On men, and how they’re only after one thing

Women – you’re bloody lucky, you know. OK, you might have to deal with a bit of sexual harassment in the workplace, or people making mad assumptions about the way you dress and carry yourself, but it’s all OK because you can have sex any time you like.

You hear me? Any time you like. If you fancy a shag, all you need to do is walk down the street, find the nearest available man, and invite him back to your house. He will leap at the opportunity, drop all his current plans, and run over to hump you senseless before you can say “hooray for sexual stereotypes!”

Men aren’t only after one thing

Of course, it would be a lovely world for me if that were the case, but sadly it isn’t. Prepare yourselves for a horrifying shock because it turns out that men – brace yourselves – aren’t just after one thing.

I read an article recently in which a man gave his (future) daughter some advice on dating. This included the immortal (and depressingly common) advice to “Just assume that every man you meet from now until you’re, I don’t know, 53(?) would sleep with you if given the opportunity.”

Women get rejected too

Being a triumphant slag, I often ask men to fuck me. As a general rule, if I fancy someone and they seem reasonably interested, I will at some point ask if they’re up for some sex. And do you know what? Sometimes they say no.

They say no for a variety of reasons – they’re busy doing something else, they’re too drunk to pull it off competently, they don’t want to cheat on a girlfriend/wife, etc. But by far the most common reason is that they just don’t fancy me.

Which leads me to the phenomenal and groundbreaking conclusion that your average man cares about something other than just a comfortable place to stick his cock.

Boyfriends turn sex down too

Perhaps the even more surprising news is that even if a guy fancies you he might still turn you down.

Sometimes men are just too busy for sex. Sometimes they’re not horny. Sometimes they quite fancy a wank but would prefer you not to sit dribbling next to them on the sofa while they’re doing it. I’ve had boyfriends turn me down for no more significant reason that that they simply don’t feel like it.

Whatever their stated reason, the point is that there are reasons – hundreds of them – why a man won’t always be hard and willing just because you’ve dropped your knickers.

Why this is so important

I am more passionate about this than almost anything else I write about. Why? Because I’ve spent miserably lonely nights awake and horny, listening to the snores of men who have recently rejected my advances.

Seventeen-year-old me used to cry herself to sleep when her boyfriend turned her down. Because I’d been told that men always wanted sex. Cosmo, FHM, films, TV and books all told me that guys were permanently on the edge of arousal and desperate to stick their cocks into whichever woman looked most willing to let them.

So when I’d dress up in lingerie, touch my boy, whisper filthy things in his ear and then get rejected, it hurt. It hurt a lot. And I felt like a miserable, pathetic, ugly, nymphomaniac freak.

I’m a grown-up now, so I know these lies for what they are. And I can shrug off a rejection, safe in the knowledge that it isn’t a significant condemnation of my own sexuality but simply a reflection of our weird portrayal of other people’s. But it’s still important to challenge ‘men are only after one thing’ when people say it, because publicly recognising that it is definitely not true helps both women and men feel a bit more normal.

So in conclusion: don’t assume that all men are ‘only after one thing.’ Don’t tell women they can have whatever sex they want whenever they want it. And above all don’t you dare tell your daughter that all men want to fuck her – you might as well tell her the grass isn’t green, or that all the roads in Disneyland are paved with free cake. If young women grow up thinking that all men want to sleep with them, we’re not giving them the gift of insight, we’re telling them an outright lie. A lie that will lead to humiliating disappointment for our daughters, and give our sons a reputation that they could never possibly live up to.


  • Danny Moules says:

    The additional irony being that those could be perceived as ‘only after one thing’ are usually just very focused on getting respect from their peers and end up becoming obsessed about that ‘one thing’ because they’ve been told that’s what they need to be a real man.

    Cut out the expectation and you cut out much of the population that could be described as much.

  • Danny Moules says:

    Such*. Too busy worrying about what punctuation (or not) recaptcha wanted in its rōmaji text and not enough about proof-reading my own sentences :-)

  • Hampton Hamilton Hall says:

    Question – Does the “Men are only after one thing” myth reinforce the “All Men Are Rapists” theory? And if so, does that represent another reason why it’s bad?

    • girlonthenet says:

      Blimey – not sure. I suspect there’s a certain correlation in that many people who believe the latter will also believe the former, but I wouldn’t want to say for sure.

      I think the ‘all men are rapists’ theory is… well… I don’t really want to say it’s a ‘theory’ – I think it’s a statement that has been used when people are expounding many different ideas. I wouldn’t ever want to say anything close to it, but at the same time I wouldn’t want to make any statements on it as I suspect that it’s something of a straw man – few serious people would want to suggest that ‘all men are rapists’ – surely?

