According to a new study, two-thirds of heterosexual couples “reported” that the guy said “I love you” first. Does this portend a new era of male sensitivity, despite men being such alleged slackers? Does this mean that women, “despite their [alleged] reputation for being emotionally driven and relationship-oriented,” are actually anti-sentimental cold-hearted she-beasts? What, exactly, does this mean? You might guess that, as the researchers learned, men’s motivations were different than women’s motivations.
The study found that while men consider saying “I love you” a full six weeks before their partners, they are also more likely to enjoy hearing those words if they haven’t yet had sex. On the other hand, women are more likely to enjoy hearing “I love you” if sex already has occurred.
So…men say “I love you” for sex, and women say it so they don’t get left afterward? (“Enjoy” seems an odd verb here, by the way.)
Dr. Laura Berman, who ponders this research in a piece in the Chicago Sun-Times, suggests that gender-defined biological drives — “spreading the seed” for men/securing a partner for women — may still be affecting our behaviors. Hence, “Some men might realize that professing their love will make a woman more likely to engage in sex with them, so they confess their emotions to illustrate their commitment and ‘seal the deal.’ Meanwhile, women see sex as part of a bigger picture (i.e. a commitment to fidelity and monogamy), and this is why they crave those three little words after the act.”
This, she says, can be confusing!
But, let’s be practical for a moment. How many times have you (man or woman) had sex with someone without ever considering saying “I love you”? And how many times have you (man or woman) become concerned when the first profession of love came immediately after sex — or right before? Further, as usual, the problem with these studies and analyses is that they assume far too much: that all women want to get married and have babies, and that all men want to dally about and impregnate as many women as possible. And that the words “I love you” guarantee either of those things — or even need to be said to get someone to sleep with you.
The last time I said “I love you” it had nothing to do with sex — it actually had to do with love, and the same is true for plenty of men. Perhaps that’s the important thing to remember, lest we lose all hope altogether.
Then again, a dash of cynicism never hurt anyone.