Men sometimes act way less interested in sex than they really are, perhaps because of the assumption that giving an impression of wanting to have sex with anyone, anytime, is definitely not what most women are looking for, suggests new research.
“Men who are overly eager do not come across as attractive,” said study co-author Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, Professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
The findings published in the journal Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences suggest men and women’s real intentions may be different from the signals they send each other.
For the study, researchers collected two rounds of data from students at NTNU. The survey included questions like when they last met with a potential sexual partner, and whether they eventually ended up having sex.
Researchers found women were much more likely to have sex if they thought the potential partner was attractive.
The most important factor in whether men had sex was how many sexual partners they have had previously. This could contribute to their being perceived as sexually attractive and available.
“It’s really the same reason for both men and women — the man’s sex appeal — that decides whether they end up having sex,” Kennair said.
Men who reported being the most interested in having sex reduced their signals of interest more. Women, on the other hand, might pretend to be a little more interested than they actually are. “We think this may be to keep the man’s attention a little longer,” Kennair said.
Or perhaps the strategy gives her more opportunity to assess the quality of the guy.
As long as the woman does not seem to be excluding the possibility of sex, men across the board are willing to spend time with her — and enabling her to check out whether he is a good choice.
“The exception to this general sex difference is when the woman is as interested as the man. In this case, women also pretend to show less interest,” Kennair said.
“Both men and women who are truly interested in a partner might be trying to ‘play it cool.’ In economic terms, it’s about supply and demand.