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Are Men Are More Monogamous Than Pop Culture Gives Them Credit For?

Charlie sheen
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Popular culture has long suggested that men would rather be promiscuous than monogamous, celebrating caddish characters like the one Ted Danson played on ‘Cheers’ or the one Charlie Sheen portrayed on ‘Two and A Half Men.’ But this may not be completely fair.

The male desire for more sex partners would seem to be backed up by evolutionary science: the more women a man is with, the more opportunity he has to pass on his genes, For women, however, the nine-month gestation period makes that calculus trickier.

Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male,’ from Wake Forest professor Andrew P. Smiler, takes issue with these assumptions.

“What gets left out of that is the fact that if you want your genes to go beyond that next generation—beyond your children to your grandchildren—then your odds are better if you actually stick around and help raise that kid until that kid is old enough to pass on his or her genes,” Smiler said about the evolutionary portion of the argument.

Smiler also cites research that found only 5 percent of men have had sexual relations with three or more women in a given year.

He adds the stereotype that man are only looking for easy sex can be damaging to women, who have been led to believe guys are only interesting in cheap thrills, when what they actually want is a steady, monogamous relationship.


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