We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, onto today’s topic: unrealistic sexual expectations women have of men.
Q: “My boyfriend and I tend to fight about sex a lot. During a recent argument, he told me that he thinks I have unfair expectations of him in the bedroom. The fight spiraled out of control from there, so I don’t really know what he meant by that, and I’ve been a little too sheepish to ask him. I’ve never thought about sexual ‘expectations’ that I have of him, but the more I think about it, the more I can see that it might be true. I’ll get really hurt if I want sex but he doesn’t, and we’ve also had some fights about him losing his erection when he’s with me. Is it possible that I have unreasonable expectations of him?”
A: Thanks for the question! First of all, I definitely recommend that you talk to your boyfriend about this directly. I can give you some guesses as to what might be at play based on the most common dynamics I work with in my sex therapy practice, but he’s the only one who can tell you the full story. When you guys are both calm, you can say something, like, “I heard you mention the phrase ‘unrealistic expectations’ during our fight. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to actually get into that in the moment, but I’m interested to know what that means for you. Can we talk about it?”
That being said, here are 10 common sexual double-standards that women have of men.
"He Should Always Want Sex"
There is a harmful stereotype that men want sex wherever, whenever, but the reality is that men have a wide variety of sex drives. Some men do have high sex drives, but plenty of men have moderate and low sex drives too. And men’s sex drives can be influenced by the same factors women’s sex drives can be influenced by — stress, lack of sleep, illness, relationship problems, and more. It’s important to respect your partner’s sex drive as it is. Just as you don’t want to feel judged for how often you want sex, neither does he.
"He Should Want Sex More Than Me"
One particular variation of the sex drive dynamic is believing that men should always want sex more than their female partners. But the reality is that there are plenty of heterosexual relationships where the woman is the partner with the higher sex drive. This can cause a lot of anxiety and frustration in relationships because the female partner can feel “rejected or "unfeminine" if she wants sex more than her partner. Again, it’s important to respect your partner’s natural sex drive. You wouldn’t want him pressuring you to have sex, or getting upset with you if you’re not in the mood.
"He Should Get Hard Immediately"
Since we have this belief that men always want sex, we also think that men should be able to get rock hard the second that sex is even a remote possibility. A lot of women will get upset if their partner doesn’t immediately rise to the occasion. I’ve even worked with men whose partners expected them to get hard without any stimulation whatsoever. Try flipping the roles around — would it be fair for your boyfriend to get upset with you if you didn’t immediately get wet the second he even hinted at being intimate?
There’s even more pressure since a male’s main sign of readiness for intercourse (an erection) is so much more obvious than a female’s (lubrication). That pressure gets even more intensified because intercourse is dependent on him being hard. It’s not necessary for a woman to be lubricated in order to have intercourse; you can always use lube. But there’s not a mainstream, socially-acceptable replacement for an erection. Think about how much pressure that is!
"He Should Have Complete Control Of His Erection"
Similarly, a lot of women think that their partner should maintain his rock hard erection throughout the entire interaction. But erections can come and go throughout the course of an evening. They can also lose and gain firmness. Most women feel their own arousal ebb and flow throughout an interaction, so we know this is normal on our parts. But it’s important to recognize that that happens for our partners too.
"If He Doesn’t Get Hard, It Means Something About Me"
Many women take it personally if their male partners don’t get erect immediately, or if they have a hard time maintaining their erection. You may think it’s a sign that he’s “not attracted” to you, or that you’re not “good enough” in one way or another. But just as your level of lubrication doesn’t have any emotional meaning, neither does his erection. Our bodies aren’t machines, and they don’t always respond the exact ways we want them to. A flagging erection isn’t necessarily a sign of anything.
"He Should Orgasm At Just The Right Time"
A lot of women have high standards for their partner’s orgasmic timing. But here’s the reality — the average time a man needs to orgasm is about 3-5 minutes, while the average time a woman needs to orgasm is about 20 minutes. That’s not a value judgment; neither one is “better” or “worse” than the other, it’s just a reality. Of course your partner should make an effort to pleasure you. No one likes a selfish partner. But it’s important not to get upset with your partner about his orgasmic timing.
"He Should Always Orgasm"
In my practice, I work with a lot of men who experience delayed orgasm, or who have a hard time orgasming with a partner at all. These situations don’t tend to receive nearly as much media attention as erectile difficulties or early ejaculation, so a lot of people feel especially confused about how to deal. But it’s really important to remember that just as there are plenty of women who haven’t yet figured out how to orgasm with a partner, there are plenty of men struggling as well.
"He Should Know What He’s Doing"
A lot of women expect men to take the lead during sex, and to know exactly what to do and when. But that’s so much pressure to put on one person’s shoulders! Would you want to feel solely responsible for the success of the entire evening? I don’t think so!
"He Should Know How To Get Me Off"
In a similar vein, a lot of women expect that their partners should know how to get them off, even if the woman doesn’t know how to get herself off. Your partner can’t be expected to read your mind and figure out exactly what you like. It’s important for you to take the reins and learn what you like, then communicate that to your partner.
"He Shouldn’t Be Affected By Performance Pressure"
So many women have personal experience with performance pressure, but we seem to think that men are immune to these exact same fears and anxieties. It’s so important to recognize that sex can be overwhelming and intense for all of us. We’re all struggling with it in one way or another. It’s important to work together as a couple to make sure you both feel pleasured and satisfied, without pressuring or guilting each other.
Wishing you both the best of luck!