“Men just want sex. Sex and sandwiches.”
That’s what the mainstream want you to believe.
And in part, they’re right. I want both those things (albeit in different measures).
But I know I can have both those things and still be miserable in a relationship, desperately yearning for the carefree days of bachelorhood.
Women who believe men are that simple remind me of those guys who truly believe the secret to happiness is money and six-pack abs.
I’d take both of those any day, but I know they also won’t be a panacea to all my problems.
Take sex. Although there seems to be good evidence that more is better, it’s usually probably because this indicates other healthy parts of the relationship that mean two people can’t keep their hands off each other.
- It might be because you both turn each other on in conversation and make each other feel attractive.
- It might be that he pays attention to your physical and emotional needs.
- It might be that he has a strong sense of purpose and takes charge of his life, which makes you want to jump on him at every opportunity.
- It might be that you both always give each other sexual compliments and try to remain desirable for each other.
These things seem to indicate that sex is a symptom of a healthy relationship, not an immediate cause.
What really seems to matter more is the presence of sexual desire. Sexual desire includes novelty, mystery, fun, adventure, a sense of shared excitement, the ability to let go and feel in the moment of shared passion.
As the relationship expert Esther Perel explains in her hugely influential TED Talk “The Secret To Desire In A Long-Term Relationship”, the things that create feelings of love are not the same as the things that create desire.
What really kills relationships is when two people purely focus on comfort-needs to the detriment of every other area of attraction.
They focus on building a home, having security, paying the bills, making each other feel safe, being loving parents. All of these are great, and are no doubt part of the warmth that relationships can provide.
But if these activities become the only focus of the relationship, they crowd out all those other parts that generate attraction, rather than just comfort.
And attraction is:
- When you both arrive a fashionable 30 minutes late to your friend’s party because you had to tear each other’s clothes off first.
- Giving spontaneous sexual compliments or expressing physical desire to your partner.
- Doing things that make each other feel more sexy, rather than just more loved.
- Prioritising physical intimacy as much as emotional intimacy.
- Caring about our appearance with our partner, and finding out what turns them on visually.
So I don’t think it’s as simple as sex keeping the relationship interesting. It’s just as crucial to also stoke sexual desire, which involves caring about those physical and flirtatious activities that keep things novel and intriguing, that add a layer of unpredictability and provide an injection of amorous spontaneity to the quotidian comfort of the everyday relationship.
And after all that, you’ll probably both deserve a sandwich.
Photo (Getty Images)
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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
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23 Replies to “Men Are Simple, But Not THAT Simple!”
“… sex is a symptom of a healthy relationship, not an immediate cause.” Beautifully put.
And Esther Perel is a genius! Coincidentally I’ve been watching her TED talks over and over again for the last 48 hours! I’m not that dumb! LOL! She is too good!
Yea she really knows her stuff, I so admire her honesty and unflinching frankness about how complex long-term relationships are. Definitely worth reading her books if you get the chance too.
I love this! I was having a similar conversation about attraction and sexual expression with my sister earlier this week. Flirty banter, the way he moves, the quirky things he does… and just the simple act of saying, “whoa… My whole body just blushed while looking at you”. Haha. Attraction is about so much more than physical attributes. It is wonderful to be able to make another person feel desired.
There is nothing better than a healthy relationship where the flirting comes naturally, and ignites fires. :) So exciting.
Love your articles, as always.
I totally agree Arianna, we put so much focus on physical attributes, and forget to think about how desired someone makes us feel. I think it’s incredibly important.
Thanks for the kind words,
Shot Gun Wedding
My parents were forced into marriage at a very young age. My mother was insistent on tying my father down, and what better way than having a child. My father was quite the ladies man but my mother quickly became the lady.
But all good things must come to an end.
My question though is : why did my father become obsessive over my mother during their separation? Why did he do what ever she said and let her treat him so poorly? He didn’t want to be with her, I don’t understand. Even after seperated he would do whatever she asked and then one day he just stopped caring??? He remarried the polar opposite of my mother and that is when she became the obsessive one. It’s all so confusing.
Very confusing Amber, I agree! I’ve learnt it’s very hard to be judgmental about other people’s relationships, especially those close to us. The best we can often do is be understanding and supportive and try to give them confidence when they need it the most.
Alright Stephen, I think this is my favorite article you have written yet. You nailed it. I agree that maintaining physical attraction and caring about how you look for your partner’s sake is crucial for a long term relationship. I have had experiences with guys where I have been guilty of not paying him enough attention. I learned from that. Then with one who never made me feel sexy. It was as if he thought it was obvious I was hot so he thought it did not matter if he told me. I tried to explain I wanted to hear it from him rather than random guys on the street. From him it was meaningful.
I have noticed how complimenting a guy over the term of a relationship made the relationship stronger. If he felt sexy, then I directly enjoyed the benefits ;). I agree that men are not just about food and sex which is all we hear from the media. It sells our men short. Thank you for putting this into words!!
“If he felt sexy, then I directly enjoyed the benefits”
Ha, so true!
Thanks so much for the really astute comments and kind words Caroline, it sounds like you’ve learnt a lot of relationship wisdom from your experience.
You’re soooo good!! It really amazes me how you (and Matthew als well) always seem to cut through the bullsh*** of popular beliefs and concepts and are actually able to shed some light on the other half of the story bringing everything together so beautifully. It’s a real eye-opener!
Appreciate that so much Anita, thanks!
You guys are fantastic!
I don’t even know what else to say… I just wanted to let you know that.
So much wisdom. So refreshing.
And… Thank you! (From all women everywhere)
So happy to hear that Rozie. Thank you, it means a lot.
Thanks for the article. I thought it was great. :-) Later this evening I saw a religious (the woman was wearing hajib) couple get on the bus. I thought again about your article. I think keeping that sexual spark alive is important, but how do you do that when you’re courting and know you aren’t going to have sex? It’s fun at first, but over time can be frustrating with no outlet.
I’m only asking because I know many women on this list are virgins or celibate but still want to date and be attractive to a potential partner. Matt addressed the virgin thing somewhat a while back but no one has said how (or if?) to keep that spark alive in an extended courtship where you’ve both agreed to wait.
Thanks again. I so appreciate the care and thought you put into your posts.
I know your comment is really old on this page but wanted to comment. This is a really great question and I’d like to know what the brothers think about it. My answer would be to get very clear with your partner what is okay and what is not okay physically. If you have shared values then talking about those boundaries and keeping each other accountable. It’s not an easy journey by any measure but I think it’s very valuable. I think also knowing that this is a temporary agreed upon way of living full of grace and opportunity to grow closer spiritually and mentally which will pay off decades from today. If you have sexual chemistry from the start it will still be there for you later. ;) Peace
I am actually reading Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity” right now. So your article is really resonating with me right now. Great article, great message. Really enjoyed it. Thank you.
I am wonderful. And yes. You need some reassurance. …. however, men are simple…. women are even. simpler….. Simply, we dont need some spark of regret to become the ladies we become. …. I just want you to know: we act in the ways that you move us. Put evil into the world and you ge t demonic crazy —but you treat us sweet and we become your awesome
What is sandwich?
Actually,men like sex i agree..then they saying always for the future but not in action..later on,break up…
How to communicate with divorced man. No kid.
Quotidian. I love you, Stephen.
I am trying to purchase the package ‘Get Him Running Back to You’ using my HDFC Debit card. The transaction is not taking place. Please help me purchase the package.
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i don’t think so because man also is human…simple and simply still have in a woman even only little in the world but still have…yes i agree man they need sex first then love but woman need love then sex
Such awesome advice…as usual…;) <3 Hugs!
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