The media has just been full of reports about research that suggests that while male sex drive stays constant, female sex drive reduces significantly after several years in a long-term relationship.
Sex and relationship psychologist Dr Petra Boyton has an excellent analysis of the study, its conclusions and the media reports.
Particularly, she notes that the researchers have opted for an evolutionary explanation for why this might occur.
Evolutionary explanations are sometimes uncritically applied to sex research (after all, sex is about mating right?) when other, more straightforward explanations will probably be more useful.
Rather than explaining these outcomes as related to changing lifestyle factors or practical alterations in women’s lives that may lead to them reporting less desire for sex, the researchers compare the outcomes to the behaviour of female prairie voles and argue the results are due to women keeping her ‘resources’ scarce to keep a male partner interested in her. Males keep a higher sex drive to keep their mate faithful and other males away.
The study will of course get lots of coverage since it has a media-friendly mix of hormones, evolution and comparisons with small mammals which journalists always love.