Knowing that your girl has a higher sex drive than most is an almost boast-worthy quality that you want to rub in the face of every man you encounter. It sends you a-skipping and a-dancing through the streets like Joseph Gordon Levitt on a post-coitus high – until, that is, you and your measly six-times-a-week isn’t enough for her insatiable sexual appetite, and you’re kicked to the curb.
According to recent research, this might not actually be far off the mark – a study by the University of Oklahoma shows that women who start watching porn when married are almost three times more likely to want a divorce.
The research, conducted by sociology professor Samuel Perry, showed that while men who began using porn after the first survey increased their risk of divorcing from 6% to 11%, the impact on women was significantly larger; a jump from 6% to 16%. Women who stopped watching porn in between surveys generally stayed at 6%, whilst those who continued to indulge leapt ahead to 18%.(sex advice)
The fact that women are increasingly more sexual is no big surprise. A study conducted last year by Marie Claire indicated that more than a third of women were watching porn at least once a week, with the digital age making it much more accessible: 90% of the women asked watched it online and two-thirds said they watched it on their smartphones – just as Steve Jobs would have wanted it.
I mean, these numbers are still relatively small fry when you compare it to the number of men getting their rocks off to the sexy stuff – a 2014 Cosmopolitan survey shows that only 3.8 percent of women watch porn on a daily basis, in comparison to 32 percent of men.
However, of the people who took part in Marie Claire’s study, over half of them women said that pornography had had a positive impact on their sex lives. Using pornography to develop one’s own sexual desires may be something that we’re only just truly becoming aware of in millennial women, but it’s a tool ladies are using to discover what they like, what they want, and how they can use this to please themselves.
It is a little known fact that women have higher libidos than we give them credit for: a 2008 survey by Redbook shows that, whilst most women have sex once or twice a week, over 40% wanted to have sex up to six times a week. But with all these stats taken into consideration, does this really mean that women with higher sex drives are more likely ask for a divorce from their husbands? Rachel Maclynn, chartered psychologist and founder of the Vida Consultancy, says that it’s much more common problem than you’d think: “A healthy sex life is a fundamental driver in most relationships. It is often the most unexpected women who disclose to me that they have a high sex drive.”
There are many reasons that the woman in a relationship can have the higher sex drive than the man – for example, it can be down to hormones. It’s a trope that almost every comedy film touches on, but it’s common knowledge that pregnancy sends your hormones crazy, leading to a perpetual state of horniness for nine months.
India Kang, relationship expert at match.com and dating coach for women, says that it can also be a biological trait: “Some women just have a higher sex drive than others. Which is why it’s important to take your time dating – we don’t want any surprises on the wedding day!” Sex before marriage doesn’t seem like such a bad idea now, does it? (Just tell any deeply religious parents that it’s all in the name of research.)
So, a higher sex drive in women is not as uncommon as we all thought. But why exactly would this imbalance in sexual appetite lead to higher divorce rates in couples? Well, it might be easy to assume that the answer lies somewhat obviously on the surface of mismatched libidos, but according to Rachel, the reason runs much deeper than simply an insatiable sexual appetite not being satisfied. “In evolutionary terms, men are predisposed to have a higher sex drive. In hunter-gatherer times, the main purpose in life was to procreate with as many women as possible. This basic human instinct in helped by testosterone, which boosts sex drive. However, human urges are changing. When married to a woman with who [has a high sex drive], they might start to feel inadequate at either a conscious or subconscious level. This is where cracks start to appear.”
When it comes to this disparity, it is the person with a lower sex drive that will ultimately control the relationship. You can, after all, lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink: whilst an effort can be made by the low sex drive to meet the high one, there’s not a lot else the high sex drive can do. Resentment soon follows: it’s hard enough to accept that you’re not going to be having sex with your partner, but you’re also going to have to remain monogamous along with that fact.
In dealing with a relationship with uneven libidos, India has some tough love advice: “She can initiate sex once in a while, but to become the primary sexual initiator will spell many struggles for [the couple]…she will become dissatisfied with the sexual part of the relationship,” India tells me. “She either needs to accept this at the onset or move on.”
It is widely acknowledged that men often find it hard to talk openly about their feelings – it’s something that is proving fatal in many cases. Which is why, if you are the one in the relationship with the lower sex drive, Rachel stresses the importance of understanding why you feel that way, and keeping the communication strong with your partner. “You need to communicate openly and honestly… the most important thing is to keep the conversation solution-focused.”
And whilst it may be embarrassing or emasculating to discuss such matters, talking about this difference in desire is the one thing that could potentially stop a call from the divorce lawyer.