Red Hot Sex: 7 Little Known Secrets For A Lifetime of Passion and Love
Red Hot Sex: 7 Little Known Secrets For A Lifetime of Passion and Love
By Jed Diamond, Ph.D., LCSW
Everyone wants a great sex life, but few people know how to achieve it and even fewer know how to maintain it in a long-term relationship. Couple’s try new positions and look for “sexy” things to wear. They try to improve their communication and relationship skills. But to really have a great sex life you have to know the secrets of what it means to be male and female. And learn the dance of creative connection.
I still remember going to the store with my mother to get my first “boy shoes.” I had outgrown my white baby shoes and was excited to be moving into the gendered world of males and females (though I had no conscious thoughts in my 4 year-old mind at the time).
The shoe store was alive with color and choices, but I went straight for the red Keds. I didn’t know that Keds were first manufactured by the U.S. Rubber company (known today as Uniroyal) in 1916 or that they were the first shoe to be made with soft rubber soles that enabled the wearer to quietly sneak up on people, hence the term “sneakers. I did know that Red Keds were the finest things I had ever seen.
After measuring my feet, the salesman went into the back to bring out the shoes. When he opened the box, I was shocked and disappointed to see that they were blue, not red. I could understand that they had sold out all the Red Keds in my size. But it made no sense to me when the salesman said to my mother, “He’ll want the blue of course, being a little boy.” I didn’t wait for my mother’s response, “I want the Red Keds,” I told him. My mother shrugged, but supported my assertiveness and I walked out of the store wearing my first boy shoes.
Note: I’m going to talk about “males” and “females” and how our differences (and similarities) need to be understood in order to have a great sex and love life. But we all need to remember that we’re talking about group differences, not individual differences.
For instance, we’d all agree that “men are taller and stronger than women.” We understand that we’re talking about averages, not individuals. At 5 feet 5 inches tall, I’m more than aware that not all men are taller than all women. There are a lot of women taller than me (including me wife, Carlin, by about an inch). I am stronger than her, but there are many women stronger than I am.
Most of you will recognize the sex differences I will describe. But there’s always a significant percentage of males and females, that don’t go with the way men or women tend to be. As a woman you may find yourself with qualities that are more often associated with males, and of course, there will be some men who have qualities more commonly associated with women.
So please keep that in mind as we explore the secrets of great sex!
Sex Secret #1: The Market Place Is a Bad Place for Sex Education
There are “boy” things and “girl” things. We are not unisex beings no matter how politically correct we try and be. However, what the salesmen of the world tell us about the essence of gender is not to be trusted. My 4 year-old brain knew he was 100% male and that red, including all variations including purple and pink, was a 100% male color.
When I got my first bicycle and was told the “boy bikes” had a bar across and the “girl” bikes didn’t, I once again rebelled. By then, I was well aware that boys had vulnerable sex parts that hung down in front and that riding a bike could be a dangerous activity (particularly when learning). It was obvious to me that bouncing off the seat onto a hard metal bar was not good for my boy parts and I would be much safer having a bike with a scoop in front.
I did get teased for my red shoes and for riding my bike and I learned to stand up for my own male essence. We need to stand up for who we really are as males and females.
Sex Secret #2: Learn Y Males Are So Insecure.
Genesis, chapter 5, tells us about “the generations of Adam”: Adam begat Seth, Seth begat Enosh, Enosh begat Kenan… down to Noah of the flood. Translated into modern genetic terms, the account could read “Adam passed a copy of his Y chromosome to Seth, Seth passed a copy of his Y chromosome to Enosh, Enosh passed a copy of his Y chromosome to Kenan”… and so on until Noah was born carrying a copy of Adam\’s Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is paternally inherited; human males have one while females have none.
All human cells, other than mature red blood cells, possess a nucleus which contains the genetic material (DNA) arranged into 46 chromosomes, themselves grouped into 23 pairs. In 22 pairs, both members are essentially identical, one deriving from the individual\’s mother, the other from the father. The 23rd pair is different. While in females this pair has two like chromosomes called “X,” in males it comprises one “X” and one “Y,” two very dissimilar chromosomes. It is these chromosome differences which determine sex. That’s the good news about the Y chromosome. If we didn’t have it we would all be females.
