I’ve had a lot of luck with women, sexually speaking. But I’ve also gotten bored and restless pretty fast afterwards. I’d like to find something long-term with the right woman, and I’m considering waiting to put on the moves. Everything in my body and half my brain says I’m crazy to even think it. Am I the only guy with this issue? And is waiting for sex ever smart for a man?
Yes, I hear the voices, too—The Genes Of Your Ancestors are screaming your insanity for putting off ‘til tomorrow what and whom you could be doing today. (The shouts of Girlfriends Past are also audible, but I digress.) But you’re not crazy. And what you’re suggesting is dumb like a fox—as in very, very clever.
What’s unusual is not your *ahem* experience, but your conscious awareness that it’s directly connected to your lack of long-term love. You’ve got a rare gift; the Genetic Plan is unconscious in most of us, causing much confusion and angst. Sometimes, we even have a conscious feeling that is opposite reality. For instance, a perpetual bachelor said he couldn’t wait to propose marriage to his girlfriend, despite her refusal to even kiss him for several dates. Science would suggest his emotions had a chance to grow because, not in spite of, their sexual snail-pace.
Other than your atypical awareness, Kyle, You’re Normal. In fact, casual-sex coitus seems to cause emotional interruptus. Research by Dr. Martie Haselton, Dr. David Buss and others cites men reporting this detachment within seconds of the male’s orgasm. Strangely, it’s truer for those men who have the highest self-esteem, although it’s unclear Which Came First, the self-esteem or the eggs. And it’s especially true for men like you, who’ve had numerous past sexual liaisons; those with few conquests don’t seem to experience the emotional detachment to the same degree.
This precipitous drop in intrigue can be explained biochemically. As historian-turned-science-buff Dr. Andrew Trees notes in Decoding Love , feel-good dopamine is released in anticipation of the challenge of sex for men…and then rapidly exits the building upon male orgasm; on the other hand, a lengthy challenge spurs greater dopamine build-up and an enhanced option for real attachment.
But waning interest is even better-explained through an inherited mating psychology that protects male Genes’ interests in paternity and proliferation. See, pushing for early sex was a fabulous fidelity test back when Who’s Your Daddy was anyone’s guess; way before the Bible, men’s Genes set off emotional alarms if a woman was too easily known in the Biblical sense. Men who excelled at finding a faithful mate left more surviving children who were actually theirs, and those male offspring carried that successful mating psychology forward to today. Although we don’t know how common cuckoldry was in ancient times, it’s clearly still a Problem: Geneticists estimate that around 10% of American and UK kids are being raised by men who quite falsely believe themselves to be the DNA Daddy.
Well, that explains why you get turned off by easy women. But it tells us zip about why you’re so darned easy yourself! Remember this: Genes aren’t fair, but they are practical. And to them, a double-standard encouraging Man-Sluts resulted in more kids…which means the double-standard has survived, worldwide, to this day. As Nicholas Wade points out in Before the Dawn , although all men descend from a common ancestor—a genetic Adam—some were far more successful than others in passing down their own particular version of the Y chromosome. Genghis Khan’s brand of Y is found today in 8% of the men in his former territory, and he now has over 16 million male descendants. Apparently, Genghis was a lover *and* a fighter.
So thus far, Kyle, your Genes have a win-win proposition for you. If you satisfy your short-term mating agenda, you get to have fun while your Genes get a shot at immortality. And if your date Just Says No, you get to pursue your long-term strategy of bonding with a worthy, faithful mate. Turning down a deal like that would indeed Feel Nuts.
Trouble is, Genes change s-l-o-w-l-y, and they haven’t kept up with the times. So, in today’s climate of Soon Sex, you actually Lose the opportunity for what you really want: a long-term mate. Your male mating psychology needs some sexual challenge to bond—but it’s tough to get that challenge when Nice Girls Do, and sex by Date 3 is literally normal among mainstream American adults. Further complicating matters, modern women assume an open-door policy will intrigue you long-term, motivating them to do exactly what *won’t* give you the chance for real emotional connection. In fact, Dr. Pamela Regan found that 44% of women (but just 9% of men) said they engaged in casual sex “to increase the probability of long-term commitment.”
What to do if you do want a lifemate, then, is physically difficult and may feel psychologically crazy—but it’s obvious: Wait as long as you can before you attempt to have sex with a woman for whom you feel even a glimmer of long-term interest. Wait several dates past the point when you’d usually initiate. Wait until you can barely stand it anymore. And then wait a little longer. If it turns out a particular woman isn’t worth waiting for, so much the better—you’ve got your answer, so Move On. But when you find one for whom your fascination only grows as you wait, you’ve found a match with real potential.
Our culture isn’t going to help you out much with this, Kyle. And although it’s usually the woman who puts on the brakes, that hasn’t happened for you yet. You’re going to need to follow that Dumb Wisdom you’ve reached, and Wait. Your Genes will scream, indeed. But they’ll get their satisfaction soon enough, and you’ll get the prize of a lifetime.
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Do you have a question for Duana? Contact her at Duana@LoveScienceMedia.com
All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., 2009