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Sexual Dysfunction, Free of Gender Politics

libidoSexual dysfunction strikes terror into the hearts of both sexes. We don’t want to lose our mojo, as our identity is often closely aligned with our sexuality, especially for men. Nor do we want our partners to lose their sexual appetites – something that nearly always is experienced as rejection, even when the underlying cause is unrelated to a partner’s desirability.  As research into human sexuality continues apace, we’re beginning to gain some understanding of our own sexual responses, though this science is essentially still in its infancy – there are many questions, but as of yet few answers. 

In addition, there is a battle being waged among researchers, with the evolutionary psychologists, who rely heavily on innate sex differences for their theories, on one side of the battlefield, and gender theorists, who rely heavily on cultural influence, on the other. The latter group posits that men and women are very similar in their sexuality, usually adopting a sex-positive stance (see Sex at Dawn) that implies promiscuity is the natural inclination of both men and women. Some researchers have noted that sociosexuality is highly variable within both sexes, half heritable and half cultural. In this view, the population of both sexes lies on a spectrum of promiscuity. And there are those whose work reflects elements of all of the above, such as Helen Fisher, who relies heavily on evolutionary psychology but also believes that both sexes seem programmed to couple with someone new every four years or so, in the interest of genetic diversity. 

Daniel Bergner, who penned There May Be a Pill For That. in yesterdays NYXs magazine, is in the Sex at Dawn camp. The article includes much more speculation than fact – it’s got a strong flavor of propaganda. Ha, something new and different for the New York Times. :P  Despite various errors and misinformation, the article is fascinating and does include some worthwhile topics for discussion. 

Who Doesn’t Have a Boner?

The clinical name for lack of lust is HSDD – Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Bergner cites its prevalence among women at 10-15%, and notes that women who “don’t quite meet” the criteria drive that number up to “around 30%.”

WebMD puts the male incidence of HSDD at 20-25%. According to sex researcher Irwin Goldstein, MD:

Many, many men — about one in five –have such low sexual desire they’d rather do almost anything else than have sex…almost 30% of women say they have more interest in sex than their partner has.

 According to the Daily Mail, a survey in the UK had similar findings:

But a recent survey for online pharmacy ukmedix.com found 62 per cent of men turn down sex more frequently than their female partner, with a third admitting they had lost their sex drive.

Another poll revealed one in four men is no longer having sexual intercourse at all – and the figure rises to 42 per cent for men over 55 – while a quarter said they had been affected by erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives.Studies show that when men are surveyed about erectile dysfunction, 10% say they’ve struggled with it in the past year, and 30% of men report difficulty with premature ejaculation during the same time period. Because virility is such a culturally significant part of male identity, researchers believe these numbers are underreported, and that men often delay or avoid seeking treatment when problems arise. 

The causal relationship between ED and PE with HSDD is not known, but it seems likely there is some correlation.

It should be noted that Bergner does not correlate HSDD with infidelity. The lack of lust may be present and problematic in couples deeply invested in their relationship. Indeed, one woman he interviewed felt like sexual prey at bedtime, even though she cherished her husband and saw him as tender. 

Potential Culprits

Bergner cites a factor that may explain a great deal of HSDD for both sexes:

For a sizable segment of the undesiring, the most common antidepressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be the culprit. Millions of American women are on S.S.R.I.’s, and many of them would have good use for a pill to revive the libido that has been chemically dulled as a side effect of the pill they take to buoy their mood.

Helen Fisher has been sounding the SSRI alarm for some time:

Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, for one, believes SSRIs are wreaking havoc on human courtship. SSRIs alleviate depression by upping the levels of serotonin in the brain and curbing the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Unfortunately, dopamine is also responsible for the feelings of elation and ecstasy that accompany falling in love. By suppressing dopamine, Fisher argues, drugs like Prozac block your ability to have these feelings, thus making it harder to fall in love and stay in love.

..Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who manage to find love while taking SSRIs, you still have some obstacles to overcome, says Fisher. You may lose the ability to orgasm, and this could cause long-term relationship issues. Orgasms trigger the release of the hormone oxytocin—one that has been linked with pair bonding.  

 Fisher has actually referred to the SSRI effect on women as a “chemical clitoridectomy.”

In addition to the treatment for depression, there’s depression itself. A common cause of low sex drive is psychological, in the form of stress, anxiety and depression.

Stress can cause a decrease in testosterone production, and an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin, which causes resistance to testosterone. There’s a clear link between stress and low libido. When a person is under severe stress they go into survival mode. Oxygen is diverted to the heart and lungs, and away from the sexual organs. Reproduction is the last thing the body wants to engage in.

Medical problems may contribute as well, suppressing testosterone levels. For example, half of men with Type II diabetes are testosterone deficient. 

Large studies done in America show that every decade there’s a decrease in testosterone levels by as much as ten per cent. 

Rising estrogen levels in the environment – caused by hormones from the contraceptive pill finding their way into the water supply and food chain – may have a counter-effect to testosterone. 

Research has also shown a link between exposure in the womb to gender bending chemicals such as bisphenol A and phthalates, (found in some food packaging and other plastics), and lowered testosterone levels.

Testosterone isn’t just important for men – it plays a starring role in the sex drive for both sexes. From Bergner’s article:

A number of …biochemical ingredients are critical to the most basic understanding of sexuality. But two of them — the hormone testosterone and the neurotransmitter serotonin — are especially important. Rising from the ovaries and from the adrenal glands that sit atop the kidneys, testosterone rides the bloodstream to the brain and, by means not fully known, stokes the production and release of dopamine.

…And then there’s serotonin, dopamine’s foil. It allows the advanced regions of the brain, the domains that lie high and forward, to exert what is termed executive function. Serotonin is a molecule of self-control…Roughly speaking, dopamine is impulse; serotonin is inhibition and organization. And in sexuality, as in other emotional realms, the two have to work in balance. If dopamine is far too dominant, craving can splinter into attentional chaos. If serotonin overwhelms, the rational can displace the randy.

In addition to the environmental question, scientists believe strongly that much of this hormonal activity is hardwired into brain chemistry, resulting in strong differences around sociosexuality, or the level of “unrestrictedness” of the sexuality of individuals. Discussing trials of medication, Bergner cites the importance of sociosexuality in diagnosing HSDD and treating it:

To help predict which women will most benefit from which drug, Tuiten has blood drawn from each subject and examines genetic markers related to brain chemistry. Tuiten also asks subjects questions about their comfort with sexual feelings and fantasies…He believes that the answers may provide clues about a given woman’s neurotransmitter systems, which he uses as part of his diagnostic method.

There’s one last potential culprit worth mentioning: the Soulmate Myth.

Esther Perel, a couples therapist and author of “Mating in Captivity,” emphasizes a separateness at the heart of longstanding passion. “Many couples confuse love with merging,” she writes. “This mix-up is a bad omen for sex. To sustain élan toward the other, there must be a synapse to cross. Eroticism requires distance.”

Bergner hopes that this merging will work out OK with the help of a libido drug:

Perhaps the fantasy that so many of us harbor, consciously or not, in the early days of our relationships, that we have found a soul mate who will offer us both security and passion, till death do us part, will soon be available with the aid of a pill.

I think this would be a disaster. Lust requires a strong sense of self, with identifiable wants and needs separate from that of your partner. Successful sex occurs when two people cross the distance between their own desire and the strong wish to satisfy their partner’s desire. The idea of an actual merging, of “two people becoming one” permanently rather than in that one moment, is a dangerous one, in my view. It creates a blurring of identity at best, codependence at worst, and neither of those leads to good sex. 

Discussion of sexuality in general and sexual dysfunction in particular is heavily loaded. Environmental factors, gender politics, the economy, and our stressed out, multitasking way of life may all be wreaking havoc on both our systems and the ensuing discussion. The odds are that at some point in your life you’ll confront a loss of libido in your relationship, whether your own or your partner’s. The worst thing you can do is avoid addressing it. Sexual dysfunction predicts relationship dissolution, not because the difficulty cannot be addressed in most cases, but because feelings of rejection and resentment take hold early on and build over time. 

Finally, Bergner suggests that “foreboding not only about sex itself but also about female empowerment may be expressed in a dread of women’s sexual anarchy.”

Gaining control of their reproduction in the ‘60s affected not just women’s sex lives but also everything from their social standing to economic empowerment. What might it mean for conventional structures if women could control, with a prescription, the most primal urge? So many things, personal and cultural, might need to be recalibrated and renegotiated, explicitly or without acknowledgment. The cumulative effect of all those negotiations could be hugely transformative, in ways either thrilling or threatening, depending on your point of view.

What Bergner fails to observe is that a quick fix for low libido wouldn’t apply to women alone. If a pill could control sex drive, and both sexes had the ability to choose just how far to indulge that primal urge, I believe what we’d see is a more pronounced magnification of what we have now. That is to say, a distribution of desires, values and preferences across the spectrum of human behavior.

  • Abbot

    “gender theorists, who rely heavily on cultural influence, on the other. The latter group posits that men and women are very similar in their sexuality, usually adopting a sex-positive stance (see Sex at Dawn) that implies promiscuity is the natural inclination of both men and women.”

    Is there a political agenda attached to such a theory? Does that so-called “sex positive” stance benefit women more or men more?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Is there a political agenda attached to such a theory? Does that so-called “sex positive” stance benefit women more or men more?

      Men may benefit by being on the receiving end of unfettered female sexual expression. Alternatively, some men adopt feminist views for any number of reasons, so they may see this as a good thing in general, in the service of equality.

  • Chant

    Mrs Esther Perel confuses love and compatibility with sex, which is such a prevalent notion for some reason.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Mrs Esther Perel confuses love and compatibility with sex, which is such a prevalent notion for some reason.

      How so? It seems to me she is saying the opposite – merging to the point of losing one’s own identity is bad for sex. Do you disagree?

  • Abbot

    “Despite various errors and misinformation, the article is fascinating and does include some worthwhile topics for discussion.”

    The main topic: less multipenis exposure/memory means less boredom from monopenis.

    Its being discussed from a “shame on men for shunning commitment to naturally promiscuous women” twist of “logic” right here –

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/05/23/nytimes_on_lybrido_women_get_bored_with_monogamy_faster_than_men.html?wpisrc=flyouts

    .

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Abbot

      Marcotte cites one of the weakest things in the NYXs article, IMO. A Chivers experiment which measured female arousal at the fantasy of sex with a handsome stranger vs. a handsome friend. I see two problems with the design of that study. One is that what women find arousing in fantasy does not predict behavior or even “real life” preferences. In fact, women are far less aware of genital arousal than men are, and the study detects blood flow the women cannot feel. This was also problematic in a previous Chivers study. If women don’t know they’re aroused, it can hardly predict behavior or even understanding of their own arousal triggers.

      Second, it’s well understood that women do not feel attracted to men in their friend zone. The lack of attraction to that male is already established. A handsome stranger holds the potential for attraction, which means he beats the “buddy” out every time.

      I’m equally puzzled re the study on novelty. Like male subjects, female subjects’ arousal dipped when they were shown the same one minute sex scene repeatedly, and it was maintained when new material was introduced. Seems like a big “duh.” Repetition of anything is going to be less stimulating than the introduction of something novel. It may be that the Coolidge Effect holds true for both sexes in viewing porn. That’s certainly the case for me.

  • Abbot

    “Men may benefit by being on the receiving end of unfettered female sexual expression. Alternatively, some men adopt feminist views for any number of reasons, so they may see this as a good thing in general, in the service of equality.”

    Female sexual expression? Do men have sexual expression or do they just get plain ol laid?

    “Hey Grant, did you get laid last night?”
    “No Derrick, I was merely expressing sexually”

    There have always been enough unfettered females to go around. Nobody would ever claim to be “sex negative” so what is the point of crafting the term “sex positive?”

  • Chant

    Susan Walsh,

    My kind madame, i have made an error regarding the name. It was someone named Berger who’s thought i disagreed with.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Chant

      Thanks for clarifying, that makes more sense.

  • JP

    SSRIs should then be part of the treatment for being lovestruck.

    “Being lovestruck only occurs when a person has deeply fallen in love, not when a huge crush emerges. However it may develop into pure, real romantic love. ‘For love-struck victims, the world appears altered.

    Replacing the flatness of ordinary experience is a fullness’.[8]
    According to Tallis, some of the symptom clusters shared with being lovestruck include:
    mania or hypomania – abnormally elevated mood, inflated self esteem, extravagant gift giving
    depression – tearfulness
    Insomnia – loss of concentration and difficulty sleeping
    anorexia – lack of appetite
    stress – high blood pressure, pain in chest and heart, acute insomnia; sometimes brought on by a “crush”
    obsessive-compulsive disorder – preoccupation and hoarding valueless but superstitiously resonant items
    psychologically created physical symptoms, such as upset stomach, change in appetite, insomnia, dizziness, and confusion.

