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What men really think about
If I thought about sex as much as people think I thought about sex, it would take me a month to write this article.
That's not because people see me as sex mad, it's just because I'm a man. According to common perception, men think about sex pretty much all the time.
In fact, the figure usually bandied about is one sex thought every seven seconds. Let's spend a moment taking that in. That's 8,000 sex thoughts a day, or 240,000 in the average month. Where on earth does all the football fit in?
Thankfully, psychologist Terri Fisher has done some research on this very subject, and it turns out that men don't think about sex anywhere near as often as that. So what are we thinking about on all those occasions when we're staring blankly into the middle distance and failing to even acknowledge your presence?
Here are a few clues...
OK, I'll fess up. The research found that we don't think about sex every seven seconds - because that would be almost as often as we breathe - but that we do think about sex quite a lot. Among the 18-25-year-old men in Fisher's survey, sex popped into their minds about once an hour, or around 19 times a day in total (sex dreams obviously didn't count).
I can live with that. I probably do think about sex once an hour. But before you call me an outrageous nymphomaniac, consider this. You're not that far behind. According to the study, women tend to think about sex every other hour, or around nine or ten times a day.
The Fisher study also found that - although men think about sex quite a lot - we think about sleep just as often.
Again, that works for me. In fact, as the father of very young children, I think about sleep pretty much all the time, and often during sex. There's no doubt that men's thoughts are often in the bedroom, but as often as not, we're fantasising about a long, hot session of satisfying shut-eye.
Also tied for top spot in the 'what men think about' stakes was food, according to Fisher's study. Yes, we think about food at least as much as we think about sex and sleep.
There's a simple reason for that, experts say. There are more triggers for food-based thoughts than there are for pretty much anything else. So the cute girl in accounts might trigger sex thoughts when she wriggles through the office, but everything from the guy in the next cubicle munching on crisps to the smell coming from the works canteen to an advert in the paper for Pot Noodle (we're easily pleased) can trigger thoughts about food.
So you might think we're sex starved, but in reality we're often just starved.
We spend at least eight hours a day at work. Quite often, because men are career driven, we'll add on a couple of hours overtime to impress the boss. Sometimes we'll take work home with us at weekends and occasionally we'll barely have a weekend at all. When we're not actually doing all this work, we're thinking that surely all this work deserves a promotion or a pay rise or at least the keys to the executive toilets.
So yes, when you ask us how our day was and we respond with silence and the thousand-yard stare of a brain-addled Vietnam vet, we're probably thinking about work.
A study published a couple of years ago told you what you probably already knew: men are obsessed with sport.
And I mean, really obsessed. According to the research, 17% of British men admitted to regularly thinking about sport when they're having sex, while 23% said they'd stood up a date to watch a match. We also think about sport every hour, which puts it up there with sex in our minds.
If we play sport too we think about it even more. And you can see why. In many ways sport is like sex, in that it usually happens a couple of times a week and is sometimes ecstatically good but often a great big letdown.
(Unlike sex, of course, we tend to stick with one team for life.)
Sorry to admit it, but if we're not thinking about sport, we may well be thinking about other clichéd man stuff. Depending on the man, that can mean cars, power tools, music, trains, trainers, bikes or beer.
It's true. Again, well, sorry.
You come home, flash us your cheekiest smile and disappear into the bedroom. Two minutes later, you come out wearing the cutest, shortest, most take-offable new dress we've ever seen. At that moment you're convinced our minds are focused on sex, and you're half right.
And half wrong. Because we're also wondering how much this drop-dead dress may have cost, whether you're about to blow your credit card limit again, and if you'll have enough left over to cover your half of the rent. Yep, we think about money a lot, even at the most inopportune times.
Love and family
Yep, you read that right. It may surprise you to learn that when we're looking moodily at the stars on the way home from the pub we're not (always) wondering what time the kebab shop closes. We might be thinking about love and children and all that cheesy stuff.
We won't admit it to you - that would be unmanly. But a survey for match.com earlier this year of 5,000 singles found that men were quicker to fall in love than women and quicker to start thinking about children. Men were also more likely to fall in love at first sight.
So when we're being mean and moody we're not necessarily brooding over the hammering our football team has just taken. We might be wondering why you're not more romantic. So go on, give us a cuddle.
Our iPhones or BlackBerries
Studies have shown that checking emails on smart phones, tablets and laptops can be addictive, and that men are often more tethered to their electronic devices than women (though many women are too).
Which means that when we're pensively pacing the room apparently lost in deep and meaningful thought, we're really waiting for the little beep or ping that signals the arrival of a text, instant message or email, so we can feed our habit and get our fix of (probably trivial) electronic information.
We might not be thinking about sex, but we might still be thinking about you. It might not always be obvious, but you really are in the forefront of our thoughts much of the time. You might not believe it but we really do like doing things that please you and that keep our relationship strong and happy.
So we might not be blankly staring into space, we might be thinking about what we can do together this weekend, or planning your birthday surprise, or worrying about that bother you had with your boss (and secretly fantasising about punching him).
Quite often we just want to impress you, and we spend quite a lot of time thinking of ways to do it.
Soppy I know, but that's men for you.
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