Who loves more? I believe men do.
You are laughing right? Stop. Women don’t kill themselves over men, women don’t kill their families, rivals, stalk or obsess anywhere near the rate the men. Rejected men go nuts. Why? Because they tend bond to the women they love furiously.
Stereotypes however portray men as cold, aloof, cunning, ruthless in exploiting women, going from conquest to conquest. Women are the lovers and men are the leavers. Not so. One of the most interesting studies on this topic was done by Zick Rubin, Latitia Peplau and Charles Hill in 1981 who followed a large group of couples over a long period of time examining their love relationship and their break-ups. That stereotype of men as cads is false.
Men reported they fell in love first, were less apt to end a relationship and had a more difficult time recovering from a break-up. Women on the other hand were more cautious about entering a relationship and could end it without the hesitation their partners felt. The men, according to the authors were the romantics!
In other studies men report more romantic idealizations than women (Sharp and Ganong 2000) and men tend have more romantic ideals, believing love conquers all, love can happen at first sight, and love can transcend religious, economic and social differences (Hobart, 1958; Knox & Sporakowski, 1968; Z. Rubin, 1969). Why these facts have been ignored and few if any research exists on this topic is simply because we have allowed our perceptions of men to be based on what we do know of their nature; highly sexual and more physically aggressive. Sex or lust may not imply love and caring.
“If men are so sexual,” my colleague said, “how can they really love?” Love and sex are like boxers, and in our minds one can knock the other out. Although we know deep passionate love exists but seem to think of it as sexless. Just read a romance novel where the elaborate scripts tease us with banter and words and little sexual contact, except at the climax (no pun intended). Sex is the serpent in the garden of love and sadly we often think that male's higher drive for sex implies a lower drive to love. Does a higher sex drive knock out the ability to love? No way! In fact it may be the very way it binds men to women. When men have deep feelings for women, sex and fantasy string him up. That will have to wait for a future blog.
Another issue with studying love is that people believe, mistakenly that love implies complete faithfulness. If one thinks about cheating, has had a fantasy about cheating they cannot be ‘love’ in the true sense. Thinking is not behavior and least of all not an indicator of our actual behavior. A novelist who writes about murder is not going to go out and do it! But I’d bet that a lot of thinking about cheating is not a good sign for a relationship. Sadly our world today is a lot more complicated than the world our brains evolved in; your ancestral father didn’t have a diet of porn streaming into his cave giving him all sorts of crazy ideas. He went to sleep with only one picture on his mind- her. And when he wanted to fantasize it was her- over and over, night after night and over time…Pavlov said it best- he became conditioned. Cave love must have been great. I’ll bog about that soon.