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By Linda Kelsey for the Daily Mail. Men have urges, women have headaches. Five decades on from the sexual revolution of the Sixties, that remains the prevailing thinking when it comes to married sex. As for the menopausal woman, whose hormones have gone into free-fall, how grateful she is, goes the assumption, that her husband no longer appears to fancy her.
Women, it transpires, yes even married ones, like sex. Married women with children quite like it, too. And, shock horror, quite a few post-menopausal women are up for it as well. If only their husbands realised. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. For new research suggests wives are far more interested in sex than their husbands have ever realised. Psychologists have found that men in long-term relationships often underestimate how often their partners are in the mood for love.
This should be good news for the so-called libidinous male. Except it turns out not to be good news for either sex. For it seems modern men are holding back in the bedroom. Fearful of rejection, and brought up to be considerate between the sheets, chaps are failing to take the initiative. Meanwhile their wives, who may be in the mood for sex, are unrequited.
And the result is that in too many relationships neither party is getting the satisfaction they could be. Psychologists at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario in Canada analysed the of three separate studies, following long-term couples, ranging in age from 18 to They had been together for around six years on average, and said they usually tended to have sex once or twice a week.
For the first study, couples kept a diary for three weeks reporting their daily level of sexual desire and relationship satisfaction. In the third study, couples kept notes on the same issues as well as recording each day how keen they were to avoid being rejected sexually. What it appears we have here is less a sexual mismatch between couples and more a breakdown of communication.
Modern men are holding back in the bedroom. Meanwhile their wives are unrequited. Commentators rushed to support the notion that working, married women with kids go off sex because they are too anxious and exhausted. Because, for women, feeling unattractive is a sure-fire route to desire disappearing altogether. What this takes no of is the fact that sexual frequency, over time, will inevitably dwindle as a result of proximity and routine. Nor does it acknowledge that frequency is not the only barometer of a good sex life and sexual passion can deepen and grow over time, even as frequency diminishes.
Experience has taught us that for a relationship to last, you have to work on the sex component, too, because long-term sex is affected by all the petty irritants and daily distractions of our lives. Since the early Seventies, when I first went to work on Cosmopolitan Magazine, I have had the chance to talk openly about sex with hundreds of women from every different age group. Women have talked to me about their sexual hang-ups and their deepest desires, as well as the joys of great sex. Once the kids are in bed, we theoretically have time to ourselves but my partner carries on with s and stuff on the computer and we barely communicate until bedtime.
Not a goodI can tell you. While women are willing to share all manner of sexual confidences with other women, they are far less likely to communicate these with their partners. Perhaps we should all make a greater effort to start the sexual conversation. Even women in their 50s — who are often deep into the menopause — still have strong sexual feelings. Granted I had an easy time of it compared to some women, and managed to navigate the worst of it without HRT, but I was certainly aware of the symptoms.
And in the eight years since my partner and I have been together, I have felt greater sexual desire and enjoyed more sexual pleasure than at any juncture in my life. If this sounds like distasteful sexual boasting coming from a sexagenarian who should be more discreet, I make no apology. As the research proves, older women enjoy sex as much as any man. One divorced girlfriend told me that she was enjoying orgasms for the first time in her life with her new partner.
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Canadian psychologists reveal women are more interested in sex than men realise