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Women and Men in Love: Who Really Feels It and Says It First?

  • Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg


A widely held belief exists that women are more romantic and tend to fall in love faster than men. Responses from 172 college students indicated that although both men and women believe that women will fall in love and say "I love you" first in a relationship, men reported falling in love earlier and expressing it earlier than women reported. Analyses also showed no sex differences in attitudinal responses to items about love and romance. These results indicate that women may not be the greater "fools for love" that society assumes and are consistent with the notion that a pragmatic and cautious view of love has adaptive significance for women.
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Women and Men in Love: Who
Really Feels It and Says It First?
Marissa A. Harrison a & Jennifer C. Shortall a
a Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg
Available online: 07 Oct 2011
To cite this article: Marissa A. Harrison & Jennifer C. Shortall (2011): Women and Men
in Love: Who Really Feels It and Says It First?, The Journal of Social Psychology, 151:6,
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The Journal of Social Psychology, 2011, 151(6), 727–736
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Women and Men in Love: Who Really Feels
It and Says It First?
Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg
ABSTRACT. A widely held belief exists that women are more romantic and tend to fall
in love faster than men. Responses from 172 college students indicated that although both
men and women believe that women will fall in love and say “I love you” first in a rela-
tionship, men reported falling in love earlier and expressing it earlier than women reported.
Analyses also showed no sex differences in attitudinal responses to items about love and
romance. These results indicate that women may not be the greater “fools for love” that
society assumes and are consistent with the notion that a pragmatic and cautious view of
love has adaptive significance for women.
Keywords: evolution, I love you, love, romance, sex differences
LOVE HAS BEEN CALLED “the deepest and most meaningful of sentiments”
(Rubin, 1970), although what constitutes “love” can have a myriad of meanings,
ranging from concepts involving an initial state of attraction, to falling in love, to
being/staying in love (Aron et al. 2008). Yet even though it is difficult to define
falling in love, and the consideration of such may not ever rise entirely above sub-
jectivity (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986; Sternberg & Weis, 2006), researchers have
commented that almost everyone can relate to being or falling in love (Esch &
Stefano, 2005; Stefano & Esch, 2007).
How love is expressed and experienced may differ between women and men.
With respect to the expression of love, surprisingly little research has focused
on the locution “I love you,” even though these three small words appear to
be a critical delineation in relationships (Owen, 1987), as such expressions of
The authors would like to thank Michelle Murmello, A. E. Hall, and the students of the
Borough of Manhattan Community College for their assistance with this project.
Address correspondence to Marissa A. Harrison, Pennsylvania State University,
Harrisburg, Department of Psychology, Olmsted W311, 777 W. Harrisburg Pike,
Middletown, PA 17057, USA; (e-mail).
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728 The Journal of Social Psychology
affection are thought to be decisive moments for the advancement of roman-
tic relationships (Baxter & Braithewaite, 2008). Researchers have indicated that
cross-culturally, females tend to use the locution “I love you” more than males
(Wilkins & Gareis, 2006). This is not surprising, since evidence suggests that
women and men differ in their expression of emotions and in their descriptions
of related cognitions (Barbara, 2008). Women tend to be more expressive in
relationships, and women are expected by others to be more expressive (Rubin,
1970; Hess, Adams, & Kleck, 2007), particularly in instances of romantic love
(Durik et al., 2006). Interestingly, women appear to enjoy a neurological advan-
tage in terms of processing multisensory, emotional experiences (Collignon et al.
2010); this is likely one reason why women are faster at perceiving others’ emo-
tions (Hampson, van Anders, & Mullin, 2006) and have more confidence than
do men when expressing affection, liking, and love to the opposite sex (Blier &
Blier-Wilson, 1989). In contrast, due to their “inexpressiveness and restrictive
emotionality” (Blier & Blier-Wilson, 1989, p. 287) men may experience intimacy,
parenting, and relationship problems (Dosser, 1982; Balswick, 1988).
Despite men’s purported emotional restriction, however, a few older studies
have shown that men report saying “I love you” first in a relationship (Owen,
1987; Brantley, Knox, & Zusman, 2002). Owen (1987) posited that this transpires
because men are socialized to take the initiative in relationships, and that this
verbal declaration may prompt women to reciprocate this iteration and commit
prematurely to a relationship. Brantley, Knox, and Zusman (2002) interpreted
this through an evolutionary lens, positing that men use this locution first in a
relationship as an inroad to sexual access. In support of Brantley and colleagues’
theory, Tucker, Marvin, and Vivian (1991) noted that women listed their part-
ners’ expressions of “I love you” in their top 10 romantic acts, but men did not.
