Endless Curiosity

January 25, 2009

What Do Women Want?

Filed under: Psychology — Alec @ 11:48 am

There’s a fascinating article in the NY Times called What Do Women Want?

It has no easy answers because there aren’t any, but one of the fascinating points (to me at least) was the idea that women’s sexual desire is driven by a sense of narcissism, by needing to be desired and to be the object of sexual craving. Here are some excerpts about this need.

The problem was how to augment desire, and despite prevailing wisdom, the answer, she told me, had “little to do with building better relationships,” with fostering communication between patients and their partners. She rolled her eyes at such niceties. She recalled a patient whose lover was thoroughly empathetic and asked frequently during lovemaking, “ ‘Is this O.K.?’ Which was very unarousing to her. It was loving, but there was no oomph” — no urgency emanating from the man, no sign that his craving of the patient was beyond control.

“Female desire,” Meana said, … “is not governed by the relational factors that, we like to think, rule women’s sexuality as opposed to men’s.” … Although bad relationships often kill desire, she argued, good ones don’t guarantee it.

The generally accepted therapeutic notion that, for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is, Meana told me, often misguided. “Really,” she said, “women’s desire is not relational, it’s narcissistic” — it is dominated by the yearnings of “self-love,” by the wish to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need.

For evolutionary and cultural reasons, she said, women might set a high value on the closeness and longevity of relationships: “But it’s wrong to think that because relationships are what women choose they’re the primary source of women’s desire.”

And within a committed relationship, the crucial stimulus of being desired decreases considerably, not only because the woman’s partner loses a degree of interest but also, more important, because the woman feels that her partner is trapped, that a choice — the choosing of her — is no longer being carried out.

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