"Evolutionary psychologists Bruce Ellis and Donald Symons at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have summarized a wide variety of international studies. For starters, men everywhere have about twice as many sexual fantasies, whether they are awake or asleep, perhaps because their flights of fancy don't go very far. Male sexual fantasy plot lines range from nonexistent to simple. There is no flirtation or courtship, hardly any foreplay. Interested as always in rapid connection to a wide variety of prospects, three-fourths of men's fantasies revolve around women with whom they are not involved.

True to the arithmetic of savanna reckonings, men's fantasies are big on quantity and variation and short on nuance. They frequently change partners within any given episode and fantasize about group sex twice as often as women, even if they hone in on one lover at the moment of orgasm. Male sexual reflections are visual, centered on easy, dominant access to attractive, exposed, and wanton women. We're talking sheer graphic lust, wide open positions, and body parts—a fast track to copulation. There are no commitments or encumbrances.

Less than a fifth of men report having any feelings at all during their sexual fantasies. This is worth repeating: More than four out of five men experience zero, nada, zilch in the way of emotions—nothing even close to love—during their sexual fantasies. Unless, that is, you think pure lust qualifies as an emotion.

When it comes to women, almost all these proclivities are reversed. They have fewer fantasies but, then again, they can nurse one all day. Their fantasy partners are most often familiar, as almost 60 percent relate to someone a woman is already involved with—twice the rate of men. There is usually a buildup and much thicker plot lines. Romantic closeness counts big time. For women, sexual intimacy is about emotional connection, romantic settings, and the quality of the experience. In other words, it's about relationship.

Women rarely change partners during a single fantasy episode. Nearly half never do, and they don't come close to men in thinking about the opposite sex through explicit visual cues. At the center of their fantasy resides the sweetness of heart and soul. They yearn for strength, protectiveness, and bonding, often to be swept away by a dashing, masterful partner. Journeying to an intimate inner world, women open the floodgates when they feel trust. Vitally interested in how their partner responds to them, they fantasize about being the exclusive focus of a favored man's nearly uncontrollable desire.

All of this should help explain why pornography grabs male attention and why women purchase so many romance novels. With two thousand new titles each year, romances account for 40 percent of fiction sales, or nearly one in five adult books. Pornography is the male romance novel.

Navigating the ancient business of love and sex in real life, as opposed to fantasy, leaves many of us understandably bewildered at least some of the time. Depending upon culture and circumstances, the dance of sexual pairing can be a casual fling that is scarcely removed from coitus, or it can be fashioned into an intricate minuet that barely looks like sex. Surely one measure of a culture's sophistication is how far back from intercourse the intimate dance of romance begins."