If men possess knowledge that women find “I love you” to be romantic, men
may communicate what their partners want to hear so as to advance a relation-
ship sexually and/or emotionally. This makes sense evolutionarily, as women in
our ancestral environment, who have few gametes compared to men, would have
benefitted from pair-bond assurance more than would males (Symons, 1979) and
saying “I love you” appears to communicate a commitment. Moreover, men place
a greater premium on sex than women do (Buss, 2004, 2006), and this is theo-
rized to be the case because of the reproductive advantage that sex with multiple
women confers to men, who have a virtually unlimited supply of sperm. Thus,
any strategy serving as the means to a sexual end would be beneficial to men,
including declarations of love. With this in mind, then, one might wonder if the
public’s perception of women as the more romantic sex (Hatfield & Walster, 1978;
Hyde & Delamater, 2009) might simply be due to the fact that men report being
and are perceived as more sexual than are women, and are therefore viewed as
less romantic.
It should be noted, however, that men may have a different sexual attitude
toward long-term, committed partners than they do toward short-term, sex-only
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Harrison & Shortall 729
partners. Evidence shows that men and women report similar preferences for a
long-term partner who is kind, intelligent, and understanding, and one who loves
them in return (Buss, 2007).
In terms of romance, a widely-held stereotype in our society contends that
women are more romantic than are men, although older data from college stu-
dents show men to have a greater number of romantic attitudes than women do
(Knox & Sporakowski, 1968). Further, researchers have reported that men fall in
love earlier than do women (Kanin, Davidson, & Schreck, 1970; Rubin, Peplau, &
Hill, 2004). Even adolescent boys seem to fall in love earlier than do adolescent
girls (Montgomery & Sorrell, 1998), and these individuals are at an age when pas-
sionate love is thought to be more intense (Hatfield & Sprecher, 1986). Although
at what age we fall in love for the first time has been the topic of scientific scrutiny
(e.g., Montgomery & Sorrell, 1998; Reagan, Durvasula, Howell, Ureno, & Rea,
2004), the exact timeframe of falling in love (e.g., hours, days, weeks, months into
a relationship) is difficult to study empirically because of the retrospective nature
of the question. Perhaps this is why this not been extensively explored in previous
Much of the seminal research of “love” was conducted more than a genera-
tion ago (e.g., 1960s, 1970s). The present study used a contemporary sample of
college students in an attempt to determine if there has been a social change in
this phenomenon. Our study attempts to replicate, integrate, and extend upon pre-
vious work on which sex falls in love first, when they fall in love, and who says, “I
love you” first. This study also sought to examine if women’s perceptions of love
and romance are really that different from men’s perceptions by asking questions
about these phenomena, thus attempting to dispel the popular notion that women
are hopeless romantics and support the notion that women are careful, comparison
shoppers in terms of relationships.
All procedures were approved by the local Institutional Review Board. A 28-
item internet-based instrument was created to assess similarities and differences
between men’s and women’s attitudes, expectations, and experiences with respect
to love and relationships. As researchers have reported that first- and second-year
college students have an expected high incidence of falling in love (Aron, Paris, &
Aron, 1995), the choice of a college sample was appropriate for the purposes of
this study. We attempted to obtain a diverse sample by recruiting participants from
the subject pool of a mid-sized university and by recruiting volunteer respondents
from a large community college in a major metropolitan city in the northeastern
United States. Of the 188 participants who responded to the questionnaire, 10 did
not indicate their sex and were excluded from analysis. Although of interest,
the sample of homosexual and bisexual respondents was not large enough for
analysis, and therefore the data from seven individuals (6 men and 1 woman) who
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730 The Journal of Social Psychology
reported preferring to date and have sex with men and women equally, mostly the
same sex, or only the same sex were excluded from the analysis to control for
error variance. The resulting sample of 171 heterosexual individuals consisted of
72 men and 99 women with a mean age of 20.28 (SD =5.25). Ethnicities reported
were: 77.1% White, 13.0 % Asian, 5.3% Black, 3.5% Hispanic, and 1.1% Other.
