…is not to reproduce, to express love, strengthen bonds, or out of some sense of responsibility. This post is based on a book I was assigned in a class to present next month. I’m also the only male in the class (there are 5 students total – it’s a little seminar), and I’m going to tell these women why they have sex. Should be interesting.

  • The original study came up with 237 “distinct” reasons, based on a sample of 203 men and 241 women (ages 17 to 52).
  • The 237 reasons were then given to another set of 1,549 undergrads (ages 16 to 42), and a the reasons were listed in order of frequency.
  • The book I’m reading is on a study that took the 237 reasons, and asked 1,006 women (ages 18 to 86) from throughout the U.S. and many other countries. 80% were in a relationship, 93% heterosexual, 2% bisexual, and 5% homosexual. 57% considered themselves to be part of a specific religious tradition, 26% agnostic, and 14% atheist.

Before you read any further (or the original studies), take a guess at the following Top 10 lists for why people (both sexes) have sex, based on the second study. See if you can guess which list belongs to which sex. Notice how similar the two lists are, and also the key differences (in blue). The responses that ended up in the same ranking for both sexes are in green.

  1. I was attracted to the person
  2. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure
  3. It feels good
  4. I wanted to show my affection to the person
  5. I wanted to express my love for the person
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release
  7. I was “horny”
  8. It’s fun
  9. I realized I was in love
  10. I was “in the heat of the moment”

[poll id=”9″]

  1. I was attracted to the person
  2. It feels good
  3. I wanted to experience the physical pleasure
  4. It’s fun
  5. I wanted to show my affection to the person
  6. I was sexually aroused and wanted the release
  7. I was “horny”
  8. I wanted to express my love for the person
  9. I wanted to achieve an orgasm
  10. I wanted to please my partner

[poll id=”10″]

The book divides up the reasons into 11 categories for women. The #1 reason for women is “the basic biochemistry of attraction.” If that’s the case, what is it that women find sexually attractive?

  • Scent. Women rate how someone smells as the MOST important of the senses in choosing a lover, more important than sight. “Women’s sexual arousal is enhanced by good body odors–and killed by bad ones… women can literally smell the scent of a gene complex known to play a key role in immune functioning.”
  • Height. Over 6′ is good, but not TOO tall. Tall(ish) men, for example, have a higher SES on average, women report feeling safer with them, and they tend to be healthier.
  • Fit. Heterosexual women on average prefer strong, athletic men with a high shoulder-to-hip ratio, and a muscular torso, but NOT muscle-bound. Men may overestimate how much muscle a women wants. Women often don’t want as much muscle on man as men think they do. Also, more muscular men tend to have more sexual affairs. Think Men’s Health rather than Flex.
  • Face. Heterosexual women prefer more masculine faces for casual sexual encounters, and less masculine faces for long-term relationships. This may be due to the “fact that the more masculine men are less sexually faithful.”
  • A Voice like James Earl Jones. Men with sexy voices tend to have a higher shoulder-to-hip ratio, and are judged by women to be healthier, more socially dominant, and well-respected. Women usually prefer these voices more for short-term encounters, however.
  • Humor and Confidence. Women view these as the two most important personality characteristics related to attractiveness. Married women who think their husbands are witty are more satisfied!
  • Similarity. “Opposites attract” is the exception for long-term relationships. Having a partner with similar values or beliefs is validating. Might this make married LDS couples less likely to leave the church?
  • One’s “type.” Every women has unique and subtle differences, based in early childhood and adolescence.

Can men do anything about their attractiveness?

Which of these characteristics are most important to you?