How Long A Leash?

While prediction markets on project completion dates often give spectacular accuracy improvements over official forecasts, hearing about this doesn’t make most organizations interested in adopting them. A plausible explanation for this is that managers often try to induce employee effort by manipulating the perceived chances of making the deadline. Employees will slack off if either the deadline seems impossible, or if it will be easily achieved; they work hardest when there is only a decent chance of success.

Similarly, it seems to me that many women (often unconsciously) try to keep their men maximally motivated to please them by giving them some but not too much sex. Men who think getting sex is easy, or impossible, don’t try as hard. At a party this weekend, I heard two middle-aged women lament that they had given away sex too easily in college; they envied the high prices young high-class prostitutes command.

This is why I predict the new “pink Viagra” will sell far less than its blue cousin. This new drug will be demanded by women who find it hard to offer their men enough sex to keep him near that optimal most-hungry point. But most women do not find this difficult.  In fact, I suspect some high-libido women have affairs in part to help them offer less sex to their men. Also, many women avoid sex with their man because they’ve decided (often unconsciously) that he’s just not good enough. Consider:

A German pharmaceutical giant wants to sell … “flibanserin.” … The company has sponsored studies involving more than 5,000 premenopausal women ages 18 to 50 in the United States, Canada and Europe in whom HSDD had been diagnosed. A 100-milligram daily dosage increased the number of satisfying sexual experiences that women had reported from the previous month — a key benchmark the FDA has set for such drugs — from an average of 2.7 to 4.5, compared with 3.7 among those taking a placebo. …

Critics say … “People think they are sick when they are not.” … For many women, waning sexual desire is a normal part of aging. For others, it could be a sign of other medical problems, a dysfunctional relationship or even an abusive partner. … “Is this going to make women desire an abusive partner?” asked Liz Canner, a documentary filmmaker who produced “Orgasm Inc.,” about the pharmaceutical industry’s role in developing drugs for female sexual disorders. “Is it going to make us desire every guy who walks by?”

I very much doubt men were as concerned that blue Viagra would make them too attracted to abusive women.

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  • Carl Shulman

    “from an average of 2.7 to 4.5, compared with 3.7 among those taking a placebo.”
    Or they could just commission a love spell from their local witch or wizard.

  • mr-anon-b

    Your theory doesn’t even remotely match my experience with women. In dozens of cases, in relationships lasting anywhere from 6 years to 6 months, I found that woman always wanted sex at least as often or more often than me – and I want it at least every day. Woman are physically cable of more sex than men, and if they feel sufficiently good about the relationship they are almost insatiable. Forgive me for psychologizing you, but your theory is so far away from reality that I have to conclude that you are projecting your own fears or something like that. FTR, I don’t use “game”, and I don’t pick women up in bars or anything like that.

    • anon

      I agree that women often want sex just as frequently or more so than men, but I think the key point here is the reservation price- women find it much easier to do without.

      • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

        This seemed like the sort of question one could google. This was the first result I got:
        http://www.webmd.com/sex/features/sex-drive-how-do-men-women-compare

        The statistic that women masturbate less frequently would seem to handle the “reservation price” argument. Or do people have reservations against themselves?

    • anon

      Anecdotes aside, in typical relationships women stand to gain from withholding sex. In typical relationships, men do not.

    • http://www.uncrediblehallq.net/ Chris Hallquist

      Right on. If a woman is happy with her relationship (or thinks her partner is awesome, state of the relationship be damned) she’ll want to have sex. Only if neither of these things are true is she going to be pulling the kind of bullshit behavior Robin describes in the OP.

      I’d love to know more about what this drug does, exactly. Perhaps some women will decide they enjoy being on it too much to care if it causes them to lower their standards? From what I’ve heard, lots of transmen laugh about the effects testosterone supplements have on their sex drive, but don’t really mind the effects.

  • Roko

    A lot of people in this thread are making strong, vague claims without any evidence presented.

    My gut reaction is that there is probably truth to Robin’s assertion, but I’d like to see data on the proportion of men who claim that their wife is witholding sex.

    FWIW I never found this effect to be a problem when I have had a gf, but wife != gf.

