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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
Dear Evan,

What is it that men get out of looking/gazing at beautiful women, nude or otherwise?

I have read on other websites that men actually get a chemical “high” in their brain when they see an attractive woman and that is why they are so drawn to look at other women even when they are in love with another. I’m wondering, from your perspective, what you think it is. Are men sexually “turned on” when they see a beautiful woman naked and automatically fantasize about having sex with her or is it more of just plain old admiration for the beautiful female form with no arousal? And, if it is sexual arousal, does that happen only in seeing a naked woman (magazine, strip joint, porn) or does that happen when you see a beautiful clothed woman as well? I have always been very curious about this as I think it is very different for women. —Cat

Dear Cat,

Thoughtful and provocative question, and I’m going to attempt to tackle it even though I’m no therapist, historian or biologist.

First off, I want to acknowledge that everything you wrote, in my estimation, is true.

Men, regardless of relationship status, get a chemical high in seeing attractive women.

Men can appreciate the female form, either clothed or naked.

Men, regardless of relationship status, get a chemical high in seeing attractive women.

Men are aroused by images of clothed or naked women (but not as much as you’d think.)

What I’d like to add to all of those ideas is that none of that should affect your relationship…unless you make it affect your relationship.

In other words:

GOOD men, regardless of relationship status, get a chemical high in seeing attractive women.

GOOD men can appreciate the female form, either clothed or naked.

GOOD men are aroused by images of clothed or naked women (but not as much as you’d think.)

Without covering the entire landscape of debates about DNA or evolution or propagation of the species, here’s my take on the whole thing:

Men, since the beginning of time, were designed to spread their seed.

Because monogamy lowers the chances that our genes will survive, men are not, by nature, monogamous creatures. We choose monogamy because we deem that it’s more beneficial to have love, stability, and a nuclear family than to have lots of children running around with our eyes. But make no mistake, monogamy is a choice, not a natural state.

Men can watch porn, fantasize about other women, and still be great husbands and fathers.

Anyway, in my estimation, the male sex drive has nothing to do with kindness or personality or compatibility. It is entirely based on physical attraction, which we feel instantly with the release of dopamine, serotonin, and testosterone. This is why men can know if they would sleep with you in less than five seconds.

As far as what’s physically attractive? I think it’s largely based on societal reinforcement. Most men, for example, agree that symmetrical faces with small noses and certain hip to waist ratios (thin waist, wider hips) are considered attractive. Naturally, there are some men who like older women or heavier women or women with one leg. There’s a lid for every pot. Still, a lot of men still want to try on the same lid, who just happens to be 20-30 years old, have stunning features and is built like a Barbie doll. Moving along…

Next, I’d like to assert that a man’s sexual tastes and feelings of attraction don’t disappear because he is in love with another woman.

His intense feelings for his girlfriend may lessen his desires to look elsewhere for sex. But once those intense feelings of chemistry go away (as they usually do after 18 to 36 months — just long enough to conceive and raise a young child), his attraction will still spike every time he sees an attractive woman, in some form or another.

The more self-aware men understand this intellectually, and relegate those spikes of attraction to what they are — biologically programmed bursts of pleasure. We give ourselves doses of this pleasure when we’re walking on a beach, when we’re at an outdoor concert, when we’re at parties, and especially when we’re on the Internet. I’ve heard that 30% of the internet is porn, and if this is the case, it should be no surprise.

Men crave variety. This is normal. It’s all about whether he acts on this desire.

Men can admit attraction to favorite celebrities, and still be great husbands and fathers.

Men can watch porn, fantasize about other women, and still be great husbands and fathers.

Men can go to a strip club during a bachelor party, and still be great husbands and fathers.

I know this because I’ve done all of the above (not regularly, but still) and I know I am not alone.

And since the value of my marriage is far greater than the value of sleeping with a stranger, I remain faithful, even though I’m attracted to other women everywhere I go. It would never even occur to me after 300 dates and nearly 17 years as a dating coach that there’s anyone out there who’d make me happier for the next forty years than my own wife.

That doesn’t mean in some alternate universe that I wouldn’t like to be able to have my cake and eat it, too. That’s essentially what certain men do — get married and keep sleeping with other women. We can probably make a list of many politicians, athletes and rock stars who fit this paradigm.

Men would be perfectly content having missionary sex with a new woman every night.

So why do men cheat?

Because they’re perpetually attracted to new women.

Because they’re high profile, rich, ambitious men who are desirable to these women.

Because they’re so important that they don’t think the rules apply to them.

Because they travel a lot and are frequently exposed to temptation.

Because they don’t value their wives as much as the thrill.

Because they have low integrity.

Because they’re unhappy in their marriages.

Because they don’t rationally calculate the value of their losses. The thrill of the affair temporarily overrides the devastation the affair will wreak on his family.

This is just a long, roundabout way of saying that, in general, men want variety.

I recall a study that said the exact same thing.

“For men, sexual boredom was correlated with variety in partners (or lack thereof), while for women, it was more related to variety in activity. In other words, women were more likely to be satisfied by changes in the sexual what, while men (gay or straight) were more likely to respond to a change in the sexual whom. It’s a simple, unavoidable truth almost everyone knows to be true, but few dare to discuss: variety and change are the necessary spice of the sex life of the male of our species.”

The results didn’t surprise me in the least.

Once again, I am not defending men. I am explaining men. Not every single man on the planet. Some men only have eyes for their wives. Some men are attracted to other men. Some men couldn’t conceive of having sex with a woman they didn’t love.

These are perfectly normal men, but they are also exceptions.

So even if we establish that men are driven by sex, it’s far from the whole story, as evidenced by the 50 million married men in the United States.

Simply put, men want love, too. Even if we still like to look elsewhere.

It’s far better to understand and accept these qualities in men than to shame them, insult them, or tell them that they’re wrong for being this way.

As long as he treats you well and doesn’t take action on his desires, you’ve got a good man whose desire for you is stronger than his real sexual impulse to be with someone else.

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