Women often bemoan their burden of monthly menstrual cycles, pregnancy, of the labor and the pain of giving birth, saying, “Men are so lucky to not have to go through this.” Women’s suffering is real and worthy of compassion.  Yet the suffering men experience due to their sexual and reproductive capacities is real but little understood by women, probably because men rarely talk or complain about it.  Men rarely share of being burdened by the nagging of incessant sexual desire.  The suffering that men endure from constant urgings far outweigh the pleasures they have during brief sexual interludes.  

    My non-scientific estimate is that high-desired men constitute between 50 and 75% of all men, with a higher percentage among those who are younger.  Sexual desire is a physical experience for men, which is turned on at puberty and cannot be turned off. Sexual desire usually slowly diminishes for a majority of men as they age.  

    Men experience the intense desire to be sexual with women they don’t like, women they shouldn’t like, and women who are unavailable.  Men experience sexual desire for other women when they are married and even at times when there is no real sexual opportunity.  For many men, the sexual desire just will not go away. The physically-based desire of men is an intense, purely instinctual driving force, which lives outside of all moral, ethical, and civil considerations. Men will rarely share about their suffering, but instead are more likely to joke about it with other men, especially when referring to the too-influential beauty of women.  Only a small fraction of the sexual desire they feel is ever transformed into action, most of it men try to ignore.

    Do men like being this way?  The simple answer is “no.”  A majority of men do not give it much thought, and have simply grown accustomed to the intrusive urgings and impulses. They consider it part of being normal.  But at its deepest level, desire is suffering.  Needing sexual satisfaction makes men vulnerable to a force which is beyond their control, and most men do not like being out of control.  Otherwise good and loving men are accused of rubber-necking and gawking at other women.  At the sight of an attractive woman, men grow weak at their knees, lose their intellectual functioning while  their lustful desires are acutely aroused. Men’s physical urgings often cause them to behave in ways that are not loving, and are outside of both their values and interests.  Sexual desire often gets men into trouble.

    Due to their chronic desires, men are not easy partners for women, who may be hurt by men’s sexually-motivated choices. While not as vital as breathing or eating, from the male perspective, sex is a need.  High-desired men view sex as non-negotiable, much the way food is a non-negotiable need for survival.  Sexually unfulfilled men grow irritable and can be mean.  Do men want to be this way?  No they don’t.

    A girlfriend or wife may notice a significant and positive personality shift in her male partner after he is sexually satisfied, in part because of his temporary relief from the inner naggings of sexual desire.  A man’s sexual desire is an opportunity for his female partner to express compassion by fulfilling his need and earn his gratitude for which he should offer kindness, loving acts, patience and generosity.  Andrew Aaron, LICSW

Sign-up for exclusive content. Be the first to hear about updates from the Aaron Institute.