    More substantively, the estimated serotonin levels of people falling in love were observed to drop to levels found in patients with OCD.[9] Brain scan investigations of individuals who professed to be “truly, madly, deeply” in love showed activity in several structures in common with in the neuroanatomy of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for example the anterior cingulate cortex and caudate nucleus.[10]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovestruck

  • J

    WebMD puts the male incidence of HSDD at 20-25%. According to sex researcher Irwin Goldstein, MD:
    Many, many men — about one in five –have such low sexual desire they’d rather do almost anything else than have sex…almost 30% of women say they have more interest in sex than their partner has.

    This and the Daily Mail article you quote seem to fly in the face of the common claim that woman are more likely to deny sex or be unmotivated to satisfy a spouse or be satisfied by a spouse.

    Lust requires a strong sense of self, with identifiable wants and needs separate from that of your partner.

    Nice observation. Makes you wonder just how many men would really be happy with a truly submissive partner who had no will or desire of her own.

    The idea of an actual merging, of “two people becoming one” permanently rather than in that one moment, is a dangerous one, in my view. It creates a blurring of identity at best, codependence at worst, and neither of those leads to good sex.

    It needs to be a dance. Coming together and drawing apart, withholding and surrendering, getting lost in the other and then re-establishing one’s boundaries. If you don’t have a “me,” you have nothing to give another.

    @Chant

    Mrs Esther Perel confuses love and compatibility with sex, which is such a prevalent notion for some reason.

    No, she is saying nearly the exact opposite. Read my comment above; it’s pretty close to what she is saying.

    In editing my post, it seems to me that the male fantasy of the perfectly submissive woman who anticipates/satisfies his every need and the female Harlequin romance fantasy of the perfect soulmate are mirror images of the same drive–to find someone to meld with. The problem is “What happens then?” Do you just lay in each arms till you drop dead from oceanic bliss or physical hunger? It seems to me that any real relationship requires you to be with someone who is more than just an appendage of one’s self.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @J

      This and the Daily Mail article you quote seem to fly in the face of the common claim that woman are more likely to deny sex or be unmotivated to satisfy a spouse or be satisfied by a spouse.

      Well, the old tropes of the insatiable male and the female begging off with a headache are culturally powerful. I suspect they took hold in a time when males were the sole sexual aggressors and it was “unbecoming” for a woman to have a strong sex drive.

      Makes you wonder just how many men would really be happy with a truly submissive partner who had no will or desire of her own.

      That’s an interesting point – do men want sexual compliance or enthusiasm? Some of the most lust-deadened women in the article were still having sex with their husbands – they did so in spite of their lack of interest. They didn’t feel right refusing. What they want fixed, and I assume that what their husbands want fixed – is their lack of desire. If male virility is central to male identity, then surely being desired is a far stronger indication of virility than taking whatever sexual crumbs are on offer.

      It needs to be a dance. Coming together and drawing apart, withholding and surrendering, getting lost in the other and then re-establishing one’s boundaries. If you don’t have a “me,” you have nothing to give another.

      Exactly. And for most people, the sexiness of “the other” is increased by our innate differences rather than our similarities.

  • J

    Chant: My kind madame, i have made an error regarding the name. It was someone named Berger who’s thought i disagreed with.

    Susan: Thanks for clarifying, that makes more sense.

    J: I’m actually more confused. There’s no Berger. There’s a Bergman mentioned at the ene of the original post and and a Daniel Bergner whose article was in yesterday’s NYX’s magazine. Did spellcheck turn Bergner into Bergman? And what specifically does Chant disagree with?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @J

      Oops, the Bergman typo was mine, thanks for calling it to my attention. I assume that Chant simply misspelled the name. I’ll let her address your question about her comment.

  • BuenaVista

    This same Bergner, and someone named Meana, suggests that another dysfunction is the chasm between what women (and some of their) men are willing to state is the nature of their desire, and what is their actual desire. It also references efforts to suppress such discussion and research. I suspect we’ll see evidence momentarily, here, of those efforts.

    “If I truly believed in women’s equality with men,” said one, “then I’d have to have sex and imagine sex that reflected that — no domination, no rape fantasies. One result was that I married a nice liberal man who shared my convictions on how sex should be. Seven years later we divorced….

    “There were lots of messages from high-powered women thanking me for allowing a discussion of elements of sexuality that don’t fall neatly into an ideological box,” Meana says in the book. “One woman, in the art world in New York, told me, ‘I could not say what you said without feeling shamed, as though my eroticism made me a willing participant in a patriarchal system.”

    I had an email discussion about this (alpha females desirous of being dominated sexually) with a former girlfriend (a gyn/onc surgeon) this morning, and she wrote:

    “OMG this is spot on. In fact, you need to write a book for successful women on this subject. It would be a best seller for sure. And fuck PC! …You made me really laugh out loud in the hallway right outside of the OR when I read your email.”

    In other news I have never met a low-libido woman, but I’m probably avoiding them at all costs without thinking. Kind of like the way women who want to have a relationship avoid men who prefer video games to cunninglingus. Also, as an experiment I put in my online profile a note that women seeking a PC submissive man should scroll on, and I had to turn off the profile because activity levels skyrocketed.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/what_women_want_qRO8pvoSKeFcqrPSftoi6N?utm_campaign=OutbrainA&utm_source=OutbrainArticlepages&obref=obinsource

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @BV

      The NY Post article is most interesting – an excellent example of how gender politics is obscuring real and valuable information. I also thought this was fascinating – it could have come straight from MMSL:

      The research into human relationships is fairly new, but one study of long-term couples showed that, for women, lust dissipated faster than it did for men, and that when the men tried to be more domestic and considerate, it only turned the women off further.

      There is now a pretty large body of research showing that women do not get turned on by seeing men in domestic roles, which is correlated to both sexes preferring that the male earn more than the female.

  • Man

    It may be that the Coolidge Effect holds true for both sexes in viewing porn. That’s certainly the case for me.

    Susan, you article touches on deep issues which to my mind go well beyond what’s being discussed in it, including the very mystery of love. I just wonder if you acknowledge the Coolidge Effect in LTR as well: What If She Were Always in the Mood?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Man

      Re the Coolidge Effect, it’s a biological fact that novelty causes a dopamine surge, and dopamine is the pleasure reward center. The conclusion seems pretty obvious. The task in a monogamous LTR, which, after all, is the bedrock of civilization and the best way to raise children, is to have realistic expectations about the duration of lust or limerence in a relationship, and to find gratifying sexual experiences in pair bonding or attachment. Those experiences will by definition be less novel. How well that meets a person’s needs will depend on his or her genetic predisposition to dopamine as well as environmental factors.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ J,

    Makes you wonder just how many men would really be happy with a truly submissive partner who had no will or desire of her own.

    Very few. But how many even have that fantasy? I think we’re talking about a small number of socially dysfunctional outliers.

    I wouldn’t call that “true submission” anyway. Submission is an exchange that always entails a demand. Even our dog, who is very submissive to me and treats me as her god, has a will and desires of her own and makes her demands of me: whine, whine, pet me; whine, whine, throw me the bone; whine, whine, let me out!

  • J

    But how many even have that fantasy? I think we’re talking about a small number of socially dysfunctional outliers.

    I haven’t met many IRL, just men on the net who claim to want that when probably they’d be happy with some affection and a home cooked meal.

    I wouldn’t call that “true submission” anyway. Submission is an exchange that always entails a demand.

    That’s very astute. “Submissive” women do a lot of topping from the bottom, IMNSHO. But complete and absolute submission, which I doubt is even possible, requires a giving up of all wants and needs. No one would want to be with someone like that. That’s a paperweight, not a person.

    Even our dog, who is very submissive to me and treats me as her god, has a will and desires of her own and makes her demands of me: whine, whine, pet me; whine, whine, throw me the bone; whine, whine, let me out!

    We are here to serve our dogs. My dog writes an evo-psych blog for other dogs in which she alleges that humans developed opposable thumbs to facilitate scratching behing canine ears. She has a very cynocentric view of the world.

  • Man

    I haven’t met many IRL, just men on the net who claim to want that when probably they’d be happy with some affection and a home cooked meal.

    What men really want in a nutshell? Very simple and attainable by most women, to my mind. :D

  • J

    @Man

    Yeah, it’s really not so hard to please most men. Even I can do it!

  • Lokland

    @J

    “But complete and absolute submission, which I doubt is even possible, requires a giving up of all wants and needs. No one would want to be with someone like that. That’s a paperweight, not a person.”

    You are confusing submissive and submission.
    I’ve never met a man irl who wants a woman that gives absolute submission. OTOH, I’ve never met a man who does not want a wife who is not submissive (in at least some areas) of their life. (Most guys tend to want women who are submissive in the same areas however.)

    ————-

    @Susan

    Supposedly the new pill is designed to activate arousal upstairs meaning it is unlikely to have an effect on men (from the little bit I have read so i might be completely wrong).

    Similar to viagra increasing blood flow in both men and women but women still were dysfunctional afterwards.

    “Men may benefit by being on the receiving end of unfettered female sexual expression.”

    Some men…

    “half of men with Type II diabetes are testosterone deficient. ”

    Personal vendetta but my guess it is partially the fat. T is fat soluble (like most hormones) and what MAY be occurring is that the more fat a man/woman has the more T that will be sequestered in said fat.

    T is a signal hormone that attaches to receptors and activates biochemical pathways. Less T to receptor equals less activation = drop in sex drive.

    Only a possibility of course.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Supposedly the new pill is designed to activate arousal upstairs meaning it is unlikely to have an effect on men (from the little bit I have read so i might be completely wrong).

      Similar to viagra increasing blood flow in both men and women but women still were dysfunctional afterwards.

      Yes, the mechanisms are different, so both the chemical change and the delivery system must be different. However, this is more a matter of tweaking or fine tuning. Once they figure out the neural pathways to arousal there is likely to be treatment for both sexes. I’ve read that Viagra does not address arousal, it only increases blood flow to the penis and enables an erection. Because increased blood flow to the vagina is not necessary for sex, and because women often don’t even detect increased blood flow, and because it doesn’t address arousal for them either, it’s of no use to women.

  • Lokland

    “If male virility is central to male identity, then surely being desired is a far stronger indication of virility than taking whatever sexual crumbs are on offer.”

    Yes and no.
    When one hasn’t had sex in a long time crumbs will work. OTOH, being desired becomes more important once the basic needs are met.

  • earl

    “The idea of an actual merging, of “two people becoming one” permanently rather than in that one moment, is a dangerous one, in my view.”

    Fine…but you better take it up with God. He’s the one who designed it that way.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Fine…but you better take it up with God. He’s the one who designed it that way.

      In my understanding, God designed two people to join together and become one family, not one person. Did Jesus ever tell wives to “be your husband” and husbands to “be your wife?” I don’t recall him discussing the Soulmate experience.

  • JhaneSez

    In other news I have never met a low-libido woman, but I’m probably avoiding them at all costs without thinking. Kind of like the way women who want to have a relationship avoid men who prefer video games to cunninglingus.

    This is interesting…

    I have often wondered why when women aren’t interested in sex or have a low libido a medical reason is not ruled out… but as of late there has been a great deal of discussion of low testosterone.

    I have read too many discussions that surmise that if a woman isn’t interested in sex she is just being a selfish b*tch with her hamster running amuck.

    I don’t think that its just a question of tapping into female fantasy, or women not being in touch with their primitive desires because she wants to be PC…

    I think based upon observation and some anecdotal evidence that quite a few of these women have either emotional or physiological barriers that hinder their desire.~JS

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      I think based upon observation and some anecdotal evidence that quite a few of these women have either emotional or physiological barriers that hinder their desire.~JS

      That is clearly the case. One article mentioned that women who have used a topical testosterone gel report an increase in sex drive. We know that testosterone plays a vital role in female sexuality and desire – from prenatal exposure to androgens, to the correlation of T levels with promiscuity.

  • Lokland

    @Jhane

    “I have often wondered why when women aren’t interested in sex or have a low libido a medical reason is not ruled out… but as of late there has been a great deal of discussion of low testosterone.”

    Depends on your POV.

    If the medical issue is causing the dysfunction and the medical issue either was preventable or is able to be cured and the man is just not putting in the work I would say he is a lazy prick who needs to be dumped on his ass outside.

  • JP

    @Susan:

    God designed two people to join together and become one family, not one person. Did Jesus ever tell wives to “be your husband” and husbands to “be your wife?”

    I don’t recall him discussing the Soulmate experience.

    You’ve never read the Gospel of Thomas, then.

    Gospel of Thomas, 22.

    “22) Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to His disciples,
    “These infants being suckled are like those who enter the
    Kingdom.”

    They said to Him, “Shall we then, as children, enter the
    Kingdom?”

    Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you
    make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside,
    and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the
    female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the
    female female; and when you fashion eyes in the place of an eye,
    and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and
    a likeness in place of a likeness; then will you enter [the
    Kingdom].”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @JP

      I have not read Thomas, though my curiosity was piqued by the Da Vinci Code. :)

      That quote by Jesus sounds like a radfem gender bending mission statement!

