Guys Just Want Casual Sex… Or Do They?


I really enjoyed this piece, challenging the idea that guys just want sex as often as possible, and with as many women as possible.

Any time science can challenge conventional wisdom, I’m all for it.

And, to be clear, I’ve bought into the conventional wisdom as well. Part of being human means believing that lots of other people are just like you. But apparently, when I was single, I was in a minority of men who could be classified as Casanovas. Says Andrew Smiler, author of “Challenging Casanova”:

“Research typically shows about 15 percent of guys have three or more partners in any given 12-month span. If you follow those guys over time the number of guys who have three or more partners a year for as long as three years, that drops to about 5 percent. So there are definitely some guys out there who are doing it – but it’s really a small percentage of guys. By contrast, if you look at guys who are very religious, that’s about 15 percent of guys, and most of them really are devoutly religious, really dedicated to their partner. There’s way more of that than guys that are having three partners per year for three years.

Fair and interesting point. However, I do think that Smiler hasn’t necessarily considered some other factors in determining that men aren’t that sex-oriented. Namely:

50 million American men are married. They don’t do so at gunpoint.

1) There would be more men who were “Casanovas” if those men were able to BE Casanovas. In other words, I think lots of men would like to have sex with more than three women in a calendar year, but don’t have the confidence, wherewithal, opportunity or “game” to be able to do so.

2) Smiler’s definition of Casanova depends on men sleeping around for 3 consecutive years. Well, what if a guy sleeps with ten women in 2010, has a girlfriend thru all of 2011, and sleeps with 20 women in 2012? Apparently, he’s not a Casanova.

Thus, if a player ever gets a girlfriend, it negates him from being a Casanova.

So while I still very much believe in my edict that “men look for sex and find love,” Smiler echoes my sentiment that even if guys LIKE hooking up, ultimately MOST men are looking for one partner.

“When we interview adolescents or undergrads, the girls really have the impression that guys are just interested in sex, that they’re not interested in relationships. What we know is that most guys do get into relationships, they enjoy relationships, they do a lot of things in relationships that are not about sex and they’re not doing them just to put up with them in order to get sex. Guys get something out of relationships; they like relationships.”

It’s true. 50 million American men are married. They don’t do so at gunpoint. They do so because the benefits of monogamy are greater than the cost of giving up being a Casanova. So if you’re a woman who is convinced that men are all about sex, think again. If a man is sleeping with you and not committing to you, it’s largely because he doesn’t want a long-term relationship with anyone right now or he doesn’t want a long-term relationship with YOU. It’s not because he’s some sort of single-minded sexual sociopath.

Men are all about feelings. Try to understand us and you’ll get the most out of us.

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  1. 1
    Grace Pamer

    My brother is testament to the fact that not all guys sleep around. Good looking, popular, successful, musician… to the laymen you’d instantly think sex, drugs and rock and roll.   Well maybe the latter but for him he was always interested in finding a partner, never just sleeping around.   Despite many opportunities you could count on one hand the number of people he ever slept with despite plenty of chances.   It just isn’t in his nature.   So I do think all these sweeping statements about “men” and “women” are often just lazy and based, more often than not, on personal circumstances and a small sample.
    People are people at the end of the day all with unique feelings, influences and interests.   I can count equally the number of friends of both sexes who are happy to have casual sex.   And I can just as equally count all those who have always only ever been interested in finding true love through committed relationships.
    In short stereotypes of all sorts are not helpful and all too often hide the real truth.   Personal prejudice is a bad thing so if you’re out there saying things like “all guys are the same” or “all girls are hoes” well, you might just want to take a look at yourself in the mirror and work out why you only ever seem to experience that.

  2. 2

    Good article and that makes sense.
    Helen Fisher says 3 brain systems evolved around love
    1. The sex drive to find a range of partners
    2. Romantic love to focus mating energy toward one individual.
    3. Attachment to be able to tolerate that individuals flaws long enough to raise a child.
    Seems if someone is eternally stuck at only the sex drive system they may be less evolved LOL … Just kidding..

