Are men really only after one thing? Well, fMRI studies of men's brains show that 98% of the cerebral cortex is preoccupied with vivid sexual fantasies.1 Gotcha!!
Seriously, what do we know about men's priorities? In Part I of this two-part series we looked at men's attitudes towards sex and quality of life. We shared some very surprising data that came out of an eight country random survey of 27,839 men ages 20-752. Using a questionnaire called the Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES), the authors found men's attitudes towards two key areas, masculinity and quality of life, differed markedly from the cultural stereotypes of guys as shallow creatures who are driven primarily by lust.
In the masculinity section of the study and across all countries, being seen as a "man of honor" was the single highest ideal for men, far more important than "being physically attractive," "having success with women," or "having an active sex life." Together with "being in control of your own life" these two attributes accounted for about 60% of the responses. These findings held across all nationalities and across all age groups.
In the MALES section called Quality of Life, men were asked to rate the following seven goals in order of importance:
• Being in good health
• Satisfying sex life
• Harmonious family life
• Good relationship with partner/wife
• Enjoying life to the fullest
• Satisfying career or work life
• Having a nice home
Again, the findings were quite surprising. The top three answers were: "being in good health"; "a harmonious family life"; and "good relationship with partner/wife." "A satisfying sex life" was last, tied with "a nice home." While there was definitely variability in the top answers depending on country, "a satisfying sex life" always came last. Even more astonishing were the findings in regard to age and marital/partner status. Younger men, age 20-39 still rated the same three goals as most important. When comparing single vs. married men, the only difference was that singles rated "enjoying live to the fullest" in second place along with "a harmonious family life"-while "a good relationship with their partner" was ranked fourth. Again "a satisfying sex life" was rated last.
Amazingly enough men who had erectile dysfunction (ED) as well as those who did not, still rated "a satisfying sex life" the same way-dead last. Understandably, men with ED reported having a less satisfying sexual life than those without ED.
The MALES findings are in agreement with what I have found in over 25 years of clinical practice and discuss in the paperback version of Love in 90 Days. I've included a new chapter called Dating Games Men Play in which I detail 16 different problematic male relationship patterns. Despite fears of being vulnerable, of being loved and loving, most men want to be honorable and have a good relationship with their partners. While a satisfying sex life is clearly important to men, it's not at the top of their life priority lists.
1. Not really.
2. Sand, Fisher, Rosen & Julia Heiman, (Director of the Kinsey Institute) 2008. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2008, vol.5, 583-594.