What Men Want In Bed

Gloria G. Brame,PhD,ACS



Survey: What men want from SEX
by Gloria G. Brame
this survey was first published in Cosmo in 1995

COSMO takes a return trip back to the hi-tech playground of cyberspace this month to get men's candid, uncensored views on SEX. Scores and scores of male volunteers jammed our email to give us their blunt opinions on sexual fantasies, monogamy, orgasm, commitment, and marriage....and (gulp) impotence! They reveal their biggest turn-ons (did you know that men have other erogenous zones?) and their biggest turn-offs (from women who wear curlers to bed to girls who channel Elvis). Here is our selected "hot list" of the 26 most fascinating, honest men we could find. Their confessions, revelations, candid observations, and spicy tips on how women can keep them coming back for more will surprise you!

COSMO: How important to you is sex in a relationship?

Jeff, 24, Computer Associate/Big Six, Washington, DC: Most of my relationships have started with a lot of sexual passion and ended when the passion was gone.

Jose, 18, College Student, Missoula, MT: Although I find sex important, it's not all I look for. I am perfectly fine with just dating and no sex. It's not like I'm some sort of animal. I figure, if she can make me happy without sex, that's great.

Mike, 34, Pilot, Cheyenne, WY: Sex is important, but not as important as a deep understanding of me as a person, and my goals and aspirations. If these issues are not resolved, whatever sex there is will not even be good.

Leif, 23, Graduate student, Seattle, WA: I wouldn't be happy in a relationship in which sex was not something that worked well between us, especially if it were a monogamous relationship.

Danny, 27, Construction worker, Buffalo, NY: The more serious the relationship becomes, the less important sex is, to the point where two people get married, and sex is no more or no less important than the other aspects of the relationship (trust, love, friendship, etc). My wife and I enjoy a very good sex life. However, my wife is my best friend, I love her deeply, I trust her completely, and I want to spend the rest of my life being her husband, regardless of whether our sex life is fantastic or mediocre.

Max, 40, Photographer, Ridgewood, NJ: Sex is a form of communication, sharing, expression of warmth, and just one of the best ways that two people can make each other feel good! But there are many other important aspects of a relationship.

Wayne, 27, Attorney, Kansas City, MO: Very important right now. I just started my first sexual relationship fairly recently and can't enough of it now that I know what I was missing!

Jason, 32, Musician, Somerville, NJ: Excruciatingly. Sex should be one of the cornerstones of any long-term romantic relationship. On the other hand, it need not necessarily be very frequent. As long as the sex is good, and meaningful, it should be enough.

COSMO: Would you stop seeing a woman you liked if she were sexually inhibited?

Bob, 33, Engineer, The Isle of Palms, SC: When I met my girlfriend in college, she was a virgin and very inhibited. I was willing to wait and see if she could become less repressed. We slept together without having intercourse for a long time, just letting her learn to be comfortable with her own body as much as with mine. It took a long time to get to the point we could have a light on. By 3 years later, she was very uninhibited and we enjoyed a varied and full sex life. If she had remained a total iceberg, or had deep psychological reasons for sexual hang-ups, I don't think I would have continued seeing her.

Biggs, 44, Marketing Executive, Philadelphia, PA: Depends on how inhibited. My first "real" girlfriend was not into giving oral sex, but loved getting it. I stayed with her anyway for 6 years.

Ron, 36, Middle Manager, Winnipeg, Canada: I couldn't see myself staying with a woman who laid on her back and made no motions towards satisfying my needs also, or who thought that sex was dirty and meant only for procreation.

Jeff: If she just did not like sex and was not able to get turned on, then there is no chance. If she was a little inexperienced and afraid, I would deal with it if I saw that the passion for me was there.

Max: If I liked someone, I might not stop seeing her but I certainly wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life with her. I have made the mistake, on more than one occasion, of thinking that if I loved someone enough, and tried hard enough, I could get her to overcome her sexual inhibitions. I've realized finally that I am neither God nor Superman. Sexual issues are so pervasive in a relationship that bad sex will eventually destroy things.

COSMO: How long after you've been dating a woman do you expect to go to bed with her?

Jeff: Usually pretty quick. With lots of fireworks leading up to it. After a couple of dates without much excitement I usually give up.

Leif: I never really "expect" to. It's always come about as a pleasant surprise. The average has been 3-4 months into the relationship.

Alfred, 32, Public Relations, Morristown, NJ: Depending on how other aspects of the relationship are going, I can wait. It took my wife and I several months to first make love.