  3. 3

    Wow, 3 partners a year is not a lot. I’ve had twice that in the last year, and I don’t seek out random hookups for the fun of it either, I’m just a really social person and active dater. I really don’t think most men only want casual sex at all, there are plenty of guys who are more relationship oriented. I think women trap themselves in a very bad cycle when they walk around with the attitude that men are difficult to get, that men only want casual sex, blah blah blah – when that’s your mentality, that’s probably what you’ll get, and it’s negative and untrue. My male friends even tell me about girls who have slept with them and then dodged the guy’s calls – he’d be into her, and she’d blow him off!

    1. 3.1

      Mmm it hasn’t been my mentality that guys just want sec but at this moment in time I feel very frustrated 🙁 its been more than a year that the guys who were interested in me and the i was interested in them turn out to be this way and I don’t know why. The current guy I have around has moved things from dating to friends with benefits, the previous guy called things off cuz he didn’t want a relationship and he just wanted something casual, the guys before that were quite similar :/ I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong…im just living my life, and I’m independent, I have my own hobbies and interests and people do enjoy my company… It’s a very bad feeling and I don’t know what to do about it 🙁 I’m actually thinking maybe I should not go on a date this year and give it a break…

  4. 4
    Jackie Holness

    I always thought guys wanted casual sex and a lot do, but there are many that are looking for something substantial…surprising but true….

  5. 5

    ”My male friends even tell me about girls who have slept with them and then dodged the guy’s calls — he’d be into her, and she’d blow him off!” Honestly I believe that’s because women believe all men just want casual sex, and so, in order for them not to get hurt, they just give the guy what they think he wants and then they protect their heart and try not to have feelings for him. It’s not those women’s fault, there is a reason why women nowadays act cold towards men, although it ends up being their problem to deal with it.

  6. 6

    Well, I do not believe that “guys just want casual sex and only casual sex”. What I believe is that “most guys will gladly have sex whenever they can get it, and it has nothing to do with their desire or not for a relationship”.
    Men come in all kinds of flavors and they change their flavor according to where they are at in life and the kind of woman they date. Sure, some guys will maximize sexual activity and diversity, either when young or as a permanent lifestyle, some will try to find their one special woman as soon as possible, and others, maybe most, will simply go with the flow and take whatever they can get (sex or relationships), and what they get will depend on how much they reach out to women, on their relationship value, and on how the woman they ask out handle herself and negotiates the deal. Since most men are driven by their desire for sex, and since it’s so accessible without having to suscribe to a relationship, sex is what happens naturally, with or without a desire for more.
    Random example: my boyfriend. Had been hoping for something serious but always ended up in flings because of how things always started. So, sure enough he asked me out with the intention of a summer fling as he was in my area temporarily and had never really experienced much more. If I had accepted his initial “offer” we would have had a short summer thingy because he would totally have taken six week of easy sex if it had been available. We would then never have used the time to bond significantly enough to be able to take it to the next level when it was time for him to leave. I just happened to be the first woman he met who calmly and clearly explained that she does not do flings. This made him reveal his long-term goals and switch to the serious relationship track to explore our potential.
    So yes, although it’s a fact that men are driven by sex, I totally believe that most want a relationship, even if such desire might come later in life and even if they have no clue how to get it.

  7. 7

    Do you think that women who are good at getting commitment from men simply don’t participate in blogs like these, whereas those who struggle do? Therefore, in online forums, it would seem that men are only seeking sex, simply because the women here are reporting their disappointments.   Woman like Evan’s lovely wife don’t hire a dating coaches, rant online about men being interested only in sex and write articles about bad male behavior.   Happy people don’t read books about how to be happy.

  8. 8

    Sophia – no, that’s not what’s going on.
    You and I and most of the women on this blog are likely very straightforward in our dealings with men – meaning, if we like someone, we’re not chasing them around or telling them we like them but nevertheless happily go on dates with them and are receptive. If we don’t like someone, we don’t lead them on, sleep with them, and fake a future, we just politely eject.
    However, as I’ve been learning from my male friends’ stories, a lot of women, especially younger ones,  are not like that at all. I was shocked to learn from male friends how many girls (attractive girls in their 20s, mainly) are attention whores, play games, sleep with people and don’t call them back, seek validation from men they have no interest in just to feed their ego, and maintain a whole circle of backups. I am a fairly attractive girl in my 20s and I still never acted like that with anyone, it seems rude and a waste of my time and I just don’t get validation from that nonsense. Evan’s target audience – who generally have their heart in the right place –  is very different from how many women act, and those women’s bad behavior unfortunately can influence a lot of men into believing that girls are manipulative and uncaring.
    Just like the bad behavior of some men, who only want casual sex, incorrectly influences many women into believing that all guys are dogs when that’s not true at all.