      • mittfh says:

        On a similar note, both above theories also probably correlate with the (hopefully less common!) seriously damaging / dangerous misconceptions that (a) if a girl dresses in skimpy clothing, she’s “asking for it”, and (b) if a girl is raped while wearing skimpy clothing, “it’s her own fault” because of (a).

        It wouldn’t surprise me if these dangerous misconceptions are promoted by those of a conservative mindset who hark back to the days when the first few dates were chaperoned and sex before marriage was virtually unheard of (translation: hushed up / not talked about)…

  • Niki says:

    Thank you for this. I could not agree more. As a younger women I too would cry myself to sleep when the man I was with refused my advances knowing something had to be wrong with me. I know better that sometimes men don’t want to or can’t be bothered.

  • Totally anonymous username says:

    I can’t think of much to add right now, but basically, yes. This. Men are people, too – who knew?

  • Anony-Mouse says:

    This post couldn’t be more true. I’ve been with the same guy for over two years, and he’s the only guy I’ve ever had sex with. I heard the saying “Men are only after one thing” my whole life, so I just assumed his need for it would shadow mine. I was a virgin before I met him, and after we started “doing it,” I was hooked, and I’m still hooked. Sex is always in the back of my mind. Which is why I was rather confused when he, like the guy in the article (http://www.vice.com/read/mind-thoughts-with-michael-ian-black-lets-not-fuck-shall-we?utm_source=vicetwitter) said he could do without.

    I was so confused, but I’ve learned to live with the fact that I want it more than he does. I’ve learned to enjoy the times when he REALLY wants it, because while he might not want to do me every second of the day, when he does want me, it’s fantastic.

    Of course I had the opposite side of the confusion as well. I thought it was odd of me, a woman, to want to have sex that much. If it was up to me, we’d have sex every day… maybe even multiple times :P I’ve since learned that my sexual appetite is “normal” and that “it’s okay” to like sex.

  • Expunge says:

    As a man who has struggled to explain the aforementioned to interested (or disinterested) parties, thank you for this. It seems like it’s impossible to have female friends these days, because they all seem to assume that a man wants a relationip (dating or otherwise) for only one reason. We’re not so simple. I know it sounds surprising, but sometimes I talk to women solely because I find them interesting or fun to be around!

  • John obviouslynotmyname says:

    I recently discussed this topic with a good (female) friend of mine. There was this woman once who totally fancied me and I let it happen. But after all the playing and so on, I had a bad feeling so I rejected her in bed. I didn’t realise that I hurt her so much until few days ago.

    Men, always choose your women right. You might destroy some egos right there.

  • Ash says:

    I admit that I am one of those men who are only after one thing and am always ready (except when asleep and even then can generally be convinced with a little persuasion) for sex or any kind of sexual activity.

    However, I also have drug and alcohol problems, psychological issues (particularly relating to my mother), numerous personality flaws and many other negative traits.

    So in short, if all men were like me in any way, God help the species. Thankfully they’re not.

    • Hugh says:

      Hey Ash, while I sympathise with all your other problems – sounds like you’ve been dealt a pretty rough hand – being always into sex is not as bad a thing as any of those! Having a very high libido isn’t something to be ashamed of, be you male, female or genderqueer.

  • N. Likes says:

    Here’s what I think: I think that, of course, you’re right, but that there’s a basic point (or two) that (can easily) get lost in the wisdom of what you write:

    1) While it’s not true that all men are always after only one thing, it is true that at any give time, more men are after that one thing than are women.

    2) While it’s not true that a woman “can have any man she wants,” it is, for the most part, true that, if a woman wants to get laid, and wants to get laid now, she will likely have to lower her standards less than a man who wants to get laid, and wants to get laid now.

    It’s all a numbers game, and it’s definitely harder for guys to get laid than women; definitely, easier for women to get laid than men.

    I don’t know how interesting this is, except that somehow, reading your post (which is exactly correct) left me feeling the need to reassert this: that it takes real work for most men to get laid, and it tends to take more for us than for you.

  • Hu-man says:

    I like this article, the myth that “every man wants it” IS wrong, and it is very sexist, people forget that sexism works both ways and in today’s society men receive a lot more of it than we have ever done in the past – but what makes it worse, it’s perfectly acceptable, watch tv and just think about the messages you see and the way in which men are presented, the myths and stereotypes that are abundant.

  • Anon says:

    “Sometimes they quite fancy a wank but would prefer you not to sit dribbling next to them on the sofa while they’re doing it.” I know I’m not speaking for all men but, I for one, cannot imagine a man not preferring this, because the only time I’d prefer jerking off is because a woman is watching. When I’m wanking alone, unless I’m doing it in some kind of meditative way, the principle thing that has me shooting off like fireworks is imagining a woman…there…watching me.

  • Lilith says:

    Oh God, I wish someone had told me this when I was 17 and saved me YEARS of feeling dirty and fucked up about my sex drive.

    Thank you!