Analyses revealed that 61 men (84.72%) and 88 (90.90%) women reported
they had been involved in a committed, romantic relationship at some point in
their lives, with no sex difference, χ2(1, N=171) =1.54, p>.214, N.S.
Additionally, 27 men (38.02%) and 56 women (56.57%) reported that they were
currently involved in a committed, romantic relationship and this sex difference
was significant, χ2(1, N=170) =5.69, p<.017. Of people who were currently in
relationships, most men (91.30%) and women (98.21%) reported being “in love”
with their partner, with no sex difference in frequency, χ2(1, N=76) =2.13,
As this study was interested in relationship dynamics, only responses from
those with previous relationship experience were included in subsequent analyses.
Participants were asked, “In your most recent romantic relationship, how long
did it take you to realize you were in love?” Answer choices were: 1 =Iam
not in love,” 2 =Immediately,” 3 =A few days,”4=A few weeks,”5=
A few months,” 6 =A year,” and 7 =More than a year.” Men (M=4.47,
SD =1.23) reported falling in love more quickly than women (M=5.01, SD =
.99) reported falling in love, t(127) =2.74, p<.007, d=.48. In addition, in
response to the question, “In your most recent committed, romantic relationship,
who said ‘I love you’ FIRST?” only 12.10% reported that neither partner did.
Among those for whom this was expressed, there was a relationship to sex, with
64% of men compared to 18.51% of women reporting they said “I love you” to
their partners first, χ2(1, N=131) =27.80, p<.000.
Participants were also asked, “Who falls in love first in a relationship, a man
or a woman?” Interestingly, 87.78% of participants believed that a woman falls in
love first in a relationship, χ2(1, N=131) =74.82, p<.000, and this response
was unrelated to sex, χ2(1, N=131) =.939, p>.332. Participants were further
asked, “Do you think a man or a woman is more likely to say ‘I love you’ first in a
relationship?” Results showed that 75.20% of participants believed that a woman
is more likely to express this sentiment first, χ2(1, N=125) =31.75, p<.000,
and there was no relationship to sex, χ2(1, N=125) =2.04, p>.153.
Participants were asked, “About how far into a relationship would you be
able to tell you were in love?” and “About how far into a relationship would you
be able to tell your partner was in love?” Answer choices were presented on a
Likert-type scale: 1 =Immediately”; 2 =A few days”; 3 =A few weeks”; 4 =
A few months”; 5 =A year”; and 6 =More than a year.” Women anticipated
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Harrison & Shortall 731
knowing they were in love with a partner (M=4.00, SD =.67) later than men
anticipated knowing they were in love (M=3.62, SD =1.14), t(148) =2.54, p<
.012, d=.41, and women anticipated being able to tell their partner was in love
with them later (M=4.09, SD =.80) than men anticipated being able to tell (M=
3.70, SD =.99), t(147) =2.63, p<.009, d=.43. However, both sexes reported
anticipating they would know they were in love with a partner the same time they
knew their partners were in love with them [women: t(87) =1.82, p=.072; men:
t(60) =.820, p=.416]. Participants were also asked, “How far into a committed,
romantic relationship would you want to have sex with a partner?” The same scale
reported above was used for responses. Women reported a desire to wait longer
to have sex (M=3.83, SD =1.14) than men reported (M=3.42, SD =1.18),
t(147) =2.15, p<.034, d=.35 Additional analyses showed that men’s responses
indicated that they anticipated wanting to have sex at the same time they would
know they were in love, t(59) =1.01, p<.318, and that their partners were in
love, t(59) =1.61, p<.112. Women’s responses indicated they also anticipated
wanting to have sex at the same time they would know they were in love, t(87) =
1.39, p<.167, and their responses indicated they would want to have sex before
knowing their partners were in love, t(86) =2.19, p<.031, but a Bonferroni
correction to alpha for multiple comparisons renders this result non-significant.
Participants were then presented with a series of statements about love, dat-
ing, romance, sex, and physical attraction, and were asked to report on a scale the
degree to which they agreed with each statement, with again, 1 =“Totally dis-
agree”; 2 =“Slightly disagree”; 3 =“Neither agree not disagree”; 4 =“Slightly
agree”; and 5 =“Totally agree.” When employing a Bonferroni correction to
alpha for multiple comparisons, there were no sex differences in responses to any
questions about love and romance. Results are presented in Table 1.