  9. 9

    I am in a committed relationship and here I am.   I’m here because when my boyfriend said he loved me and was in love with me I wanted to check out whether he said it too soon for me to take it seriously.    A  couple of months  later he is still as loving as before, maybe more so. if i did anythign “wrong” maybe i should not have doubted.
    I got commitment from him because – tada – he is commitment ready and capable of commitment and, crucially, so am I.   I didn’t do anything special and I am not anything special.
    Before I was ready to commit I was messing about with players and the emotional unavailable without having much of a plan or a clue.   I think when you get a clue, you make better decisions and that includes being attracted to more appropriate people from the get-go.   Those superficial charmers (sorry guys) and  ambivalent men  just don’t do it for me anymore, not that they care cos … I no longer do it for them either.   We just don’t push each other’s buttons.
    if you are having sex with men who won’t commit it may be we’re not ready to commit ourselves.   Commitment takes energy and consciousness and decision-making.   It’s not about being led around by  our sex drive or need for attention/validation.   It’s not just sticking around waiting for someone to change .   They don’t change.   They are who they are.   Otherwise, we would all be out there changing other people at will.   I don’t see that happening unless you’re some kind of cult leader and even then most right-minded people are immune to it.

  10. 10

    Also, Essie — Evan has written here before that his wife was cheated on by past boyfriends and was divorced, even though she was a great catch she also needed to meet the right guy to appreciate her. However, I’m sure she was nevertheless not ranting about how all men are cheaters either, which helps .  

  11. 11

    [email protected]
    Your story tells me that at some point in your past, you have dealt with emotionally unavailable men. So I guess my theory needs to expand to include anyone who has had commitment issues, past or present.

  12. 12

    Guys, what does this even mean “being good at getting commitment”? I would guess that, like many women here, I am good at getting commitment from someone who a)is commitment-oriented, b)believes that he and I are a good fit, c)happens to be available AND interested in a committed LTR at the moment. I am not good at getting commitment from everybody else. Which is probably a good thing, because the last thing I want is get commitment from people I don’t want a relationship with.
    @ Jenna & Sophia, while I haven’t slept with a man and not called him back afterwards, I did have it happen a few times that, after sex, I would not want to continue seeing the person in a romantic way again, because maybe our close encounter made me realize that we were not a good match after all. Or we’d do it because neither of us were ready for a relationship right then, but we were both ready to have a good time. Nothing wrong with that IMO. I definitely did not do something I didn’t want to do to give the man what I thought he wanted — why would anyone do that to themselves? And I’m too old to be doing anything for validation. It’s just sex, people. You don’t have to marry each person you’ve had it with. Sometimes people do it just because it feels good, with no ulterior motives. As long as both sides are on the same page, that’s fine by me.

  13. 13

    I’m married (as of June this year) and I’m still here!   A friend directed me to this blog before I was engaged to my husband, when we were still confirming that we wanted to spend our lives together.   I wasn’t looking for any specific advice, just thought this made an interesting read.   I agree with some comments, disagree with many but I find the material fascinating.   You’re probably right in that if I had already been married, I may not have come here at all.   I guess what I’m trying to say is that I agree that the readership is stacked with people (especially women) who have had negative experiences or doubts at some point but there are several who now find themselves with happy endings which helps balance the points of view.
    My sister’s friends are in their early to mid twenties and I am shocked at some of the behaviour she reports.   I’m sure this isn’t even the worst that happens.   There seems to be a desperate need to constantly be in a relationship which I don’t understand.   By relationship, I don’t mean an adult, committed, give and take situation but rather an arrangement where they have someone to sleep with, buy them things and keep them from “loneliness”.   When one ends, they move right on to the next without taking the time to learn anything or giving themselves a short break to think.   I would still say it’s none of my business if they weren’t hurting themselves and these boys.   I have seen all the behaviour you mentioned and I’m sure it goes a long way in explaining the terrible attitudes of some men who have been burned time and time again.   I will, however, still agree with someone who said earlier that men will take easy sex whenever they can get it.

