The road to better sex and happier relationships requires a sharp turn away from many of our most deeply held beliefs about the innate traits of men and women, says the always-revelatory relationship and sexuality therapist Esther Perel. Do men want sex more than women? Are women more monogamous than men? First, a note on the podcast, though: One way to influence desire is with the institutionalization of the relationship. My thinking on this topic is drawn directly from the research of my colleague Marta Meana, Ph.
Once a relationship becomes institutionalized, women might no longer feel activated by their own will, but by the dictates of society. Now she is married, here is what she is expected to do, this is what the world wants from her, this is what a wife should be doing, this is the right marital duty. She loses the activation of her own autonomous Mature ladies get bored with their magazine. Autonomous will is essential to desire; desire means to own the wanting. People can be massively attracted, but have no desire.
Desire is a motivation. If a woman wants a man, the man can be pretty sure that it is him she wants. Research shows that men remain much more interested sexually in a partner for a longer time, with shifts being more gradual. Women tend to lose their interest in a shorter amount of time and rather precipitously.
In very interesting ways, men in committed relationships are often much more generous. Men in committed relationships generally talk a lot about how much they enjoy pleasing their partner.
The quality of their experience very often depends on the quality of her experience; seeing her into it, seeing her enjoy it. You rarely hear a woman say: What turns me on the most is to see him really into it.
What turns her on the most, is to be the turn on. The secret of female sexuality is how narcissistic it is. In order to actually be sexual—which means to be inside her own mounting pleasures, sensations, excitement and connection—she needs to be able to not think about others.
To think about others will take her outside the woman role and into the care-taking and mother role. A third factor is the de-sexualization of the roles. The roles that she inhabits mother, caretaker, head of domestic responsibilities are not roles that appeal to her sexuality, to her sense of pleasure, or the selfishness that is inherent in pleasure.
Women often struggle to experience that sense of pleasure in the context of other relationships and family—how to hold onto themselves in the context of others. I met a man a few days ago who came from essentially nothing and who has become very successful. He told me about what an amazing mother she is and how much he loves her.
He then told me about a year in his life that was challenging for him; he went through a major business crisis but managed to pull through. I think that men want to feel admired—I think all people want to feel admired—and to feel that women are proud of them. Women often need to be on the verge of losing their partners to finally start telling them everything they appreciate about them.
Why do you think some women find it hard to show compassion to their male partners? They think they are superior in this realm. They fundamentally still want him to be strong, because that allows them to fall apart: This is true in sex and this is true emotionally.
Instead of becoming compassionate, she becomes angry. The woman has decided—without telling him, and perhaps without admitting it to herself—who she needed him to be for her. Or, maybe she does the reverse, and clips him, makes him inoffensive: If a man feels anxious or depressed, if they are struggling with their self-worth—their sexuality will change. Mature ladies get bored with their magazine tend to think of female sexuality as being very complicated, while oversimplifying male sexuality.
We often mistake this kind of difference as essential and innate, when it is much more cultural; then we come up with all kinds of evolutionary and biological theories to support the stereotype. If a man sees a woman as brittle, he may love her with a sense of extra burden—he must take care of her. He takes on a parental role. This is one trap, or way, that relationships become parental, and it can happen with any gender.
There are long histories of men desexualizing women think the Madonna complex and putting them into a mother role. Everybody plays these games: Do men feel the same amount of shame or is shame typically something that women feel about sex? Shame is widespread and affects women and men. Everyone thinks people come to therapy to talk about the sex-less-ness of the woman, when half the time it is the man who is uninterested.
But I think both groups are given their share of inhibitions, shaming, guilt inductions, and secrets. Yes, but it has to be a particular kind of conversation.
I think this topic is very fraught today. In the US, sexuality is looked at through a moral, puritanical lens—America is at war with the concept of pleasure in general.
All our pleasures are time-fraught, with overlays of discipline and work. Everything is about control. The conversation is less about what to do and Mature ladies get bored with their magazine to fix; first, it Mature ladies get bored with their magazine to be about changing the landscape and the way that we perceive things. What are the conversations that women are allowed to have, and what are the conversations that men are allowed to have?
Right now, for example, men are allowed to lie by exaggerating and by bragging, and women are allowed to talk by emphasizing self-denial and minimizing. Women lie down, and men lie up. She is also the executive producer and host of the original audio series Where Should We Begin?
Sign up for her monthly newsletter and relationship wisdom here. Esther Perel on Sex, Monogamy, and Who Really Gets Bored First The road to better sex and happier relationships requires a sharp turn away from many of our most deeply held beliefs about the innate traits of men and women, says the always-revelatory relationship and sexuality therapist Esther Perel. A One way to influence desire is with the institutionalization of the relationship. Q What do men have a hard time talking to female partners about?
A I think men have a hard time asking for support and intimacy. Q Why do you think some women find it hard to show compassion to their male partners?
Q What about men projecting onto women? Q Do men feel the same amount of shame or is shame typically something that women feel about sex? A Shame is widespread and affects women and men. Q So how do you fix it? Is it just starting the conversation? A Yes, but it has to be a particular kind of conversation.
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