Charles, 47, Management Consultant, Somerset, UK: When I met my wife, we sat up all night talking, developed such a bond of trust that we went to bed that first day. If a woman said "yes" to an invitation to bed without some sort of bond between us then I would not want to go to bed with her.

Danny: I wouldn't be opposed to sleeping with a woman two hours after we met if the right chemistry was there, and there have been women I have dated for months and not slept with. You have to go with the flow and do what feels right at the time.

David, 40, Electronic Publishing Specialist, Lawrence, KS: I don't like to go to bed with anyone unless I feel there is a real relationship developing. I have to be in love to make love.

Jose: Sex makes me feel a little committed, but only because she gave something to me that was really special. I don't view sex as a prize, it's more of a gift, and I always feel obligated to give something back.

Colin, 27, Self-employed, Paramus, NJ: If you date someone with the expectation of sleeping with her, you will never find the woman you are looking for. I'm looking for someone I can connect with mentally first and you can't do that if your bottom line for the evening is "Will I be sleeping with her tonight?"

John, 41, Computer Executive, Atlanta, GA: My initial contacts lately have been via computer. We get most of our communication out of the way long before we meet in person, and I'd generally expect sexual play on the first or second 3-D encounter.

COSMO: What is the most awkward thing about a first encounter? How soon after sex with a new woman would you call her?

Kevin, 31, Air Force Officer, Ottawa, Canada: I met a girl at a concert once. In a few sentences we had expressed a mutual interest in sex and were on our way to my car. Back at her place she was passionate and was taking my clothes off, popping a button on my shirt in her eagerness. Then she mentioned that she was a virgin and planned to stay that way! That could reasonably be described as awkward!

Danny: In this age of political correctness, the most awkward part of the first sexual encounter is initiating sex. It's the rare man indeed who knows that the woman he is with wants to have sex with him, and that making the first move will not result in a harassment charge. Second most awkward is putting the condom on! If the sex was fabulous, I'd send the woman flowers, call her immediately and tell her I couldn't stop thinking about last night. If the sex was horrible, but everything else was great, I'd call two days later. If the whole evening was a total bust, well then we probably didn't sleep together in the first place!

Rick, 22, Emergency Medical Technician, Milford, CT: Being seen completely naked and vulnerable for the first time.

Bob: Unfamiliar and hidden fasteners on clothes!

David: Everything. No two people are alike. Chances are we haven't had detailed and explicit discussions about our sexual likes and dislikes. So it is like entering unchartered territory with each new relationship.

Cary, 32, Public Relations, San Bernardino County, California: The awkward thing is not knowing specifically which things I can do to make her hot. But finding out is the fun part. I like to send a woman flowers after the first time we have sex.

Wayne: Knowing that something's going to happen, but wondering who's going to start it. Luckily my wonderful fiancee knows exactly how to go after what she wants! Call her? Yeah, I'd call her "beautiful" when we woke up the next morning... Oh you meant on the phone? Well, as soon as possible.

Eddy, 32, Elevator engineer, Veurne, Belgium: The morning after. I wonder, "Does she see me from the same perspective that I see her?"

COSMO: Does having sex with a woman make you feel more committed to her?

Max: I honestly don't know if it makes me feel more committed, but it does make me feel more possessive--especially if it was good!

Peter, 31, U.S. Military, South Berwick, ME: Yes. And sometimes trapped.

Kevin: If she appears to feel it means more than it does to me, in terms of commitment, then it can trigger that male escape reflex.

Danny: Definitely. Sex instantly creates intimacy between two people, and having shared something intimate, there is a least some extra commitment. Even if it's a one night stand, the person isn't just a "girl" or "someone I dated", she's "someone I slept with": She has joined a smaller, more select group!

Billy, 34, Fireman, Little Rock, AK: Sometimes markedly less! Sometimes you don't realize just how crazy someone else can be until you sleep with her and she trusts you enough to reveal her most intimate secrets. I'm thinking of one girl who believed she was psychically linked with Elvis. (No kidding!)

COSMO: Do you like to talk about sex with her--how it could become better for both of you, for example--or are you uneasy if a woman brings up the subject?

Max: If my ex-wife could have talked about sex, maybe we could have stayed together. I love to talk about sex, and I don't feel that it spoils the excitement. Sure, it's wonderful if partners can intuit what the other feels and wants, but that is rare. Open people can talk about what they like, what makes them feel good. As they get closer, they can even share fantasies--and that can make their sex lives infinitely richer. Is it okay if the woman brings up the subject? Oh yes! Please?

