Washington: A recent study has established what women have been wondering for a while now. Men sometimes act less interested in sex, in order to get it, the findings suggest.
When heterosexuals have casual sex, previous research indicates it is typically the woman who sets the boundaries. If she's not interested, usually nothing will happen. “When men and women in the study met, about half of the men said they were interested in having sex with the woman, whereas most women were uninterested initially,” said Mons Bendixen, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Evolutionary Behavioural Sciences.
So the women in the study basically have little interest in having casual sex at first - unless they find the man really attractive. But evidently, a man who gave the impression of wanting to have sex with anyone, anytime, was not what most women were looking for. That could be why men acted way less interested in sex than they really were.
"Men who are overly eager do not come across as attractive," said Leif Edward, one of the lead researchers. According to the researchers, the whole thing is a tactical game the research suggests that men and women's real intentions may be different from the signals they send each other.
Men who report being the most interested in having sex reduce their signals of interest more. Evidence from the study suggested that women, on the other hand, might pretend to be a little more interested than they actually are.
"We think this may be to keep the man's attention a little longer," said researchers.
Or perhaps the strategy gives her more opportunity to assess the quality of the guy. And as long as the woman does not seem to be excluding the possibility of sex, men across the board are willing to spend more time with her and enabling her to check out whether he's a good choice.
And, if a man is highly attractive, that could actually shift the woman's interest, so that an initially uninterested woman becomes truly interested in the man. According to researchers, the exception to this general sex difference is when the woman is as interested as the man. In this case, women also pretend to show less interest.
"Both men and women who are truly interested in a partner might be trying to 'play it cool.' In economic terms, it's about supply and demand. The most in-demand people are not the most available, they are a rare commodity in the mating game," said Martie Haselton, another one of the lead researchers.
"By playing it cool, women and men can also avoid some of the stings of rejection if their partner is not actually interested in them," says Haselton. The researchers collected two rounds of data from students at NTNU. The survey included questions such as when they last met with a potential sexual partner and whether they eventually ended up having sex.
The first round of data collection took place in the spring when most students are busy studying. The second round was in the autumn, right after the start of the semester and the introduction week activities. The researchers found a significant difference between the two rounds. Sexual relationships were far more common during the autumn introduction week.
Women were much more likely to have sex if they thought the potential partner was attractive. This was consistent with previous findings. "More than half of the new female students who had met an attractive partner the last time they were at a pub or at a party ended up having sex with him," said Bendixen.
"This behaviour is probably related to two factors: one is the absence of 'daughter-guarding' or 'sister-guarding'" once students arrive at university," said a researcher. Female students outnumber male students. So in a lot of groups, it can seem like there's some competition for the men. The most important factor in whether men had sex was how many sexual partners they have had previously. This could contribute to their being perceived as sexually attractive and available.