Relationships are sometimes fairly tricky things with plenty of chaotic ups and downs. That’s probably why there are plenty of fairly unsubstantiated theories about them flying about, including those relating to the honeymoon effect, or what the best age to get married might be.
Science does its best at trying to pin some of these down, to find new revelations about the love lives of billions. Now, writing in the journal BMJ Open, a new trend has cropped up. Namely, women are more than twice as likely to lack interest in sex when living with a partner, among other curious things.
The wide-ranging survey involved nearly 12,000 men and women across the UK, aged 16-74 years, who had reported to have one or more sexual partners – either same-sex or opposite-sex – in the past year. It was conducted by researchers from the University of Southampton and University College London, and brought up some unexpected findings.
Although both men and women lost their sense of sexual desire and passion as they aged together, the effect took hold earlier on with women.
Specifically, 15 percent of men in long-term co-habitation relationships said they had lost almost all interest in sex for three months or more in the previous year, whereas for women, this figure was 34 percent. For women only, the lack of interest in sex was higher among those in a relationship for a year or longer, especially if they did not share the same level of interest or preferences as their partner.
However, the lack of interest was highest for women between the ages of 55 and 64, but for men, this occurred earlier, at the ages of 35-44.
It’s a complicated picture, but the researchers ruled out menopause as a potential explanation for the lack of sexual interest in these particular women in that age bracket. Although it didn’t really effect men, having young children in the same household proved to be a particularly potent mojo-crusher for women.
When it came to both men and women, there appeared to be several primary drivers of this lack of libido including: having sexual difficulties, poor mental and physical health in general, not feeling emotionally close to the partner, and poor communication regarding sex.
Here’s a random tidbit for you. As per the study, the team discovered “that lack of interest was more commonly reported by men who had recently masturbated, but less commonly reported by women who had done so.”
They explain that this “may reflect a tendency among women for self-pleasuring to be, not a substitute for partnered sex but instead a part of a broader repertoire of sexual fulfillment.” When it came to men only, “men’s frequency of masturbation reflects reduced frequency of partnered sex.”
Gender stereotypes affect men and women in different ways too. Men that endorse the view that “men have a higher sex drive than women” were significantly less likely to say they had lost interest in sex – a positive reinforcement – whereas women who endorse the same view were much more likely to say they had lost interest in sex.
“The results suggest that endorsing stereotypical gender norms related to sex may adversely affect women more than men,” the authors conclude.
The authors of the study note that there is no simple fix for a lack of libido in a relationship; each person is too individualistic, which means treatment has to be multi-faceted and specific to the person or pair in question.
[H/T: BBC News]