Every Man has Two Sex Lives?

February 28, 2014

in Uncategorized

Recently a gentleman commenting on something I wrote said, “Every man has two sex lives – the one with his wife and the one in his thoughts” (paraphrased). I would like to tell you he is wrong, but he is not.

He had a sex life in his mind long before he met you. The hormone surge that ushered in puberty caused him to start thinking about sex every waking hour. From that moment on, he had a mental sex life. Every sexual thing he saw, read, or did became a part of his mental sex life, shaping and altering it. Even if you were the first girl he kissed, he had a massive mental sex life before you, and it did not go away when he married you.

If your hubby somehow avoided porn, peer “sex education”, and teenage sex, his mental sex life might be healthy. Sadly, I have not met such a man in the USofA. At best, men enter marriage with a distorted idea of sex; for most, it is far worse. They want things no real woman wants, and they expect things no real woman can do. They are sexually selfish because their bodies are loud and their “training” tells them women like men who are all about getting theirs. Married sex is a huge shock to men because it is nothing like what they expect. Shortly after marriage, men decide their wife will never be the woman in their mental sex life. Thus are born his two sex lives.

In his mind © Igor Zakowski | Dreamstime.com

If a man becomes wise with age, he works to merge his two sex lives into one. Doing this is painful because it means cutting away parts of his mental sex life that have been with him for years or decades. It can feel like cutting off parts of his body! Those who do not get wise, or who find it too painful, tolerate or embrace their duplicitous sexuality. This leads to lust, fantasies about other women, porn use, and even adultery. One common result of a man’s two sex lives is secretly masturbating to fantasies of his mental sex life. Some work to make these fantasies about their wife, some cannot because they know she would never do those things. Some fight their mental sex life, hating it when they fail. Of course, all this hurts his sex life with his wife, and may lead to negative feelings about her.

Please do not take this to mean your husband is secretly a horrible pervert! His mental sex life may be similar to what he has with you, just more frequent. What he wants might not be wild or kinky, just a bit more than he has ever had with you. Maybe you would be okay with what he has in his mind, he is just afraid to share it.

You Can Help – Maybe

When a man gives up on his wife being the woman in his mental sex life, he usually stops asking for certain things. He may hint or joke, but he is not honest about what he wants. This is because of embarrassment, or fear, or thinking some of what he wants is not fair to his wife. This drives his two sex lives further apart. Opening an honest dialogue about sex with him will help. Initially he will resist or hold back, but if he learns you will not hate him (or “cut him off”) for what he says, he should open up. Make it clear you want to hear what he thinks and feels, and will not judge him. Also, make it clear hearing about something does not mean you are going to do it. At first, he will let out little bits, testing to see how you react. If he gets braver, he may share things prefaced with “I know this is wrong…” or “I would never want to really do this…”. Accept him at his word on these things.

As you get a sense of his mental sex life, ask yourself if you are willing to participate in parts of it. If you are sure you are okay with something, just do it, or say you want to do it. If you are unsure, tell him you are willing to try it to see how it goes. Make sure he understands up front doing something once or a few times does not commit you to doing it again. Do not push yourself to do things that really bother you. Pick and choose, and go slow. If you do not feel up to something he has discussed you might be able to do something similar.

Just allowing him to share his mental sex life will make him feel closer to you. If you do not react with shock or revulsion, he will feel closer and more accepted. What’s more, getting things into the light reduces their hold over him, making it easier for him to let go of things. Adding some parts of his mental sex life to his sex life with you will have a profound effect on him. He will feel deeply loved, understood, and accepted.

If he is reasonable, and his mental sex life is not too far out, listening and/or trying will bring his two sex lives closer together. It will take time, but with your help, he may achieve a single sex life.

Thoughts? Comments? Rabid rants?

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr Richard Norris February 28, 2014 at 1:50 am

Never thought of it that way before but the 2 sex lives is very true. As you share, the challenge is to open up for us guys. I know for me all I desire is to be closer with my wife as much as I possible can.

