Busting the Myth of Male Sexuality — The Need to Be Desired
Provocative new research opens up dialogue about less familiar aspects of male desire and need to be wanted.
- Interviews with heterosexual men in relationships revealed that feeling desired was “very important” to the vast majority.
- Only 12 percent of men reported that their partners made them feel as sexually desired as they wanted to feel.
- Expressions of desire include compliments, dirty talk, and communicating about sex, flirting, romantic touch, and initiating sex.
- Sexual scripts and stereotypes can be limiting. Recognizing that men and women both want to feel desired may contribute to healthier relationships.
There’s no question that our culture is — ahem — still evolving when it comes to sexuality. Male heterosexual desire is still highlighted more than feminine desire, queer desire or other forms of longing and arousal. Yet there is an apparent paradox. The caricatured version of male sexual desire dominates media and culture while nuanced views remain under-represented, teaching the wrong lesson about what male sexuality is and can be. Undetected, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Does male desire tend to be two-dimensional, exactly because it is so dominant as to assume the guise of truth? Men may feel pressure to be one way, being another way a source of stigma and shame. This state of affairs perpetuates unconscious bias which shapes development by presenting a restricted and constraining set of paths to follow and models to emulate.
Addressing the lack of research on men’s need to be desired sexually
Recent work in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy is therefore especially notable. Researchers Sarah Hunter and Lori Brotto tell us how limited and limiting sexual scripts are: “Current sexual scripts for heterosexual relationships in the Western world stipulate that men should be the ones to initiate sexual activity, push to the next level of physical intimacy, and to desire women (and not be desirable themselves).” At the same time, they report that while “there is some evidence that sexual scripts may be evolving…