POSTED ON MARCH 23, 2011:
THE ADVICE GODDESS
A recent column of yours really ticked me off. You stated, "While men can have sex without an emotional connection, women generally need to feel emotionally close to their partner first." You could not be more WRONG. I'm a very good-looking and fit man, and I would never have sex with someone I didn't have feelings for. To further prove my point, I know just as many high-class women who have sex with men they do not have feelings for! So women are just as guilty as men. There is no "generally" about it.
--A Real Man
When a heterosexual man has a one-night stand, which three words best describe how he's likely to feel afterward: "used, degraded, dirty" or "lucky, lucky, lucky!"?
Many women say they can hook up and walk away like men do, and they probably believe that. It seems kind of uncool to be all emotional when you want to be tough and all "no big deal" about casual sex. But we all get our marching orders from our genes. Some of these are unisex, like, "Yoohoo, sharp teeth to your left. Better run!" But there are also separate sets of directives for men and women, corresponding to our physiological differences. In "What Women Want -- What Men Want," anthropologist John Townsend explains, "Because women can be impregnated and abandoned and men cannot, women's emotions evolved to evaluate the quality and reliability of male investment. These emotions act as an alarm system that urges women to test and evaluate investment and remedy deficiencies even when they try to be indifferent to investment."
Yes, this "Dad or Cad?" detector women have seems to be missing the all-important on/off switch. In one of Townsend's studies, he found that even when women just wanted to hump and dump a guy, sex "made them feel vulnerable, and thoughts crossed their minds like 'Does he care about me, is sex all he was after, will he dump me in the morning?' These thoughts were difficult to suppress." They're also especially disheartening to young women who've been taught that "gender is a social construct" and who conflate being equal under the law with being the same. Sure, girls can do lots of things boys can do ... but should they? Hooking up with some random himbo seems like a bad idea if your "I am woman, hear me roar" typically gives way to "I am woman's genes, hear me whimper that we hope he'll call us in the morning."
Don't mistake this as a call for prudery. I'm not suggesting that women who want no-strings sex trade their NuvaRings for chastity rings. And, regarding your contention that there's no "generally" about men, women, and casual sex -- sure, there are exceptions: men who get all emo afterward and women who wish that the guy would evaporate already. Studies don't explain every person; they paint a picture of the average person. There are women who can't have casual sex (they can't help but get attached), but the research suggests to me that some women might just need to differentiate between casual sex and too-casual sex. When a woman isn't up for a boyfriend (or spending a year with her knees crossed), maybe a "friends with benefits" thing could work for her -- if it's a friend she's known and trusted for more than the 26 minutes he spent chatting her up after "last call."
Spanking The Junkie
We all have our indulgences, but how much porn is too much? My boyfriend has hundreds of porn bookmarks in his smart phone. He showed them off to me at dinner and said there were 300. Is having so many a sign that it's less about amusement than it is about compulsive behavior? By the way, he's generally a collector of things.
A guy can show his girlfriend his Hot Wheels collection and she's unlikely to start fretting that he'll be having sex with her but picturing Bobby Unser. And then there's your boyfriend, who's turned the Android into his Porndroid. He may or may not have a porn problem. It's a problem for you if you feel you aren't getting enough time, sex and attention. But what's definitely a problem is the hostility and passive-aggressiveness of a boyfriend who can't just watch on the sly; he has to stick it in his girlfriend's face. Is this really somebody you want to spend a lot more time with? If not, the next time he shoves his phone across the dinner table and asks, "Seen the position of the day?" you might show him one of your own -- one you like to call doggie bag-style: woman, from behind, carrying the rest of her dinner out the restaurant door to go find a guy who's nice to her.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of "I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society."
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