Thank you for sharing this.
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Paul Byerly February 28, 2014 at 11:49 am

I’ve been (pleasantly) surprised by the “rising to the challenge” I’ve seen from men from some of what I’ve posted here.

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Michael Anderson February 28, 2014 at 4:05 am

Why don’t we just leave it as every PERSON and avoid the sexist and incorrect separations and distinctions?
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Tam February 28, 2014 at 6:54 am

What do you mean? Every person? You’re implying that women also have a duplicitous sex life?

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Paul Byerly February 28, 2014 at 11:43 am

I know some women do the same, but I know women who do not. How common it is for women I cannot say, but I doubt it’s as common in women as in men.

Beyond that, I suspect the two are much closer for women than for most men. The relational desire pushes a woman towards a unified sex life.

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Rosemary March 1, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Have talked very frankly with many women over the years, and having observed the kinds of stories (books, movies, TV) that women create or consume, I would say that it is very common for women also to have a mental sex life that is quite different from what they are actually getting with their partners. For the average women, the fantasies are probably not the same as they are for the average man. But they are there.
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Paul Byerly March 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Do you think women have a stronger desire to unify the two? I would guess their stronger relation drive would push for that.
As far as I can tell, most men have no push to unify the two unless they see the immorality of the situation.

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Rosemary March 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Some fantasies are so unrealistic (they are just fantasies after all) that no one really wants them to become part of real life. Beyond that, I think a lot of women fantasize about things they wish they could experience with their partner. But they may be too shy to talk about it or try to make it happen.
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Paul Byerly March 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Shyness, or fear, is not just a female thing. This is especially true for Christians where both fear the other will be offended by their desires.

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Dan September 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Paul-Worse than offended, we feel we will be judged and condemned for our feelings and then by someone we want to hold us in high regard. No one wants their spouse thinking they are a deviant or perverted and that’s a bell that is sometimes impossible to unring. It takes a very emotionally mature couple to openly speak of their wants, desire, needs, and fantasies.
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Dan September 1, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Rosemary-Think of all the missed opportunities for sharing intimacy and pleasure over a lifetime because we can’t or won’t communicate. And even if we communicate our desires, it can take more work than we expect to achieve them. It is so easy to over-expect from our spouse and to under-deliver to them when our gender paradigms are so different. Research is finding we actually have more in common than we realize but we find acting on those commonalities is outside of our comfort zone.
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Mr. Dev February 28, 2014 at 4:15 am

Provided that the second sex life is pure or has been purified, I think of it as the place of dreaming. It is a place of creative thought that can conceive variety and adventure. It is a place where I find out how I feel about something new and sexual within my marriage bond before actually trying it. As a husband, part of my second sex life is wanting my spouse to have and to share her own second sex life. I would like to believe that it can become the place of dreaming together.

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Paul Byerly February 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

I agree, but to me that would no longer be a separate sex life – it would be an extension of what the couple does in the flesh.

Good point – thanks!

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Mr. Dev March 2, 2014 at 5:04 am

Hmm, further on in the post you wrote, However, the Lori in my thoughts was not the Lori in my bed…”. My question is why that is a problem? If I accept who my wife is today while dreaming of who I hope she will become, then it allows me to be more content with the present because of the horizon that I am aiming for. I want my wife to see me the same way and not just in the area of sexual intimacy. I understand that there are limitations in imagination because a dream conceived of selfish desire results in sorrow and disappointment, but life without forward vision is truly boring.

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Paul Byerly March 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I depends on how realistic that hope is. Even if there is no selfishness, dreaming of things she will never want/enjoy/do is problematic. It can put pressure on her, and if she never becomes those things disappointment and resentment are likely.

