With all the gender stereotypes out there about sex, some are bound to be true. Do women orgasm as much as men think? Can men and women ever be “just friends”? Here are the answers science has given us.
1. Men can rarely be “just friends”.
While it’s certainly more convenient to assume that men and women are able to have strictly platonic friendships, recent research suggests otherwise.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire ran an experiment, questioning 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends about their friendships.
The results of the study were clear: men were typically much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Interestingly, nearly everyone participating in the study, both men and women, assumed their feelings were mutual – whether romantic or platonic.
Further, men were just as likely to want romantic dates with friends who were taken as they were with friends who weren’t. Women, on the other hand, were not interested in pursuing a man who was already taken.
As the Scientific American article about this very study notes, “Results suggest that men, relative to women, have a particularly hard time being ‘just friends’… Two people can experience the exact same relationship in radically different ways. Men seem to see myriad opportunities for romance in their supposedly platonic opposite-sex friendships. The women in these friendships, however, seem to have a completely different orientation—one that is actually platonic.”
2. Women find “nice guys” less attractive.
According to an article in Newsweek, researchers from the University of Rochester, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya in Israel investigated the idea that, upon meeting, men find nice women more attractive than women find nice men.
In this study, participants were paired with others of the opposite gender who they’d never met before. The study measured the correlation between a personality trait termed “responsiveness” and attractiveness to the opposite sex.
The researchers defined responsiveness as naturally signaling an understanding, encouraging, and supportive personality. While responsiveness is important for long-term relationships to thrive, it is not a factor for attraction in first meetings, at least not from a woman’s point of view.
The study observed that men were more drawn to responsive women upon first meeting them than their less-responsive counterparts. The men said they associated responsiveness with femininity and attractiveness.
On the other hand, women did not associate responsiveness in men with either femininity nor masculinity, but they did feel more attracted to the non-responsive men.
This could be for a variety of reasons: as lead researcher Gurit Birnbaum points out in a press release, “Women may perceive this person as inappropriately nice and manipulative (i.e., trying to obtain sexual favors) or eager to please, perhaps even as desperate, and therefore less sexually appealing. Alternatively, women may perceive a responsive man as vulnerable and less dominant.”
3. Women orgasm less than men think.
According to The Kinsey Institute, 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm during their last sexual encounter, compared to 64% of women who report that they actually did. Whether this is from women misreporting, men misreporting, or genuine misunderstanding, there is a significant discrepancy.
Kinsey reports that women are much more likely to be orgasmic when alone than with a partner. However, among women currently in a partnered relationship, 62% say they are very satisfied with how often they orgasm. This seems to be because many women report that even more satisfying than the sensation of orgasm itself is the feeling of being connected to someone.
Studies at Brown University indicate that it does not necessarily take longer for women to reach orgasm than it does for men, at least not during masturbation. During masturbation, women typically reach orgasm in a little less than four minutes, compared to two and three minutes for men.
However, women take significantly longer to reach orgasm during foreplay and intercourse. It typically takes women 10-20 minutes to reach orgasm, whereas men typically take 7-14 minutes overall, 2-3 minutes after beginning intercourse.
The reasons it might take longer for women to reach orgasm during sex with a partner includes lack of communication about sexual desires, emotional complexities, and more.
One helpful fact is that kissing consistently makes for better sex. That, plus enhanced sexual and emotional communication, is likely to increase the pleasure and satisfaction women experience during lovemaking.
4. Sex is confidence-affirming for men.
Researcher Anne Campbell, a psychologist at Durham University in England surveyed more than 3,300 people between the ages of 17 and 40 about one-night stands and how they felt afterwards. While 54% of women had overall positive feelings the morning after, an overwhelming 80% of men did.
They said the one-night stand made them feel successful, excited, even euphoric.
Within relationships, sex has a similar effect. Jordan Gray says that men want to feel that sex is regularly available within a relationship. Even if a man doesn’t actually have sex with his partner 24/7, he wants to know that his partner desires him.
This is not only a confidence-booster; it enhances his feelings of intimacy and connection inside the relationship.
5. Women get more attached after sex.
Women are more attached after sex because of the hormone oxytocin, which is released during lovemaking. According to Dr. Arun Ghosh of Spire Liverpool Hospital, oxytocin’s effects on the system include lowered defenses and heightened empathy and trust.
Susan Kuchinskas explains, “Oxytocin seems to have been ‘designed’ by nature to make a man and woman feel bonded after sex, so they would stay together and raise children.
“Today, the physiology of men and women still plays out according to this pattern. But estrogen seems to increase the calming and bonding effects of oxytocin, while testosterone seems to mute them. That’s why women tend to feel more attached after sex than men do.”
A final note: though the above stereotypes are true much of the time, no stereotype is 100% true and pervasive all the time, in every scenario. Each of the above stereotypes has its limits. While it is helpful and intriguing to know evolution and culture’s influence on us through these stereotypes, the quality of our lives and our interactions with the opposite sex are ultimately shaped by our own perception of the world and our own creative choices.