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com Bastiat Blogger

    Susan, re: domesticated men. Believe it or not, several feminist authors (“Superior Wife Syndrome” author springs to mind) have claimed that women *would* be turned on more if their men were more visible in doing helpmeet domestic chores. There apparently is some chick-porn calendar out there that shows relatively good-looking guys performing an array of domestic tasks.

    That Post article depicts a train wreck. In that sad scenario, the man makes his commitment during a time when relationship sexual quality is high, perhaps extrapolating from this phase to believe that his future will resemble his current lifestyle. He then finds that his partner’s sex drive declines over time, while his remains more or less stable. The emerging gulf or “male sexual deficit” puts him in a bad negotiating position, one in which sex may be awarded as a prize for good behavior rather than as a byproduct of his own primal attractiveness to his mate.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @BB

      There apparently is some chick-porn calendar out there that shows relatively good-looking guys performing an array of domestic tasks.

      I’m repulsed just thinking about it. What’s next, men in shower caps? FTR, my husband pitches in when we entertain – he’ll set the table, and usually he’ll do the kitchen floor when I finish cooking and head upstairs to shower. I appreciate his help, as I’ve often put in several hours of work by that point. However, I cannot imagine seeing him performing those tasks would make me want to jump his bones.

      The emerging gulf or “male sexual deficit” puts him in a bad negotiating position, one in which sex may be awarded as a prize for good behavior rather than as a byproduct of his own primal attractiveness to his mate.

      This appears to be a great fear of men, and understandably so. The corollary for women is the fear of loss of emotional intimacy or tenderness, which declines in males over time during monogamous relationships. When these two things happen simultaneously – the woman distancing herself sexually and the male distancing himself emotionally – all life goes out of the relationship. Splitsville seems all but inevitable at that point. Clearly the challenge, and the necessity, is to address these issues as they arise, even if one simply states that the current scenario is unacceptable. That’s what my husband did, and I can tell you, it got him a negotiating advantage that has lasted 20 years or so.

  • JhaneSez

    If the medical issue is causing the dysfunction and the medical issue either was preventable or is able to be cured and the man is just not putting in the work I would say he is a lazy prick who needs to be dumped on his ass outside.

    @Lokland…

    I was referring to a lack of female desire… for men there is a checklist of things to look for to find the source of a lack of desire… these things aren’t explored or even checked for in a lot of cases with women.

    I agree that both men and women need to be physically healthy first, and that they both should do whatever is necessary to correct the issues that are known and preventable, especially if they are medical or related to excessive weight.

    I am talking about physically healthy women who don’t want sex, and don’t know why. I have seen a couple of women go through this and they eventually resigned themselves to just give their husbands and partners sex because they felt they owed it to them not because they felt any desire.

    And I think that is incredibly sad… because they are missing out~JS

  • Man

    Those experiences will by definition be less novel. How well that meets a person’s needs will depend on his or her genetic predisposition to dopamine as well as environmental factors.

    Agreed. I think you’ve covered this here:
    Individual Traits Trump Sex Differences in Determining Relationship Success
    Some Men Just Can’t Keep Their Monogamy Genes On

  • Anacaona

    IMO is probably more of a ‘first world problem’ than anything. In the past sex was probably one of the few dopamine induced activities that the average person could engage. No TV, no luxuries, not abundant of food, no shopping malls… Nowadays you can get a fix instantly with video games, porn, romance novels, shopping, drinking, hobbies…hence sex has a lot more competition. I think the body only has so much pleasure to spare that after an strenuous day of constant pleasure sex is not as enticing as it used to be, YMMV.

  • Fish

    I think its interesting that what I would find as the most common cause of lowered libido was not mentioned: quality of relationship.

    While I have never been married, I have dated a lot. I have found that if the relationship has issues, I become less desiring of sex. Even with partners who were “good in bed” my desire lessened. This is not to say that I don’t like meaningless sex outside a relationship (I mean that in the sense of one night stand, not cheating).

    I did have a relationship with a married woman (I was single at the time) who had no desire whatsoever for her husband but was a total minx with me. Aside from any talent gulf (which isnt the point here), we have an amazing relationship outside the bedroom.

    While I do think there are medical/hormonal/psychological causes, I think these are over-stated. Along those lines, I think anti-depressants are over-prescribed because they are an “easy” fix. I think too many people “settle”, lose passion and desire for sex goes with it.

    As usual, YMMV

  • BuenaVista

    @BB.

    I gather, from the odd comment that you have made, that I date older women than do you. I will say, though, that a man better have his Wheaties and his vitamins before saying to any high-achieving woman of a certain age that he’s not a sensitive new age guy in BarryWhiteVille. They really loathe that which they have been led to create. *Loathe* it. But they say no one of either sex has the courage to tell the truth of their desires, just as the Post story outlines. I really wonder if women suffer from low libido or if they are just bored out of their fucking minds.

    The woman I’m having dinner with tonight is an SVP for a fancy national retailer (note: these women, mostly because they work with other women, are the toughest I’ve ever met in any profession, and that includes the IC, the armed forces, investment banking and corporate law) emailed her confirmation: “I was wondering when I would hear from you. I want you to put me in my place.” You can’t make this stuff up. She wants me to “teach” her. Publicly she’s a conventional liberal, women’s rights rah rah sort. When she lapses into shit-tests and arbitrary command mode (like, telling me how to finish whatever it is I’m cooking for her), I look at her and say, “I’m not your ex-husband. Knock it off.” She glows! She’s confirmed that her ex- was professionally an inferior, submissive at home, but checking all the respectability boxes. I’d still be married if I’d known some of this stuff a few years ago. In general I would say that women self-sabotage by demanding things they don’t want, and men self-sabotage by giving it to them. All the red pill cliches seem to have some pretty serious purchase. I sent son#1 Fight Club and Jack Donovan this week. He needs them in his rucksack.

  • BuenaVista

    @Fish.

    There was also the academic study of European men who were prescribed ED meds. Turns out that there was no ED in half the cases, if the object of the gent’s affection was better looking.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Turns out that there was no ED in half the cases, if the object of the gent’s affection was better looking.

      I’ve already deleted one comment from a troll who exhorts women to drop the tonnage, which is the real issue with low libido in men. I daresay this is not uncommon on our side of the aisle as well. Just because women value traits other than looks, it doesn’t mean we don’t care. We’re generally quite invested in the appearance of the men we select.

      Among my friends who avoid sex, they’re thin women with husbands who have really let themselves go. Workaholics who stop by the Dunkin’ Donuts box too often in the office. I recall one commenter here being incensed when I suggested that Ronald Perelman was gross (as husband to Ellen Barkin), being fat and bald. His position was that a wife should be sucking her bald, fat husband’s dick, no questions asked. She may do it, but if you want her to like it, it behooves you to be desirable.

  • Lokland

    “(like, telling me how to finish whatever it is I’m cooking for her), ”

    This is the single most annoying thing a woman can do to me. Nothing sets me off quicker than a play-by-play on how to do simple (or even complex) tasks, especially those where my results are superior to her own.

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com Bastiat Blogger

    Susan, you are 100% right. I personally am terrified of the death of mystery, excitement, and romance within a relationship. This may sound juvenile, but I’d probably rather have a superficial, hypersexualized mutual appreciation society 2 days per week than a more emotionally therapeutic-but-increasingly-asexual “best friends and helpmates” situation 7 days per week.

    Dopamine rate-coding is highly linked to anticipation; the journey really can be more pleasurable than the destination. By seeing someone under artificial best-case conditions, I become conditioned to associate that person with fun, feeling good about myself, etc. Then we are separated for a few days and my anticipation grows, which is delicious.

    In terms of conditioning and “girl game” skills, the current GF candidate has started making one night per week a domestic “Lingerie & Cooking” evening; the tradition started when I went over and found that she’s in La Perla and grilling ribeyes. I have tried to contribute with a few ideas—Cire Trudon makes these candles that smell like tobacco and leather that really can add to the effect.

    Another night per week is a “dress up” evening where we go out for a bit of culture and/or alcoholism or whatever. I’m in charge of that one.

    I think that this kind of structure is possible if both partners come into the relationship with pre-existing, busy job and activity schedules that A) cannot really be co-mingled; B) cannot be avoided; and C) are demanding enough that the relationship is seen as a safe harbor or escape. The weaknesses of the “quality, not quantity” format is clearly child-raising—it sucks for that—and economic inefficiencies from having two separate households to be maintained (but, on the other hand, you do gain in redundancy and pressure-relief, and perhaps there is less need to materially “compete” as a couple against other couples).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      This may sound juvenile, but I’d probably rather have a superficial, hypersexualized mutual appreciation society 2 days per week than a more emotionally therapeutic-but-increasingly-asexual “best friends and helpmates” situation 7 days per week.

      I don’t think that’s juvenile at all. I think most men would prefer that. In fact, I would prefer that. I do not want therapy from my husband – that’s why I have lunch with my BFF every Tuesday. We are very close, but I have never called him my best friend. I don’t know why people stay in asexual marriages, especially once the kids are grown. I read that men are 50% more likely to end a relationship due to unsatisfactory sex, so I’m surprised that it’s women who file most divorces. Then again, Megaman has provided us with stats showing that high percentage of married men are satsified or very satisfied with their sex lives.

      It’s interesting that so many of these issues break down along 80/20 lines. What I don’t know is whether these are varying groups of 20%, or whether it’s the same folks who turn up again and again, e.g. The woman bored with monogamy is the woman with high N who is the woman with unrestricted sociosexuality.

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com Bastiat Blogger

    BV, great insights and book selections for your boy! He’s learning things the old-school way and sounds like a real adventurer.

  • BuenaVista

    “I have seen a couple of women go through this and they eventually resigned themselves to just give their husbands and partners sex because they felt they owed it to them not because they felt any desire.”

    I think this is widespread with women who are committed to saving their families, and it becomes quite distressing to witness. Eliot Spitzer’s wife acknowledged to a reporter that she had to take responsibility for not giving Eliot-baby more of what he wanted — when what Eliot was to have random unprotected anal sex with illiterate hookers while still in his stocking feet.

    And another friend told me that when she put herself on a ‘sex with husband’ schedule in an effort to save her marriage (guess what, he liked to have unprotected anal sex with an illiterate camp follower …), and nary a day passed without a quick dustup, it became physically painful because she couldn’t get wet and he was too stupid to notice. She thought that she had lost the ability to become aroused. (I can assert confidently that was not the case.) Some things should not be internalized. No different than my making a science of housework, instead of just hiring another maid and taking the ex- to the private lingerie dressing room at Bergdorf’s. So much unnecessary sadness.

  • Hope

    Fish, I completely agree with the quality of relationship point you brought up. Full disclosure, my husband is on streamline, an SSRI, and our relationship and love life are great, and had remained so even with our young baby who is nearing nine months. We are still passionate about each other. I mean, I know I am about him, and by the way he expresses desire for me, I’m guessing I don’t have to worry.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ J,

    We are here to serve our dogs. My dog writes an evo-psych blog for other dogs in which she alleges that humans developed opposable thumbs to facilitate scratching behing canine ears.

    My ‘pet’ hypothesis is that the ability to tame animals, especially dogs, improved the survival of those individuals with behavior that the ‘must love dogs’ gene became widespread throughout the population. So we evolved to serve our dogs.

    Talk about topping from the bottom.

  • BuenaVista

    Lokland #41:

    I think it’s habit for most women who occupy positions of authority; I don’t think they have any idea what they’re doing until you say, “Why are you doing that?” And it’s so illogical, because it might happen 20 seconds after they say, “I just love watching you with your knives.” Guard rail to guard rail.

    Of course, I spent two decades listening carefully, and thinking that the only respectful response to arbitrary ‘management’ was to equivocate and ponder the errors of my ways.

  • Hope

    Oops, that should be sertraline not streamline. Phone auto correct being zealous.

  • mr. wavevector

    That’s an interesting point – do men want sexual compliance or enthusiasm?

    They want enthusiasm but will settle for compliance. Compliance still meets the biological reproductive imperative. “Doesn’t matter: had sex” comes to mind.

    Too much female enthusiasm can also be a problem for both women and men who expect the man to initiate. When the woman has a higher libido it can be threatening to the gender identity of both parties.

  • J

    That quote by Jesus sounds like a radfem gender bending mission statement.

    Thomas was one of the Gnostic gospels; they tend to be mystical and not literal. Theyalso tend to focus on the concept of Oneness

    In the early years of Christianity, there were probably about 80 gospels floating around. The four that we have in the NT are the ones approved by the Church in the early 400s. The most radical of the others were suppresed and destroyed. As a result of this multiplicity of versions, I personally find it difficult to ascertain just what Jesus’ opinions on a variety of topics were. I find it hard to believe that a fundamentalist interpretation of four of the 80 or so original gospels gives us the full story.

  • Hope

    Anacaona, actually the other dopamine sources are good, so long as they’re not sexual. Many relationship experts agree that people can’t distinguish where they’re getting their excitement from, so they attribute it to the loved one. When my husband gets into a new video game, he has more libido even.

