MEN'S SEX SECRETS
No matter how well you know your guy (or think you do), there are some sex secrets he's never gonna share
By Carrie Sloan
When you first start dating a guy, it makes sense that he would conceal stuff he's not particularly proud of—his disorderly apartment, his hairy back, his mother's daily phone calls. But by the time you're a serious couple—maybe even living together—you probably assume you know your bedmate's every last habit, flaw, and idiosyncrasy. Don't be so sure.
According to new research published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, one in 10 men are harboring a serious sexual secret. "There are two kinds of secrets guys keep," says Les Parrott, author of Crazy Good Sex. "Things they wish their wives or girlfriends would understand but are scared they won't, and things they're just plain trying to get away with."
With that in mind, we polled hundreds of men to learn what they hide at each stage in a relationship and enlisted experts to offer their insights. We discovered there's a decent chance your man is keeping at least one dirty secret. Read on to find out what, if anything, you should do about it.
When You're Dating...
What he's hiding: The number of women he's had sex with
Some men exaggerate to sound more sexually experienced; others lowball so you don't dismiss them as players. "Men know that if they confess to a large number of partners, it sends the message that they're unlikely to commit to one. That is, to you," says David Buss, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Evolution of Desire.
What you should do: Take him at his word, but protect yourself. Be vigilant about using a condom every time you have sex—at least until you've both been tested for STDs and you feel secure that you're in a committed relationship. If you do somehow discover that he's deceived you about his sexual history, get it out in the open, but give him a chance to explain. "He could have fibbed out of embarrassment, insecurity, or sincere interest in you," says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.
What he's hiding: He looks at porn—maybe a lot
According to a study at Brigham Young University, 87 percent of men have looked at some form of porn in the past year, and one in five help themselves to X-rated fare daily. Men like to look at naked chicks—no surprise there—but what is shocking is how quickly they can become dependent on those erotic images. A powerful pleasure cocktail of endorphins and epinephrine (hormones responsible for arousal and alertness) are released while a man watches porn, Parrott says. And that feeling can become addictive.
What you should do Occasional porn isn't the problem; it only becomes a wrecking ball when it starts to intrude on your sex life together. "The two big questions are 'Is it interfering with your life and relationship?' and 'Is he using it to avoid something?'" says sex therapist Sandor Gardos, Ph.D. If he actively hides his material and makes excuses to avoid having sex, be concerned. Broach the subject when you're calm and rational. "Angry accusations never go over well," Gardos says. Another tactic: Suggest watching together. "It becomes compulsive when he feels like he has to hide it," he says. So if you're willing to share it with him, you'll take the compulsion out of the equation. Plus, experts say, viewing erotic images together can enhance your sex life.
What he's hiding: He compares you to his last girlfriend
It's true: Your guy whips out his ex ruler and measures everything about you: your looks, your bedroom abilities, how well you get along with his friends. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. "It's normal to make comparisons, and an ex is his most recent reference point," says Christopher Blazina, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Tennessee State University.
What you should do
Nothing. He'll inevitably come to the conclusion that you blow away anyone else he's ever been with, and the silent comparathon raging in his mind will cease. When you should do something: if he frequently blurts out things like "My ex always..." or "My last girlfriend never..." It's not necessarily a sign that he hasn't gotten over her, but it can still be hurtful, Blazina says. When that happens, it's fair to tell him, for example, that you don't want him bringing up the details of their trip to Mexico. Chances are, he's not even aware he's been doing it and will be happy to stop.
When You're Seriously Dating or Engaged
What he's hiding: He still masturbates—probably more than you think
Twenty percent of the guys Women's Health polled admitted to taking matters into their own hands daily; another 33 percent fessed up to self-pleasuring three times a week—usually alone, often in the shower.
What you should do It depends on how much his habit affects you. Masturbation itself is normal behavior, but if he's avoiding sex or having trouble peaking when he's with you, those could be signs it's gotten, uh, out of hand. "There are guys who will have sex with a partner once or twice a month, and masturbate 20 to 25 times," says psychologist Barry McCarthy, Ph.D., coauthor of Discovering Your Couple Sexual Style.
If you suspect that's the case, try to refocus his hands where they belong: on you. Kerner suggests sharing a hot fantasy or dirty thought with him and seeing if that will draw his attention back to the relationship. Some men are going solo more often these days to relieve their economic stress. Sound like your guy? Treat him to extra physical affection (give him a back rub, scratch his head). This will help him associate comfort and calmness with you.
What he's hiding: He's been talking to at least one past love online
Technology has made it easier than ever to reconnect with former flames. In the past four years, the number of adults with profiles on social-networking sites has quadrupled. Experts say that men may reach out to an ex as a sort of insurance policy. "People like to have backups, not necessarily to form a long-term relationship with now, but to have as a placeholder so they're not left high and dry should their existing relationship end," Buss says.
What you should do "Often these placeholders are never used, so there's no need to worry or do anything about it," Buss says. But if you're spotting signs that his new Facebook friend may be more than just a platonic e-pal—he regularly finds excuses to go online, he tries to conceal his correspondence—he may be up to no good. "Say every time you two get into an argument he immediately goes online—that's a concern," Gardos says. "And in that case, you might need to evaluate his commitment to you."
What he's hiding: He's afraid he won't be able to stay faithful for life
Affairs are on the rise. A recent analysis of data from the General Social Survey found that up to 20 percent of men under 30 have been unfaithful, a 5 percent increase since 15 years ago. To make matters worse, our culture does a lot to propagate the myth that sex starts to suffer as soon as you say "I do," Parrott says. A University of North Texas study found that married couples in movies are rarely depicted as having a good sex life. "It's a common male perspective, especially in the early years of marriage," he says.
What you should do Fact is, many couples do find that sex starts to wane after exchanging wedding vows. So your objective should be to assure him that you two will beat the odds. Spice things up by suggesting new positions and get it on in new places, from the kitchen counter to a backyard hammock.
What he's hiding: He's fantasized about a guy—and maybe acted on it
According to McCarthy's research, this is more typical than you might guess. "The fourth most common sexual fantasy among straight men is sex with another male, especially receiving oral sex from a guy," McCarthy says. But the great majority of men do not act on the fantasy.
What you should do Stay calm, and don't jump to conclusions. "The majority of males with this fantasy are not gay or bisexual," McCarthy says. "What makes a fantasy erotic is that it's different from the reality of your sexual life." Even if you do find out he's been with another man in the past, there's probably no reason to panic. "Some men have done it, either as part of a threesome or alone," Kerner says. "If it was a one-time thing, chalk it up to experimentation." However, if you find a stash of gay porn or he's constantly pushing for a three-way with another man, you need to talk to him honestly about his sexual orientation. (Sloan, 2009)
Sloan, C. (2009, May). Women's health magazine. Retrieved August 23, 2009, from Men's Sex Secrets: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/mens-sex-secrets?page=3
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