Now that my friends and I are in our fifties I’m amazed that the differences between the sexes remain so baffling and mysterious, and still such a huge topic of conversation. A lady friend reminded me of this recently when she asked, “Don’t men feel romantic like women do?” She had gone through a bad divorce and was gearing up to reenter the battle of the sexes, and I think she was wary of being fooled again. She leaned over and whispered embarrassedly, “You know, when a man is inside a women, when they’re having sex, don’t men feel a psychic bond with women?”
I told her I couldn’t answer for all men but I said it helps to picture men in simple terms. “Remember when we were kids, and we needed to go to the bathroom?”
“Yes,” she replied surprised by the change of subjects.
“You’d say, ‘Mommy, I’ve got to go to number 1’ or ‘number 2.’”
“Yeah,” she said giving me an odd look.
“Well, sex for men is number 3.”
“That’s disgusting. That’s the most horribly unromantic thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t think it’s true.”
“Okay, think back to all your boyfriends and husbands. How often did they want to have sex and how often did you want to have sex?”
She open her mouth to argue back immediately, and then paused, “OK, I can see what you mean.”
I’m reading a book called Why Women Have Sex by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss and it makes it abundantly clear that women are complicated, giving 237 reasons why women have sex. As a male, I found it very informative, because it explained 237 reasons why I seldom got laid.
Why Women Have Sex feels like a freshman survey textbook, and reading it suggests that both men, and women, will need graduate work, if not a doctorate before they will understand female sexuality. There is no need to write a book about why men have sex. Their physiology programs them to reproduce. They feel this programming as a strong biological urge that requires release. Thus, the reference to number 3.
My lady friend complained about science intruding into the topic. “What about romance?”
“Some men are romantic and some are not,” I replied. “But I don’t think it’s connected to sex, but I’m not sure.” I went on to explain a story in the book Why Women Have Sex, which illustrates my point.
I can’t remember the exact details, but the book described a small mammal that came in two species. One was monogamous and one was not. Scientists eventually found a chemical in the monogamous species that wasn’t in the other. They injected the chemical into the life-long bachelor species, and they became monogamous.
All I can tell my friend is maybe some men have a romantic gene and others don’t. If women ever get an over-the-counter test for the monogamy hormone, guys we’re in trouble. And what if science creates a monogamy pill? Will men have to take their faithful drug every evening when their mates take their birth control pill?
I’ve talked to a number of women about this conversation and they all dislike it. They don’t like science analyzing human nature. One lady said she wanted men to be like my blogging friend Carl. I was amazed at this because it was many months ago when a few women in the office read Carl’s comments to one of my blogs and they all immediately loved his romantic ways. Evidently romantic guys are memorable. Notice that my lady friend above never asked why men wanted sex, she just wanted to know if men were romantic like women. If fact, she implied she didn’t want to believe that men were unromantic.
I’m reading Why Women Have Sex because women’s sexual urges are baffling, not as simple as going to number 3. If women were like men, we’d all be mating like Bonobos. If men were romantic like women, wouldn’t the world be very different? That might be the answer to my friend.
Women should be reading this book more than men because it explains why women love and hate men. But time and again my lady friends are repelled by the details I relay to them from the book. So I’ll suggest another topic for Meston and Buss. They should write a book about why women hate scientific inquiries into romance. Whenever I talk to a woman about relationships and suggest there might be a biological basis, most women get annoyed. It’s anti-romantic.
I know its terrible to generalize like this, but it does appear to be a common attitude among the women I know. One lady friend gave me a clue though. She said science might explain animal biology, but it can’t explain human behavior. I wonder if this is a religious bias. Are humans divine and unexplainable by research, and animals are lowly aspects of the physical world that can be explained. It makes me wonder if romance and religion have similar biological causes, and for some people it’s territory that scientists shouldn’t explore.
JWH – 12/22/9