Guys Just Wanna Have Relationships?

“All men cheat.” “He can’t keep it in his pants.” “Men only talk about beer, sex and sports.”

That’s Lisa Hickey over at The Good Men Project reciting stereotypes about the supposed sex-craved male. But stereotypes aren’t reality, she says. And she’s got backup from Wake Forest psychology professor, Andrew P. Smiler who recently wrote a book called, “Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male.”

Smiler says it’s no wonder we think men are all about casual sex. Stereotypes abound and play out in pop culture. Walking through TV history we’ve got:

Fonzie on “Happy Days” and “Hawkeye” Pierce on “M*A*S*H.” And it continues with guys like Sam Malone on “Cheers” and Charlie Sheen’s character on “Two and a Half Men” and Barney on “How I Met Your Mother.”

Men’s interest in porn, featuring a new girl each ejaculatory round, amplifies the view.

Plus, some of us have real world experience with guys who actually are players and then forget about all the guys who are not.

Even evolutionary psychology says men are promiscuous and women monogamous.

But if promiscuity is men’s naturally evolved state, why do most of them want just one partner? asks Smiler. Because that’s what they say, and public health records say the same thing:

If you look at the public health research tracking things like unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, that 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.

Plus, most men eventually marry even though they could just keep on having casual sex.

Sociologist Lisa Wade found something similar when she asked young college students about hookup culture. Surprisingly, 70% of women and 73% of men wanted a committed relationship. But everyone thought that everyone else wanted casual sex so relationships weren’t pursued.

At the same time, what comes across as casual sex may be something else. In the past men and women usually weren’t friends and so they dated to get to know each other before having sex. These days young men and women become friends first and then start having sex and then start wondering if they are a couple, says Smiler.

But what’s the problem with believing the myth of male promiscuity?

Casual sex may be fine for some people or for some people at some times. The problem comes when men and women who want relationships feel pressured into having casual sex instead.

Plus, men who are pushed to have lots of partners may start using women to “score” to look good for the guys as women become the adversary.

Against all that negativity, what guys really want is companionship, connection, emotional support, intimacy, peer approval… and sex.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 28, 2012, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. This brought joy to my heart. The thing about an average is, it’s the average – i.e. no-one is actually that figure or fact, they are more or less – i.e. anything but. To be obvious – a room with 100 fat people and 100 underweight people has an average of ‘ideal weight’!!
    Same for stereotypes. No-one fits them.
    It’s so nice to hear a positive message about men, and really nicely referenced.
    Thanks :)

  2. Good to hear that men aren’t the stereotypes they’re reduced to.

  3. i believe that you get what you look for. if you have your mind set that all men are the same “unable to keep it in there pants”, and unwanting of a real relationship thats what you’ll find. but if you willing to open your mind and realize that thats not all there is out there you come to find that there are men looking for more then just a booty call. its kind of a fifty fifty shot with both genders really not all women are looking for a relationship like most men think and not all men just want sex. but if you close your mind and think just one way, one way is all you might find.

  4. after reading this article, it was nice to know that men do what relationships after all. There are tons of stereotypes about this in college, us females are just told that guys in college are not looking for a relationship, we are told all they want is a hook up and to get drunk. I found that going to college away from home it is much like this, but when i moved back home i suddenly got into a relationship with a 25 year old guy, who just wants someone who is there for him and to comfort him at times. it is nice to know there are different kinds of guys out there who would like relationships over just casual sex.

  5. WOW! this is so cool. I was scared about dating here in America becuase I’ll be 30 and I’m still a vergin. Becuase being alone with the opisite sex in a bed room makes me feel so unconfertable, although I would love to get married and have a family one day. I remember when I was about 7 years old I had a boyfriend, I told my father about him and he sat me down and said “If you had a hand full of sugar and you give, out a pinch of sugar each time you might just run out”. I was like what? When I got my first kiss at age 9, I got butterflies and then at age 16 I became a profesonal kisser it wasn’t until I was 21 that I realized what my father was talking about now that I’m almost 29 kissing is somthing you do on the first date and the next will be physical contact. With each generation sex is getting more public each time. It’s nice to know that there is a higher percentage now a days that would rather have a women that they could talk to. It’s not my fathers fault that I’m still a vergin but I understand what he was trying to say now! I have decided that the only man who deserves to take my virginity will be a person that trust my decsions and continues to support me and all my flaws. Thank you! fot the post . There are never dole moments with board blogs.

