Dec 27

Many clients tell me of difficulties finding the right relationship partner. Of course such problems almost always have psychological reasons – in one way or another, these persons sabotaged themselves, they suffer from forms of social anxiety or (in my experience, this is the most common reason) have low self-esteem.

The issues around dating, attraction and sexual attraction have inspired researchers and artists since the beginnings of mankind. Under this – rather ironic – article headline, I will summarize the results of relevant studies and research – and continuously expand and update this collection as soon as there are new findings.

But beware: I’ll not guarantee for the plausibility – or especially success – of any of these hints! 😉

Attractiveness and mate selection

  • “Attractive bodies and faces are symmetrical” – when selecting a partner, we jump on aesthetic impressions indicating a good state of health and fitness, including reproductional capabilities (Source).
  • People with symmetrical physique receive more positive attention when dancing and during mate selection” (source)
  • Women without ideal measurements are stronger, tougher and more resistant to crises” – in Western countries, women with a greater waist-hip ratio than 0.7 are considered to be less attractive than in other world regions, but better prepared for times of crisis (Sources: [1, 2, 3])
  • Estrogen makes women’s faces look more attractive.’ –  during their fertile days, the faces of women obviously look more attractive (Source)
  • Women tend to be selected if they are beautiful, men are more likely to be selected if they act dominantly‘ – this actually refers to political elections, but then, maybe not .. if you consider the other research results mentioned in this blog entry (source)
  • Beauty makes insecure.‘ – this, and that attractive men and women usually find it more difficult to find partners than averagely attractive people, would be a possible conclusion from the so-called ‘sidewalk experiment’ by James Dubbs u. Neil Stokes (‘Beauty is Power: The Use of Space on the Sidewalk’, 1975): on a sidewalk, pedestrians altered their walking direction more often to give space to men rather than for a woman, for 2 people rather than for just 1, and for pretty than for  unattractive women. Their theory was that attractiveness, group size and gender are signals of power which involves territorial claims causing the aforementioned evasive behavior (Source).
  • Other attributes for attractiveness will be judged based on attractiveness of the clothing‘ – attractively dressed subjects were judged as more competent and social than non-attractively-dressed individuals, and, as the researchers suspected, probably as physically more attractive as well (source).
  • Taller men are sexually and socially better off than shorter ones. ‘ – men seem to have their greatest difficulties when dealing with strong, attractive and wealthy competitors, but the taller they are, the less of a role these attributes play in dealing with them. Little men tend to be most jealous. In women, however, the taller and shorter ones are more jealous than the ones of average size. Average-sized women are most shaken by tall and socially dominant rivals just as by other women’s  persuasiveness (link)
  • women prefer older men, older men prefer younger women.’ – a possible explanation for the biological causes of this phenomenon was provided by a study that found that women with a four-year-older partner, and men with a six years younger partner show the greatest reproductive success (source).
  • Man perhaps lost his body hair because it was sexy to the opposite sex.’ – new hope for bald people? (source)
  • Results of an econometric analysis of online dating behavior showed that men who reported that they were in search of a long-term relationship achieved much more success in online dating than those who were merely out on an affair. For men, the appearance of women is of outstanding importance; for women, the man’s income is of utmost importance: the richer the man, the more emails he receives. Income increases the attractiveness of a woman for men as well, but only up to a certain height. [..] Men are attracted by female students, artists, musicians, veterinarians, and celebrities, and they avoid secretaries, retired women and women who work in the military or the police. Women prefer soldiers, policemen and firemen as well as lawyers and financial experts in a management position, but they avoid laborers, actors, students [..]. The data analysis of about 30,000 users also revealed that men have significant drawbacks when they are short. For women, obesity is fatal. That’s probably why many online daters ‘adjust’ these parameters relatively often: male online daters are slightly taller than the average man while the typical female online dater is 10 kg lighter than its real counterpart. In the book Freakonomics in which the results can be read in detail, the authors described their findings, obtained by mathematical methods, as follows: ‘In the world of online dating, a head full of blond hair has about the same worth for a woman as a college degree.’
  • “‘Nasty’ men not only get most women, but also the most beautiful ones.” – in most studies on this subject, these men showed distinctive combinations of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
  • Men should not act as if they were ‘carried away’: uncertainty about the feelings of the opponent increases his/her attractiveness (Source: E. et.al in Whitchurch: “Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction”, Psychological Science, 01/2011).


