No woman wears 4-inch stilettos, rib-crushing body slimmers and impossibly short skirts without an end goal in mind. For some, the goal is mind-blowing sex. But—according to researchers—most women are searching for something less tangible.
In January 2009, The New York Times Magazine ran an article that caught Oprah's attention. "What Do Women Want?" explored female sexual arousal...and the findings raised some eyebrows. In the article, female sex therapist Dr. Marta Meana claims that when it comes to sex, what women really want is to be wanted. "Being desired is the real orgasm," she says.
Dr. Meana, a professor of psychology at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas has been studying women and sexual desire for 20 years. She says that while moments of pleasure are great, it's the anticipation and buildup to those moments that really excite women.
"I'm not knocking orgasms," she says. "But being desired is extremely arousing for women. The reason for that is that being desired means that a man doesn't just want to have sex. He wants to have sex with you."
This desire to feel desired explains one of the most common female sexual fantasies—being dominated by an attractive man.
"When women talk about domination, what they're trying to communicate is 'I was so wanted by someone I wanted,'" Dr. Meana says. This fantasy is not about coercion or violence.
On the other hand, some women don't want sex at all, and Dr. Meana says that doesn't necessarily mean a relationship is in jeopardy. "Bad sex happens to good couples all the time," she says. "No sex happens to good couples."
Many women in long-term relationships get worried when they feel the passion start to fizzle, but Dr. Meana says that can be fixed. "Passion is dependent on novelty, discovery, desire," she says. "What happens in relationships is we fall into these old patterns, and we start thinking we've figured everything out about each other, and we really haven't."
Happily married women often face a paradox when it comes to sex because the very thing that makes them happy—closeness with their partner—is what gets in the way of desire.
"[In a study I conducted], the couples were in each other's lives so much that they're almost the same person at some point," Dr. Meana says. "There's no sense of otherness, no mystery, no excitement."