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Guys don't want casual sex

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Men have nothing but sex on their minds — or so we think. A new book by Dr Andrew P Smiler, a psychology professor who teaches at the Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and has been researching adulthood and masculinity for over a decade, challenges the notion of the promiscuous male. In the book titled ‘Challenging Casanovas: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male’ , Smiler says research shows that guys are not callous bed-hoppers . They are looking for emotional intimacy with one person just as much as women

You say that guys don't want casual sex;they want relationships. Really?


First, the Casanova Complex isn't a myth;it's both reality and stereotype. Giacomo Casanova (the 18th century Venetian womaniser) reported having sex with 118 women in 40 years, or about three per year. Studies of American men indicate that about 15 per cent of guys have had three or more partners in the last 12 months and about three per cent of guys have had three or more partners for each of the last three years. That's reality. The stereotype is that ALL (or most) guys want to have that kind of sex life. The research is clear that most guys don't do that (85 per cent in any year, 95 per cent over three years). Actually, most guys prefer to have most of their sexual contact within some type of relational context - they are not looking to have sex with strangers.

In a culture that is more about hooking up than dating, this sounds almost unreal.


We no longer have that separation of the sexes that we used to have earlier. Now, you don't really need to date someone to get to know them the way you did 30 or 40 years ago. So, what we're finding out is a lot of the ground that used to be covered on the first, second and third date - potentially things like first kiss and maybe even some groping or fondling - that happens in these much less-structured spaces of hanging out. The beginning of couplehood is now much less defined - we've lost those early markers of first date, second date.

If men are not into casual sex, what are they looking for in relationships?


Guys want partners they can trust, they can share their emotions with, and who will 'have their back' or 'be there for them'. Guys want partners they can share activities with, partners who have a similar sense of humour, and all those other things that help you enjoy someone's company.

Are Casanovas extinct then?


Not at all. There's always been a small percentage of guys who do this and I don't imagine they're suddenly going to vanish.

You write about how we are conditioned to think that it is natural for men to be promiscuous. Aren't men biologically polygamous?


In a worldwide study of 6, 200 men from 63 different regions of the world, the percentage of men who wanted two or more short-term partners was as low as 18 per cent - nowhere did the desire to have multiple short-term partners cross the 35 per cent mark. That number is still a minority and it certainly busts the all-menare-Casanova myth. These numbers argue against the seed-sowing narrative and buttress the Attachment Theory. Also, however much we might dismiss monogamy, the fact is that monogamy is not going away - it is here to stay.

Does promiscuity have a regional/ cultural twist?


The general patterns translate pretty well everywhere, although specific behaviours and numbers may shift. In a worldwide sample, South American men (and women) reported the greatest desire for two or more partners in the next 30 days - an increase of 10 per cent over the US sample. Men (and women) in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Rim had the lowest percentages, at 18-20 per cent (for men).

The book's subhead is: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male. But promiscuity is not just a young male's prerogative. Look at General Petraeus. How will you analyse the Petraeus scandal? Was he looking for a relationship?


I don't know if he was looking for a relationship, but he certainly had one. He had sex with his biographer: someone who knew him very well (intimacy), someone he trusted, someone he thought was loyal to him, and someone whose company he probably enjoyed. Those are some of the central characteristics for a romantic relationship. The news reports suggest they had an affair over several months, not just a one-night stand. This is a relationship and it has many of the characteristics that are typical of longterm couples.
I don't know if he was trying to 'get some on the side', but he clearly chose his partner carefully. By contrast, he was not choosing to have sex with prostitutes which would certainly be another way to 'get some on the side'.

Whether men are in search of relationships or one-night stands, they still set the rules of sexual/emotional engagement. What about the woman's sexuality?


We mostly teach girls/women that guys/men are only interested in sex. Accordingly, they're told that they need to use sex in order to 'catch' a guy. This makes sex all about him and leaves her out, except as giving/refusing permission. In this narrative, there's no real room for what she wants, and that negatively impacts sexual development.

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