    It’s also said that exciting things make for good dates.

    http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/03/what-simple-thing-kills-many-relationships/

  • J

    Well, the old tropes of the insatiable male and the female begging off with a headache are culturally powerful. I suspect they took hold in a time when males were the sole sexual aggressors and it was “unbecoming” for a woman to have a strong sex drive.

    Indeed. BTW, everyone from Chaucer to the Talmud says women have the higher sex drive.

    That’s an interesting point – do men want sexual compliance or enthusiasm?

    I think most want enthusiasm but will settle for cooperative.

    Some of the most lust-deadened women in the article were still having sex with their husbands – they did so in spite of their lack of interest. They didn’t feel right refusing. What they want fixed, and I assume that what their husbands want fixed – is their lack of desire.

    I’m not surprised. I had a big, thank God temporary, dip in libido with menopause. It sent me running to doctor to get it fixed. (It turned out there was nothing to do but wait for my body to adjust.)

    If male virility is central to male identity, then surely being desired is a far stronger indication of virility than taking whatever sexual crumbs are on offer.

    Yeah, look at Marellus’ story about the guy who would have rather gone gay than visit a hooker.

  • BuenaVista

    Ellen Barkin’s extremely hot. Uh, what were you saying?

    You remind me of one of the first private conversations I had with my ex-, after she had remarried to her more manageable beta. This was about three months after they had gotten married. She is quite slender; we were both athletes and sorta are today, and maintain our college weights. At one point she just exclaimed, in a total non-sequitor, “We’re all on a diet. Bill’s gained 20 pounds!” I admit, as clueless as I was, I just laughed out loud. Self-aware much? “Can’t help you with that, baby. Can’t help with that.” Thin people like thin people. We beat on, boats against the current, fighting our way through open doors with both fists.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @BV

      We beat on, boats against the current, fighting our way through open doors with both fists.

      Sacrilege. A crime against one of the most beautiful sentences ever written.

      The rest of your comment was enjoyable, though.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ Susan,

    This appears to be a great fear of men, and understandably so. The corollary for women is the fear of loss of emotional intimacy or tenderness, which declines in males over time during monogamous relationships. When these two things happen simultaneously – the woman distancing herself sexually and the male distancing himself emotionally – all life goes out of the relationship.

    I think our fantasy of the permanence of marriage – “until death do us part” – contributes greatly to this problem. Marriage is seen as a goal that once you surmount it you’re set for life. In fact marriage is a dynamic and often fragile thing that has to be continuously nurtured and tended to.

    I’ve learned that a husband in a good marriage continues to court his wife. He creates opportunities for novelty and excitement, for unexpected intimacy, for demonstrations of both confident masculine leadership and emotional responsiveness. But it’s so easy to forget about all that in the grind of daily life.

    Those experiences will by definition be less novel. How well that meets a person’s needs will depend on his or her genetic predisposition to dopamine as well as environmental factors.

    That brings up another point – don’t marry a dopamine junky unless you are one too and can devote your life to the pursuit of novelty. If you want to raise kids, better to do it with someone who likes a routine.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      That brings up another point – don’t marry a dopamine junky unless you are one too and can devote your life to the pursuit of novelty. If you want to raise kids, better to do it with someone who likes a routine.

      Amen to that. Helen Fisher has an interesting comment on Explorers – her name for the dopamine junkies. Because they’re not well suited to sticking it out, she wonders what their reproductive strategy could possibly be. She suspects it’s a serial monogamy strategy. Dopamine junkies mate with multiple partners, so their offspring are more genetically diverse than most.

  • Hope

    Susan, my husband and I call each other best friend and soulmate. I think it has had the opposite effect as deadening our sex lives. The closer we feel to each other, the more we want each other. We have described this while cuddling. Maybe it is because we’re weird INFJs?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Hope

      Susan, my husband and I call each other best friend and soulmate. I think it has had the opposite effect as deadening our sex lives. The closer we feel to each other, the more we want each other. We have described this while cuddling. Maybe it is because we’re weird INFJs?

      I didn’t mean to suggest everyone should “be like me.” That’s a sentiment I see frequently on blogs – people lecturing others on how to have a good marriage for example. Thinking about you, me, J and Ana, four regulars here with great marriages, I suspect we all have different dynamics. I think you’re right – it’s about the match, especially in terms of personality. Because hubby and I are ENFJ/INTJ, there’s an “opposites attract” element to the dynamic – our differences make it impossible to “merge,” even if we wished to.

  • J

    @Wave My ‘pet’ hypothesis is that the ability to tame animals, especially dogs, improved the survival of those individuals with behavior that the ‘must love dogs’ gene became widespread throughout the population. So we evolved to serve our dogs.

    Oh, absolutely. Hunting, herding, guarding, even fighting in wars….dogs are invaluable. Was there any people who didn’t domesticate dogs?

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com Bastiat Blogger

    Hope, there have been studies done wherein men would engage in a high-risk, adrenal-dump activity like walking across a sketchy and high suspension foot-bridge and then rate the attractiveness of a woman they met immediately post-activity. This was compared to attractiveness ratings given to the woman under safe conditions.

    The men who were first exposed to a dangerous activity gave far higher attractiveness ratings to the same woman. The theory is that we may undergo a generalized physiological arousal and then attribute some of the more pleasurable effects to the person that we meet during or after the event. Clearly a date can be structured to exploit this quirk in our wiring—rollercoasters, surfing lessons, motorcycle ride, etc.

    I have a pretty high sex drive and tendencies toward grandiosity, entitlement, and smugness under normal conditions; if you add excitement like that to the mix I really feel myself going over the top.

  • Fish

    Desire for sex and ability to perform are not the same thing. In both situations where I had a lessened desire for sex, both women were quite attractive. I am a fit male, I lift weights so no problems with testasterone. The ability to perform was there, I just lacked the desire due to our relationship problems.

    I actually have a rather high sex drive, but i prefer not to engage in random sex and I am selective about partners. However, there are things that can lessen ability for perform for otherwise healthy men (over consumption of alchohol or porn will do it)

    Hotter women is not always the answer. I can understand it in a few cases, but I think the point that both men and women can let themselves go is valid. Healthy people generally want to have sex more and are better able to enjoy it. Complaining that your SO put on 20lbs when you did too is deflection. You want a hotter mate, hit the gym yourself and then you have a valid point. I don’t see too many couples where one person is incredibly more fit than the other (and ironically enough, when I do, it is usually the woman).

  • JP

    @Susan:

    ” I don’t know why people stay in asexual marriages, especially once the kids are grown.”

    I suspect that there is severe psychological and social trauma associated with such divorces, depending on the nature of the couple.

  • J

    However, I cannot imagine seeing him performing those tasks would make me want to jump his bones.

    I don’t think the sight of a man doing housework is arousing as much as having some help around the house simply leaves you less tired and more available for sex. OTOH, sometimes tackling a project or cooking a meal together is just fun–and having fun together can contribute to arousal. And a man’s being considerate enough to take some of the load off his wife will also increase good feelings and indirectly arousal.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      OTOH, sometimes tackling a project or cooking a meal together is just fun–and having fun together can contribute to arousal. And a man’s being considerate enough to take some of the load off his wife will also increase good feelings and indirectly arousal.

      Good point. This weekend, the weather was too lousy for Mr. HUS to grill, so we wound up making an Indian meal together indoors. It was really fun – a great “date.” I think it’s important for spouses to have fun together. Obviously, YMMV in terms of what is considered fun, but in general, I’d say that doing stuff together keeps sex going.

  • mr. wavevector

    Well, the old tropes of the insatiable male and the female begging off with a headache are culturally powerful. I suspect they took hold in a time when males were the sole sexual aggressors and it was “unbecoming” for a woman to have a strong sex drive.

    Indeed. BTW, everyone from Chaucer to the Talmud says women have the higher sex drive.

    I suspect it is true that men have higher libidos, on average, but it is culturally exaggerated. Look at the article – the good doctors are giving women testosterone to pump up their libido. Who has more testosterone to begin with?

    Although I can say from pleasant experience that some middle age women get pretty horny.

  • J

    I suspect that there is severe psychological and social trauma associated with such divorces, depending on the nature of the couple.

    Sometimes, especially in old couples, both have lost interest in sex but still enjoy the companionship of marriage. I’m sure the last decade of my parents’ marriage was sexless, but they were very devoted to each other in the end.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ Fish,

    The ability to perform was there, I just lacked the desire due to our relationship problems.

    I experienced the same thing once. Emotional tension killed my desire for sex with the girlfriend, not my libido in general.

    I remember how distressing that was for her. After 2 or 3 nights with no sex, she started crying and saying “you don’t want me any more”. (A couple of nights with no sex doesn’t sound like much now but I had never let her go unfucked before). That was when I realized how much women want to be wanted.

    As soon as we talked through our problem, everything was back to normal.

  • J

    Look at the article – the good doctors are giving women testosterone to pump up their libido

    I know this is one way of attacking the problem, but declining estrogen levels also mess up a woman’s sex drive. I suspect there is a complex interplay of a number of hormones in differing proportions at work. After I went through my dry spell, I found that my when my drive returned it was different–less romantic and more blatantly sexual. I suspect this is because my (and everyone’s) adrenals produced testerone, but with less estrogen to counterbalance it, the drive itself changed subtlely until I got used to things.

    Men (and everyone’s) adrenals also produce estrogen BTW. I think older guys can become more tender and emotional in their sexuality as their T production slows and the relative amount of T vs E changes.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ J,

    We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us.

    It’s science!

    Was there any people who didn’t domesticate dogs?

    Maybe the Australian Aboriginals? They’ve been in Australia for 50,000 years, before dogs were domesticated (or we were).

    I once exchanged emails with a scientist who was featured on a Nova show about domestication of animals. He said my hypothesis was interesting, but attributed the ‘domestication gene’ to our own domestication of ourselves. Humans are a self-domesticating species – we’ve become progressively tamer as we’ve weeded out the most anti-social and uncooperative members. That’s made us more neotenous – more childlike and trusting – and more eager to befriend the furry animals.

  • JhaneSez

    Among my friends who avoid sex, they’re thin women with husbands who have really let themselves go. Workaholics who stop by the Dunkin’ Donuts box too often in the office. I recall one commenter here being incensed when I suggested that Ronald Perelman was gross (as husband to Ellen Barkin), being fat and bald. His position was that a wife should be sucking her bald, fat husband’s dick, no questions asked. She may do it, but if you want her to like it, it behooves you to be desirable.

    I find this to be true as well. It isn’t that I don’t know women who have gained weight and their husbands are fit it seems for whatever reason these women aren’t avoiding sex or expressing low/no desire as the women who have kept themselves in shape and their husbands have let themselves go.

    Re: Ron and Ellen… he married a smokin’ hot actress, he said that she worked too much and was disinterested in sex or wasn’t available for sex… and while he is very rich, I would agree that he is also very gross

    You want a hotter mate, hit the gym yourself and then you have a valid point. I don’t see too many couples where one person is incredibly more fit than the other (and ironically enough, when I do, it is usually the woman).

    No shade but I find this too be true in lower socio-economic circles, but not in more affluent or better educated where women who work in corporate cultures or are SAHM are ‘expected and rewarded’ by maintaining a certain level of polish in their appearance… and they also have the time and resources to maintain because it is considered a personal investment as well~JS

  • J

    Intersting link. Thanks.

    From your link:

    Friendliness caused strange things to happen in the wolves. They started to look different. Domestication gave them splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. In only several generations, these friendly wolves would have become very distinctive from their more aggressive relatives. But the changes did not just affect their looks. Changes also happened to their psychology. These protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures.

    There is a definite link between cute doggy features like splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails, curly tails, shorter snouts, etc. I’m sure you know of the Russian domesticated foxes. Fox farmers were trying breed the aggression out of foxes raised for fur and ended up with docile anmals with oddly patterned coats. These foxes useless as fur animals but adorable pets. They are essentially dogs that use a litter box. They are pricey right now, but perhaps when I’m too old to walk a dog, I’ll get one.

    There is some thought that wolves that exhibited these neonatenous traits we find so cute were also the first to be booted out of the pack by other wolves. (Wolves tolerate differences very poorly.) That would make them hungrier and more likely to scavenge fom people as well as more trusting than the average wolf. Our dogs are essentially misfit wolves.

  • Gin Martini

    Ana: “It isn’t that I don’t know women who have gained weight and their husbands are fit[,] it seems for whatever reason these women aren’t avoiding sex or expressing low/no desire [as much as] as the women who have kept themselves in shape and their husbands have let themselves go.”

    So what you’re saying is, of mismatched couples, fat husband is the real sex-life killer, but the fat wife isn’t?

    Makes sense to me. Compete or die, men.

  • Fish

    @WV
    Yeah. Both ex’s were living with me. Unfortunately mine never got better, the relationships ended. I have since discovered that I needed to get better at communication.

    You live & you learn right?

  • mr. wavevector

    Our dogs are essentially misfit wolves.