  6. As always, these things are complex. I think most men are generally conflicted between what their sexual appetite wants and what social influences say they should want. On top of that I think most people do not have a clear or accurate understanding of the underlying forces at work that motivate behaviour, which obviously breeds ignorance and confusion. There’s also the old problem of trying to find that line between inclination and indoctrination.

    If you really look at the overwhelming message of society from the most influential, respected and established sources, you can see that it supports committed relationships over casual hook-up relationships. The church, religious leaders across most denominations, politicians, corporations, the media etc; these forces clearly have a huge impact on people’s outlook and they overwhelmingly support monogamous committed relationships. Casual sex and hook-up culture is actually an unintended rebellion against the ‘straitjacket’ imposed by these forces. Rather than society encouraging men to sow their wild oats, the opposite is true. Men in the public eye who display commitment in their relationships get positive feedback for that fact, be they Barack Obama, George Bush, Bill Gates or Roger Federer. Men who sleep around are generally not held up as examples to emulate by the most respected and influential forces in society, yet you still get significant numbers choosing that lifestyle. If such a lifestyle were to receive the same public support that committed, monogamous relationship do, I suspect there would be less guilt and second guessing amongst people who want that lifestyle, and subsequently more men and women opting out of committed relationships, in their current form, than there already are. As it is currently, it would take an incredible level of intellectual independence (to escape the indoctrination) and humility amongst the majority of people for the majority of people to go against what society sanctions. I say humility because there is an aspect of vanity in receiving the approval of society.

    The other aspect of this is that men are aware of their own and the world’s limitations. They know they cannot live ideally, according to their unfettered desires. If they are not sufficiently attractive, wealthy, powerful and charming, they will have significantly fewer options in the mating game. Given that most men do not have all of these qualities in abundance; it makes additional sense that many would chose to hedge their bets by ultimately choosing a relationship over the seemingly unpredictable waters of being a free agent, despite any initial resistance. In the end I think it’s a compromise.

    • Certainly some men want casual sex over relationships and pursue them. Other men may want the same thing, can’t have it, and get resentful or “love what they have.”

      Perhaps some men would like both but feel they can’t have both. In choosing they feel relationships give them so much more, and go with that.

      Other men find casual sex empty. Some of my male students who have indulged say it feels empty and pointless, and say that loving relationships are so much more.

      Also, people tend to think that everyone else feels the same way that they feel.

  7. I’m glad to hear men want a relationship. I wish they were better at hinting or communicated what they wanted instead of leaving us guessing. I’ve had friends who have had casual sex with the same person and wondered if they were in a relationship or not. But the males ever communicated or mentioned anything about a relationship.

  8. It’s not just the men who are poor communicators about wanting a relationship. I think half of the responsibility lies with the female. This current hook up culture does not allow for honest open communication between partners because as you pointed out people tend to think that everyone feels the same. The hook up culture has people believing that what both male and females want is casual sex. Neither of them wants to be the one to ask for something different so they continue to participate in casual sex promoting empty meaningless sex. I say go for it. Ask for what you want. What’s the worst that can happen?

  9. Hey everyone should read Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man and/or watch the movie. It really helps you figure out what men think and want. Also, it helps women figure out what they want in a man as well. Both men and women have to be able to communicate, open up, and, just be honest. It’ll be easier for everyone involved. Also, don’t let stereotypes keep you from being in the relationship you want, need, and deserve.

  10. Sarah Lau Y. G

    This is a interesting article. I was amused when I saw the statistic in the article. It is ironic that most people want a committed relationship but many of them don’t behave in the same way. While many of them want a serious relationship, they think sex is the only thing that others want from them. I have to agree that some men want relationship. Some of them are longing for a serious relationship. They will invest more than the women does if they want their special one. However, not all of them do. I know some guys who really love to play and try to hook up as many women as they could.

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