It is the balance discussed in Proverbs:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. [Pro 13:12 ESV]

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Karen March 1, 2014 at 12:54 am

Sounds an awful lot like Mental ADULTERY, if he is FANTASIZING about Other women; and Sexual idolatry to be overly focused on his own Biological Drives. A Woman WANTS to be her husbands DESIRE. IT deeply hurts her to know that her LOVER is having sex in his mind with anyone but HER. A Woman desires to be cherished, and if she isn’t She may resort to her own fantasy to feel satisfied falsely in ways that were only meant for her husband. JOB said I HAVE MADE A COVENANT WITH MY EYES NOT to LUST after a WOMAN. I believe GOD is CLEAR about PURITY. Both are called by GOD to be PURE and FREE from the NATURAL or SINFUL desires of SELF GRATIFICATION of any kind. Maybe Men set the BAR to low inspire of what the world has built in the minds of men. HOLINESS is NOT SEXUAL /MENTAL STATE of EXTACY, Though certainly comes a close second.

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Paul Byerly March 1, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I would say it is mental adultery if he is thinking of another woman.
I know women can react by retreating into their own fantasies. Men do the same when they find their new wife is uptight about sex. Of course, neither is right, and each encourages the other to sin as well.
Most couples come into marriage with two wrong ideas about what their sex life should be. Each sees the flaws in what their spouse wants, and they use that to tell themselves their version is good.
This is an area where good premarital counselling can make a big difference!

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IntimacySeeker March 1, 2014 at 6:59 am

Does the mental sex life include your wife? Exclusively?

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Paul Byerly March 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm

If you are asking me, yes.
When we got married, I made a decision she was my only source of sex, physical or mental. It was not actually a conscious decision, but it was a very solid choice, which I have never gone back on.
However, the Lori in my thoughts was not the Lori in my bed. In part, this was my looking forward to who she would be when she got some healing over past sexual abuse. In part, I was putting my desires onto her.
So initially, the Lori in my mind was a bit of a caricature of the real woman. Better than thinking of another woman, but not what I should have been doing. Over the years, the Lori in my mind and the Lori in my bed became the same woman. I realised my error, and worked to change. At the same time, the real woman got healing that allowed her to be less restricted. That did make it easier to bring my mind into line with reality. I think I would have managed without her changes, but it would have been more difficult.

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kris-anne March 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm

this is actually really helpful. i was surprised to find out that my husband thought our sex life was very “vanilla” compared to what he had expected or hoped for. he explained that he had to adjust his expectations in order to be content, which i liken to merging his two sex lives. in contrast, i had absolutely no idea what to expect because i came into the marriage with very few preconceived notions and fantasies. i came into marriage thinking about house-hunting, having babies, eating dinner together, and cuddling. everything BUT actual sex :) fortunately, he’s opening up a little bit about what he hoped for, and i’m trying not to be grossed out or judgmental. i’m really sensitive to smells, touch, sounds, everything, so just plain old vanilla sex is pretty stimulating for me. not so for him.

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Paul Byerly March 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Good for him for adjusting his expectations! I wish more men would make that effort.

I think we fear that letting go of expectations means killing any chance of ever having those things. I know this was an issue for me. I have since learned with greater sexual health some of those can one day happen.

It is far better to give up many things and then get a few back than to hold on to things and become bitter. I also think a man letting go frees his wife in a way that makes it more likely she will someday want to try some of those things.

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Mr. Dev March 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm

@Paul, the phrase “plain old vanilla sex” stands out to me and prompts questions for me about root cause. 1) What is it about pov sex that satisfies wives? 2) Why aren’t husbands satisfied by that product/end result/experience the same way as their wives are? 3) I get that many husbands have an internal compass that been misaligned by sexual sin and cultural lies, but there must be something within sexual intimacy that men deeply believe will satisfy if they can reach it. Their way of “getting there” is misdirected, but are we simply so deeply flawed that we are not satisfied by what satisfies our wives? What is it that element, that destination that we long for?

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kris-anne March 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm

at least for my husband and i, it’s mostly a personality thing. my husband is adventurous and seeks novelty, whereas i’m easily overstimulated and shy away from novelty. perhaps some of his fantasies came from porn or cultural influences, but in general he’s just very creative and open to new things (including exotic food and music!) i’m striving to be more open because i want to keep things spicy for him, and maybe tap into repressed desires of my own. it helps to be reassured that the marriage bed is a completely safe environment to try out new things. we can’t “fail”, and there’s no harm in trying something new. but i do appreciate how patient he’s been with me, and that he never became overly bitter.

