Does Size Matter? And Other Sex Myths

By

Does Size Matter? And Other Sex Myths
Think you know everything about the birds and bees? Think again!

Do Single People Have More And Better Sex Than Married Couples?
Experts say that neither group comes out on top. "The optimal amount of sex happens when you live with someone," says Edward O. Laumann, author of The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, and a sociology professor at the University of Chicago.

"Frequency decreases strongly as you have more partners." As for quality, research has shown that married people also have higher levels of sexual satisfaction than singles, says Berman. "Trust and a connection allow you to safely explore and meet your sexual needs," she adds. "But after 10 years together, satisfaction can decline. So they're not much better off than singles, on average."

 

Does The "Seven Year Itch" Exist?
In the 1955 film that popularized this myth, a married man is tempted to cheat on his wife with his sexy new neighbor (played by Marilyn Monroe— who can blame him?).

But do marriages really fall apart after seven years? According to studies of couples worldwide, says Berman, divorce tends to occur during the fourth year of marriage.

"The anthropological explanation is that we evolved to be serial monogamists, not lifelong monogamists," she explains. Couples would stay together at least long enough to see the child to toddlerhood. After that— at least from an evolutionary standpoint—mom and dad were free to run off and find new mates, with genetic variety as the goal.

Do Men And Women Hit Their Sexual Prime At Different Ages?
Women are at the top of their game in their early 30s, when they are more confident and assertive, says Berman. But by the mid-to-late 30s, fertility—and libido—can decline. "Men are physiologically at their prime at 18," she adds. "Blood flows better, erections are harder. But they're at their emotional or social sexual peak in their mid-30s."

So the next time you're tempted to rob the cradle, it might be wise to keep your pants on. "People in their late teens are not good lovers," says Laumann. "The ability to form and maintain relationships comes later."

Do Men Have Stronger Sex Drives Than Women?
According to Berman, it's common for women to have lower libidos than men. But men, too, experience a loss of desire—"especially those in their mid-to-late 40s and beyond," she says.

Laumann adds that lower sex drives in women may be rooted in evolution: to protect themselves from predators, it was essential to avoid the vulnerable state of pregnancy. But for men, sex is less costly. "The majority of men think about sex every day. But only 25 percent of women think about it every day," he says. "Sex for men is less complicated. They tend to act on their urges."

Here's everything you ever wanted to know—but thought you were too old to ask.

According to Laura Berman, PhD, author of The Passion Prescription, even sexually savvy adults have questions about penis size (it might matter), sex after marriage (does it stop?), and a man's sexual prime (hint: younger is not always better).

"Sexually speaking, people are on a constant quest to know if they are normal," says Berman. So get out your notebook—anda ruler!—and see how your knowledge stacks up.

Does Size Matter?
There's no definitive, er, yardstick that can be used to measure sexual performance—but size does come into play. "Studies show that sexually satisfied women perceive their partner's penises to be large, while unsatisfied women see them as smaller," says Berman.

But those who are not well endowed can still score in bed. "Men on the smaller side become proficient in other kinds of foreplay, so this helps women have orgasms," she explains. "And in any case, not all women can achieve orgasms from sex."

Anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, asserts that size is not as important as men think it is. "There are many things other than size that make a difference to a woman—for example, education, health, and careers. Men worried about size need to find out what their partners like, and figure out the right ways to move."

Is Masturbation Bad For Your Relationship?
By now, we've shed the silly suspicions that masturbation causes blindness or hairy palms. But in a committed relationship, it's still sometimes considered taboo.

Solo sex shouldn't be classified as cheating, according to Berman, since it's not harmful to a relationship unless it's compulsive or used as a substitute for intercourse. In fact, it can even help your sex life.

"Women who self-stimulate have higher levels of sexual satisfaction, desire, and interest," Berman says. "It's the 'use it or lose it' phenomenon." Masturbation can also help with sexual dysfunction: women who can't orgasm can learn a thing or two from self-pleasure, while men who ejaculate prematurely can use it to practice control.

Do Single People Have More And Better Sex Than Married Couples?
Experts say that neither group comes out on top. "The optimal amount of sex happens when you live with someone," says Edward O. Laumann, author of The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, and a sociology professor at the University of Chicago.

"Frequency decreases strongly as you have more partners." As for quality, research has shown that married people also have higher levels of sexual satisfaction than singles, says Berman. "Trust and a connection allow you to safely explore and meet your sexual needs," she adds. "But after 10 years together, satisfaction can decline. So they're not much better off than singles, on average."

Does The "Seven Year Itch" Exist?
In the 1955 film that popularized this myth, a married man is tempted to cheat on his wife with his sexy new neighbor (played by Marilyn Monroe— who can blame him?).

But do marriages really fall apart after seven years? According to studies of couples worldwide, says Berman, divorce tends to occur during the fourth year of marriage.

"The anthropological explanation is that we evolved to be serial monogamists, not lifelong monogamists," she explains. Couples would stay together at least long enough to see the child to toddlerhood. After that— at least from an evolutionary standpoint—mom and dad were free to run off and find new mates, with genetic variety as the goal.

Do Men And Women Hit Their Sexual Prime At Different Ages?
Women are at the top of their game in their early 30s, when they are more confident and assertive, says Berman. But by the mid-to-late 30s, fertility—and libido—can decline. "Men are physiologically at their prime at 18," she adds. "Blood flows better, erections are harder. But they're at their emotional or social sexual peak in their mid-30s."

So the next time you're tempted to rob the cradle, it might be wise to keep your pants on. "People in their late teens are not good lovers," says Laumann. "The ability to form and maintain relationships comes later."

Do Men Have Stronger Sex Drives Than Women?
According to Berman, it's common for women to have lower libidos than men. But men, too, experience a loss of desire—"especially those in their mid-to-late 40s and beyond," she says.

Laumann adds that lower sex drives in women may be rooted in evolution: to protect themselves from predators, it was essential to avoid the vulnerable state of pregnancy. But for men, sex is less costly. "The majority of men think about sex every day. But only 25 percent of women think about it every day," he says. "Sex for men is less complicated. They tend to act on their urges."