"Women Struggle with Monogamy More Than Men"

Submitted by Love Gnosis on
Printer-friendly version

Interesting article, basically reaffirms the powerful force of hypergamy that significantly contributes to the destruction of long-term pair bonding. I don't agree with the authors claims that it is mostly social. I think biological instinct rears its ugly head in this sort of behaviour- given that women will always find an alpha-male more appealing than their husbands once the "love" feeling starts to wear off after a couple of years. Men, on the other hand - are less likely to be non-monogamous given their lower sexual marketplace value on average.

Since its beginnings, when it was called "sociobiology," evolutionary psychology has been wed to the theory that women are monogamous and men are promiscuous—that men have a compunction to spread their seed while women instinctually want to lock some guy down to raise her children. Feminist attempts to create sexual equality between men and women were doomed to fail, because they went against biology. Shrugging was encouraged, and the term "hard-wired" was mandatory.

But now the evidence is beginning to trickle in, and one sticky fact has thrown this entire theory into jeopardy: It's women and not men who get bored with monogamy faster. As Daniel Bergner writes in the New York Times, women are far more likely to lose interest in sex with their partners. This doesn’t necessarily translate into infidelity—a choice many reject because it’s so hurtful—but, Bergner reports, spouse-weary women often just avoid sex altogether.

Add to that the study Bergner cites showing women respond to novelty in pornographic fantasies, and another showing that women are much more turned on by fantasies of sex with strangers than friends. You’d be forgiven for concluding that the gender most interested in mixing it up might be…women.

What's really fascinating is that with this shift in understanding comes a profound shift in how we as a society are deciding to respond. There will be no shrugging of the shoulders and tossing around the word "hard-wired" to rationalize women disappointing male expectations of passionate monogamous sex. Instead, as Bergner writes, a ton of money is being spent on developing a drug women can take to restore their desire for their husbands. The drug, called Lybrido, is in clinical trials now with the hope of writing an FDA application by the end of the year.

Bergner also implies that women’s declining interest in monogamous sex is socially, not biologically, inflected. Since women receive messages “that sexual desire and expression are not necessarily positive,” he suggests, they tend to require additional stimuli—such as novelty—to get them in the mood. The implication? If we can normalize female desire in society at large, we can presumably encourage women to continue lusting after their partners.

Notice that identifying a lack of sexual excitement as a societal ailment, not a biological one, reduces the sense of fatedness around the issue. When people believed that boredom with monogamy was a male trait for women to endure, interest in fixing it was pretty low. Now that we understand boredom with monogamy to be a female trait for men to endure, it’s suddenly a Problem—with possible solutions. Though frustrating, this is ultimately probably a good thing. Since most of us want to be monogamous, it's about time we took seriously the need to keep it interesting.


I checked two of the studies listed in article you linked.

"Contrary to the prediction from the preparation hypothesis of women's genital responses, men's and women's responses showed similar patterns of habituation upon repeated exposure."  


"Consistent with research employing audiovisual sexual stimuli, men demonstrated a category-specific pattern of genital and subjective arousal with respect to gender, while women showed a nonspecific pattern of genital arousal, yet reported a category-specific pattern of subjective arousal. Heterosexual women's nonspecific genital response to gender cues is not a function of stimulus intensity or relationship context. Relationship context did significantly affect women's genital sexual arousal--arousal to both female and male friends was significantly lower than to the stranger and long-term relationship contexts--but not men's. These results suggest that relationship context may be a more important factor in heterosexual women's physiological sexual response than gender cues."


I don't see anything surprising here.  Lots of orgasmic sex = habituation.  That's certainly what I've experienced.  A Karezza approach banished that sense of habituation, for us. 

I once had an ex-boyfriend tell me that *any* sex was better than no sex.   I've actually had a number of men tell me that - in one way or another. 


This is interesting.

I've often struggled with feeling threatened in social circles where my feelings of attraction to women who were in an intimate couple relationship with another man became too strong for my comfort. With no way of clearing up what's going on (neither male nor female partner welcomed me talking about my feelings (nor anyone else for that matter)), my sole avenue of relief has generally been to leave the social setting entirely. I've often noticed signs of trouble in their relationship. Given that keeping stress levels down is crucial to my physical health and that sexually healthy people are quite rare, social isolation is a major problem for me. I've often wondered how much was my own stuff and how much I was picking up on the woman's frustration with her partner (and/or men in general) and being used as a "safe for her" outlet. This article is suggesting that her role was important. That's good news to me in a world where guys are always supposed to be the sex crazed maniacs and women the asexual child-rearing saints (once they've entered an intimate connection with a man).

I hope that articles like this will start to open the conversation about sexual health and how to create intimate loving relations with a partner that continue to be healthy, nurturing and interesting while promoting respectful loving relations with all people. I think that our big mistake is that we expect them to be thrilling and enduring... not possible.

Thanks for posting this article. Smile