However, the bad news is that the Y is very short compared to the X with which it is paired. As a result males suffer more genetic problems than females such as color blindness and muscular dystrophy. From the moment of conception males are more fragile and vulnerable than females. Male fetuses die more often than female. So do male newborns. So do male infants. So do male adolescents. So do male adults. So do old men.
Males may act strong and puff out our chests to make us appear bigger than we are, but the truth is that we are forever trying to make up for our inherent vulnerabilities. Why are males so insecure? Because we exist in bodies that are inherently less stable than those of females. Knowing that truth can go a long way to helping us all understand males better. And better understanding leads to better sex.
Sex Secret #3: Understand Why Sperm Are From Males, Eggs Are From Females.
Although there is a lot of talk these days about what it means to be a man (less talk about what it means to be a woman, which says something about basic male vs. female insecurity), biologists have a very clear and specific definition. Whether they are studying ferns, fish, or human beings, males are the ones who produce lots of small gametes (sex cells) and females are the ones who produce a smaller number of larger gametes.
Ultimately, it is the type of gamete—egg or sperm—an individual produces, rather than penis or vagina, breast or beard, color or costume, red shoes or blue shoes, that determines the difference between maleness and femaleness.
Nature has worked it out for the small gametes to fuse with the large gametes to begin the process of creating the next generation of ferns, fish, or human beings. Since it’s easier to move the small gametes to the large ones, rather than vice versa, it is the sperm that do the swimming to seek out the egg that awaits the winner.
How big are eggs compared to sperm? Although the human egg is microscopic, it is large enough to house 250,000 sperm. Eggs weigh 85,000 times as much as sperm.
What’s the numbers ratio of eggs to sperm? A woman ovulates about 400 eggs in her lifetime. The male strategy is to produce as many gametes as possible, to increase the chances of finding a large one. A healthy male produces 500,000,000 sperm per day.
Think for a moment about how the world looks from a sperm’s and egg’s perspective. If you’re a sperm, you’re small and outnumbered by millions of sperm all competing to mate with a precious egg (You also have to worry about some other man’s sperm who may also be competing for a chance to win the sexual lottery and “bond.”
On the other hand the egg, is precious and bountiful and just waits for the potential sperm swimmers to come knocking. There is evidence that the egg can actually tell which sperm would make the best choice before she opens up to let him in.
The egg/sperm gender difference is obvious, but its implications can help us better understand why we do what we do and how to have a better sex and love life. Biologically speaking sperm (and the males who make them) are always in competition, always feel worried about being top dog or the best on the block, and always a bit worried about their status. Eggs (and the females who make them) are always being sought after, but never sure that once she chooses the “right” one, she will always be the center of attention. Talking about this and working out our values and actions are part of what will make sex and love wonderful or a source of tension and worry.
Sex Secret #4: Males Are Roving Inseminators. Females Are Wily Choosers.
Compared to what is invested in making great big eggs, we don’t invest much in the small little sperms. Likewise all female mammals, including women, invest enormous resources in their offspring after fertilization occurs. Think building a placenta, pregnancy, birthing, breast feeding, and rearing. Compared to this males have little to do with the actual business of reproduction, beyond producing sperm packaged in seminal fluid.
Again think of things through the eyes of the other. Females produce costly, nutrient-rich eggs and males produce cheap, near-naked sperm. This relates to male and female behavior.
We all know that men are more physically competitive than women (again, remember that I’m talking about most men and most women. Some women could stomp my butt in physical competitions). Thirty-five years ago, a young evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, Robert Trivers, postulated that sexual competition is a replay of fertilization itself. Numerous males, like small, hyperactive sperm, compete among themselves for access to females.
Women often shake their heads at the silly (and sometimes downright crazy) things men do to get the attention of women. Success crowns those who are pushy enough to out-compete their rivals yet have enough wanderlust to keep moving, searching for new conquests.