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kris-anne March 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm

i also remember reading in a Christian sex book (possibly the Sexually Confident Wife, but I’m not totally sure) that most men do need novelty in the bedroom. not necessarily multiple partners like society tells them, but they do want adventure in the bedroom. i’m sure many women are the same way.

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Paul Byerly March 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

In general, men are more adventurous than women are, and that plays out in everything – including sex.

I think this is made even worse when a couple is not having enough sex for the man. His hunger for more and his hunger for adventure mix and he starts to want all kinds of crazy things. When a man has “enough” he can be satisfied with less variety than he thinks he needs when he is sexually hungry.

If he has a stronger sex drive than she has, one way to satisfy his desire for variety without being too much for her is to have two kinds of sex – some for him, some for them. Sex for both of them is less spicy, allowing her to fully engage and enjoy. When she does sex for him (and if she initiates it that is a plus) she can push the limits more.

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Paul Byerly March 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

I think variety is less important to women because relationship is so important. For them who is huge, making all the rest less critical.

Based on anecdotal evidence, I think men have less need for variety as they learn to have a deeper relationship.

I think God gave men and women two parts of the same puzzle. When a couple embraces both parts, each of them ends up more satisfied than if they focus on either half. The problem is many couples end up fighting over which half to call the whole.

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IntimacySeeker March 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Just re-reading and pondering these posts this afternoon. I find it interesting to think that variety is more important to men. In Kevin Leman’s book “Sheet Music”, he speaks strongly about the wife’s need and desire for variety, and mentions how some men tend to follow the sequence of steps when making love: if it worked before, it will work again.

As for two kinds of sex–sex for him, sex for them–I thought husbands wanted and needed their wives to be fully engaged in order to experience satisfaction and fulfillment. Sex for him sounds like duty sex or pity sex.

Personally, being in a place where I can ask my husband what he specifically thinks about when he thinks of me and have him share that is energizing, exciting and empowering. I am honored that he wants me, delighted that he enjoys me and thrilled that he thinks about me. I would be disappointed if there were not some dreams of his I could bring into our reality.

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Paul Byerly March 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

By variety I mean all kinds of different sex acts, not variations on a theme. Men can get into following a script, which is not good for women.

Yes, men want and need their wife to be engaged in and enjoying sex, but differing degrees of that on different occasions is okay as long as she is “all in” much of the time. “Just for him” is useful when his sex drive is higher than her sex drive. If she wants as much or more than he does, it is not necessary. Just for him is not as good as sex where she is all in, but it is better than nothing.

Duty or pity sex is usually her just lying there. Sex “just for him” is more than that – she is active and engaged. Just for him means she does not plan to climax, although if she gets into it and wants to that is even better.

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Dan June 14, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Really love this post. I had never thought about there being two sex lives. I just thought there was sex with my wife and fantasies about new and exciting things to do the next time. It now seems reasonable to agree that those fantasies are part and parcel of a phantom sex life we men wish we were participating in. I had one of those “fantasies” happen tonight. It took a lot of courage to ask for it and the fear I would be rejected, or worse JUDGED, was intimidating. I got what I asked for. We haven’t “played back the game films” yet and that will be the next step. We will be discussing what happened and if it can happen again. That too will be taking a risk. That’s what a rewarding and fulfilled marriage is all about though: taking those risks. My fingers are crossed on this one. If she only does it for me and not we, I can live with that, although it would be so much more satisfying if she derived pleasure and even a little bit of a turn on when sharing the act with me. I feel even more love of her, more trust in her, and an increased desire to be the man she needs because she loved me enough to move a want from the fantasy column into the reality column. That may sound selfish on its face, but I know I am ready to do the same for her. I am truly blessed to have her as my wife. Better than I deserve.
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Paul Byerly June 15, 2014 at 11:26 am

Good on you for taking the risk!

As to for we or for me, some “just for you” is fine and even healthy. Both of you should do some things just because your spouse enjoys them. And because of our love, doing something they enjoy means we enjoy it because they do. Something we do not care for can become something we look forward to for this very reason.

Praying it all goes well!
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