Whether you’ve heard them, employed them, or fell victim to them — at one time or another we’ve all been subjected to stereotypes surrounding sex.
Common cliches present men as dominant, adventurous, and emotionally unattached, and women as compliant, sexually modest, and emotionally sensitive…
And these stereotypes impact all of us, male and female - within heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships. Misconceptions about sexual expression affect relationships by alluding to false sexual compatibility, or simply put, by creating misperceptions about shared beliefs and preferences regarding sex. Perhaps your partner does not feel comfortable expressing their true nature, compelled to conform by a lifetime of cultural pressures and decades of societal messaging on gender roles.
“Perceiving sexual compatibility with a partner has been shown to be related to sexual satisfaction, such that the more sexually compatible you are, the more sexually satisfied you are,” according to Kristen Mark, Ph.D., Director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky. “Researchers have consistently found that sexual satisfaction is also significantly positively related to relationship satisfaction; when one increases (or decreases), the other tends to follow.”
To help readers find their perfect match in the pursuit of love and intimacy, we’ve provided clarity on common sexuality myths. Even if these myths do not directly apply to your experiences, this forum is intended to create a dialogue. A dialogue to help us all form better relationships - in which both partners feel empowered to express their true needs and desires.
Myth: Men are more promiscuous than women
Men tend to report a higher number of sexual partners than women do, although the average number reported by both is relatively the same. Where does this misconception stem from? As it turns out, men are more likely than women to estimate rather than count their lifetime partners. Not to mention, women are generally more conservative in their sexual sharing than men, perhaps causing them to undersell their number of sexual partners.
The underlying culprit of this falsehood is a double standard — a code of morals applied in different ways to different people. Ergo, a woman who engages in consensual sex with multiple partners is labeled with a host of abusive names, whereas that exact behavior is often celebrated in men as an indication of masculinity. In reality, “most women would like to be as sexually open as men are, but the social script won’t allow it.”
Myth: Men want sex more than women do
There is a long-standing assumption that men desire sex more than women do. The notion that men pounce at the first opportunity for sex while women make frequent claims of “not being in the mood” created the narrative that sex is a higher priority for men.
However, women like sex just as much as men, if not more in some cases! Also, be aware that some women face conditions like hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) that cause sexual dysfunction. It’s crucial to understand that biological factors influence our libidos and to be aware of what treatments are available, such as Addyi, the first FDA-approved drug to help women treat low libido — the leading symptom of HSSD.
Important to note, libido affecting conditions are not restricted to women - men are affected by a host of medical and psychological obstacles as well. Should you be concerned, there are abundant resources available, in the form of medication (pharmaceutical and natural remedies), as well as through psychological care, i.e. sex therapy.
Myth: Birth control is the woman’s responsibility
As a cultural standard, women shoulder most of the responsibility to prevent pregnancy. Why is that? Maybe it’s because when we hear the term “birth control” our thoughts steer immediately to the pill.
But contraception extends beyond birth control pills, which means the responsibility is shared.
While there are promising advancements in the development of male birth control methods, the only current non-permanent solution is condoms. Nevertheless, neither the birth control pill or condoms need to be a gender-specific responsibility. Heterosexual men - you too can be included in the birth control process - perhaps by helping your partner stick to a pill schedule, or by attending appointments about birth control options and/or medical check-ups.
Truly, both partners should be involved, and that goes both ways. Ladies, what about acquiring condoms as well? Here are some organizations that distribute condoms for free.
Myth: Women easily orgasm through penetration
We did some digging, asking a sub-group of 100 male community members about this topic. Nearly 35% marked ‘true’ to this sex myth. It’s never fun to be the bearer of bad news, but studies say that around 80% of women admit to faking an orgasm during intercourse.
A study by the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that only 18% of women studied said that penetration alone was enough to reach orgasm. The rest reported a need for clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm during sex.
The point: A loving partner seeks out ways to fulfill their loved one’s needs.
Consider this a push to have a conversation - try asking: I’d like to make this about you today, what can I do for you? This prompt may just improve not only your partner’s satisfaction, but yours as well.
Myth: Men are more sexually adventurous
Society’s standards set the tone that women are inherently emotional beings, and men, physical. There’s a cultural undertone that men desire sexual experimentation to a much higher degree, while a woman’s sexuality exists to please others or for reproductive purposes.
You may not believe this, but the fact remains - our society perpetuates untrue and unhealthy stereotypes surrounding sex and gender.
However, not only is it important for women to explore their sexuality, but many actually do. In fact, one-third of women watch porn on a weekly basis and 92% of women ages 18-22 masturbate regularly. Exploring one’s sexuality is important to gain insight and communicate personal likes and dislikes with a partner, in addition to becoming comfortable with our bodies.
The capacity to form romantic relationships comprises views on intimacy, which, if misinformed, can lead to unrealistic expectations and sexual dissatisfaction. Mitigating myths about sexual attitudes will allow for a stronger connection between partners both physically and emotionally. Even partners with different sexual preferences can still be compatible, so long as they recognize each other’s differing desires and work to fulfill them.
With love, Your Heartalytics Team