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Heterosexual Men’s Sexual Desire: Supported by, or Deviating from, Traditional Masculinity Norms and Sexual Scripts?

Abstract

Sexual script theory and masculinity theory suggest that men should demonstrate high levels of desire in order to abide by social norms and expectations. The current study explored the degree to which men’s descriptions of their sexual desire supported or deviated from these theories’ propositions. Thirty men between the ages of 30 and 65 (M age = 42.83) in heterosexual long-term relationships (M duration = 13 years, 4 months, range = 2 years, 11 months – 39 years, 4 months) were interviewed about their experience of sexual desire. Grounded theory methodology from an interpretivist perspective was used to analyze the data. The majority of participants described having high and constant levels of sexual desire and just over half reported never turning down an opportunity to engage in a sexual encounter. However, most men also indicated that their sexual desire was sometimes feigned in order to appear more masculine or to prevent upsetting their female partner. It is suggested that researchers, therapists, and sex educators be mindful that men face pressures to exhibit sexual desire in stereotypically masculine ways and that outward demonstrations of sexual interest may not always be accurate representations of men’s true experiences.

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Acknowledgements

The current study was part of a larger exploration of men’s sexual desire that would not have been possible without the guidance and support of Drs. Robin Milhausen, Cynthia Graham, and Leon Kuczynski.

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Correspondence to Sarah Hunter Murray.

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Murray, S.H. Heterosexual Men’s Sexual Desire: Supported by, or Deviating from, Traditional Masculinity Norms and Sexual Scripts?. Sex Roles 78, 130–141 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0766-7

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Keywords

  • Sexual desire
  • Men
  • Sexual scripts
  • Masculinity
  • Sexology
  • Psychology of men