Men want sex, women want relationships - myth, say experts

Both men and women like the sex in their relationships a lot: sex expert.Photo / Thinkstock
Both men and women like the sex in their relationships a lot: sex expert.Photo / Thinkstock

It's a myth that men want sex and women want relationships, says a Sydney professor, as a long-simmering gender spat reaches Australia.

UK actor Stephen Fry caused a storm in 2010 when he said women have sex with men because it "is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship".

Although he has since described his statement as offensive, ignorant and arrogant, Australian sexual health expert Dr Juliet Richters is angry with sex theorists who, like Fry, "promote stories that are not supported by evidence and tell women how they should be and what they should like".

It is not true that men are focused only on sex and women only want relationships, she says.

In fact, there is evidence that as a relationship progresses, Australian men are more pleased with both.

Dr Richters, an associate professor at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, uses data collected over 10 years from more than 25,000 Australians to make her case.

She questions Fry's comment that if women liked sex they would go cruising for anonymous encounters like gay men.

Women do go out looking for sex, but they tend to do it in safer group environments like entertainment areas, backpacker hostels and residential colleges, she told a women's health conference in Sydney this week.

Fry completely ignores the fact that men make sex dangerous for women, she says.

Dr Richters says women rate the pleasure of sex highly, especially early in relationships. Men are less positive early on, but report improved satisfaction over time.

"Both men and women like the sex in their relationships a lot, but men are more likely to be extremely keen."

This could be because "the heavy coital focus of most people's sexual practice, especially in longer relationships, works in favour of men's pleasure".

Emotional satisfaction with a relationship was similar. Both men and women are positive, but more men than women say they are extremely satisfied.

"There is not much evidence for women being the only ones who are in it for the emotional relationship. And it's true that men are slower to commit," she says.


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