    We like to say “she’s descended from wolves, you know” when our dog does something particularly silly.

    But back to the original point – being submissive but getting what you want – there are certain parallels between my relationships with my wife and my dog. So much so that my wife jokes that the dog thinks she’s my second wife. (In a chaste sort of way.)

  • Anacaona

    @BB and @Hope
    I had read this about the getting dopamine makes for more desire but I would like to see real sexual actions that match their desire in frequency. It might be more arousal but less actual action. I suspect that if is easier to get off by turning up the TV than from sex (and sex requires effort and time) a lot of people might just go “Yeah sex is good but tonight my favorite movie is getting released so whatever”. I also read that having a TV in the bedroom is the most reliable sexual killer.
    This is one of the things when I was involved in the celibate community, that was recommended to tolerate the lack of sex a lot better. Get a high and a low from other sources, it used to work very well for most of the members me included, YMMV.

  • d-tastes

    I take blood pressure meds and that has an effect. I will say that I dated a Brazilian women 15 years my junior and never ever had a problem getting or maintaining an erection. Yes she was good looking and energetic. I returned home I began dating women my own age and the erectile problems started. For most men, I think the problem is largely perceptual but dating a younger woman with tons of sex drive is a definite turn on. That is why I tell women who cannot get me or keep me hard to lose 20 pounds and then we can try again. I tell myself the same thing.

    Men have plenty of stress in thier lives. Our free time is very limited. We want to spend this free time having sex with a friendly, feminine woman who treats us well.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      That is why I tell women who cannot get me or keep me hard to lose 20 pounds and then we can try again.

      I don’t mean to be rude, but to state the obvious…Why wouldn’t she simply move on to a man without ED issues?

  • http://www.peopletobe.com Herb

    Testosterone isn’t just important for men – it plays a starring role in the sex drive for both sexes.

    One of my favorite episodes of This American Life had testosterone as the theme. Their take was not that it was the hormone of aggression but of desire. The first story was about a man whose body had quit producing testosterone. He had no desire, not just no sexual desire but none period. He could wake up and just stare at the ceiling because there wasn’t any reason to get out of bed. His emotions became a zero.

    The second was by a transman discussing his experiences starting hormone therapy. I recommend that especially to women because it contains the best experience of being male in terms of the visual affect of seeing a woman who stokes your desire. It’s also the best description of being a 13 year old boy I’ve heard. It doesn’t really change much as you get older you just get more control.

    I know that’s kind of tangential but I really do think the episode is worth a listen.

    There’s one last potential culprit worth mentioning: the Soulmate Myth.

    I honestly think this may even be a bigger issue than hookup culture, especially with women. I think a lot of what the ‘sphere writes off as hypergamy in terms of serial monogamy is actually chasing perfection in the form of a soulmate. While perhaps soulmates is just the current social patina over hypergamy that doesn’t change soulmates being the issue because if it is a patina it’s a hypergamy encouraging one instead of restraining one.

    That said, more and more men buy into the soulmate issue (***sheepishly raises hand***). Read between the lines on some ‘sphere blogs and you they cynicism that only a disappointed romantic can develop.

    More than beliefs in hookups being excessive this one needs to be staked through the heart and left out for the sunrise.

  • Man

    @BV:

    Kind of like the way women who want to have a relationship avoid men who prefer video games to cunninglingus.

    I am afraid we were deeply misguided by feminism here too, especially if we are talking about young/unrestricted women. It’s just like the gentleman, nice, chivalrous talk: they may like it, but it doesn’t mean that they feel attracted to the dudes who concern themselves too much with pleasing them. Women often seek validation of her own attractiveness through sex. They often find more exciting and they feel more secure with a man who derives a lot of pleasure having sex with them, rather than a man who tries to give them a lot of pleasure. That’s why they often put Hot & Mean in the same category, especially if they are young and/or immature; or are not mating/bonding orientated. Even these can be less “selfish” than most men with regard to sex, and be often more concerned about his pleasure rather than hers, if she feels emotionally secure with him.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      They often find more exciting and they feel more secure with a man who derives a lot of pleasure having sex with them, rather than a man who tries to give them a lot of pleasure.

      I can definitely vouch for this. I do appreciate a man taking care of my needs, but the arousal comes from his being excited and desiring me. Doesn’t it work this way for men too?

  • Gin Martini

    Herb: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/transcript

    The recording is good, but the transcript is faster to skim. I heard of this first posted on Roissy. The trans woman story should give women a clue at what real desire looks like. Doubt anyone would care, though.

  • http://www.peopletobe.com Herb

    “half of men with Type II diabetes are testosterone deficient. ”

    Personal vendetta but my guess it is partially the fat. T is fat soluble (like most hormones) and what MAY be occurring is that the more fat a man/woman has the more T that will be sequestered in said fat.

    Antecedent, not data, by my issues (yes, I’d admitting to ED) got worse as I’ve lost about 45 pounds. Now, it could be aging (it’s take about 2 years) is faster than the weight loss, plus I’m using ED as a proxy for T when it could be diabetes related circulatory issues.

    That said, I’d been thinking about getting my T tested again and both Susan’s comment and yours are reinforcing that thought.

    @ J,

    Makes you wonder just how many men would really be happy with a truly submissive partner who had no will or desire of her own.

    Very few. But how many even have that fantasy? I think we’re talking about a small number of socially dysfunctional outliers.

    I wouldn’t call that “true submission” anyway. Submission is an exchange that always entails a demand. Even our dog, who is very submissive to me and treats me as her god, has a will and desires of her own and makes her demands of me: whine, whine, pet me; whine, whine, throw me the bone; whine, whine, let me out!

    No more calls folks we have a winner.

    Most of these “I want a truly submissive woman” types could handle any of the women (or men) I’ve met at submissive retreats. I suspect it’s a lot like lust above. To really take the submissive side in a relationship consciously you have to have a strong sense of self.

    We are here to serve our dogs. My dog writes an evo-psych blog for other dogs in which she alleges that humans developed opposable thumbs to facilitate scratching behing canine ears. She has a very cynocentric view of the world.

    Sounds like your dog should be a cat. Cats are the truly dominant species. Dogs have owners; cats have staff.

  • http://www.peopletobe.com Herb

    @Gin Martini: Thanks, I was too lazy to find the link (even though it’s in my notes from my presentation on male thinking from earlier this month).

    As for women not caring, some will, some won’t. Better to tell all of them so the ones who will get the chance instead of not bothering because of the ones who won’t.

    I didn’t realize Roissy had talked about it. I actually heard it first run. Sunday nights delivering pizza in East Hartford started out with the radio on Five College Radio out of North Hampton and finished with Drudge on WABC (which will tell you how long ago that wasy.

  • http://www.peopletobe.com Herb

    That should be:

    Most of these “I want a truly submissive woman” types couln’t handle any of the women (or men) I’ve met at submissive retreats.

  • Gin Martini

    Actually, it was a commenter on Roissy. Your post jogged my memory and now I have the full show for context. Good stuff.

  • A Definite Beta Guy

    @ Hope

    Susan, my husband and I call each other best friend and soulmate. I think it has had the opposite effect as deadening our sex lives. The closer we feel to each other, the more we want each other. We have described this while cuddling. Maybe it is because we’re weird INFJs?

    Beats me. Me and mine have a similar dynamic to yours, and she is an ENFJ and I am an ENTJ. Or maybe we’re not answering the test correctly…she could be an INFJ with a well-developed E and I am a ENTJ with border-line E/I and F/T :P

    She also does not have a lot of friends her age where she lives, being a town of 18,000 people with an average age of, like, 60. Plus I have a hard time REALLY connecting with the young people in my area…since, you know, I kind of think everyone around me is a bit of a dumbass.

    Can also second the activity and excitement creating the whole sex vibe, thing. Sort of like “wow, I finished a novel, I am awesome, I should fuck to celebrate because I am so awesome!”

  • chris

    I wouldn’t clamp down on the whole two people becoming one ideal. I have a very strong suspicion that it is an expression of the pairbonding process, which (atleast in the beginning), needs to be exceptionally strong in order for it to last a long time.

    To clamp down on the process from the perspective of someone who is no longer in that beginning stage of a relationship and hence no longer needing to build an incredibly strong pairbond from scratch, could result in others who are in that beginning stage from engaging in the high enough level of pairbonding necessary for a long term relationship.

    Or put another way, if love is part delusion (studies suggest those who idealise their partners stay together longer and happier), telling people to be more rational would forestall love.

    Or put even simpler, we shouldn’t look back with hindsight on something that may be necessary in the moment.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Chris

      To clamp down on the process from the perspective of someone who is no longer in that beginning stage of a relationship and hence no longer needing to build an incredibly strong pairbond from scratch, could result in others who are in that beginning stage from engaging in the high enough level of pairbonding necessary for a long term relationship.

      Fair enough. The last thing I want to do is steal romance and limerence away from people falling for one another! Scientists have likened that process to temporary insanity and OCD – and it is deliciously so when it’s mutual.

  • mr. wavevector

    I do appreciate a man taking care of my needs, but the arousal comes from his being excited and desiring me. Doesn’t it work this way for men too?

    Not so much. My primary arousal comes from the fact that my partner has a female body and she will let me put my penis in it.

    For most of my sexual career I’ve been the initiator and the woman has been the responder, so feeling desired was not a major part of my sexual experience. Desire was something I expressed, hoping to receive willing compliance in return. It’s only been in recent years where the roles have become more shared; my wife initiates more often and expresses desire for me, and I respond to her.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Mr. WV

      My primary arousal comes from the fact that my partner has a female body and she will let me put my penis in it.

      Very direct and also made me LOL.

      It’s only been in recent years where the roles have become more shared; my wife initiates more often and expresses desire for me, and I respond to her.

      I’m curious – as that dynamic has changed, have your arousal triggers changed?

      You make a good point though – men are much more likely to initiate, so perhaps women are conditioned (or evolved?) to get turned on by the other’s desire.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Mr. Wavevector:
    part of a comment:
    “”I’ve learned that a husband in a good marriage continues to court his wife. He creates opportunities for novelty and excitement, for unexpected intimacy, for demonstrations of both confident masculine leadership and emotional responsiveness. “”

    I’ve been told so many times that “confident masculine leadership” does indeed generate the tingle that I’ve come to believe it. It’s an imperfect world.
    But I need somebody to put me some knowledge.
    How do you arrange for an opportunity to demonstrate confident masculine leadership? A pathetic–speaking from my own view and not from the twenty-first century view and SMP–character on another blog explained how he did it. When they go to walk the dog, he asks his wife which way she wants to go and, considering it, does make the final decision. Perhaps this is the twenty-first century’s version of tripling up on your testosterone supplements.
    “Bed, wench, now,” might do it. Or lead to a 911 call.
    I have spent a good deal of effort trying to make sure that “confident masculine leadership” will be unnecessary.
    If you create an opportunity for demonstrating confident masculine leadership, it’s either fake, or, if it’s real, something could go wrong despite all the confident masculine leadership imaginable. That’s the difference between fake and real. And if it’s fake, you’re just fulfilling a role laid out for you. IOW, the puppeteer’s strings are dictating the activities. That it would work is distressing. But it’s an imperfect world.
    Strikes me that creating a real opportunity ranges from irresponsible to criminal.
    OTOH, one example was about going to the beach:
    Bad way. “Anybody want to go to the beach?”
    Good way. “I’ve got the beach chairs, a coupon for pizza, and the weather’s supposed to be great at the beach. Let’s go.”
    According to the guru, the second way of doing it will get you laid and your kids will think you a veritable demi-god.
    Not. Getting. It.
    But, happy thought, I don’t have to.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      When they go to walk the dog, he asks his wife which way she wants to go and, considering it, does make the final decision. Perhaps this is the twenty-first century’s version of tripling up on your testosterone supplements.

      Oy, that does seem rather sad, but also kind of funny. If my husband asked me that, I’d say, “this way” and proceed in that direction. OTOH, if he just started walking I’d happily follow.

      I’ve also heard men beat their chests with pride when they choose the restaurant without asking. In fact, it’s one of the most common “alpha up” stories I hear in the sphere. I think we discussed it once here, and again, I find that sort of sad.

      If my husband said, “I feel like Indian, wanna eat at Bukhara tonight?,” I’d say sure. If he said “Let’s eat out” I’d say, “How about sushi?” He might say, “Not in a sushi mood.” In which case I’d say, “OK, what sounds good?”

      When I think of male leadership I’m not thinking about whether the toilet paper should roll out over the top or bottom. I want a man who can make wise decisions for our family about important stuff. The little stuff is entirely insignificant, requiring only minimal negotiation, and therefore no leadership.

  • BuenaVista

    #84, #88.

    Yeah, I read all the time about PUAs best practice is to be selfish in bed, because that’s so hot and virile. Maybe it’s true with the 20-somethings, who often seem deranged to me, but it’s my experience that the only women who like selfish sex have either incredible self-esteem deficits, or don’t like sex so they don’t notice. I am mostly dating the 35-50 cohort though, with the occasional cradle robbing to see if I’ve lost a step. (It may be that the younger women have yet to experience the torpor of a sexless or mundane marriage to the beta they thought they were supposed to marry, before all that vacuuming he was doing made them despise him.)