In our contemporary college sample, nearly 9 out of 10 people who have had
relationship experience expressed that it is likely a woman who will fall in love
first in a relationship. Further, 7 out of 10 people believed that a woman will say,
“I love you” first. However, our data showed that men reported falling in love
sooner and that three times as many men as women said, “I love you” first to their
partners. These results show no change from those in older studies (e.g., Dion &
Dion, 1973) in that men report falling in love and saying it first. This suggests
that women tend to be more pragmatic about love than society tends to believe,
i.e., not rushing fool heartedly into a relationship. The emergence of the locu-
tion “I love you” in relationship vocabulary is important, as emotional narration
can offer a window into the speaker’s affective state (Barbara, 2008). It can be
argued that men’s falling in love and exclaiming this love first may be explained
as a byproduct of men equating love with sexual desire, as evidence suggests
that men are more interested in sex than are women (see Buss, 2006). However,
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732 The Journal of Social Psychology
TABLE 1. Men’s and Women’s Responses to Items About Love and Romance
Men (n=72) Women (n=100)
Item M (SD) M (SD) t(df) p
Romantic love is a biological trick to
get you to reproduce.
2.53 (1.32) 2.04 (1.07) 2.69 (170) .008
You really need to get to know
someone’s personality before you
can be in love with them.
4.32 (.80) 4.57 (.66) 2.20 (169) .029
Love at first sight exists. 3.08 (1.20) 3.08 (1.20) .015 (167) .988
Love is a waste of time. 1.85 (1.10) 1.39 (.82) 3.10 (169) .029
My being in love is important to me. 3.76 (1.04) 3.89 (1.14) .758 (169) .450
Physical attraction fades over time. 2.90 (1.20) 2.61 (1.08) 1.67 (170) .096
Being in love fades over time. 2.46 (1.17) 2.32 (1.10) .791 (170) .430
I am a fool for love. 2.86 (1.25) 3.20 (1.28) 1.74 (169) .084
I become more and more in love with
the person I am attracted to.
3.88 (.96) 3.98 (.91) .73 (170) .467
I become more and more physically
attracted to the person I love.
4.08 (1.12) 4.31 (.84) 1.47 (167) .143
Notes. No differences were significant after employing a Bonferroni correction to alpha for multiple comparisons. Answers were
given on a five-point Likert-type scale where 1 =Totally disagree”; 2 =Slightly disagree”; 3 =Neither agree not disagree”; 4
=Slightly agree”; and 5 =Totally agree.”
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Harrison & Shortall 733
researchers have proposed that passionate love and sexual desire are distinctly dif-
ferent mechanisms (see Reis & Aron, 2008), and our data showed that men and
women showed equivocal agreement that they become increasingly physically
attracted to someone with whom they are in love, indicating an understanding of
the difference. Again, evidence does suggest that people in North American cul-
ture (from which our sample was obtained) can relate to what it means to fall in
love (Aron et al., 2008).
Our results indicated that when asked to speculate, women reported antici-
pating they would know they were in love with a partner in about a few months
and that they would also know the feeling was mutual within a few months. This
was significantly later than the timeline indicated by men who reported antici-
pating knowing they were in love and knowing their partner’s mutual feelings in
about a few weeks to a few months. These findings are novel and provide support
that women do not rush into a romance before men do. Additionally, neither sex
indicated an expected temporal difference between realizing one’s own and one’s
partner’s feelings. This further indicates that women are not hopeless romantics
engulfed in unrequited or unsure love any more or less than are men.
Most men and women in our study reported being involved in a committed
relationship before, and almost all who were in romantic relationships at the time
of participation reported being in love with their partners. As in previous research,
men’s reports of when they fell in love with their partners indicated that they
did so sooner than women’s reports indicated they did. However, unlike previous
studies, our data highlighted a timeline, whereby men reported falling in love with
their most recent, committed partner in about a few weeks to a few months, and
women reported falling in love in about a few months. These findings corroborate
our data, as mentioned above, that show men are more likely than women to say,
“I love you” first to their partners.
Not surprisingly, women in our study reported a preference to engage in first
sex later in new relationship (a few months into it) than men’s reported preference
(a few weeks to a few months into it), but both sexes reported a desire to have sex
at the same time they were certain of their own and their partner’s feelings. This
suggests that women, relative to men, are making more careful assessments of
their partners before committing sexually and emotionally to a relationship.