  14. 14
    Karl S

    As a man, I have to agree with Fusee. We’ll take whatever comes along and I can’t think of a situation where I would say no to “just sex” because I’m holding out for a relationship.

  15. 15

    Don’t know where else to write this but wanted to wish Evan (yeah, I know you’re Jewish, but still), his lovely wife and all you feisty commenters a very happy Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not.   I hope that 2013 brings all of us love, self-knowledge and a sense of humour about wherever we find ourselves in the New Year.

  16. 16

    Maybe they turn down casual sex because they don’t want a woman to get emotionally attached to them and think sex = love?   My ex, who considers himself a bit of a ‘Casanova’ (why he’s an ex!) said he passed up opportunities for casual sex with gorgeous women because he didn’t want to deal with clingy behavior.   I’m not condoning his actions 🙂

  17. 17

    As a reluctant serial monogamist (would rather have that ideal lifelong relationship) I find much greater satisfaction sexually with a regular partner.   As such, I’ve never found casual sex to be such a great thing.   And it’s not a happy thought that women (according to some reports) don’t have as rewarding a time sexually as men when it comes to casual sex. In other words, the casual sex agreed to by both, seems to always end up less fulfilling for the female.   How much do men in these circumstances care enough about who they’re with to be as interested in that person’s needs as they are in their own?   Well, as a blanket statement, probably not much.   Sounds like a pretty bleak scenario for women, many of whom may feel they have to engage in sex as early as possible to keep a man’s interest.   This may be strange coming from a man just as horny as any other, but I feel women have every right to demonstrate restraint sexually, if they would like a sense of commitment first.   Self-respect is valuable and valued

  18. 18
    Karl R

    Greg said: (#17)
    “the casual sex agreed to by both, seems to always end up less fulfilling for the female.   How much do men in these circumstances care enough about who they’re with to be as interested in that person’s needs as they are in their own?   Well, as a blanket statement, probably not much.”
    Greg, I’m just a random name on this blog. Do you care about my needs as much as you care about yours? Do you think I care about your needs as much as I care about mine?
    Let’s say we met face-to-face, went to a happy hour and spent a few hours bullshitting over a few drinks. At that point, would you care about my needs as much as you care about  yours? Would you expect me to care about your needs as much as I care about mine?
    This has nothing to do with men, women and sex. It has everything to do with human nature. We care about our own needs more than we care about the needs of strangers or casual acquaintances. If we expect otherwise, we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of disappointment.
    We can extend this even further. I love my wife and care a lot about her needs. But I still know my own needs better than I know hers. Therefore, it’s in her own interest to be aware of her own needs, and to ensure they’re being met (by me or her).
    Greg said: (#17)
    “Sounds like a pretty bleak scenario for women, many of whom may feel they have to engage in sex as early as possible to keep a man’s interest.”
    In this case, knowledge is power. As a general rule, early sex neither helps nor hurts  a woman’s  chances of getting a long-term relationship. For every man who will dump a woman for not having sex by the third date, there’s another man who’ll dump a woman because she had sex with him (or previous men)  quickly.
    By understanding this, women can make decisions that they’ll be happier with.

  19. 19

    “many of whom may feel they have to engage in sex as early as possible to keep a man’s interest.”
    Hence the problem, if a woman believes she has to do or be X or Y to keep a man’s interest, she will struggle, big time.   I have my own views on this, but knowing the freak out on the other thread about human being romantic tendencies(reptilian brain), I think I’ll keep it to myself.   🙂

  20. 20
    Karl S

    Being in my twenties, perhaps my experiences are not as varied as some, but I always find it baffling that a man would be *more* likely to leave a woman if she is willing to have sex early. I’d try and hang on to someone like that!

    Perhaps if sex happens on date one or two, then it’s likely to be a casual or one-off-fling. By date three or four, I personally feel there’s probably more of a connection and a higher chance it’ll actually become a relationship. More than 10 dates and I start to get concerned. Why?

    Because in all my relationships, the ones who had sex on the 3rd date stayed with me the longest and the ones who held out actually weren’t that interested in the end. The longest I waited was 2 months; then she left me. She obviously wasn’t physically attracted to me when it came right down to it.

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