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HOW TO MAKE GREAT LOVE TO A MAN
By PHILLIP HODSON AND ANNE HOOPER
WARNER BOOKSCopyright © 2000 Anne Hooper and Phillip Hodson
All right reserved.
There is no limit to the pleasure you can enjoy except the power of your own imagination. But if this book contains the best of all possible sensual and sexual experiences a woman can give a man, a sensory ideal, how do you set about understanding and creating the circumstances which will make it happen in your house for You and Yours? How do you get from ideal to real? We start with the basic male psychology of Chapter One - it's no help to imagine that men are from Mars!
PEOPLE ARE ... FROM EARTH
No one today thinks men and women are emotionally identical. John Gray's best-seller Men are from Mars Women are from Venus has made this crystal clear. But the two sexes remain different, not opposite. If you believe the exaggerations of writers like John Gray you are likely to make good sex much harder to achieve. You will certainly never successfully reconcile your differences. Men and women are not alien species from separate worlds. They are similar creatures endeavouring to solve their problems from slightly different viewpoints. This is where we believe John Gray gets it wrong about psychology:
* The differences within one sex are far greater than the differences between the two sexes. By this we mean that man has wide variations of desire, romance and sexual performance just like woman but that the majority of men and women respond similarly. So it's not true that your lover is on another planet on a different wavelength and unable to 'speak your language'. There will always be major areas where the two of you easily connect if you recognise this and know how to achieve the connection.
* Most psychological surveys show there are no major differences between the sexes. But these surveys don't get published because they have 'nothing to report'. The similarities are many. The physiological pattern of sexual response is identical and the hormonal system, despite differing ratios of the sex hormones, works similarly. The sex problems, when they crop up, are physiologically alike. Men suffer from impotence. So, too, do women.
In other words 'People are from Earth'.
Having made this point, it may appear odd to explore the differences that remain. But knowing where men and women are likely to see things as separate systems comes in useful when gauging your own behaviour with your man. The sex differences that count are the subject of this chapter. We begin by looking at the ways in which a man's sexual emotions are not quite like yours.
THE PSYCHO-SEXUAL DIFFERENCES
Men's minds work a shade differently from women's, with less acute emotional radar. As a result, they sometimes tend to imagine that girls are like boys with breasts. Where women can be generous to men's physical imperfections and are mainly turned off by their emotional failings, men tend to undervalue the human context in which sex is supplied. 'I don't mind if a woman fails to appreciate me emotionally,' says the Martin Clunes character in the soap opera Men Behaving Badly, 'so long as she still gets her kit off.'
Men even regard sex like food. Their characteristic reaction to refusal of sex is puzzlement: 'Why is she on a hunger strike? We all need to eat to survive.' Hence men's propensity to divorce their 'needs' from feelings. As the husband in one Roddy Doyle novel says to his wife immediately after a row: 'I suppose a ride is out of the question?' In seeking comfort, men still solicit sex.
Men pretend to be ever-ready like the battery but are just as likely to have the headaches. They also like to reinforce their own masculine stereotypes. However, contrary to myth, the world is full of hot accountants and cold pop-stars. Despite what men like to think, the sexes are identical in their distribution of desire. A few people have extreme sexual appetites (great or small) while the rest of us come somewhere in the middle.
In terms of sheer appetite, women are apt to be discreet about their amours. Men make propaganda out of theirs. In fact the only way to make any sense of the research on infidelity is to assume that women routinely lie about their lovers. Either that, or one urban sex worker in the North of England is having more partners than hot dinners.
Present psychological thinking, based on many areas of enquiry, accepts the possibility that there is indeed a 'male brain'. This male brain is generally accepted by the female of the species to be:
* less socially clever
* less able to manoeuvre and negotiate within social and emotional relationships
* less able to make the deep and meaningful interpersonal connections that women find so necessary to their own sense of self-worth and well-being.