    I define virility differently, and since I have stopped putting so much energy into being “a good man” — since, obviously, that didn’t work out so good — instead of “being good at being a man” I can tell you this with total and complete confidence: a woman who gets off five times, possibly with a couple of bruises and rope burns in the mix, and maybe a game or two of ‘let’s throw the girl through the air onto the mattress’, is coming back. Might be next week, next month or next year. Doesn’t matter how or why we’ve broken up, they’re coming back, they’re texting, *they’re flying halfway across the country to “catch-up”*, they’re introducing their friends, they want more. That means they’re not getting what they need or want out there, and I don’t think what they’re pining for is seven minutes of dissociated selfishness. ( This is consistent with another PUA meme, that of the “alpha widow.”) So virility is not selfishness in BuenaVistaVille. (The PUA ethic of selfishness, to me, is profoundly nihilistic: it’s a deadend street, and some famous PUAs are now burning out.)

    But then, I value friendship and continuity, and friendship and continuity are not PUA objectives; ‘game’ isn’t such a challenge if you already know how to say “Hi” to people, and follow it up with a big sophisticated complex sentence like, “How’s your day going? My name’s BV.”

    Quickies, car and airplane sex, and public place sex, seem to me to be the appropriate venues for ‘mean, hot, selfish’ action. I agree with the assertion in that context. I think women find it sorta charming and flattering that a guy can’t keep it buttoned up until at home; it’s another expression of what they want, which is to be dominated. But I never knew a woman who said, “I had the best four minutes of restaurant lavatory sex with that guy ever. Must fly to DC and look him up.” It’s ancillary. It’s a diversion. It’s a follow-up and a promise to be redeemed in full later. Roissy’s #14 has been dispatched to Son#1. He’ll be tested on it when I haul his motorcycle out there next month.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      but it’s my experience that the only women who like selfish sex have either incredible self-esteem deficits, or don’t like sex so they don’t notice.

      If men are selfish during sex, women don’t get off, that’s the bottom line. Obviously, a woman who tolerates this or even seeks it, e.g. Tucker Max ONS, are either afraid to ask for what they want or don’t believe they deserve it. It’s always dysfunctional.

      (The PUA ethic of selfishness, to me, is profoundly nihilistic: it’s a deadend street, and some famous PUAs are now burning out.)

      That’s been interesting to see. I don’t know if nihilism is a choice, but it seems to exclude any possibility of happiness. I don’t understand how a nihilist could go on living, frankly.

      Roissy’s #14 has been dispatched to Son#1.

      Speaking of nihilists…no one does it better than Roissy. #14 is a good one, but I hope to God you’re not forwarding all 16 to son #1, lest you create a Frankenstein Roissy.

  • BuenaVista

    FMI: Helena Bonham Carter, post-coital in Fight Club: “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.”

  • Man

    I can definitely vouch for this. I do appreciate a man taking care of my needs, but the arousal comes from his being excited and desiring me. Doesn’t it work this way for men too?

    I think it’s a little different. Biologically the man has the “active” role, and the woman the “passive” role. Men being more visual than women, I think that for us it’s naturally more pleasurable to be excited and desiring her and having her compliance about our desire. That’s where lies the allure of porn, by the way. But excitement and desire in men are often triggered by subjective aspects as well, rather than purely visual cues, such as she being what we vaguely refer to as “feminine”, supportive, caring and making us feel comfortable about her affection and exclusivity (rather than her excitement and desire themselves). So I would say that although both men and women appreciate feeling “attractive”, it works in different ways because of natural differences.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Man

      Men being more visual than women, I think that for us it’s naturally more pleasurable to be excited and desiring her and having her compliance about our desire.

      Makes sense. OTOH, I’ve often experienced sex where my orgasm immediately triggers his, or if before sex, makes him basically desperate to get it in. Some men definitely get off on it.

  • mr. wavevector

    @Richard,

    Bad way. “Anybody want to go to the beach?”
    Good way. “I’ve got the beach chairs, a coupon for pizza, and the weather’s supposed to be great at the beach. Let’s go.”

    Neither way is good. The first is too passive, the second too dictatorial.

    My idea of the good way is to be the man with the plan. This entails being prepared well in advance, taking everyone’s needs into account, having contingencies planned for. It also entails thinking out of the box and introducing elements of novelty.

    I would check the family calendar several weeks in advance and block out the time, because otherwise people will make plans and won’t be happy Dad decided to over-ride them at the last minute. I would have Plan B for bad weather. I would make sure we bring what we need. I would find something new to do, like stop by a local street carnival or music festival or food fair, or an interesting museum, or try parasailing, or take the family to the hole-in-the-wall clam shack that has the best clam rolls on the north beach.

    The element of novelty is an important one – it keeps the relationship from going stale. My wife is like many women in that her first concern is for security and comfort for herself and her family. She not only thinks inside the box, she makes sure the box is warm and tidy and comfortable. And that’s well and good, but it mostly falls on me to expand our horizons beyond the familiar.

  • Man

    To clamp down on the process from the perspective of someone who is no longer in that beginning stage of a relationship and hence no longer needing to build an incredibly strong pairbond from scratch, could result in others who are in that beginning stage from engaging in the high enough level of pairbonding necessary for a long term relationship.

    Or put another way, if love is part delusion (studies suggest those who idealise their partners stay together longer and happier), telling people to be more rational would forestall love.

    I had seen a research about it, which stated that mate idealization could be related with the predictability of the couple staying committed in the longer term, but I could not find the original link I had seen. I have found this one instead: Mate Idealization Makes for Happy Early Marriage.

  • Escoffier

    “Doesn’t it work this way for men too?”

    At least in one case, yes.

  • Escoffier

    I bought a bunch of food Friday without a clear plan for which day to make what and I asked my wife, “Would you rather have the pork Saturday and the steak Sunday or, else Monday, hmmm?” Then I thought, “Oh shit, that was not alpha,” and without waiting for her to answer, I declaimed “I will make the pork on Saturday.”

    Close one!

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Then I thought, “Oh shit, that was not alpha,” and without waiting for her to answer, I declaimed “I will make the pork on Saturday.”

      My response is a combo of “awwww” and ROFL.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Mr. Wavevector,
    comment:
    “I would check the family calendar several weeks in advance and block out the time, because otherwise people will make plans and won’t be happy Dad decided to over-ride them at the last minute. ”

    Blocking out the time is dictatorial for beaching it is dictatorial, no? It’s pre-overriding. And by the time that comes around, everybody’s got something else they want to do.
    Susan’s view–making wise decisions for the family about important stuff–seems like the grown-up thing. Problem is, how do you
    “arrange” for that to happen? Seems each opportunity is the result of a contingency, and we don’t want contingencies. ’cause, as I mentioned earlier, contingencies can go wrong.
    Being the man with the plan is a good idea. My wife says I game out three of every one contingency that might continge us. That’s because I don’t tell her about the other three. So we don’t have actual contingencies in the sense that they’re unforeseen and uncontrollable. Thinking about this stuff keeps me out of trouble.
    I’ve just finished an action plan for a friend of my granddaughter whose family has a summer place nearby and whose family is afflicted with the Big C, and how my granddaughter–who will be gifting us her presence for a week sans little sister–might figure in to the possible Bad Things that might happen. Put that in the filing cabinet and on to something else.
    But, to get back to the original post, hauling the plan out of the folder and going down the bullet points–speaking figuratively–isn’t likely to generate tingles in the twenty-first century model.
    What do do, what to do?

  • Escoffier

    Susan,

    Most everyone today is a nihilist. Nihilism is the spirit of our age. But, as Allan Bloom pointed out 25 years ago, ours is a peculiarly laid back, easy going nihilism, “nihilism wth a happy ending.”

    He used to assign certain students Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night, to show them what their supposed “convictions” really meant.

  • Man

    OTOH, I’ve often experienced sex where my orgasm immediately triggers his, or if before sex, makes him basically desperate to get it in. Some men definitely get off on it.

    Makes sense, if there is mutual attraction.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    Susan…”Scientists have likened that process (romance, limerance) to temporary insanity and OCD – and it is deliciously so when it’s mutual.”

    Couldn’t ANY very strong interest…writing a novel, completing an invention, starting a start-up…be likened to temporary insanity and OCD?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Couldn’t ANY very strong interest…writing a novel, completing an invention, starting a start-up…be likened to temporary insanity and OCD?

      I would think so! I know they’ve made this comparison by studying patterns of brain activity – I suppose that in any endeavor where it’s going well, where things are happening, and you’re literally giddy with it, the brain activity could look quite similar – it’s all dopamine-related, right?

  • Man

    I have great news for feminazis, MegaManginas, lesbics and gays alike. I have already been on a process of distancing myself from manosphere blogs for quite a while. Here at HUS I’ve also engaged into “sphere-like” discussions sometimes. But I feel that after having already learned a lot from the “sphere” blogs, the time has come for me to take more care of myself and let go of the emotional baggage of resentment and hatred. Ultimately nature and history will take its way and take care of itself as well. And I have to take care of myself and live my life. A farewell full of good wishes to HUSssies (and yes, even to feminazis, MegaManginas, lesbics and gays alike). May you all find love, forgiveness, compassion and your true self. Bye-bye.

  • mr. wavevector

    Blocking out the time is dictatorial for beaching it is dictatorial, no?

    Sure. I don’t have a problem deciding what we’re going to do as a family, but doing it with consideration is important. And sometimes opportunities for spontaneous outings do arise. There are the occasional Saturdays where nothing’s on the calendar.

    But, to get back to the original post, hauling the plan out of the folder and going down the bullet points–speaking figuratively–isn’t likely to generate tingles in the twenty-first century model.

    My wife always likes it when I take her on a well planned and executed outing with some surprise and variety. It shows some investment of emotional energy.

  • JhaneSez

    Yeah, I read all the time about PUAs best practice is to be selfish in bed, because that’s so hot and virile. Maybe it’s true with the 20-somethings, who often seem deranged to me, but it’s my experience that the only women who like selfish sex have either incredible self-esteem deficits, or don’t like sex so they don’t notice.

    In college there were guys who would offer oral sex to orgasm, with no intercourse… you would think that all the girls would be lined up, we all knew about it. But for most of us it was a huge creepy turn off… there is nothing at all sexy about a guy you are not attracted to giving you oral sex… double yuck

    There were female douchebags who would use these guys for their pleasure, because they were horny independent of the guy performing and quickly leave (a female pump and dump), offering the guy nothing in return.

    The rest of the girls found that behavior icky as well, but chalked it up to a balance for the male pump and dump, so there was side-eye for the girls who took advantage of these schmucks but no shamming per se.

    Note: the major disadvantage of girls taking advantage of the oral sex for us was it encouraged these guys to become more aggressive and persistent in offering the same deal to girls that clearly weren’t interested. It also spawn several instances of dudes servicing girls who were passed out drunk.

    With that said… I don’t know of any woman who has said that they love it when a guy is selfish in bed, because its so hot. Even women who get off on a guy taking his pleasure, is deriving pleasure.

    For sane healthy women there is nothing hotter than having the male you desire give you pleasure… most of us would much rather masturbate solo than have a guy who we aren’t attracted to even attempt arousal ~JS

  • mr. wavevector

    @ Susan,

    When I think of male leadership I’m not thinking about whether the toilet paper should roll out over the top or bottom. I want a man who can make wise decisions for our family about important stuff. The little stuff is entirely insignificant, requiring only minimal negotiation, and therefore no leadership.

    True, but the little things have symbolic and emotional import too. As I was saying to Richard, my wife really likes it when I take her on a well thought out date night with an element of surprise and novelty. That’s a more personal demonstration of initiative and caring than the decisions I make about our investments, for instance.

    It’s only been in recent years where the roles have become more shared; my wife initiates more often and expresses desire for me, and I respond to her.

    I’m curious – as that dynamic has changed, have your arousal triggers changed?

    Yes – I’ve become more like a chick! I need more emotional connection and foreplay.

    That may be partially due to declining testosterone, as J was commenting on earlier. I think it’s also a function of being with the same person for a long time. Having missionary position intercourse with a 50 year old woman for the 4000th time isn’t as viscerally exciting as first time sex with a fertile 30 year old. But in a strong relationship, the emotional bonds strengthens as the raw physical attraction wanes.

  • JhaneSez

    That is why I tell women who cannot get me or keep me hard to lose 20 pounds and then we can try again.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but to state the obvious…Why wouldn’t she simply move on to a man without ED issues?

    @Susan…

    Oh most definitely!

    She isn’t going to believe that a guy has noodle dick as a result of her lack of hotness… we learn very early that if she doesn’t make it hard, he isn’t going to bother. So if a guy says he only gets wood for hot Brazilian supermodels, and she isn’t a hot Brazilian supermodel she is going to assume the guy is lying.