Here’s a little thought experiment. If you all pretended you were males and I asked you how many children you could produce in a year, if you worked real hard at it. Most of you would recognize your huge sperm reserves and be able to make lots of babies. Now if I asked you all to pretend you were women and asked how many babies you could make in a year if you tried real hard. A lot fewer, right? One, maybe two. There’s all that pregnancy to contend with.
Trivers called the males of our species “roving inseminators.” In most cases, the female who invests more in offspring becomes the limited resource, something for which the sex that invests less, usually, the male—must compete to have.
Since sex can lead to a major commitment on the part of the woman, she has to be a wily chooser, trying to make sure she gives herself to a man who has good genes, resources to support her and her child, and a willingness to commit his resources to her.
Because of the male-female differences in parental investment, competition becomes predominantly a male activity and choice becomes a female prerogative.
What competing is to males, choosing is to females.
Sex Secret #5: Males Are Drawn to Multiple Partners, Women Prefer One at a Time.
One of the things I hear over and over in my counseling practice is a woman saying, “How could he really love me and become interested in another woman.” Men will tell me, usually in confidence, “I love my wife and want to be with her, but I still am drawn to wanting to be with other women.”
All sex studies show this difference. “Among all peoples, everywhere in the world,” concluded noted sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues, “it is understood that the male is more likely than the female to desire sexual relations with a variety of partners.”
Why? We can decry the morality of this, but the truth is that promiscuity has different biological consequences for males and females.
Now, let me be clear. Just because men are more likely to be drawn to wanting multiple partners, doesn’t mean he has no choice. Understanding our biological “pulls” can help us make wise choices about how we want to live our lives. By ignoring our biology and insisting “I would never get involved with someone else,” we often set ourselves, and our partners up, for disaster.
Be Aware of the Coolidge Effect:
Here’s a well-known story that illustrates this propensity in men. President Calvin Coolidge and his wife were touring a model farm during the 1920s. While the President was elsewhere, the farmer proudly showed Mrs. Coolidge a rooster that “could copulate with hens all day long, day after day.” Mrs. Coolidge coyly suggested that the farmer tell that to Mr. Coolidge, which he did.
The President thought for a moment and then inquired, “With the same hen?”
“No, sir,” replied the farmer. “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge,” retorted the President.
Again, because a man may be drawn to having sex with multiple partners, it doesn’t mean he must act on his desire and not all men have the desire. But if you’re going to have great sex, you have to accept the biological roots of our desire.
Sex Secret #6: When Men Have Sex, They Feel More Intimate. When Women Feel Intimate, They Are More Desirous of Sex.
“Not tonight, dear,” goes the familiar refrain. “I have a headache.” Or “I’m tired. Could we wait until the weekend?” We more often hear this refrain coming from a woman, rather than a man (though as you’ll see in Sex Secret #7, this may change as we get older and men’s testosterone levels begin to drop).
Again biologically speaking women have a lot more to lose when having sex, so they are choosier about who they mate with and what the circumstances are. Men, particularly young men, are happy to have sex any time, any place, and sometimes with anyone who is handy.
We see the biological basis of the males desire for sex by studying gay men (before the AIDS epidemic). Generally gay men had many more sexual partners than lesbian women. If the partner they desired wanted to have sex as much as they did, most men would want more sex than they often get with their female partner.
Most women, on the other hand, are desirous of less sex, but higher quality sex. By that, most women mean that they need to feel an emotional connection with a man, to be romanced, before they are ready for sex. “Sex is most often something the man wants and the woman agrees to,” say David Barash and Judith Lipton, authors of Making Sense of Sex. “Among men,” writes evolutionary biologist Donald Symons, “sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex.”
If you’re starting to understand why having great sex isn’t so simple, I’m getting my point across. If you’re thinking men and women can never find a meeting point where they will both be happy, read on.
Sex Secret #7: Emotional Attachment is the Key to Great Sex and Lasting Love
If you want great sex and love that lasts forever and never gets boring, there are some things you need to know that most of us have never learned. Forget about learning how to argue better. Forget about analyzing your early childhood experiences and how you’ve been wounded. Forget about experimenting with new sexual positions or finding new sex toys.
