In romance novels, soap operas, and Cosmo magazine, women are usually portrayed as having an insatiable appetite for sex--easily matching or even exceeding their partner's desire to get it on. And why not? Ever since the sixties' sexual revolution, we've been taught to believe that a woman's sex drive should be equal to a man's...and sex should be something you want to have any chance you get.
Okay, who's rolling their eyes right about now?
In theory, it sounds good. We want to be equal in all ways, right? Heck, we fought for the right to be. But if you're secretly wondering if your sex drive is not quite up to snuff, well, turns out you're not alone. And you shouldn't be made to feel ashamed because of it.
One study, from 2008, for example, found only a quarter of women saying sex made them extremely happy. Forty-two percent chose owning a pet over getting it on. Another survey--looking at women from 58 countries--found women care more about their body image and appearance than having sex.
We asked Tina B. Tessina, PhD, licensed psychotherapist and author of Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences why this may be the case.
"Women are not as driven by sex itself, but by other considerations," she says. "Men run on Adrenaline and Testosterone, women on Estrogen and Oxytocin, so the drives are based on different needs. Women's sexual response is based on feeling wanted, cared about and safe with the man she's with. If she feels neglected, criticized, belittled or threatened, her sex drive will plummet."
Age plays a role as well. And surveys show a woman's interest in sex declines faster than a man's after the first two years of a relationship. Tessina says it's important to be honest with yourself about your needs.
"It's more important to recognize your own wants and needs, as well as your partner's and negotiate the differences," insists Tessina. "Women also need to learn that being sexually active doesn't necessarily make them relationship material in men's eyes."
Tessina's advice? Stop stressing about your sex drive and focus on your whole relationship instead.
"Let's focus on love and caring, and everything else can be negotiated. Yes, sex is an important part of a relationship, but not the most important part. Partnership has to be present, too," she says. "Focus on how much you love your partner, and what you do like about being close to him, and do that. The penetration part of sex is easy, and over in an instant. There's so much more you can enjoy. Don't pressure yourself about orgasm or make sex into a competition. It's not a competitive sport, it's an expression of caring. If you keep it in that focus, you can work things out."