Deez, 30, Computer Technician, Council Bluffs, IA: This has been easier for me than my wife. I have told her what I like and so far we are still having fun. She hints around a lot more but I always try to make her feel comfortable when talking about our sexual needs.

Alfred: Yes, it's very sexy and really improves the lovemaking.

Jeff: I'm not comfortable with it unless I've been with the person for a while. If the women brings it up, I find it surprising.

Charles: My wife and I discuss sex totally openly, without inhibition but it took twenty-four years to get there.

Ron: I would love to talk about sex with my current love. She feels uncomfortable talking about it, but very comfortable doing it.

Colin: I would prefer talking about it rather than just hoping it will get better. Every woman is different and different things excite various women. I would be very happy if she told me how I could please her more.

Cary: I love to talk about sex. I don't mind hearing about her previous exploits either--it's likely to get me in the mood!

Bob: The idea that good lovers can read each other's minds is a nice notion, but if you depend on it, you are likely to be disappointed! As for her bringing it up, I like that. But if it is criticism, even constructive, it should not be done in bed. Do it at a non-sexual time, in the car, or while we're folding clothes or doing dishes.

COSMO: How many times a night (or day) do you like to have sex?

David: Well, this is a Cosmo survey, isn't it? I should have known you would ask something like that. My frequency of orgasm is above average--about 7 to 8 times a week. But having sex with a woman that many times a week? That's not such an easy task, even for a happily married man as myself. Sometimes one or both of us are tired after a hard day of work. We both find that masturbation is often the "easy way out."

Kevin: I was in one relationship where a pattern developed that we made love once every night. It eventually took a lot of the pleasure out of it for me, because it was such a ritual. Sometimes I just didn't feel like it. Then I would feel like I was letting her down. You should have sex as many times a night (or day) as you both feel like it, not once more or less.

Billy: Early in a relationship, as close to constantly as the needs for sleep, sustenance, and sanitation may allow. Later... twice a week, if we're lucky.

Ron: I prefer the quality of the sexual experience. I'd rather have foreplay for 2 hours than screw twice.

Deez: I sometimes wonder! I love to cum but sometimes I don't want all the extra work involved with satisfying my wife. I would LIKE to have sex with my wife once a day at least.

Charles: I am pleased to say that after 24 years of marriage we still enjoy a totally raunchy night perhaps 10 times per month. Of course, after 24 years, it's not how often but how long and what the quality is like!

COSMO: If you remove the health or social stigmas that surround "cheating," would your real preference be to find one great woman and remain faithful or to enjoy the pleasures of many? Would you be willing to grant your mate the same freedom?

Bob: I was married for 5 years right out of college, and never even blinked at another woman while dating or after we were married. Never missed it. Never wanted it. The warmth and specialness of having one and only one lover is the ultimate experience for me. I'm a one-woman man, and want a one-man woman.

Billy: I'd like to have the chance to satisfy all my lusts in an open marriage. And sure, my mate would be free to do anything I do.

Wayne: I've got all I've ever wanted right now, and could never even entertain the thought of straying. I don't think I could be in love with someone who thought differently.

Eddy: In my opinion it is hard to be faithful to one partner for the rest of one's life.

Peter: I would like to enjoy the pleasures of many. And no, I wouldn't be willing to grant my mate the same freedom. I know how that sounds, and I hate being so one-sided, but that's how I feel.

Leif: So far, I've mostly been in open relationships, where both partners have absolute freedom to see others. Really though, I'd like to be with one great woman. I wouldn't want to spend my life going from one fling to another (though I wouldn't rule out either of us occasionally exploring).

Cary: Multiple partners sounds good when I am not dating anyone at all, but when I am with someone good, I am usually interested only in that one person.

David: I strongly feel that monogamy is not natural among humans, however it has many advantages beyond sex. I have had fantasies of sex with other women. My wife has had fantasies of sex with others, too. If we decide to make our fantasies a reality, it will be with unhesitating mutual consent. But our relationship comes first.

COSMO: How do you handle performance anxiety? If you have a surprise attack of impotence, do you blame the woman, pretend it didn't happen, or talk about it? What do you say in these instances? Would you see the woman again?

Deez: There was a time when my job was in my head and my erections resembled pickle wedges. I was really doing bad in bed and it snowballed until I took some time off with my wife and lived in bliss for a day or two. If it were to happen in a chance encounter I would not worry about it. I would be sure my partner was pleased somehow and not draw attention to the problem. I would see her again and again until I got it right. Practice makes perfect!

