By Dr. Margarita Holmes
One day, US President Coolidge and his wife were invited to a government experimental farm. Touring the farm separately from her husband, First Lady Coolidge noticed, when she saw the poultry section, that the roosters mated quite frequently. So she asked the guide: “Tell me, how often does a rooster mate? Is it once a day?”
The guide answered: “Oh no, ma’am. A rooster mates at least a dozen times a day.”
She smiled at the guide and with a knowing look said to him: “Please tell that to my husband when he gets to this part of the tour.”
When President Coolidge reached the poultry section, the guide said: “By the way, Mr. President, your wife asked us to tell you that a rooster mates at least a dozen times a day.”
“Same hen each time?”
“Oh no, Mr. President! With a different hen every time.”
“Well,” said the President, “please tell that to my wife.”
The Coolidge Effect has been defined as the phenomenon whereby male mammals exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new sexual partners even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners. And it actually exists in most mammals, including human beings.
Or perhaps I should qualify that: While we can say with confidence that it exists for many male mammals (and a few female ones), we cannot say the same with as much confidence when it comes to men and women, simply because no experiments have been done on them. Perhaps, if an experimenter used Filipino men as subjects who would be presented with willing females as beautiful as the Playmates here, the only ones who would complain are the men not chosen for the experiment, and, of course, the wives/girlfriends of those chosen.
The most direct way to test for the Coolidge Effect is via experiments that use male mammals presented with their female counterparts while these females are sexually receptive. In other words, in heat.
A bull, when presented with a cow in heat, will mate with it five or six times and then stop. To test if fatigue was the reason the bull stopped mating with the presented cow after six times, the experimenters add another step to the process: they present him with another cow in heat.
Their reasoning is simple:
If, by presenting the bull with another cow, the bull will not mate with her, that means the bull is too tired. However, if the bull mates with the next cow then fatigue is not the reason. The only reason would be that the bull has a need for variety to continue mating. 1
This is true for bulls, goats, sheep, rats and with only very few exceptions, all mammals around.
I can practically predict what the reaction is among you male PLAYBOY readers. Since the human male is also a mammal, is the Coolidge Effect therefore true for us? The male mammals of our species? Does that mean, therefore, that my golf buddies, members of my Rotary Club, business associates and, most importantly I, are susceptible to the Coolidge Effect?
The answer is yes. Filipino males—and every male, actually—enjoy variety for variety’s sake. Not because they are bad people or because they have no discipline, but because they are men, and this is what men feel.
But, before you start bringing out the champagne, you must remember that there are other factors to consider: moral, social, emotional, sense of fairness, to name a few of those that separate humans from all other mammals. And for this reason perhaps one cannot blame women for being upset when their partners who promised to be faithful are not, since you are males and not bulls (though your partners may think otherwise).2
But some of you may accuse me of saying the above simply because I, too, am female and have much to lose on a personal level. I am, however, writing as a clinical psychologist who people consult because they want to save their marriages (if at all possible) and I am not merely a researcher. While a researcher shares the results of studies regardless of the consequences, a clinical psychologist uses research judiciously to achieve the best possible therapeutic result for the client(s) without sacrificing the truth.
Look, guys, I can hardly blame you if what you really want is a rationale for your behavior when it comes to other women. In that case, research and not — ahem — my expertise is what you really want. So here it is:
A pioneer on “evolutionary psychology” approaches to understanding human sex differences, mating behavior, and sexual attraction, Dr. Glenn Wilson has concluded based on the results of his research that, “Although the Coolidge Effect is somewhat diminished in force within primates, and perhaps especially so in humans who have moral compunctions to deal with in addition, vestiges of it are nevertheless apparent. Before marriage, it is usual for men to initiate intercourse at a fairly high frequency with their fiancée. After a few years of marriage, however, the husband’s sexual appetite begins to wane and an apparent reversal of libido may even occur with the now frustrated wife demanding more love-making than her ‘tired’ husband is able to supply… He, of course, is still perfectly capable of being aroused by his mistresses and office girls…”
Like countless other clinical psychologists with sex therapy as one of their areas of specialization, I see many men whose wives say are ‘impotent’ but privately confess to not being so with their mistresses and one night stands.
What possible issues need to be explored if the wife wants fidelity yet the husband thinks, “as long as I give you enough money to buy food on the table plus non-essentials like jewelry, trips with girlfriends, etc. and promise not to leave you, what’s the problem?”
In such a situation, does it become merely a question of the husband and wife agreeing as to whose needs are more urgent and thus need to be resolved first?
It depends on what sort of relationship each wants, what each is willing to compromise on, and what each consider deal breakers. But that, perhaps, is a subject for another piece.
1 If anyone disagrees that variety is the sole reason a bull will only mate with a second cow and not with the first he has already mated with several times, please write to PLAYBOY so we can further this wonderful discussion.
2 RE: men being bulls, that is meant as a compliment, ok?
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