  • Buck Farmer

    Throughout most of history and most human societies philandering by men was if not expected at least tacitly permitted.

    This removes a wife or girlfriend’s monopoly and suggests that if this hypothesis is true, Robin, that it is true only recently and the hypothesis should account for why there has been a change in market structure.

  • Mikko

    There is more than one “evolutionary reason” to have sex: reproduction, status signaling, ego boosting, pair bonding, dominance, sustenance (prostitution, housewife) etc. I think you simplify things too much by lumping these together.

    For example, sex is important part of pair bonding, and probably primary reason women want sex in the beginning of relationship more than later, and often feel so bad about one-night stands that they start wanting some commitment from men before sex.

  • http://www.thethoughtfulape.blogspot.com Jay Thomas

    The pharmaceutical industry promises to deliver more and better orgasms for women and Ms Canner can only see yet another evil plot by the patriarchy? What a miserably one track mind such people have.

    And how typical of the mainstream media to pursue a purile idea of balance by recruiting such a moron just to provide a completely ridiculous ‘on the other hand’ quote and try to manufacture controversy.

  • http://retiredurologist.com retired urologist

    I anxiously await the FDA approval of flibanserin, a drug originally investigated as an anti-depressant because of it’s effects on brain serotonin levels (regular readers of OB will recall the discussion about the exaggerated claims for the beneficial effects this category of drugs has on clinical depression). Flibanserin has the additional effect of increasing brain levels of oxytocin. As Hanson has pointed out earlier: Immediately before orgasm, levels of the hormone oxytocin surge to five times their normal level. I, and other members of ISSWSH, hope this drug will be the first genuine help we have had to offer for the large population of women who remember how much more they once desired and enjoyed sex, and who are anxious to bring their own levels of desire to that of the partner they love, for mutual benefit. Of course, this may be another of Big Pharma’s scams; I can’t say whether the studies are truthful. What I can say is that there are millions of women who, rather than calculating how they can most effectively withhold sex, desire to maximize their own motivation for this pleasurable activity.

  • tom

    Really,

    I appreciate that some of the above posters are private dicks who are sex machines to all the chicks, but is there really anyone left who questions whether men, as a group, want sex more frequently than women, think about it more frequently, and feel more upset if they go without it for a week or more?

    I wonder if there has always been an association of sex and the risk of disease. I read Tyler’s link on MR this week to Boswell’s description of regularly getting STDs and trying to avoid them by staying away from whores and concentrating on a quality woman with high entry barriers.

    The idea that “what the world needs now, is sex sweet sex, it’s the only thing that there’s not enough of” depends on the disease risk. It’s one thing to say that monogamites should focus on doing it more with each other; it’s another to say that people should have sex when

    -they know very little about their partners’ histories,

    -the only disease protection is a layer of latex,

    -we don’t know how to cure two major known diseases,

    -we don’t know the long-terms risks of other known infections, and

    -we probably don’t yet know about the existence of some existing sexually delivered infections

    -we are probably creating new diseases right now by how we have sex.

    I’d say we should keep in mind the holocaust of gay guys in San Francisco and New York in the ’80’s and ’90’s, the huge costs of treating AIDS patients today, and the next disease coming from we know not what, before we say there is not enough sex.

    On the other hand, if you are saying that wives should put out twice a day for their husbands, then amen, brother.

    • http://www.uncrediblehallq.net/ Chris Hallquist

      Who claimed to be a sex machine to all the chicks? But dating women who are actually into you is a good policy.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    Same logic applies to guys giving girls attention to wrap them around their finger — it needs to be enough to make her feel like she can win you over, but not so much that she feels that it’d be too easy and that you were too desperate.

    We don’t have a pill that men take to boost their level of attention-giving, but we do have social pressure especially since the early ’90s rise of third-wave feminism about how guys have to cut the macho silent crap and start truly showing how much they care about the lady in their life. And then we’re surprised when girls find guys increasingly less appealing and overly eager.

    It may take awhile for the understanding of how misguided that was to spread its way through the male population, but before a decade or two we’ll be back to normal.

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