Mike: The only times I have had this happen is when she wanted it and it was just a chore I had to do. It is hard to get excited about just doing my job.

Jason: Why, it's never happened to me! (Yeah, right!) Seriously, I was never afraid to take responsibility for it. After all, it is my penis, isn't it? I prefer to talk about it and mention that I'm not the first man it's ever happened to, and certainly won't be the last. The only reason why I wouldn't see the woman again would be if she didn't wish to see me again.

Alfred: Only happened twice, both times with women I cared about. I stopped the action, started again from the beginning, and was fine.

Rick: I become very embarrassed and blame it on anything but her. I usually say I'm exhausted or too stressed out for sex.

Rees, 22, Technical Writer, Arvada, CO: I tend to apologize a lot if I orgasm too early, but we work very hard to make sure she is satisfied before I orgasm. Surprise impotence--I have had it happen and initially I denied it, but then I thought better of it and discussed it with the woman.

Eddy: I don't blame the partner but myself. I think impotence is in the mind of the man, for example when his expectations are too great or when he has a guilty conscience.

Biggs: At my age, a slight grin, wait a while, and try again is the best approach. I'd definitely see her again.

COSMO: Do you like women to initiate sex? At what point does a woman become too aggressive?

Rosco, 38, Programmer, Sydney, Australia: Too aggressive? Not sure if this has ever happened in the history of life on earth!

Bob: I love a partner who initiates sex, with one big exception: not the first time. She can invite me over, change into something sexy, crawl on top of me on the couch--those are all fine. After we have established an intimate relationship, it is another story. Once, while at a restaurant with two other couples, my date went to the ladies' room. When she returned, she reached under the table, took my hand, and placed something in it, saying, "Please keep this for me". It was her panties. I have never been so aroused and excited by anything, ever! Over the course of the dinner, she whispered mentions of "the object" and "my pocket" many times, driving me crazy. If we had never slept together before, I would have called it aggressive. But as we had been intimate for quite some time, it was a welcome and appropriate gesture!

Ben, 40, Media consultant, New York, NY: I adore it when a woman gets aggressive. There is no such thing as a woman getting too forward; it's really sexy and flattering to have a woman make the advances and show her passion.

David: The only way a woman would be too aggressive is if she insisted on sex when I am simply not in the mood or insisted on a sexual variation I am not comfortable with. I have feelings and inhibitions, too.

Kevin: All men like women to initiate sex. And for the record, they don't bloody well do it enough.

Ron: I think it is very erotic when a woman initiates sex. I don't think that there is a point when a woman could become too aggressive. Mind you, if she pulls your pants down in a public area, then that may be a touch aggressive.

Mike: She becomes too aggressive when she becomes the field general and begins to call the plays like Joe Montana. If I wanted to listen to a boss, I'll go to work!

COSMO: Do you share your sexual fantasies with your partner? Act them out?

Charles: We not only discuss everything, we use a video for "Action Replays"!

Wayne: My fiancee IS every sexual fantasy I've ever had! Notwithstanding the long odds in a romance that begins on-line, it gives you a great opportunity to explore a person's wants and fantasies, and know what really gets them going. We used to fog up our computer monitors with racy E-Mail! When we finally got together, the sex was FANTASTIC!

Ben: Absolutely. Great fantasies lead to greater relationships, and in a relationship there should be nothing forbidden.

Biggs: It's difficult sharing those innermost ideas without feeling worried about rejection.

Danny: I think fantasies are a person's most personal thoughts and feelings, and shouldn't be shared lightly. My wife is the only woman with whom I have ever shared fantasies. We have acted out some of them, but not all. I have a few that are tremendous turn-ons for me, but I'd never want to act them out in real life.

Bob: Yes, sometimes with the aid of a few adult beverages. My fantasies only run on the mild side to an occasional blindfold, various foodstuffs, and hot fudge. But even if they were wild ones, I would of course share them with my partner. How am I going to get any chance of fulfilling them without her help?

COSMO: What might a woman do in bed that would turn you off most? How could she turn you on the most?

Peter: Turn off: invite another man to join. Turn on: invite another woman. I know, I know, that's unfair and one-sided, but I can't help it.

Billy: If she started calling me "Frank" or cried "Make me a baby!" I guarantee I'd be turned off. To turn me on, she need only say, "Do anything you like with me. I'm yours." Whooo-eee!

