Men Are Simple, But Not THAT Simple!

Stephen Hussey

“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.

For example:

  • 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!”

  1. 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!

  2. 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!!

    1. “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.

      All best,

      Stephen

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. Steve,

    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.

    Warmly,
    Arianna

    1. 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,

      Stephen x

  5. “… 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!

    1. 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.

      Thanks!

      Steve

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