While certainly both of those claims are true for many, when men in self-described unhappy relationships are asked what they want most from their partners that they’re not getting, the first answer was communication and the second answer was affection. Exactly the same answers that the unhappy women answered!
When it came to the third answer, men said more sex and women more financial security. More sex was #4 on women’s list. So the surprisingly good news is that all of us want more of the same thing…more talking and listening. Although improving our communication can take hard work and commitment, at least we can be assured that this goal is both mutual and a deal-breaker for healthy relationships.
New Study on What is “Normal” in Relationships
This information and a lot more is now available thanks to Chrisanna Northrup and social science researchers, Pepper Schwartz and James Witte, who conducted an on-line survey of more than 70,000 participants from around the world. The results, published in the new book, The Normal Bar, provide us with hard empirical evidence about what really goes on behind closed doors, not only in America but in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Asia. As Northrup discovered, ”Cultural stereotypes and the media’s fantasies of romance and lust have little to do with what really goes on in relationships, especially since conduct varies over time and across geographic boundaries.”
Although their study does indeed reveal some differences between men and women and across cultures which I will discuss in future blogs, the broad similarities are striking. Men and women in almost every country described communication as the biggest relationship issue. The only exception were the French respondents who ranked affection first and communication second. Go figure.