Instead, get to the emotional underpinnings of your relationship by recognizing that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection.
Many people recognize the importance of loving care and physical contact with infants and children for their emotional growth and development. But we think that once we grow up we no longer need that kind of care. We believe that we must be more independent, stand on our own two feet, and take care of many of these emotional needs on our own.
Men, in particular, are socialized to believe that it isn’t manly to cry, to ask to be held when we are afraid, or to be talked to with quiet words of kindness and love. I remember a cartoon that illustrated our view that “real men” need to be tough. It shows a man and a woman sitting across from each other in a restaurant having a romantic dinner. The woman has just picked up a fork and stabbed the man in the bridge of his nose. The caption reads, “That’s what I love about you Louie, you’re tough.”
I still wince, every time I think of the cartoon, but think about how much of my life I’ve spent trying to be tough, so I could win over a woman who seemed to be attracted to men who were tough. This is a case where our evolutionary roots may not serve our own happiness.
Our genes don’t care whether we have a loving, intimate, sexually satisfying life with our partner. They just care, if we can take liberties and say that they care about anything, about getting themselves passed on. Women may be drawn to strong men, but they’ll have a much better love life with a man who is emotionally responsive. Men may be drawn to multiple partners, but they’ll have a much better sex life with a woman who they commit to now and forever.
Dr. Sue Johnson is a clinical psychologist, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, and a recognized leader in the new science of relationships. In her most recent book, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love she offers powerful insights and hands-on tools for keeping your relationship alive, well, and passionate for life.
Much of modern psychotherapy has told people that there is something childish or emotionally immature about being attached to an adult lover. We have used terms like codependent, needy, and wimpy to describe people who express those needs. But that is beginning to change.
Social psychologists Phil Shaver and Cindy Hazan, then at the University of Denver, decided to ask men and women questions about their love relationships to see if they exhibited the same responses and patterns as mothers and children. To their surprise, they found that adult lovers have the same needs that we had when we were children and that healthy love includes healthy attachment.
In their answers the adults spoke of needing emotional closeness from their lover, wanting assurance that their lover would respond when they were upset, being distressed when they felt separate and distant from their loved one, and feeling more confident about exploring the world when they knew their lover had their back.
In Dr. Johnson’s program she says that the key to a lifetime of good sex and love was “emotional responsiveness.”
How A.R.E. You Really?
The basis of Dr. Johnson’s approach is to teach people the secrets contained in the phrase “How are you really?”
A is for Accessibility: Can I reach you?
This means staying open to your partner even when you have doubts and feel insecure. It often means being willing to struggle to make sense of your emotions so these emotions are not so overwhelming. You can then step back from disconnection and can tune in to your lover’s attachment cues.
R is for Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?
This means tuning in to your partner and showing that his or her emotions, especially attachment needs and fears, have an impact on you. It means accepting and placing a priority on the emotional signals your partner conveys and sending clear signals of comfort and caring when your partner needs them. Sensitive responsiveness always touches us emotionally and calms us on a physical level.
E is for Engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close?
The dictionary defines engaged as being absorbed, attracted, pulled, captivated, pledged, involved. Emotional engagement here means the very special kind of attention that we give only to a loved one. We gaze at them longer, touch them more. Partners often talk of this as being emotionally present.
I hope you can begin to see that this kind of emotional bonding is what is present when we are having the best sex and love we would imagine. It’s also what is missing when we begin to pull away from each other and feel emotionally alone and disconnected. If you’d like to learn more I recommend Dr. Johnson’s book and website.
Jed Diamond, Ph.D. has been a marriage and family counselor for the last 44 years. He is the author of 10 books, including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome, and the forthcoming MenAlive: Stop Killer Stress With Simple Energy Healing Tools He offers counseling to men, women, and couples in his office in California or by phone with people throughout the U.S. and around the world. To receive a free subscription to Jed’s e-newsletter go to www.MenAlive.com. If you are looking for an expert counselor to help with relationship issues, write Jed@MenAlive.com.