The short answer is Not Always. Men do not always have the higher sex drives. However, this can be hard to believe for a lot of people. For me especially, it was a hard lesson to learn.
Understanding My Own Sex Drive
Growing up in a Christian church, it always seemed implied that men naturally had higher sex drives than women. I was taught by well-meaning adults that the smallest thing could send him “over the edge” and turn him on. I was also taught not to dance too close to a boy or to spoon with him as that might give him a boner.
Once I got to college, I started to notice something was off. In my marriage preparation course, I noticed I identified more with how a man’s sex drive was described than a woman’s. I can get turned on very quickly and often thought about sex. I figured that even though I thought something was off, the experts must be right and once I was married things would be different.
And then I got married, and I wanted sex more than ever. I wanted it in the morning, when we got home from work, before we went to bed. My husband, however, was much more content to just be together. Often, I would try to initiate and he couldn’t meet me there. Things that turned me on just made him relaxed and sleepy. I started to wonder if I was broken. I thought, “if men have a high sex drives, then what kind of animal am I?”. Off hand comments like, “you’re married now, you know how easy it is to turn him on.” made me want to cry. Was I just not sexy or attractive enough? Was I just a freak of nature?
The Answer: Men Don’t Always Have Higher Sex Drives!
Multiple studies have reported about 80% of couples say the husband has the higher desire and 20% say the wife is the higher desire spouse. These numbers are suspected to be biased towards men, as it seems more socially acceptable that men are the more sexual beings. Even still, 20% of women report having higher desire than their husband. That means a marriage with a higher desire wife is just a different type of normal, and I am not alone in my situation.
Where does this myth come from? Although we cannot definitively prove where stereotypes come from, here are a few ideas that have shaped our perception of sex drive.
The Roots of the Problem
Biology: There are biological reasons to believe men usually have the higher sex drive.
- Testosterone is commonly linked to sex drive. The average man has 10x the testosterone level of the average female. However, sex drive is much more complicated than a single hormone.
- Anatomy could also play a role. Men’s sexual organs are outside of their body. There are theories that men are higher desire because they are more likely to understand their own sexual physiology. His whole life, a man is very aware of the circumstances that make his penis hard, and when it’s soft. Conversely, women have a hard time recognizing when their clitoris is enlarged because it is more inside their body.
- Pregnancy. Simply put, men are not the ones who get pregnant. That means, hypothetically, men can enjoy sex more readily and often than women as they don’t have the underlying pressure of becoming pregnant. Many professionals hypothesize that men evolutionarily enjoy sex more as it doesn’t carry the responsibility sex holds for women.
Culture: In addition to these biological factors, culture has often shaped how we perceive sex.
- Men are Sexual Creatures: for hundreds of years and through many cultures, men have been labeled the more sexual creatures. Sex has been associated with male domination and conquest. Still, men are revered for having sex and women are shamed. These factors can change our very mindset. Sex for a long time was seen as something a good wife gave her husband because he wanted it and/or to have children.
- Female Orgasm is Hard: As stated above, female sexual organs are more or less all internal. This makes female orgasm more complicated to achieve, especially when penetration is seen as the only way to “have sex”. In fact, in centuries past Westernized doctors did not believe women were capable of orgasm. Even today, many women do not know how to orgasm and feel awkward learning or asking about it.
- Religion: Unfortunately, this culture is too often spread by religions. Rumors that woman was made for man, have led some to believe that God intended woman to exclusively please man in intercourse. I don’t believe this. I believe the God that made women with such sensitive and wonderful sexual organs intent us to use them. I believe in a God who wants all of His children to grow closer to their spouse through sexual intimacy and pleasure.
How Do We Grow?
So now we know the truth. Not every man has a high sex drive, and not every husband has a higher sex drive than his wife. So what do we do with that information? Here’s what I suggest…
- Don’t be Ashamed: I know it can be hard, but speak up. Don’t feel afraid to let people know you are a woman with a high sex drive, or the other way around. Odds are, there are others in your circle who feel the same way you do and want to know they are not alone.
- Drop the Stigma: The only people involved in your marriage are you, your spouse, and God. Do whatever works for you guys, and don’t worry about what “should” be happening. If you are a wife with a higher desire, choose to see it as a gift instead of something weird or abnormal. Once I was able to drop this stigma, I have found that having connecting sex with my loving husband is one of my favorite things to do!
- Teach your Children: Growing up, I wish I had just one person tell me about my sexual desire. Teach your daughters that they also have a sex drive. That it should be controlled (especially as a teenager) but that it is a blessing from God and something to nurture in the right setting. Tell your sons that it’s okay if they don’t have a high sex drive. Teenage boys are so often portrayed as just a walking hormone; let them know it doesn’t make them less of a man if someday their partner is more “sexual” than them.
- Realize Connection is the Goal: Sex drives often fluctuate and change over a lifetime. Having children, menopause, big life events, and other stressors can change a person’s sex drive. The ultimate goal is not to satisfy, but to connect. Work with your spouse to navigate whatever stage of life you are in. Communicate your wants and needs, and know that there is no right or wrong when it comes to desire levels. Do what helps you two connect as a couple.
Just to say it one more time. No. Men do not always have the higher sex drive. Certain biological and cultural factors lead us to believe men are the sexual creatures, but that is not true. Sex is meant to be enjoyed by husband and wife and used to connect the two.
Once I learned that my high sex drive was normal, I could accept my sexual self. These days, I love who I am; fun, flirty, sexy wife who really loves having sex with her husband.
Whether it’s the wife or the husband who has the higher desire, it can be hard to navigate. Check out our workshop Navigating Differences in Sexual Desire. Don’t lose hope, you are not alone in feeling this way and we are here to help!
Written by: Amanda Severson with Get Your Marriage On!