Have you ever wondered what your partner thinks about S-E-X? If not, you should! Sex is a universal experience and much like a language, communication is most effective when two people are speaking the same language. I remember sitting in a Human Sexuality class listening to the professor talk about the differences between men and women physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I walked away from the lecture thinking, “Oh no, this sex thing could easily spin out of control!” And out of control it is in most relationships. Today, I spend a great deal of time counseling couples on communication, parenting, work-life balance and other areas of chaos. However, there is no other topic that can get the blood boiling than the hot-topic of sex and expectations.
Communication (In and Out of the Bedroom)
Sex is appealing both physically and emotionally. Both men and women experience physically pleasing sensations while engaged in many sexual behaviors. Sex also creates a sense of connection between couples that brings them closer. Of course, every person is different. Not every man or woman views sex like all other men and women. So, with that said, it is important for partners to be open with each other, and share what is pleasing to them (or not) during sex.
This is important for the partners’ sexual relationship and emotional relationship. Without this kind of communication, couples may experience frustration, misunderstandings, and pain in both their sexual and emotional relationships. As uncomfortable as this seems, communication in the bedroom and outside of the bedroom is key.
Preferences and Stimulations
Every individual has their own view and preferences regarding sex. However, in general, men and women view sex differently and enjoy it for different reasons. To begin, men view sex to be more physical and enjoy it for the physical pleasure they experience. This is also why they tend to prioritize sex over other events in the relationship compared to women. Women view sex as an activity to support the relationship and bring closeness emotionally. They may feel secure in their relationship while engaged in sex, they enjoy sex for physical pleasures as well but may emphasize the emotional benefits more.
Men and woman also have different stimulations during sex that are appealing to both. Men appeal to sight, smell—and all stimulations are centered on the body. Women, on the other hand, appeal to touch, attitudes, actions, and words. The stimulations they appeal to center on their partner.
Remember, everyone has expectations and needs they want to be met during sex. Men’s needs are generally respect, physical needs, and admiration. Women’s needs are generally understanding, love, emotional needs, and time. It is important that couples understand and do their best to meet these needs so both partners enjoy sex, and no misunderstandings occur. This is a conversation that you can have with your partner outside of the bedroom.
Physical Differences to Remember
There are also some physical differences between men and women. Both men and women experience orgasms but in slightly different ways. Men’s orgasms are shorter and more intense, while women experience a longer and more in-depth climax. Like other aspects of sex, orgasms are physically oriented for men and emotionally oriented for women. Lastly, it is possible for women to receive satisfaction without an orgasm. This is not possible for men, they do need an orgasm to receive satisfaction.
With all of this information it is important for couples to remember this:
Communication is necessary for couples to bridge the gender gap. Men and women communicate and understand differently. To communicate with your partner more effectively, each of you should create a sexual expectation list and have a conversation surrounding your needs. Remember, your needs must be attainable and non-threatening. Intimacy is designed to support the relationship and bring a couple closer. It should not be used as a tool to hurt or control another person.
2. Set Healthy Priorities
Sexual priorities are different for each individual. With that said, it is important to understand both your priorities and your partner’s priorities intimately. The only way to do this is to have a conversation. Communicating one’s expectations and setting healthy priorities will assist in preventing additional frustration during intimacy.
3. Be Open
Having opening discussions about difficult topics can be challenging. This challenge can be overcome. The ability to become vulnerable with your partner begins with understanding yourself first. Ask yourself, “What are my fears?” “What do I need from my partner?” “Are my expectations reasonable?” “What am I willing to give or invest in this process?” Remember, do your own work first, before expecting your partner to do the work for you.
Of course, men and women view sex differently, but that’s okay! When we take the time to understand each other and give unselfishly, we can enjoy healthy intimate relationships void of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and frustration.
Authors: Dr. Jada Jackson, LMHC, LPC; Nicole Perez – UCF Psychology Intern