Challenging Casanova: What This Book Reveals About Young Men Changes Everything


Marie Franklin reviews the book Challenging Casanova by Andrew Smiler and looks at how it fits with her own experience.


Challenging Casanova looks at our cultural view of young men, and it’s not always a great one. There’s the sad fact that we call them “dogs”. We think that men just want sex, they want all the sex they can get with nearly anyone who is willing, and they will do almost anything to get it. We treat young men and boys like they are walking erections yet give them very little education about sex. We basically just beg them to “control themselves”. We give them no consideration as emotional beings. We don’t expect them to want to be romantic, we just expect that they want to get laid and might make some romantic gestures toward young women but only to get some action.

Andrew challenges this notion and asks, is this image we have of young men really true, or are we just projecting it on them?

When you actually ask large groups of young men how they view themselves, they report that they seek emotional connection, love, romance, intimacy and companionship. Not “just sex” as people normally assume. All of the research he examined is showing that the image we are projecting, that of a horny teen with no ability to love or feel emotional connection, is definitely not what young men and boys think of themselves.

The subject is complicated but important. I highly recommend this book as a baseline for understanding a new paradigm. Young men self-report that they want love and connection and meaning through relationships, from the earliest stages of their awareness of their own manhood. They also want sex. But no more than young women do! Sex is a natural human desire for both genders and so is the desire for emotional connection.

When we treat our young men and boys as if they are not expected to form emotional attachments, some will feel shamed if they do feel those attachments and might actually avoid making any. And this can stunt the ability to make those attachments later in life. Then we end up in a sad cycle of basically shaming boys to *be* promiscuous and act recklessly.

I cringe when I read advice from the pick-up community. They talk about “naturals” as if they are the gold standard of what men should aspire to be. But the “naturals” they are talking about are dudes who are seeking to score high numbers of one-night stands. This is a sad role model that is the result of the Casanova Complex that Andrew’s book is about. The pick up community ignores the reality that men want connection and love as well as sex. In fact, in the pick-up community, men regularly shame each other for speaking of wanting love and connection.


I am married to a Sex God—and that has a lot of perks. One of them is that it gives me the advantage of knowing that men can be great lovers and can *also* be great romantic partners. Being married to him has proven to me that men are capable of extraordinarily deep levels of love and intimacy. And I know my husband isn’t the only one of his kind.

When I talk about the qualities that give my husband Sex God status, I’m talking about many things other than his sexual talents. Yes, those talents are important to his status too, but by themselves sexual talents do not make you a Sex God. Having sexual talent isn’t rare, many people are sexually talented.

What puts him into Sex God territory are his talents in emotional connection, intimacy, love and devotion. When these talents are combined with his sexual talents, NOW we’re talkin’ Sex God status.

One of the reasons my husband is a Sex God is that he was blessed with a healthy self-esteem and healthy ideas about sex, women, emotional connection and romance. He’s a “natural” with the ladies because he didn’t accept the unnatural expectations the world has of young men. He just naturally found his groove with them and wasn’t misguided by a lot of bad advice. He had positive experiences with casual sex, dating and relationships, and has now earned his Sex God title by virtue of his ability to love me as well as he rocks my world.

I am positive that if more young men can grow up free to seek deep emotional connections and good consensual sexual relationships, we’d have future generations full of Sex Gods instead of Challenged Casanovas.

I want to be a champion for great sexual-romantic relationships in the world. I want us all to be better lovers and partners and find each other and be happy together. I am not trying to define those partnerships to one man-one woman or any other relationship model. I just promote great sex and great emotional connections, period.

I strongly feel that the stereotypes of “men want sex but not romance” and “women want romance but not sex” are standing in the way of the progress we need to make to have better sex, better relationships, and overall, more love in the world. This book helps tear down those stereo types and by doing so, it opens the door for the changes we need to make.

Buy this book—and also buy one to give anyone you know who has a son. The movement to change the view society holds of men has begun, and this can liberate the potential Sex God within them all.

Read “Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Man” — an excerpt from Challenging Casanova — here. 

About Marie Franklin

Marie Franklin is an author and dating coach. She has a unique perspective on relationships and promotes an enthusiastic, sex positive message. Visit Marie's blog at and follow her on Twitter: @MarieFranklin00.


  1. Marie –

    What a lovely article. My husband is definitely a sex god (I was just telling him that this morning) – and for exactly the reasons you offer. I feel grateful and lucky – and very much loved – every day.


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