Whether or not this current research proves fruitful remains to be seen. And even if this current research does not, it's worth remembering that publishing itself is a form of social conditioning. Both sexes are persuaded by books like Men are from Mars Women are from Venus to believe that men don't comprehend emotions.
MEN GET FLOODED
The male brain has one further crucial difference from a woman's. Because men tend not to probe into their own or other people's feelings, they are more emotionally vulnerable. According to psychologist Dr John Gottman, men have a stronger physical reaction to all their emotions than women do. If either sex wants to claim the world title for emotions, men could probably do so. In general, there's overwhelming evidence to show men have shorter fuses and suffer longer-lasting explosions when angry.
For example, during a difficult marital row a man's heart rate and blood pressure will rise sharply and stay at an elevated level far longer than his wife's. Typically, the male heart rate will surge to an extra 20 to 30 beats per minute. Sometimes the rate will approach that of a man driving a Formula 1 racing car. This happens swiftly so that he's still stuck with an accelerated heart rate long after the woman has moved on to other subjects. The average woman's rate, by contrast, can stay relatively unchanged before, during and after the 'discussion'. She is apparently more comfortable verbalising her difficulties than avoiding them.
Such gender differences, says Gottman in his book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, help to clarify why men are so much more likely than women to become stonewallers - indeed may even deny that they have emotional difficulties. Gottman suggests that 85 per cent of stonewallers are male and that the purpose of their emotional denials is to protect the male brain from unacceptably high levels of stress.
The mathematics of domestic rows simply ensures that more stress is created for the woman because the problems remain unsolved. His gain (when he doesn't have to face up to things) is her loss (since she cannot make him engage with her concerns). Gottman has identified stonewalling as 'the single most destructive behaviour to be found in any modern marriage'. Following a domestic row, and because they are by nature more aggressive, men tend to play negative scripts over and over thus keeping themselves on the boil for far longer and they end up saying to themselves: 'I shouldn't have to take this crap - it's all your fault!'
ARE NORMAL MEN ALMOST BRAIN-DAMAGED?
One real and critical sex difference affecting all our romantic encounters is women's sharper ability to 'read minds'. When a woman looks into your eyes she is better able to tell what you're feeling than the average man. She is more intuitive, quicker to interpret body language, tone of voice even facial expression. The extreme state of psychological withdrawal called autism, associated with a total inability to work out what somebody else is feeling, is much more common in men than in women.
As we know, most babies start life as emotional 'tyrants'. They don't care what other people need - they want attention and will make a fuss if they don't get it. By the age of two, however, toddlers can generally appreciate that different people have different wants and desires but they still cannot understand why.
By the age of five or six, children can tell that different people interpret the world differently and by this stage all children should have become psychologists. The problem is that many boys do not make this leap and a significant proportion of males remains unable to 'think themselves into the shoes of another person'.
Research, led by Simon Baron-Cohen in Cambridge, now suggests that the development of the so-called 'social brain' may be restricted in boys because for centuries it was important that males should not show too much sympathy for their fellows. For instance, if you are trying to kill an enemy in battle, it's not a great idea to imagine his widow or mum grieving over news of his death.
Switching off these 'social genes' in boys would produce consistent benefits. Their tendency to 'single-mindedness' would prove valuable in a warlike world. It would also provide a competitive edge in a crude industrial society where production matters more than people or pollution. It appears that twice as many of the fathers and grandfathers of autistic boys are employed as engineers than you would expect statistically. The male brain, concludes Baron-Cohen, is better constructed to think about machines than the existence, the claims or the needs of another mind.
