Most people – both men and women – believe it is women. Such beliefs are congruent with those who have studied gender differences. For example,
REALTY suggests something different. MIT researchers Joshua Ackerman, Griskevicius & Li (authors of the questionnaire study above) found across a series of studies that what men and women believe and what they actually do is quite different.
Both in a recalled reality study in which participants were asked about their present or prior relationship and in a current reality study in which the responses of partners were matched for veracity, individuals and couples agreed that men confessed love first in their relationships.
Can this be?
In their attempt to explain this discrepancy, the researchers added an important variable – first sexual encounter.
Their findings reveal:
On first glance, this might confirm the stereotypes of men’s insincerity and sexual motivation and women’s fear of being taken advantage of. There are certainly men who live up to the stereotype and women who have reason to doubt. More likely, as the researchers suggest by posing an evolutionary-economics model, it is far more complex.
Other Possible Explanations
Does Sociosexual Orientation Matter?
In an era of seemingly broader sexual mores, it is interesting that to further expand understanding, Joshua Ackerman and colleagues added the variable of sociosexual orientation.
They compared those with unrestricted sociosexual orientation i.e. interest in novel sexual relationships without strong prior feelings of closeness and connection and those with a restricted sociosexual orientation i.e. an interest in long-term relationships in which closeness and commitment are prerequisites for sex.
The only difference found by adding this variable is important. It reveals that compared to all other combinations, when both partners have a restricted sociosexual orientation such that commitment and closeness are prerequisites for sex, both report feeling more happiness when receiving a confession of love after as compared with before sex.
It would seem that when the questions of commitment and sexual connection are mutually set, the affirmation of love after sex becomes one that is prized by both. The belief that one is sexually loved and desired is clearly not taken for granted.
What Can We Take and Consider in Our Relationships?
Who said the first “ I love you” in your relationship?
Who is still saying it?
How is it expressed?
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Best of Our Blogs: May 4, 2012 | World of Psychology (May 4, 2012)
Last reviewed: 3 May 2012