face the world with confidence. He cannot feel completely loved without it.
In his heart, he wants to be wanted.
To explore this idea further, the author asks the following survey question
Q: Regarding sex: with some men it is sufficient to be sexually gratified whenever he wants, for others it is also important to feel sexually wanted and desired by your wife. How important to you is it to feel wanted by your wife?
The question gets to the nature of sex. If it is the act itself, then men should be happy as long as they are receiving as much sex as they want. However, less than 1% claimed that feeling wanted was irrelevant as long as he got enough sex and only 2% said that it wasn’t very important to feel wanted. A full 66% said it was very important and an additional 31% said that it was somewhat important. For most men, the sex act alone is insufficient.
It’s unlikely that we women are intentionally withholding something that we know is critical to our partner’s well being. What is more likely is that women don’t realize the emotional consequences of our responses, or lack of them. We perceive the desire for sex as a physical desire or if we’re being cranky and unkind, an insensitive demand. For the sake of our relationships, it’s important to understand the truth behind our men’s advances.
Why is sex so important?
In the surveys two trends emerge. The first considers the benefits of fulfilling sex and the second the hindrance that rejection creates.
Across the board, men reported that having regular mutually enjoyed sex life was critical to their feeling of being loved and desired.
I wish that my wife understood that making a priority of meeting my intimacy needs is the loudest and clearest way she can say “you are more important to me than anything else in the world”. It is a form of communication that speaks more forcefully with less room for misinterpretation than any other.
Many men, even those with close friendships, seem to live with a deep sense of loneliness that is foreign to us women. Making love is a balm for that loneliness. It means there is one other person in this world he can be completely vulnerable with and not judged.
Fulfilling sex gives him confidence. As we touched on in ‘imposter’ chapter, most men ask themselves “do I measure up”. Our support and affirmations help our men to feel confident of their place in the world. Sex is just an extension of this idea. Your desire is a bedrock form of support that helps him face his daily life with confidence and wellbeing. Men are more confident and alive when their sex life is active and rewarding.
Q: imagine your wife was an interested and motivated sexual partner and you therefore had an active love life, how would having sex with her as often as you wanted, affect your emotional state?
About a quarter of the men surveyed (23%) said that sex is unrelated to emotions or how he felt about the rest of his life. For these men sex on demand would have little to no impact on his life. However, the remainder, a full 77% said that it would have a positive effect and that he’d have a greater sense of well being and satisfaction with life. Ask yourself, what is the likelihood that my man is in the minority?
Men tell us this all the time, but again, because they don’t speak in emotional terms, we hear the man code for this fact but we don’t understand what he’s actually saying. When he says he feels better when he has more sex, it’s easy to assume that he means it in a purely physical way. This is wrong, men repeatedly tell the author. They feel better and life feels better when they are getting enough active and mutually appealing sex. Put simply, it helps release life’s pressures and makes everything feel better.
What happens when he doesn’t get it?
If she doesn't want to, I feel incredible rejection.
Most men would rather do onerous tasks than have sex with a woman who is responding out of duty. The guy isn’t going to be rejected by his chores whereas duty sex feels like a rejection.
If you are responding because you have to, he knows it, and feels the sting of rejection. Remember that what he wants most is to be desired. If you agree to roll around in bed, but once you get there, you aren't engaged, he isn’t going to view it as something you do out of love. He hears “You are incapable of turning me on even if you try and what is most important to you, isn’t important to me”. If you flat out reject him with say, the standard: I’m tired honey, he hears “You re so undesirable, you can’t even compete with my pillow, and I don’t care about what matters deeply to you”.
None of us mean this of course. It doesn’t always matter what we mean, what he hears and feels are the pill that must be swallowed here. We may just be saying I don’t want sex at this moment”, but he hears that you don’t want him and that is painful.
She doesn’t understand that I feel loved by sexual caressing and if she doesn’t want to, I feel incredible rejection.
“No” is not no to sex, as she may feel, it is no to me as I am and I am vulnerable as I ask or initiate. It’s plain and simple rejection.
She doesn’t understand that even her occasional dismissals make me feel less desirable. I can’t resist her. I wish that I too were irresistible. She says I am but her ability to say no so easily makes it’s hard to believe.
The feeling of rejection and the feeling that his wife doesn’t really desire him can lead a man to dark places. One only needs to visit the other RP subreddits to see the impact these rejections have on men.
Your lack of desire can send him into depression. If your desire gives him a sense of well being and confidence, then you can understand how the opposite holds true as well. The ongoing perception of a lack of desire will translate to a nagging lack of confidence, withdrawal and depression.
Men scoffed at the author’s push back. A string of rejections doesn't necessarily mean she is rejecting you as a man say women, We are tired, we work too and care for the house and the kids. Just because we don’t want sex, doesn’t mean we don’t want you. Men warn us back: Any woman sending those signals will undermine the loving environment she most wants because she’ll have one depressed man on her hands.
If you still can’t wrap your head around it, the author compares men’s need for sex to women’s need for talking and communication. Men can’t turn off the physical and emotional importance of sex. Regularly turning him down feels the same to him as his sudden silence would feel to you. Imagine how you’d feel if your husband didn’t talk to you anymore, or acted as though connecting with you through conversation was something he did out of duty.
We’ve been married for along time, I deeply regret and resent the lack of intimacy of nearly any kind for the duration of our marriage. I feel rejected, ineligible, insignificant, lonely, isolated and abandoned as a result. Not having the interaction that I anticipated prior to marriage is like a treasure, lost and irretrievable it causes deep resentment and hurt within me. This in turn fosters anger and feelings alienation.
How can we overcome the sex gap?
We must choose to love him in the way he needs. If you are viewing his need as physical, that is, important, but perhaps options, then you must stop and wrap your head around this chapter right away! When viewed this way, it’s too easy to make the argument that your need for sleep is just as important as his need for sex.
If you realize that he’s actually saying “this is essential to my feeling of being loved and desired and to counteract my feelings of stress and loneliness” your response should be very different. It is always ideal to respond to his invitation with your full emotional and physical involvement, knowing that you are touching his heart.
However, there are going to be times when you realistically cannot manage sexual intimacy with your partner. If you must say no, say with with words from the heart. Make sure that you are being reassuring, reaffirming and adoring. Leave him in no doubt that you love to love him. Through in the fact that you desire him for good measure. Promise to show him later if you can.
And if you say no in a way that reassures him, it can be better than saying yes and then engaging in emotionally detached starfish sex. If you respond physically but without meeting his need to be engaged and desired, STOP! If you are having sex with him, be engaged, you aren’t meeting his needs otherwise.
You must take an active role in sex. Many men want a wife who is sexually motivated. TRP and the Christian men that the author interviewed agree. Men want their women to be his slut. The religious men are slightly more circumspect. They say they want: * a girl next door in the living room but a wildcat in the bedroom*. This means you should make the first move from time to time and bring all you attention and passion for you man into bed with you.
Make sex a priority. Ask yourself, are the needs you are meeting the needs he wants met? Does he care about the dishes getting done or does he care about sex? Don’t focus as much on what you want to get done at the expense of your intimate relationship with your SO. Reevaluate your priorities, you can even do this with his help!
You can be a great wife in every other way, but not doing this one thing that is important to him, and he won’t feel loved.
Thank you for the gold kind internet stranger :-)