TWO SEXES SEPARATED BY A COMMON LANGUAGE
We have to accept that John Gray's books contain a basic truth. All the psychological research shows that men and women are aroused by different aspects of sex, seek different rewards in sex and prefer to carry out selectively different kinds of sexual activity. And yet both sexes are stuck with the same language in which to express their contrasting desires. When trainee headhunter Geoff asked Kristine the banker at the end of their date to 'come up to his place for coffee', she was thinking about how he would kiss her while he was speculating about the colour of her underwear. While Kristine was expecting to linger over the exciting preliminaries, Geoff was plotting precise sexual positions and hoping, finally, that this was the girl into erotic bondage. Such can be the mental and terminological confusion between consenting members of the same species. And so the aim should be to identify these differences in order to help harmonise them.
IS THERE A GENE FOR CHATTERING?
Related to the suggestion that men are less sociable than women is the claim that they have far less aptitude for informal conversation. Women, it appears, literally like to talk more than men do. They are probably born that way. Researchers quoted by sociologist Dianne Hales in her book Just like a Woman, have shown that even in the womb, female foetuses exercise their jaws 30 per cent more than male ones. By the time they reach adulthood, women are uttering 23,000 words a day while the average man can only manage 12,000. Men as a whole turn out to be creatures of fewer words. This may hint at a difference of function, but men could claim to choose their words more carefully than women to avoid emotional flooding. However, women might respond that men have never understood the necessity for 'small talk' as a means of creating intimacy in personal relationships in the first place.
WHAT ABOUT 'TESTOSTERONE POISONING'?
As you may know, the hormone providing sex drive in both the sexes is called testosterone. But men usually have 20 to 40 times more of the stuff than women have. So, is this the real reason why men, for example, seem more likely to risk all they value in life - a home, marriage, career, reputation - for one illicit, risky love affair? Women, if not the nation at large, deserve an answer.
Researchers have now linked high levels of testosterone in men to both a 'higher competitive drive towards dominance' and a 'greater tendency towards sensation-seeking'. They conclude that men with average or middle levels of circulating testosterone are more prone to marital break-up than men with low levels and that men with the lowest levels of all are most satisfied by marriage and have fewest rows with their adolescent children.
Statistically speaking, these are big numbers. However, a study of 2,100 Air Force veterans by Professors Allan Mazur and Joel Michalek of Syracuse University goes even further. It shows that changes in testosterone level can indicate when divorce is likely to happen and that such changes may even cause it:
* testosterone levels are low when men first marry
* they tend to rise two years prior to a marital breakdown
* they remain unusually high until three years after the divorce
Does it start to sound familiar? The professors say these men carry their competitive attitudes into all relationships with the opposite sex. This results in difficulty finding a spouse, and therefore not marrying. Or, once married, being unable to sustain the commitment and then divorcing. Or, if still married, having a poor quality marriage. They also show that sensation-seeking behaviour linked to testosterone levels means that men with high testosterone levels may become bored with marriage more quickly than others 'and so seek other partners thus jeopardising their domestic relationships'.
Even if men and women don't have conflicting hormonal systems or come from different planets, their kids learn to occupy separate social universes down here on earth. By the age of seven, boys and girls don't have best friends of the opposite sex - boys play with boys and girls with girls. And when they do play, boys tend to focus on the game while girls try to develop relationships.
In one famous experiment at the University of Denver, Colorado, 20 separate pairs of nine-year-old boys and girls were studied through a two-way mirror. In every single case the boys ignored each other 'as people', displaying no 'personal curiosity', confining their questions to technicalities of the play while the girls 'revealed over three times as much about themselves to a stranger of the same sex as did the boys'.
Afterwards, it was discovered that the girls usually liked each other a lot more while the boys stayed mutually neutral. With boys, there may be violent disagreements about interpreting the rules of a game but personal feelings are not allowed to interrupt its continuity. Girls, by contrast, are notorious for refusing to play with any friend, male or female, who has upset them. And this basic difference of approach continues until the sexes re-connect, with all such differences intact, at puberty.
Excerpted from HOW TO MAKE GREAT LOVE TO A MAN by PHILLIP HODSON AND ANNE HOOPER Copyright © 2000 by Anne Hooper and Phillip Hodson. Excerpted by permission.
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