Cary: Turn off--lay there like a like a big stuffed animal and not respond to what I was doing. Turn on--perform oral sex on me or wear sexy clothing. Surprisingly, I'm not big on lingerie. I like to see women in sexy clothing that they might wear in public, like short skirts or a sheer low cut blouse with no bra.

Wayne: Hell, one time she was using one hand on me and the other to turn the pages of the newspaper she was reading, and I somehow found that sexy! Unquestionably the biggest turn on of all is to watch and feel her having an orgasm while making love to her. She's also got this little trick that gets me going instantly where she flicks her tongue in my ear. I don't know what it is about that, but WOW!

Mike: Nothing turns me off more than her jumping to conclusions (like telling me how much I don't love her because I did this or didn't do that).

Rosco: To turn me on, wake up in my arms, roll me onto my back, take me inside her and gently and rhythmically travel to paradise together.

Deez: It is the biggest turn on when two people are in sync with each other. As for a single solitary act by a woman--openly masturbate to orgasm. As for an act with me, I love a slight anal stimulation.

Kevin: A woman who stimulates herself in the process of making love kind of slows me down. Like, "I'm not doing well enough here? You've got to masturbate to get going in bed with me?" To turn me on, spend time with the secondary erogenous zones, like neck, chest, buttocks, and so forth. But more importantly, just keep it fresh, new.

Ron: A woman coming to bed with skin cream and curlers turns me off. To turn me on the most, set the mood, touch and feel me all over, give me warm wet kisses all over.

Ben: To turn me on, she should come in wearing beautiful, sexy (not slutty!) lingerie, and show me exactly what will please her the most.

John: Turn off--flannel pajamas! Turn on? Oooooh, thigh-high, high-heeled boots, shiny leather stuff!

Biggs: Turnoff? Laugh derisively!

COSMO: How sexually experienced would you want the woman you love to be? What number of partners would you consider too many for her to have had? Do you prefer a woman who can teach you something in bed or one whom you can teach?

Ron: A woman with no previous partners but with a willingness to please is a far better lover than one who had a lot of lovers and has sex for the sake of having sex.

Bob: I prefer an inexperienced woman. I know that is unrealistic. I suppose I would feel better knowing that her previous partners had been in a love relationship as opposed to one night stands.

John: Amount of sexual experience really doesn't matter to me. What happened before is before. I'm in the now, and it's my experience with my partner that matters.

Leif: I love to feel like the "younger" in a relationship, so a woman who's experienced and can teach me things is great. More important, though, is being able to learn from each other. I like to feel that a lover is experiencing something new and exciting with me.

Alfred: Like most men, I like to think of my wife as an innocent, until we're in bed. Then I like her to be as horny as me. Still numbers are not important, her attitudes about each encounter are.

Deez: When I decided to look for Mrs. Right I hoped that she had some experience to the point where she knew what she liked. I would not want her to be so experienced that we not have any uncharted waters to explore together. I wanted to be the teacher, not the taught.

Jason: In my book, no number of partners is too many. When I was younger, I wanted to go to bed with women who had at least some experience, so that we both weren't fumbling around like idiots. Now that I'm a bit older, I find interesting possibilities among "novice," "intermediate," and "expert" alike.

COSMO: What is the best thing about sex?

Jason: Having a partner. I find it somewhat lacking without one! If you must have a less smart-alecky answer, I'd say having her fall asleep in my arms afterward. I just love that.

Max: Is this a trick question? Need you ask? Sex is simply one of the nicest things two people can do for each other. It feels great. It can be a very pure expression of love. It doesn't have to cost a lot, is not fattening, and (as long as both partners are healthy) is good for your heart and other major muscle groups, and good mental exercise as well. You don't even need to have a lot of fancy equipment (although some of us like that)!

Danny: It's like asking what's the best thing about double chocolate chip fudge brownies--the answer is "all of it!" I get the deepest satisfaction from what surrounds the physical act: the anticipation and the build-up to sex, then falling asleep in my lover's arms after we have made love.

Ben: The best part is that it keeps getting better as you get to really know each other's desires.

Rosco: Giving someone I care about a great deal of pleasure. Being involved in an activity which has me totally focused in the present. The warm and gentle afterglow when we cuddle up together.

Rees: The intimacy of two people sharing the deepest level of themselves.

Kevin: The intimacy. Without question. We pass through this life locked inside our own skulls, ultimately utterly alone. Lovemaking is the closest you can get to dissolving those barriers.


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