Interestingly, other than the above, our data indicated no significant differ-
ences between the sexes, revealing that women’s general viewpoints (including
cynical beliefs, e.g., “Love is a waste of time”) about love, dating, and romance,
are not different than those of men. These data reveal a trend for women which
apparently goes against the popular belief that women are more romantic and ide-
alistic about love than are men. There were no sex differences in agreement to
statements such as, “Love at first sight exists,” “My being in love is important to
me,” “Physical attraction fades over time,” “Being in love fades over time,” and
“I am a fool for love.” These data show that women are not greater fools for love
than are men as is the common societal stereotype, and are not, as Heiss (2005)
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734 The Journal of Social Psychology
reported, “handicapped in the competition” (p. 575). In fact, these data arguably
show that both sexes are equally as pragmatic and as foolish about love.
It is curious why the belief that women are fools for love persists, as the
notion that women should logically and realistically view love and commitment
follows evolutionary theory that women need to be discriminative in their mate
choices due to their relatively limited reproductive capabilities (Symons, 1979).
That is, it is reproductively advantageous for a woman to be tentative and not
simply jump into a sexual or romantic relationship until she is sure of her part-
ner’s intent to commit, as this would have assured resources and protection in the
ancestral environment which was likely not very female-friendly.
Still, alternative explanations may exist for such beliefs and therefore our
findings. Who says what to whom and at what time in a relationship may sim-
ply be learned from others as appropriate or inappropriate. Personal perceptions
and cognitions of sex roles likely lead men and women to behave in love rela-
tionships as they feel they are expected to behave. For example, it may be part of
a man’s gender schema (Bem, 1981) to be the one to facilitate the solidification
of a relationship by stating “I love you” first. Likewise, it may be enmeshed in
a woman’s gender schema to wait for the man in a relationship to make such a
move first. Societal expectations may dictate and place pressure upon men and
women to act accordingly as well, likely beginning very early in life, and mes-
sages on how men and women “typically” behave as their respective genders
are presented though the family, school, friends, and media (for discussion, see
Mascionis, 2004, p. 250). As beliefs can be culturally transmitted, however, they
can create selection pressures for behavioral adaptations (Confer et al., 2010).
With respect to interpreting the findings of the present study through an evolution-
ary framework, perhaps it is men who expressed love to their partners first that left
more descendants than men who did not, and likewise, perhaps it is women who
waited for men to make the first more left more descendants. It seems plausible
that both evolutionary and cultural theory can come into play when interpreting
the results presented herein.
There are admitted limitations to the present study. First, participants’
responses, as is the case with any self-report research, may reflect inaccuracies
due to social desirability, difficulties with estimates, and problems with retro-
spective judgments (Hyde & DeLamater, 2009). Future studies might involve
longitudinal assessments of individuals who have recently become romantically
involved, recording progression of love experiences and expressions. For exam-
ple, a diary study would allow fairly accurate determination of the time frame and
expression of love feelings. In addition, the love and romance experiences of col-
lege men and women from the northeastern United States may not represent the
psychology of men and women in all cultures. As such, additional research may
wish to replicate these findings in other countries.
In conclusion, our data show that women tend to be more cautious about
love and the expression thereof than what is commonly believed. Perhaps women
are perceived as less rational about love compared to men because women have
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Harrison & Shortall 735
a greater capacity for processing emotional experiences (Collignon et al., 2010)
and have a more emotionally expressive nature than do men (Rubin, 1970; Hess,
Adams, & Kleck, 2007; Barbara, 2008). If this is the case, then the stereotype of
women as hopeless romantics compared to men will likely persist even in the face
of scientific evidence to the contrary.
Marissa A. Harrison is an Assistant Professor of psychology at the School
of Behavioral Sciences and Education at the Pennsylvania State University,
Harrisburg. Jennifer C. Shortall earned her BS in psychology from the
Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg and is currently a Graduate Student
at Duquesne University.
