Men and women experience arousal differently

Men and women experience arousal differently. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

For most men, sexual stimulation can be instant while women take time to get into the mood

If it hasn’t happened yet, be sure that sooner or later the differences in the way you and your partner experience sexual pleasure will soon become the source of conflict in your relationship. This is what I mean: men and women are different, and their sexual expectations are also different.  If this difference is not well managed it can be the source of bedroom wars and relationship dissatisfaction. These differences played out when I attended Joan and Trevor at the Sexology Clinic.

“There are days that I just need to be cuddled and feel the warmth of my husband and have peace. Just that! It feels good,” Joan explained, “Yet this has frequently led to disagreements between me and Trevor because for him any time my body touches his we must go all the way.”

“You are being mean with the truth,” Trevor said, “all you want is to be cuddled, you do not allow anything else, you never want sex; I am tired of cuddling you.”

Trevor accused Joan of being sexually inert and insensitive. He accused her of starving him sexually.

“And whenever we attempt sex she is always dry and says it’s painful!” Trevor exclaimed throwing his arms in the air in desperation. There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment. Joan was staring into space.

“Sometimes I feel like I am being raped,” she said, “Trevor knows nothing about foreplay, he does not know how to love a woman.”

The couple was in their mid-30s. They had been married for seven years and had two children. Trevor was an accountant while Joan was a teacher. Digging deeper into their sexual history, I realised that they endured having sex with each other because their preferences were different.

Joan and Trevor, like many other couples, did not understand the difference between men and women when it comes to sexual expectations and experiencing pleasure. Sometimes the differences are pronounced, but many times they are not as obvious, mostly because people have learnt to meet the needs of their partners in one way or another. 

You may have noted that men tend to be the initiators of sex. Women tend to be laid back and await the man to act; this makes them feel desired and enhances their satisfaction. Occasionally women do initiate sex but if it becomes the norm they soon get offended, wondering if the man has any interest in them at all.

For most men, sexual stimulation can be instant. Women, on the other hand, take time to get into the mood and so foreplay is essential for their satisfaction. Unfortunately, some men do not know this fact and rush into penetration before the woman is ready. In such cases, sex can be dry and painful.

“You can repeat that!” Joan said in disdain. 

Some women have learnt to cope with the short-lived foreplay and adapted to getting ready as penetration is going on. The trouble with this approach is that when the woman is ready to go, the man is done, leaving the woman in limbo. 

“Yes, he then falls asleep and snores, very much fulfilled, and caring less what I’m going through,” Joan said. She was getting excited with every step of my explanation.

“I do not think blaming the man is fair here, let us not demonise penetrative sex, it is still the most important part of intimacy and the differences in expectation are not anybody’s mistake,” Trevor said to which I nodded in affirmation, noting for sure that the differences are not anybody’s mistake and are natural.

The expectations do not, however, end with penetrative sex. At the end of the penetration, women expect to be shown love. They expect a cuddle and a show of interest by the man still matters. The man, on the other hand, is done and finished. Many want to sleep and rest. If they were to leave they just want to go immediately and feel stressed if the woman is asking for a cuddle. Many women are left confused at that point, wondering if the sexual act was a mistake.

“I hope Trevor now understands better how to handle a woman and will be more considerate in his penetration,” Joan said as we came to the end of the session.

“And I hope you too now understand that as much as a man needs to take care of a woman, he has his needs which you should meet,” Trevor fired back as they stood to leave. They did promise to be more sensitive to each other’s needs.