Sexuality

  • ‘The mere presence of a woman increases the testosterone levels’ – regardless of her appearance, the testosterone levels in men sitting in the same room as a woman increased by 8% within 300 seconds (Sources: [1],[2])
  • The frequency of female orgasms increases with the income of their partner ‘ – sex with wealthy or powerful men probably feels more exciting by women because it may help to obtain access to wealth and power, or to keep this access up (Sources: [1], [2], [3])
    Addendum 04/2010: a counter study was published that shows different results.
  • The more attractive women consider themselves to be, the greater demands they make on their sexual partners – in men, this correlation doesn’t exist, which could mean that they are less picky or less inclined to enter into permanent relations aiming at reproduction (Sources: [1], [2])
  • (indirect) relationship between voice and sexual activity’ – volunteers with a voice perceived as attractive had about equally long fingers on both hands (reference to the context of attractiveness by symmetry, see above), their first sex at a younger age, more sexual partners and more affairs (Sources: [1], [2])
  • Women respond differently to male body odor.’ – their brains can differ normal male perspiration from perspiration resulting from sexual arousal (Source)
  • Women’s tears put off men and reduce their testosterone level. (Source: Shani Gelstein et.al, “Human tears contain a chemosignal” in: Science 01/2011, DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331)

Family / Children / Fertility

  • ‘Correlation between wealth and reproductive success‘: a British study found higher reproductive success for wealthy men; in women, the number of children declines with increasing education and income (Source)

(First published in German language (‘Wissenschaftliche Aufriss-Tipps’) in 01/2008; continuously updated. Last update: 12/2011)

Oct 28

In a global survey that was released a couple of months ago, about 10 per cent of males said that they had experienced premature ejaculation: coming too quickly is one of the commonest of all sexual problems. Not too surprisingly, especially younger men are suffering from it – as they grow older, most men will usually gain better control.

But what exactly is premature ejaculation (PE)? That’s an interesting question, as the ideas of what is ‘normal’ are differing amongst people and what doctors or therapists think is just one side of the medal after all. An American research paper stated that the average lasting time of men with PE was 1.8 minutes, while ‘normal’ men lasted an average of 7.3 minutes. However, there are men and women who are not sexually satisfied even if the man can last 5-10 minutes – and who could blame them for needing more? But according to clinical manuals, only the approximately 2.5 per cent of men who can’t last 90 seconds inside the vagina would be diagnosed with PE. Sex therapists see PE as the inability to sufficiently enjoy and play with the various levels of arousal between the start of an erection, sexual intercourse and the orgasm. Men suffering from PE are almost directly piloting towards the orgasm right from the beginning of the intercourse and have very little control over its length or intensity. In severe cases, affected men can’t have sex because they ejaculate before actually getting into the vagina.

While PE doesn’t necessarily have to be considered as a serious problem, it can make sex frustrating and even annoying for both partners. Yet, psychological pressure will often negatively affect sexual performance or even increase the problem.

Today, health professionals agree upon that PE is only caused by psychological factors, so it can usually be successfully resolved after a couple of sex therapy sessions. While there are ‘tools’ like local anesthetic gels or ‘long love condoms’, they can’t help with the roots of the problem or even further reduce sexual confidence because patients often feel increasingly dependent on the product. Also, these kinds of products often affect the sexual experience of the woman. Sex therapy will usually involve efforts to understand the psychological patterns triggering the dynamics involving PE, and the integration of techniques allowing to regain control over the sexual act. Often, ‘homework exercises’ will be prescribed in order to control the success of the therapy sessions and to achieve stable long-term effects.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2010)

May 18

A large-scale impact study (n = 1046) of the Institute for Women’s Health Badem-Württemberg for frequency of sexual dysfunction in women (Female Sexual Dysfunction, FSD) and ways to treat them was recently published in the prestigious journal Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The aim of this study was to find out about the a) frequency and b) different forms of disorders of female sexual function. Also investigated was the relationship between dysfunction and hormonal contraception with the ‘anti-baby pill’, or more precisely, with different forms of hormonal contraceptives. A standardized questionnaire asked specifically about the participants’ sexual activity and possible influencing factors. Regarding a possible use of contraception, the effects of various contraceptive methods on sexual function as well as different hormonal contraceptives was compared.

The analysis shows that of the participating women, 32.4% had a risk for female sexual dysfunction: 8.7% orgasm problems, 5.8% libido issues (hypoactive sexual desire disorder), 2.6% satisfaction problems, 1.2% had decreased lubrication, 1.1% were suffering from pain during sexual intercourse and 1.0% symptoms of a sexual arousal disorder. Smoking and use of contraception had a significant impact on the prevalence of the prevalence of secual dysfunction, hormonal contraception was significantly more often associated with reduced libido and arousal than non-exclusive non-hormonal contraception or non-contraception. Other variables such as stress, pregnancy, relationship issues and a desire to have children also had a significant impact on sexual function.

The authors point out that the study could primarly detect associations, but can’t prove the causality of individual sexual problems.

(Source: Wallwiener CW, Wallwiener LM, Seeger H, Mueck AO, Bitzer J, and Wallwiener M; Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunction and Impact of Contraception in Female German Medical Students ; doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01742.x)

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