Are men too preoccupied with sex?

A male client I’ll call Jeff writes,

In our work with you, my wife has been discovering more of her desires and asking me for different things in bed and in our daily lives together. I like that she’s finding that voice in some ways, but in other ways I’m concerned. I think sex can really be a distraction from the most important things in life, such as providing for one’s family or having a faithful marriage. I think many people, and particularly many men, are preoccupied with sex in unhealthy ways. I do like having a good sex life with my wife, but I don’t want sex to take up too much room in our lives or for it to crowd out more important things like our daughters, our community, or our work. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thanks so much for this question, Jeff. What you've described is both how many, many of my male clients view sex (and my husband did, too, to a very great extent, and still does, more than I {wink}.

A mature, upstanding man who's found the woman of his dreams and is on a career track and is a good father and has a social circle and community involvement and tries to take care of his body and relax... Sex is Another. Thing. on the list...

I don't mean that you and the other men who feel this way find sex burdensome, it's just that you know you have urges to a degree, yet you find a reasonable spot to put those (e.g. "Saturday nights") and you have loving, attentive, skillful if not mind-blowing sex with your beloved wives, and you're good.

A typical man of the type I’m describing, when he's getting regular connection with his wife in that way, would not only say "I'm good" as in "that's enough for me" but he would say "I'm good" as in, "I'm proud of who I am in this arena. I'm glad I'm not a hordog, coming after my wife like she's a piece of meat, or with a wandering eye to ogle or be tempted by other women. I'm glad I've got sex in its proper place in my life."

He knows he's got some maturity around sex and he likes that. Does that sound like you?

If so, I agree: you’ve got a maturity some men lack when it comes to the role sex plays in a meaningful life.

A man with a mature masculine sexuality stands in sharp contrast to some of my other clients and some clients I've learned to refer elsewhere: a man who's in his immature masculine sexuality. He's adolescent in how he relates to his own sex drive and how he relates to the people he has sex with. These men are not just women’s husbands: they could be single or married, monogamous or not, and they might have sex with women or men or both.

In my work, this kind of man is usually married to a woman and she’s his only partner. And let's presume he's a good guy, one who wants to be a good lover, wants his wife to desire sex with him as often as he desires it with her, and is open to learning and growing, because those are the things that set him up to get a lot of benefit from working with me.

Another frequent variable I feel absolutely compelled to point out here: often, a man with immature sexuality will avoid sex, rather than pursuing it, because it’s too emotionally intense, his wife’s needs feel too complicated, or he’s afraid of feeling like he’s “failed” with her, so he deals with his physical urges on his own and pulls away from the sexual side of his marriage.

Our stereotype of men is that every man has constant sexual urges and wants sex with his wife or partner whenever he can get it, but that’s far from the the truth in most relationships.

Whether he’s seeking sex - skillfully or clumsily - or avoiding it, when a man who’s sexually immature works with me, he becomes more like you, Jeff, as he deepens his sexual maturity.

  • I help him see his sexuality in a broader light than just the gratification-based sexuality of a teen boy.
  • I help him find more pleasure in her pleasure and more confidence in his skill set at creating pleasure in his own body, in hers, and between them.
  • I help him look at the ways he may be over-identifying with sex as a measure of his value or identity, and ways he may be using sexual gratification or the pursuit or avoidance thereof as medication to curb the sharper experiences of daily life.
  • He learns to take recoverable risks for the sake of intimacy and pleasure, and to turn down the tendency to seek gratification or to avoid the intensity of sex with his wife.
  • As he makes those changes and identifies with himself more as a wholesome man whose sexual desire are a healthy part of a balanced life, as a skillful lover for his wife, as a provider and maker-of-happenings, his sexuality will come to play a more mature role in his life.

But now he's at the level you’re at, Jeff: he's kind of tucked sexuality back into "it's rightful place" (as you seem to see it) with a minor role in his mind, heart, and life.

In that spot, sex can't nourish him the way it has the potential to do if he places it -- in a new, mature way, not in the old, adolescent way -- more front-and-center in life. The higher possibility for a man who's building from a foundation of sexual maturity is that he can attain more of what I call Sexual Mastery. He can harness the power of his sexual energy to vitalize himself, his leadership, his wife, his fathering and his relationships with his kids, and his role in his community and the world. He can penetrate life in a way he hasn't before. This isn’t about sex, at that point: it’s about life energy.

But taking that step forward can feel, for good men like you who've attained a degree of sexual maturity, dangerous, immoral, shallow, or just foolish.  You may think of it as a step backward at first.

The key distinction I teach men with Mature Masculine Sexuality is that we're not going back to that gratification-based sexuality. We're staying with the satisfaction-based, values-based (values like love, intimacy, truthfulness, transparency) orientation you already have. Now, though, we're harnessing the power -- given you can now handle it -- of sex to unleash more of the energy of LIFE.

In that context, you can start to see yourself as the powerful healer and energy source and wizard with your wife that you are capable of being.

By penetrating her with your energy and presence, by stroking her skillfully, by relating to her in every room of your home and every hour of the day in a way that holds her and handles her and elevates both your energy, you will learn to call up a powerful force field between you and within each of you.

  • As my male client have gained this kind of mastery, I’ve seen other things happen elsewhere in their lives. A man starts to see those skills transfer to other relationships in his life, from his children to his parents, to his employees, clients, manager, and beyond.
  • He shows up stronger; not arrogant or aggressive, but clear and grounded and firm and direct and playful and joyful and agile and present.
  • He's more insightful because he's practiced seeing her.
  • He's more sensitive -- in the sense of having finely-tuned antennae, not in the sense of crying at commercials -- because he's been listening to subtle cues inside his own body and mind.
  • He's more ready to act, to shift, to speak, because he's been taking little risks with her and he's learned he can handle losing on those bets and he loves the times he wins, so he's just throwing down chips as often as he can.

So it’s a choice, Jeff.

Your wife is inviting you, guided by her own desire, beyond what you’ve been before, what you’ve seen expressed.

You know yourself to be good and kind and grounded. You know some men to be over-focused on sex, immature, and less effective at the important things as a result. And believe me, I know it’s a PROBLEM that we don’t have many good examples to look at, if we want to see men who’ve gone beyond Sexual Maturity to Sexual Mastery. But I’m nurturing a stable of them, including right here at my house. It’s crucial.

Women like your wife and I? We need the skillful, loving, but intense and passionate grounding that only YOU - a mature man - can provide, but only by going further into mastery.

And the next generation needs to see models like you, like my husband, like my other male clients, so they can create relationships that are even more magnificent than the ones we’re working to build. So that their only options don’t look like either a) gratification-based immaturity or b) warm-but-seldom-hot mature groundedness.

Emotional and physical intimacy, shared pleasure, and desire rooted in devotion to deeply-held values are potent power sources. Only by harnessing them, I believe, will we be able to solve the problems we face as a species and as a planet that have defied our best intentions.

I know my vision about this for us all is not enough to compel you to walk past the edge of what you know.

But I hope and trust and pray that your wife’s desire and her yoni-deep wisdom and vision will be.

I also hope that my love for and admiration of you are evident through my words here. You truly rock. Thank you for your question.

Jeff, and any other readers, I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts and questions in response to mine.

Love love,