I got in an argument with my boyfriend about the reason not to have sex outside our relationship. He said he wouldn’t do it because he wouldn’t want to hurt me. I said he shouldn’t want to be with anybody else, but he said that’s just not realistic for guys. Are men really just these unfeeling sex machines? – Dismayed
Male sexuality is about as sentimental as an oar.
In fact, if there’s one secret guys try to keep from women, it’s this: A man can really love a woman and still want to spend the afternoon wrecking the bed with her BFF, her well-preserved mom and her sister.
As awful as that probably sounds, men’s evolved lust for sexual variety isn’t something you and other women should take personally. Evolutionary psychologists David Buss and David Schmitt explain that genetically speaking, it’s generally in a man’s interest to pursue a “short-term sexual strategy” – pounce and bounce, coitus and, um, avoid us – with as many women as possible.
This isn’t to say men evolved to be entirely without discernment. Because “beautiful” features (like pillowy lips and an hourglass bod) reflect health and fertility, if a man has a choice in casual sex mates, he’ll go for a hot woman, but if he doesn’t, he’ll go for a woman with a pulse.
However, Buss and Schmitt explain that there are times when it’s to a man’s advantage to pursue a “long-term sexual strategy” – commitment to one woman. It’s a quality-over-quantity strategy – wanting a woman with “high mate value” (one who’s physically and psychologically desirable enough to hold out for a guy who’ll commit). Other factors include seeking the emotional, social and cooperative benefits of a partnership and wanting to retire from the time-, energy- and resource-suck of working the ladies on Match.com like a second job.
In light of this, think about what your boyfriend’s really telling you by opting for “Honey, where do I sign away my sexual freedom?” This isn’t dismaying, degrading or any of the other bummer D-words. In fact, it’s really romantic, considering that men evolved to be sexual foragers. But for your boyfriend’s desire to make a life with you, he could be wandering the planet and sharing his life and hopes and dreams – uh, for about six minutes and 23 seconds – with a wide variety of oiled-up naked strangers.