    Women’s magazines are rife with articles on how to be considerate of his ego and feelings when Mr. Dickie doesn’t work. The obvious display of a lack of virility for her is most times awkward and makes her feel embarrassed for him rather than shame. Her first inclination will not be to take it as a personal failing.

    She will also most likely assume that he is gay or has a closet kink that is causing the ED. And for most women it isn’t going to inspire her to even make an attempt to become ‘hot’ enough, in fact it would just be a huge turn off and inspire nothing more than pity, and she will go and find a man without ED.

    The only exception would be if she’d previously been able to make it hard, and gained weight and dude was no longer attracted… then she would blame herself, and take seriously the need to lose 20lbs to sustain an existing and otherwise good relationship.

    And she might also make an exception for a very high status male, but he would still get the side eye ~JS

  • mr. wavevector

    @ JhaneSez,

    In college there were guys who would offer oral sex to orgasm, with no intercourse… you would think that all the girls would be lined up, we all knew about it. But for most of us it was a huge creepy turn off…

    Wow. That’s true omega behavior.

    Were these guys hoping to get reciprocation, or was that enough for them? I know some male submissive types are not only happy to give oral pleasure – they actually want to be denied an orgasm.

  • JhaneSez

    Were these guys hoping to get reciprocation, or was that enough for them? I know some male submissive types are not only happy to give oral pleasure – they actually want to be denied an orgasm

    @mr. wavevector…

    Good question… I guess they were real omegas because it was mostly used as a strategy to get sex. They were always trying to get a girl to touch it or accidentally brush up against it… most girls just considered them juvenile horndogs.

    One guy we called him Lick and Stick Rick (I can’t believe I just wrote that)… word was that after he performed he would try to penetrate before the girl could recover from orgasm, I’m told some girls who would agree to intercourse referred to him as a 10 second wonder… if he could make it to penetration.

    The others it would vary some were known to try a bait and switch and ask for tit for tat, some used alcohol and drugs, some tried for whatever they could get intercourse or reciprocated oral… some just wanted to see a woman naked up close.

    What I personally found annoying was the offer in the grossest and creepiest ways… tongue wagging, trying to get up on you and whisper in your ear… it usually had the exact opposite effect of turning you on… it was repulsive.

    Now with hindsight I think there were one or two who may have been naturally submissive, because they weren’t aggressive you just knew about them from other gossipy girls, and even the gossip was mostly second hand. ~JS

  • Anacaona

    @ADBG and @Hope
    Likewise the concept of being ‘one flesh’ with my hubby is not unsexy or scary to me. I think this is another sociosexuality issue. Susan and BB are in the middle of the scale when we tend to be restricted, so I guess for us is part of the whole couplehood appeal, YMMV.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Ana

      Likewise the concept of being ‘one flesh’ with my hubby is not unsexy or scary to me. I think this is another sociosexuality issue.

      That makes sense, I bet you’re right. Also, sociosexuality is correlated to personality, so if the personality match plays a role, then sociosexuality most likely will as well.

  • Charlotte

    Very interesting article and comments.

    This is unrelated, but as usual, I need a bit of dating advice. If you’ve ever read my comments on here before, you know patience is not my strongest suit…

    So I had a date with this guy last Wednesday that was WONDERFUL. We clicked immediately and had so much fun chatting. He is well-educated, traveled, intelligent, a hard-worker (he’s a trader meaning 5:30am wakeups daily), not a huge partier but fun, etc. etc. and I’m extremely attracted to him. Our conversation didn’t hit any low notes, and we were super-flirtacious and there were many implications about seeing me again. He picked a very chic place knowing I worked in fashion and told me how he asked his friends for recommendations and that he was nervous about the date, which I think is sweet. He made many complimentary comments in a non-creepy way. There was so much chemistry, and it was the first time I felt that way in a long time.
    Of course, he’s only 23 but his two older brothers (26 and 28) are both in serious relationships, one being engaged and getting married in August. He has had a serious girlfriend in the past. I know I should be dating guys that are more than a year older than I am at 22, but I figured, hey, why not.
    After the date, he walked me to my apartment which was coincidentally a block away from the place he chose and we continued to have flirty, witty banter outside, with more allusions to future plans. I hugged him goodnight and then as I pulled away he kissed me and oh boy were there sparks. I went upstairs to my apartment giddy and excited.

    He texted me clearly as soon as he got home to say that he had a ton of fun and that he was so glad we met and that margaritas were his new favorite drink (the place we went specializes in “gourmet margaritas”.) I made a joke saying that the margaritas I make with my Vitamix blender (my favorite gadget) are possibly just as good (we had talked about this on the date) and he’s like “we’ll have to see about that”.

    On Friday night, he texted me to see what I was doing and when I told him I was away, he said he was hoping I was in the city to meet him and his friends out that night (not for a booty call, just to hang out with our groups of friends). I was away for the holiday weekend so I made a little joke about how he must be the only person left in NYC. Very flirtacious.

    So since then, I have not talked to him. I know he was going out of town too for the weekend and I’m sure his day back at work yesterday was very busy with the day off on Monday, he probably left around midnight. I texted him saying “hope you had a great holiday weekend :D” midday yesterday (his phone has to be off during work) and I haven’t heard back. Should I totally give up hope on this dude or is there a chance he is still interested? I just haven’t had sparks like that with someone and I think by following up immediately after and then a day later were good but then what…I mean who knows – he could have gotten in touch with an old girlfriend, etc etc I mean I know it is nothing I did. But what do you guys think? Is there a chance he could still get in touch?

    I know I shouldn’t be so giddy or excited about this but this is the first time in a long time I’ve felt this way about someone. I have been casually dating two other guys who are very nice (I’ve gone to dinner with them once or twice, they are in touch, but both are taking the CFA exam and are MIA til that is over) but no feelings like this. Ugh, I wish I didn’t get so anxious and could just move on but I really liked him!

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Charlotte

      Chill! Of course he could still be interested – if he’s not he’s a sociopath for giving all those IOIs just a few days ago. Many guys don’t text without any clear intent to make plans, and 23 year old guys tend to be very spontaneous.

      Your job is to: DO NOTHING

      Don’t text, don’t fret. Live your life. You are too invested in someone you’ve only seen once, you need to pump the brakes. In the same way girls don’t like eager guys, guys don’t like needy girls.

      I predict he will be in touch again, but no guarantees it will be today or even for this weekend. He might be going on dates with other people, just like you are.

  • Lokland

    @Ana, ADBG, Hope

    “Likewise the concept of being ‘one flesh’ with my hubby is not unsexy or scary to me. I think this is another sociosexuality issue. Susan and BB are in the middle of the scale when we tend to be restricted, so I guess for us is part of the whole couplehood appeal, YMMV.”

    Add another set to the one-ness principle. Me and my wife refer to each other as best friend (though the term has a slightly different meaning than it would applied to a normal friendship).

  • JP

    “Add another set to the one-ness principle. Me and my wife refer to each other as best friend (though the term has a slightly different meaning than it would applied to a normal friendship).”

    I thought this was pretty much an obligatory feature of marriage.

  • JP

    ” But in a strong relationship, the emotional bonds strengthens as the raw physical attraction wanes.”

    I already had this experience with my ex-girlfriend, which was why I didn’t get married to her in the first place.

  • Anacaona

    I thought this was pretty much an obligatory feature of marriage.
    Not for everyone obviously. Is there any study on the statistics of sociosexuality?
    I would like to know how many people want to be one flesh and how many hate it with a fire of two thousand suns.
    I also wonder if we should add this to the compatibility requirements. If one side of the couple wants more oneness than the other would they break up/divorce in time or they would reach an equilibrium?

  • mr. wavevector

    @ JhaneSez

    One guy we called him Lick and Stick Rick (I can’t believe I just wrote that)… word was that after he performed he would try to penetrate before the girl could recover from orgasm

    Yes, indeed – pure omega. That’s the “Sneaky Fucker” mating strategy, for those who can’t offer the sex appeal and excitement of the Cad, nor the security and emotional investment of the Dad.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      That’s the “Sneaky Fucker” mating strategy, for those who can’t offer the sex appeal and excitement of the Cad, nor the security and emotional investment of the Dad.

      Wow, if going down on a woman who sends you packing with a boner isn’t supplicating, I don’t know what is! This takes Nice Guy TM to a whole new level, not in a good way.

      Instead of pump and dump, we might call this Lickety Split.

  • JP

    “I thought this was pretty much an obligatory feature of marriage.
    Not for everyone obviously. Is there any study on the statistics of sociosexuality?
    I would like to know how many people want to be one flesh and how many hate it with a fire of two thousand suns.”

    I suppose a better word would have been that it’s the *ideal* for marriage to which all married people should aspire as a matter of aligning yourself with the moral order to bring the world closer to success.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Susan,
    To be fair wrt restaurants:
    I think they’re a metaphor for a number of administrative and entertainment issues, not solely places to eat.
    And I’ve seen fewer guys beating their chests than women requiring it–presumably the entire package metaphored by “restaurant”–while the guys are wearily asking….”you gots to be kidding, right?”

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Richard

      In fairness, a guy who is in the habit of repeatedly asking his gf what she prefers, and never makes any decisions himself, will benefit from a switch to a more decisive mode. Personally, I think offering a confident opinion is more effective than getting dictatorial about details in the hopes of appearing dominant.

  • mr. wavevector

    Instead of pump and dump, we might call this Lickety Split.

    ROFL!

  • mr. wavevector
    Likewise the concept of being ‘one flesh’ with my hubby is not unsexy or scary to me. I think this is another sociosexuality issue.

    That makes sense, I bet you’re right. Also, sociosexuality is correlated to personality, so if the personality match plays a role, then sociosexuality most likely will as well.

    My wife and I are one team, but not ‘one flesh’. We’re both restricted, introverted, and need our ‘alone time’. I second the idea that some distance and difference are an essential part of our attraction to each other.

    If you’re ‘one flesh’, does that make sex masturbation? ;-)

  • JhaneSez

    Yes, indeed – pure omega. That’s the “Sneaky Fucker” mating strategy, for those who can’t offer the sex appeal and excitement of the Cad, nor the security and emotional investment of the Dad.

    @mr.wavevector…

    Thank you… I hadn’t found an articulation for this type of male behavior, but this is spot on.

    Instead of pump and dump, we might call this Lickety Split.

    Susan for the WIN!!!

    ~JS

  • JhaneSez

    Can someone supply a link to the post that originally referenced the meaning of restricted and unrestricted.

    Or perhaps someone could provide a brief summary of the meanings. I am a ENTP how does that correlate to being restricted/ unrestricted.

    I’ve read the terms used quite a bit and I would like to understand them in more depth as well as gain insight into my own personality.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance you maybe able to provide ~JS

  • Richard Aubrey

    Susan,

    “Personally, I think offering a confident opinion is more effective than getting dictatorial about details in the hopes of appearing dominant.”

    I agree, more or less. Problem is, as we have previously mentioned, that if the guy simply doesn’t care–where they eat, to use the metaphor–then he has to make stuff up. I don’t recall doing it, although my shrink buddy, discussed earlier, pondered suggesting it in therapy. Logically, though, if the guy doesn’t care, the most obvious thing to do is ask the woman what she wants. If I’ll be happy anyplace, we may as well find out where she’d be happiest. Makes sense, right? Yeah. Logically.

    Back, ‘way back, in the day when I was getting IOI which I missed entirely, I was not being even confident with the women in question since I was not in any kind of “relationship” with them. We were working on one thing or another and I suppose I looked confident and competent at whatever we were doing. But it had nothing to do with them. Which, to give my oblivious self an excuse, might be why I missed the IOI. Not nearly good enough, fool.

    If I imagine myself doing it, I cringe, thinking, “What a butthead.” Well, needs must, but being happily married over forty years, whatever’s happening must be pretty much okay.

  • Escoffier
    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Escoffier

      That is a great piece. My favorite line:

      I got married young, at 24. I didn’t mean to, but I fell in love in a way that wouldn’t compromise.

  • Jesse

    Hello Ms. Walsh,

    I recently came across a book you may have some interest in reading, if you’re not already aware of it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195396855/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0195396855&linkCode=as2&tag=stucosuccess-20

    I’ve not read it but I thought you might be interested in the subject matter.

    Cheers.

    Jesse

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jesse

      Good to see you! I appreciate the link – the co-author is Scott Barry Kaufman, who has commented here and corresponded with me. I hadn’t even been aware of the book’s publication! On order.

  • Anacaona

    Here’s the post on sociosexuality, but I don’t know how it corresponds to MB
    I don’t think it does. I think is separated.
    I know that extroversion is correlated to # of sexual partners, so we can probably deduce that an E is more likely to be unrestricted.
    Disagree with that :D
    I think what happens is that an unrestricted E is more likely to have more partners than a restricted E. for obvious reasons.
    I also think there is a different between being socially Extroverted vs sexually Extroverted. I’m a ‘friends slut’ wanting to have friends of all types and shapes and nationalities and colors and tastes. But if any of those friends expressed any sexual interest I got closed up as a seashell. I might be weird but I think there is a difference, YMMV.

