Sex 24/7

This is one of those lies that is actually just a worn out, hackneyed joke. It’s the standard premise in bad sitcoms. It would be funny if it weren’t so damaging.  Urban myth has long told us that guys think about sex every seven seconds. That’s a lot. But it’s a lie (check out Yeah, guys can think about sex a LOT – but it sort of depends on the circumstances.  A new relationship, a huge crush, an infatuation, or just a stretch of strong libido can all make guys appear to be obsessed with sex.

Most men will tell you, if asked, that they do not want to have sex all the time. Why? For a million reasons: distracted, tired, anxious, angry, isolated, restless, flatulent, who knows?  Men don’t want to have sex for many of the same reasons women don’t want to have sex.  I like to point out to whoever is listening, that the sex comedies like “Porky’s” and “American Pie” are not documentaries. They are funny. But they do not reflect a real American male.

Dr. Andrew Smiler is an expert on teenage and adult masculine behavior. In his book, “Challenging Casanova: Beyond the stereotype of the promiscuous young male”, he “debunks the stereotype that teenage boys and young men are barely able to control their sex drives; he argues this belief may lead to destructive hyper-sexuality, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Smiler’s goal is to help us all recognize that boys’ sexual development is multi-faceted and to give us the tools we need to keep the stereotype from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.” (

Dr. Smiler talks about the fact that because this lie is so pervasive, some heterosexual young men will not refuse sex because they are afraid that refusing sex will make them look like losers – or gay. So, the pressure begins for many young men:  Have sex whenever you can, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. So, young men will seek sex to prove they are cool. The idea of sex as a performance has begun.

This performance anxiety is one of the main reasons I urge men to stop having intercourse at all for a set period of time. They feel as if they need to prove that they are always ‘up’ for sex. When it doesn’t always happen, the effects can be devastating to both people.

This belief among women also perpetuates the notion that male sexuality is dangerous and always on the verge of careening out of control. It can lead to the assumption that all men are potential sex predators and that sex with a man is going to involve negotiation, damage control, and fear. So, we teach girls that sex is about saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’.  We don’t empower the girls to think about their own sexuality and desires; their sexuality is subjugated to controlling and managing his sexual desires. The damages of this lie reverberate through every facet of society.

Anyone who has studied male sexuality knows that it is far more complex and multi-faceted than society gives credit. Healthy men are interested in relationships; they do want connection and intimacy. But the perpetuated stereotype of male sexuality does not give men the tools they need.  The stress of living up to this unrealistic ideal causes much emotional distress.

Yes, there are men who seem to be hypersexual and have a need for conquest. But as much as it may be easy to feel that they prove the stereotype, it’s best to remember that the vast majority of men are not like that. Unfortunately, these guys seem to be the loudest and most visible and the vocal minority can feel like a much bigger group.

Nothing is simple when it comes to sexuality. It does remain true that for most men, intimacy and feeling close come about through sex. For women who may feel that intimacy and feeling close must be in place before they have sex, the male sexuality might seem aggressive. But this is exactly why communication and empowerment are important for both partners. Then comes the tricky part of defining what sex looks like in these instances! It’s complex.

So, if you’re a man, don’t feel bad for saying ‘no’ to sex. If you’re a woman, don’t take it personally. It probably just means “Not yet”!

Paul Nelson

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Paul is an AASECT certified sexuality educator and a clinical medical assistant.  He is president of the Erectile Dysfunction Foundation, and founder of, the largest online community for men’s sexual dysfunctions and maintains a private practice at  He works in New York City with Dr. Michael Werner ( as a patient/sexuality educator.  Paul is an instructor at the Institute for Sexuality Education and Enlightenment. He is an advocate for men’s reproductive health and has appeared on ABC News with Diane Sawyer, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the BBC, and the New York Times. Paul is a member of the AUA, ISSM, AASECT, and SMSNA.
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