In The Sims 3, Sims won’t need you to hold their hand every time they need to use the toilet. They are now able to take care of their basic needs on their own, leaving you to focus on more important things: building relationships, expanding your career opportunities and exploring the world around you.
Even more importantly than solving the base physical needs, the major focus has been getting the Sims to express their individuality. Each Sim has a personality defined from a large array of traits, and these traits have a strong influence on autonomous behavior. A flirty Sim will preen and pose, while an un-flirty Sim will reject all but the most persistent suitor. Some Sims are family-oriented – you will see them playing games with their children and cooing over them; others dislike children, and can be heard complaining about them loudly. All the Sims will express their personalities on their own, without needing constant input from you.
Their personalities affect both what they choose to do, and how they respond to your actions. The pick-up line which worked so well on Pauline may not work quite so well on Bessie Clavell, who has no sense of humor whatsoever! As you socialize with them, you get to learn their personality quirks, and should use this to your advantage.