  • Blythe says:

    Saved as a favorite, I like your site!

  • Anonymous says:

    I wanted to correct the statement “Women can get it whenever they want.” There is a more correct version of this statement, and it goes: “Provided a woman is willing to settle, a woman can have sex ~95% of the time that she wants it.”

    Yes, sometimes a man can have sex if he settles, but this fact is much, much more true of a woman.

    In regards to a post of yours about men asking (non-girlfriends/FWBs) for sex, no it is not at all very effective. I am a good-looking, confident, young guy, and I have asked friends, acquaintances, girls I just met, etc., and it very often fails. Girls very often turn it down, and there is of course always the fear that a girl will accuse a man of rape because she suddenly changed her mind or felt uncomfortable because of this question.

  • Great post!

    I would like more sex than I get but that’s only when I haven’t had any in a while. Even then I still wouldn’t jump into bed with just anyone who asked. In a relationship where sex is more readily available, there are occasions when I’m simply not in the mood. Like pretty much everyone else on the planet. Nothing to do with being a guy. It’s a human thing.

    And insecurities play a big part too. My interactions with women are usually at one level. I either miss the cues that a girl is interested in something more or I can’t get over my own issues, to feel comfortable or even attractive enough to the opposite sex. Even when I’m being told otherwise. Even when I’m being asked.

    It really is a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.

    It’s not a ‘she’s out of my league’ situation (another great post, by the way!) either. I really just have problems with how I look. I’ve written a blog post about it here, if you’re interested:


    • Ingmar says:

      To they get your cues? Then it’s a cultural problem of girls feeling improper about hitting on guys directly, exactly based on this fallacy that a woman would be able to get sex 95% of the time.

      Girlonthenet: I’m inclined to believe you, but what about that infamous test with women asking for sex getting a yes 70% of times and men getting 100% no (if I remember well), seems like the world is caleidoscopic and can return different results depending on the context and how you observe it :). Can you explain that? I’m genuinely curious.

      “1) While it’s not true that all men are always after only one thing, it is true that at any give time, more men are after that one thing than are women.”
      A part of it might have to do with lower risks for me and might justify it, but for the most part it’s cultural and the gap seems to be narrowing as more and more women challenge this notion and not just militant feminist (but by feminist I just mean the idea that women are as intelligent as men and ok, at least some challenge to the gender roles).

      • Girl on the net says:

        “Girlonthenet: I’m inclined to believe you, but what about that infamous test with women asking for sex getting a yes 70% of times and men getting 100% no (if I remember well), seems like the world is caleidoscopic and can return different results depending on the context and how you observe it :). Can you explain that? I’m genuinely curious.”

        Sure thing: I think it may partly be a result of your risk point in the final para – shagging strangers is generally a much riskier proposition for women, who are more likely to be the targets of violence. On top of that there are many cultural factors that make women less likely to say ‘yes’ to quick and easy sex. Even if you really want it, the possibility of being shamed (or in many cultures physically hurt) if you act on your sexual urges can be a pretty big barrier. What’s more, I think we have this idea that ‘sex’ equals ‘penis goes in vagina until the person with the penis ejaculates’ – it’s what most of us are taught in sex ed classes, and it’s led to a (mostly) simplistic view of sex within straight, cis relationships, where the ‘goal’ of sex is for the man to come. So we also have the orgasm gap, which is much more common in casual sex hookups (I am far less likely to orgasm with a stranger than I am with my partner, because the stranger will be less invested in me having a good time). So there’s that one too. I wrote a bit about this in this piece ages ago if you’re interested: https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2013/dec/10/women-men-sex

  • Sarah says:

    I still get it now. My other half has a spectacularly high sex drive. When he’s not in the mood, I try to think logically but honestly I take it personally. Never mind that we’ve been at it twice a day for a week, our mutual bits are raw and he’s completely exhausted – I still think “why not? What’s wrong with me?”. Every time he gets over his knackered phase and comes back to me and sticks my hand down his pants, it gets a little bit easier. But it does hurt, even as a grown, married woman. I’m working on it.

  • Jason says:

    I’ve gotten the other side of this myth… Feeling rotten because I just want to finish my book that night. I mean, I want to be a hornball, right? Do I have to forfeit my status?!

  • Butch says:

    Your hanging our with the wrong men…..”So when I’d dress up in lingerie, touch my boy, whisper filthy things in his ear and then get rejected….” Whichever guy did that needs to have his man card taken away.
    There is a reason for the stereotype. I appreciate the article but every time you mentioned getting turned down I’m thinking there a bunch of guys reading this thinking why does’nt my girlfriend do that.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Way to entirely miss the point

    • Ingmar says:

      You buy into the idea that a man has to always be a ready sex machine at any time. What if you take off your shirt sexily in front of your gf and that time she doesn’t fancy it? It’s normal. Yeah. Why can’t happen the same.

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