6 Facts About Sex That Might Surprise You
It takes less than a second to decide if someone wants to sleep with you.
Posted March 27, 2017 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
You may think you already know everything there is to know about sex, but do you really? These six surprising facts may change your perspective.
1. Men really want women to orgasm.
While pop culture may treat this idea as a myth, biologically speaking, men are wired to pay special attention to their partners during intercourse. If a woman is not "responsive" or "engaged" during sex, this can arouse suspicion and distrust, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gadam write in their book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts. Men can start to wonder, If I'm not turning her on, who is?
Even in short-term relationships, they suggest, men are motivated to satisfy their partners—though in this scenario, it may have less to do with ensuring her fidelity and more to do with protecting his reputation: "For most of human history, if Ann rejected Andy for being a bad lover, it's a good bet that everybody in the community would find out about it. That would lower Andy's mate value among other women. So Andy better make sure that Ann is feeling good!"
2. Ovulation affects sexual attraction (for both men and women).
It turns out that the 12-to-48-hour window when a woman is ovulating (and can subsequently get pregnant) has a "love potion" effect on both sexes. According to one study, fertile women exhibit a stronger attraction to typical alpha males (more "manly" men) than when they're not ovulating. Men, on the other hand, appear to find ovulation something of an aphrodisiac. In another study, men rated armpit odors of women at various stages in their menstrual cycle, and the most attractive smells, according to the participants, came from women who were ovulating. A similar study found men even to consider the faces of ovulating women more attractive.
3. Young men feel pressured to have sex quickly (even if they don't want to).
In The Sex Myth, author Rachel Hills cites several studies which suggest that guys aren't necessarily the sex-crazed maniacs that the media depicts them as. One recent survey found that 21 percent of 15- to 21-year-old men have felt pressured by a female to go further sexually than was comfortable for them, and 56 percent of them said they felt relieved when a female partner wanted to wait to have sex.
4. It takes less than a second to figure out if there's a spark.
Actually, half of a second is all it takes for your brain to decide if a potential partner is hot or not, according to a 2008 study. In an interview, the study's author, Stephanie Ortigue said, "We've found the brain knows who we desire and when we desire before we are aware of it." Even more fascinating, the researchers found it takes even less time for our subconscious to identify a person we find unattractive.
5. Men are bigger and better liars.
Despite the common perception that women often deceive men through makeup, padded bras, and hair extensions, when it comes to verbal lies, men have the upper hand, thanks to biology. In The Male Brain, Louann Brizendine points out that men show "much less electrical strain" in their voices when fibbing, which makes their lies sound more convincing. Some men may already be aware of a gift for telling alternative facts. In the book Are All Guys Assholes?, author Amber Madison reported that 44 percent of the thousand straight men she interviewed said they would happily "fake an interest" in a girl's life in order to sleep with her.
6. Happy couples believe great sex takes work.
The myth that the honeymoon phase lasts forever for the happiest couples is a lie. The truth is, after two to three years, sexual satisfaction begins to wane for most couples. The key to maintaining a great sex life, according to new research from the University of Toronto, is recognizing that it requires work and effort to keep the flame alive. In other words, the assumption that great sex is automatically supposed to happen is often what prevents great sex from actually happening.
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Brizendine, L. (2010). The Male Brain. New York, NY: Harmony. (p 61-62, 68)
Hills, R. (2015). The Sex Myth. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. (p 116)
Ogas, O. & Gaddam, S. (2012) A Billion Wicked Thoughts. New York, NY: Plume. (p 188)