  • Gin Martini

    Sue: “If men are selfish during sex, women don’t get off, that’s the bottom line. ”

    Speak for yourself, you sexist! ;)

    I can attempt to be as selfish as possible, and basically can’t stop her from orgasming. Actually, SGG is the one who considers herself “greedy” in bed, and I’m happy to supply.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      I can attempt to be as selfish as possible, and basically can’t stop her from orgasming. Actually, SGG is the one who considers herself “greedy” in bed, and I’m happy to supply.

      Every time you talk about Stargate Girl, I’m reminded of that scene in When Harry Met Sally – “I’ll have what she’s having.”

  • J

    @Wave

    We like to say “she’s descended from wolves, you know” when our dog does something particularly silly.

    We make the same joke, but we refer to our dog as “the scion of the noble wolf.”
    So much so that my wife jokes that the dog thinks she’s my second wife. (In a chaste sort of way.)

    My husband got our current dog while I was out of town. She had bonded closely to him by the time I got home. When I attempted to get into bed my first night back, she plastered herself against him and growled at me. She does now deign to allow me to sleep with them. I am grateful.

  • Abbot

    Yahoo has taken that old study to the mainstream. They know female promiscuity is rampant and this will drive traffic to their site.

    http://news.yahoo.com/why-men-women-lie-sex-130452906.html

    .

  • Sai

    @Bastiat Blogger
    “Clearly a date can be structured to exploit this quirk in our wiring—rollercoasters, surfing lessons, motorcycle ride, etc.”

    +50 to all three of those and many many more

    @Man
    Good luck.

    @Susan
    “Wow, if going down on a woman who sends you packing with a boner isn’t supplicating, I don’t know what is! This takes Nice Guy TM to a whole new level, not in a good way.”

    The whole thing stinks. Bad on the guys, bad on the girls.

    Re: two vs. one
    If you are the sort of couple that can manage it… great! But if you aren’t, I don’t think it can be forced. Some people are like pieces of Play-Doh that can merge very well, and others are like Lego blocks, able to work together well but still distinct entities.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Sai,
    William Manchester, writing of his time as a Marine in the Pacific, spoke of the “whore of death” and, when after an intense fight, he had a boner. What followed was TMI. But, then, he and David Niven and Arthur Godfrey seemed to feel it necessary to explain in their autobiographies they’d gotten mature much earlier than their age mates, and stuff. So maybe it’s overrated. An autobiographical convention. For guys, anyway.
    Some folks recall getting all horny in the Blitz, or at least as the dust from that last raid settled and the wounded and dead had been taken care of. Sudden encounters.
    Also conventions. Said a Brit nurse in a blacked out underground shelter in 1917 during the German Peace Offensive, “could be blasted into maternity at any moment and the ‘ell of it was, you’d never know who did it.” In “Serenade to The Big Bird”–the second round, the author claimed to have heard the same in the subway.
    Unfortunately–sometimes it’s unfortunate but sometimes it’s a good thing–I’m adrenalin-challenged. When accompanying my kids on a twisty, upside-downy, whirly version of a roller coaster, I’m thinking about my loose change and wondering how much the staff picks up at close of business. So fake danger isn’t going to get it. It’s fake, see. And if it’s real, there’s too much to worry about. And sometimes you don’t know it’s over until ‘way later.
    There was a ride at Cedar Point called the Demon Drop. I arranged to get my kids Demon-Drop qualified at age eight, I think. Word was that if you put a quarter on your knee, you’d see it float. True. But I don’t think many people got their quarter back.

    Ref. dogs: If you remember a dog is a dog, you’ll probably have a hell of a dog. Dogs make pretty good dogs. If you treat it as a person, or try to make it a baby, nobody’s going to be happy, including people watching, who will be looking at each other, rolling their eyes and pretending to induce vomiting. Terrible thing to do to a dog, too.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ Richard & Susan,

    “Personally, I think offering a confident opinion is more effective than getting dictatorial about details in the hopes of appearing dominant.”

    I agree, more or less. Problem is, as we have previously mentioned, that if the guy simply doesn’t care–where they eat, to use the metaphor–then he has to make stuff up.

    We need to keep the goal in mind. The goal is for everyone to have a good time and have their needs met. The goal isn’t to assert dominance for the sake of asserting dominance. But generally someone has to take the initiative and have a plan if everyone is going to have a good time and have their needs met. That doesn’t happen if everyone is sitting around saying “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Someone has to step up, and most women appreciate it when their guy makes the effort to do so.

    Richard, you seem to have difficulty dealing with uncertainty. Look, if you make a plan to do X, and the woman says “I would really prefer to do Y”, then you negotiate over that. All negotiations are different and you have to read the situation at hand. If she really wants to do something and it’s reasonable, then accommodate her. If she’s shit testing you by asking you to do something unreasonable, you may have to hold the line. That takes a careful reading of her motivations. There’s no set rules for that – you just have to improvise. Battle plans don’t survive first contact and all that.

    Likewise, if she’s saying “you decide” and you don’t care, just pick something. “Make stuff up” like you said. Most decisions are arbitrary and don’t really matter much one way or the other, so just make a choice and go with it.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Mr. Wavevector,
    Au contraire. I am so cool with uncertainty that it looks like I have a problem with uncertainty. In many cases, I am so monumentally uninterested in whatever it is that I find it annoying to have to pick one, instead of somebody else–who is presumably more interested in the subject–who ought to be doing the picking. Of whatever.
    If I say, “let’s do X” and somebody else says “let’s do Y”, I’m so okay with that that I probably look weak. But that’s because I picked X at random and that means Y’s just as likely to be good.
    You really don’t know whether it will be good until you get there and do that, and overthinking it in advance is a waste of time.
    It’s when we’re there doing that that I am more useful.
    In case of contingencies or something else that makes whatever it is more interesting.

  • mr. wavevector

    If I say, “let’s do X” and somebody else says “let’s do Y”, I’m so okay with that that I probably look weak.

    Or maybe you’re a cool guy who wants other people to be happy. That’s not weak.

    I think you would only look weak if doing Y was a stupid idea but you went along with it anyway. I don’t think that’s what you’re doing.

  • Emily

    My boyfriend generally suggests the restaurants but he only suggests places that he thinks I’ll like, which I appreciate.

    I’ll let him know if I don’t want that particular restaurant for whatever reason (ie. if he suggests Indian and I ate a curry earlier that day), but that doesn’t happen too often. We have a handful of restaurants that we tend to prefer, so coming up with a counter-suggestion isn’t too difficult.

  • Laurel

    From Susan Walsh: “Wow, if going down on a woman who sends you packing with a boner isn’t supplicating, I don’t know what is! This takes Nice Guy TM to a whole new level, not in a good way.”

    Pretty mean to do to someone, I’ll definitely agree. Guys do something similar to girls all the time, though (from what I hear & read–hasn’t actually happened to me and had better not!)..she satisfies him with oral, but he does nothing at all for her. Definitely a kind of supplication, too.

    I’d think that if a girl’s first experiences of sex were of this kind it would give her a kind of jaundiced attitude..that it’s something you do entirely FOR HIM..and might not really ever get over it.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Laurel

      she satisfies him with oral, but he does nothing at all for her. Definitely a kind of supplication, too.

      Definitely! One of my main arguments against the random hookup, especially with a player type, is that the experience is not going to be physically rewarding. I think a relatively small percentage of men reciprocate oral sex outside a relationship.

      Also, I wonder for these women who don’t have any desire to have sex with their husbands** Do they ever pleasure themselves? If so, who or what do they fantasize about while doing it?

      No, I don’t think so. They have zero sex drive, zero interest in orgasm. It’s not a question of not finding their particular partner hot while lusting after other men. That’s why I think any link to monogamy is faulty.

      My BFF who is the head of Student Health Services for a local university sees a lot of male students with ED issues. The first thing she attempts to discover is whether they can achieve an erection when alone. IOW, is it a plumbing issue or a brain issue? These women have a brain issue – there simply is no capacity for arousal.

      I’ve read recommendations on other blogs that the appropriate male response to this problem is to “instill dread.” (When all else fails, instill dread!) Of course, where there is no capacity for desire, you can only create anxious compliance. Perhaps that is good enough for some men.

  • Laurel

    Also, I wonder for these women who don’t have any desire to have sex with their husbands** Do they ever pleasure themselves? If so, who or what do they fantasize about while doing it?

  • Richard Aubrey

    Mr. Wavevector. I suppose I want people to be happy. Thing is, it takes a lot more to make them happy than it does me.
    I recall seeing three–THREE–adults spending fifteen minutes, that’s forty-five minutes of life span, looking at a city map. It’s a small city. They were trying to figure out which seven-mile route would be best, in terms of stops and what not.
    I guess that made them happy. I went the sidestreets with rolling stops. No stoplights, no traffic. I didn’t tell them. Didn’t want them to be unhappy.
    As Susan said some time back, I’m indifferent.

    Also, although it’s not technically choosing at random, you do not know what will be the case at the place when you arrive. So you don’t really know what will happen, which means it doesn’t make much sense to try to negotiate between three places, all of which seem about the same. May as well flip a coin. But, if I’m going to do the masculine decisive thing, I have to pretend to be interested and knowledgeable.
    Restaurant example. The deep fryer blew up. The new regime is evaluating the staff on how many bottles of wine they sell. There’s a Shriners convention in the back room. Presto. There goes maybe a cumulative hour of agonized discussion about where to go.
    Screw it.
    Old college example: Confusion. A pizza order in a girls’ dorm. Smooth and slick: A pizza order in a guys’ dorm. ’cause the guys will eat anything.
    I’m a guy.

  • Escoffier

    Since this is Slate, I assume it is not a parody, either way it is awesome.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/05/stay_at_home_dad_sexual_fantasies_why_i_d_like_to_stop.html

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Escoffier

      That has to be self-parody. No one in their right mind would consult Hugo Swyzer for advice on how to behave. It’s pretty funny, though – a horny mangina. I wonder if his high achieving wife finds him attractive.

  • Anacaona

    @Richard
    You are cool, man. The small stuff are not important for many people. If your wife is okay with it you found a winner. Me thinks this is another temperament thing. Hubby like you doesn’t care a lot about food except for the 4 things he absolutely hates and doesn’t care about going out so when I feel like eating out of the house I just ask and off we go. I don’t like going out too much either so its not a problem for us. I can’t imagine a relationship were every single choice is measured as masculine or weak. That sounds like the egalitarian obsessed people that are counting how many times he did the laundry to start complaining if they feel cheat out. Not a good way to spent the rest of your life with someone, YMMV.

  • mr. wavevector

    No, I don’t think so. They have zero sex drive, zero interest in orgasm. It’s not a question of not finding their particular partner hot while lusting after other men. That’s why I think any link to monogamy is faulty.

    Is that true? I suspect if these women found themselves a hot latin lover their sex drive would miraculously reappear.

    Here’s an alternative hypothesis – these women only feel sexual desire in the context of a relationship because their sexuality is primarily responsive, not initiating. The relationship is stale and so is their desire. Give them an exciting new partner who demonstrates desire and they will respond in kind. Or perhaps their old partner transforms himself into something more exciting and passionate, and their desire for him returns. Such is the story line that Athol is peddling, anyway.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Mr. wavevector

      Here’s an alternative hypothesis – these women only feel sexual desire in the context of a relationship because their sexuality is primarily responsive, not initiating.

      Interesting. I had yet another hypothesis. That these women are in the 20% unrestricted camp, but they are of good character. They’re not disagreeable, narcissistic, etc. It pains them that they don’t desire their husbands. IOW, we know that some percentage of the population is just not wired for LTRs at all – perhaps these women fit the bill. In that case, Bergner is right in saying it’s about monogamy, but he’s wrong to generalize to AWALT.

  • mr. wavevector

    @ Susan,

    Interesting. I had yet another hypothesis. That these women are in the 20% unrestricted camp, but they are of good character.

    I was thinking the same thing, and our hypotheses might both be true. These women may not be wired for LTRs and can’t feel desire in a hum-drum relationship, AND they need external initiation to awaken their desire. If no-one other than their husband initiates, they are dead to sex. A new attractive and exciting man might trigger their libido, but they are of high character and avoid such situations. So they are stuck – until they finally split. Then they meet someone new and boom! The libido’s back.

    There was a divorced mother of three who sensed herself slipping into the same sexual disinterest with her current partner that she recognized from the slow death of her marriage. “When we split up,” she said about her ex-husband, “it was like going through a second puberty. So I attributed what had gone missing to who he was.”

  • Sriracha Hot Sauce

    “Another poll revealed one in four men is no longer having sexual intercourse at all – and the figure rises to 42 per cent for men over 55 ”

    That’s completely normal and age appropriate, not any “disorder”.

    It seems that a section of “scientists” are quick to label natural phenomena like aging as “disorders”.

    The “natural” result of a completely artificial understanding of life.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Sriracha is that you Plain Jane?