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It is clear that scores of variations surfaced for why women choose to engage in sexual intercourse, which raises the question: Are men and women really all that different in their motivations to have sex? Judging from the results, 20 out of the 25 top reasons given were similar among both men and women interviewed (Usborne, 2007). That’s a whopping 80% overlap between our supposed polar opposites! So how to explain why public opinion still maintains that motivational sex drives are vastly different between the two?
Perhaps this can be explained by looking at long-term versus short-term relationships, and how this difference can shape a woman’s incentive. Men generally pay more attention to a woman’s physical attributes, whereas women are said to initially pay closer attention to other features such as personality, economic status, power, etc. But this does not account for the possibility that women most likely scope out the latter characteristics if they see the male as a potential long-term relationship (Li & Kenrick, 2006).
Surely, a woman does not expect a long-term relationship from every male she is attracted to, in which case traits such as socioeconomic status are no longer viewed as a priority and physical attractiveness becomes more significant for a casual encounter motivated by bodily appeal. Women are more likely to shift their focus on physical attributes in order to match their purely somatic desires (Fischtein, Herold, & Desmarais, 2007). The wide range of sexual impulses from Meston and Buss’ study can also be clarified by recognizing the individual forces that may impel women to have sex.
The timing when a woman experiences her first sexual arousal plays a large role on her future attitudes and choices regarding casual sex (Ostovich, 2005). It appears that the timing and instance of a woman’s first arousal shapes her outlook on the act of sex, and may in fact influence future decisions and motives to sleep with potential partners as well as her total amount of partners in a lifetime. Men however, begin this similar process of discovering and shaping their sexual drives soon after onset of puberty, with no effect or relation to the timing of their first sexual “arousal” (Ostovich, 2005).