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Received April 19, 2010
Accepted July 27, 2010
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... Männer sind in ihrem Leben öfters verliebt (Tomlinson & Aron, 2013;Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986), verlieben sich schneller (Sanz Cruces, Fernández Hawrylak et al., 2015;Brantley, Knox et al., 2002), geben öfters an, sich auf den ersten Blick zu verlieben (Zsok, Haucke et al., 2017) und sagen auch früher »Ich liebe Dich« als Frauen (Harrison & Shortall, 2011). Zudem befürworten sie mehr die romantische Aussage »wahre Liebe hält ewig« (vgl. ...
... Während letzteres die allgemeinen Rollenvorstellungen in der Gesellschaft wiederspiegelt, kann dies nicht von ersterem gesagt werden. Harrison (2011) interpretiert, dass die allgemeine Meinung, Frauen seien romantischer als Männer, eben darin liege, dass Männer sich bevorzugt eher als sexuell präsentieren -und so auch angesehen werden. ...
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Hintergrund und Ziele Das Phänomen »Liebe« in all seinen Facetten beschäftigt seit Jahrzehnten zahlreiche Wissenschaftler in unterschiedlichen Disziplinen. Nachdem in den 70er und 80er-Jahren mit dem Aufschwung der Gender Studies zahlreiche Studien zu Geschlechtsunterschieden in romantischen Beziehungen durch-geführt wurden, stand in den letzten Jahren der Gender-Aspekt der Liebe allerdings oft nur selten im zentralen wissenschaftlichen Mittelpunkt und dann meist lediglich in Form eng umrissener Fragestel-lungen. Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, einen breit gefächerten und ungefilterten Fokus auf die Liebe von Mann und Frau in unterschiedlichen Beziehungsphasen – ihre Unterschiede, aber auch ihre Gemein-samkeiten – zu werfen. Untersucht wurden die Probanden und Probandinnen in Bezug auf ihren Liebesstil, ihre Ausprägung an Leidenschaft, Beziehungsaspekte, Bindungsverhalten, Persönlichkeit sowie Manie und Depression. Material und Methode An der Romantic Love-Studie (Psychiatrische und Psychotherapeutische Klinik des Universitätsklini-kums Erlangen, Arbeitsgruppe: Prof. Dr. med. J. Kornhuber) nahmen 330 Probanden teil. In die vorliegende Arbeit gingen die Daten von 316 Probandinnen und Probanden ein, darunter unter anderem 105 glücklich Verliebte, 58 unglücklich Verliebte und 95 Langzeit-Verliebte auf verschiedene psycho-metrische Merkmale untersucht. Verwendung fanden das Marburger Einstellungs-Inventar für Liebes-stile (MEIL), die Skala zur Erfassung leidenschaftlicher Liebe (Passionate Love Scale, PLS), das Hamburger Persönlichkeitsinventar (HPI), die Bindungsdiagnostische Skala (Relationship Scales Questionnaire, RSQ), die Manie-Selbstbeurteilungsskala (MSS) und das Beck Depressions-Inventar II (BDI II) sowie der Partnerschaftsfragebogen (PFB). Ergebnisse Insgesamt weisen Mann und Frau innerhalb der Romantic Love-Studie viele Gemeinsamkeiten auf (Depression, Manie, Leidenschaft, Bindungsverhalten u.v.m.). Unterschiede zeigen sich vor allem in den Persönlichkeitseigenschaften Risikobereitschaft für den glücklich verliebten und den frisch ge-trennten Mann sowie Extrovertiertheit für die glücklich verliebte und Neurotizismus für die unglücklich verliebte Frau. Innerhalb der Liebesstile fällt der glücklich verliebte Mann durch signifikant schwächere Ergebnisse in Ludus, die Langzeit verliebte Frau hingegen durch vermehrt Eros und ebenso vermindert Ludus auf. Der Vergleich der einzelnen Geschlechter in ihren eigenen Kohorten ergab, dass auch hier Mann und Frau viele Ähnlichkeiten aufweisen (Kontrolliertheit in den Langzeit-verliebten Kohorten, Bedeutung einer sicheren Bindung für Beziehungszufriedenheit, Nachteil Mania für das Führen einer Beziehung u.v.m.) Unterschiede zeigen sich hingegen vor allem im weiblichen Bindungsverhalten. Die Frau in einer langjährigen Beziehung erweist sich in ihrem Bindungsstil als sicherer als die frisch getrennte Frau, die sich in ihrem Stil als ängstlich-vermeidender präsentiert. Die Ergebnisse der eben genannten Bindungsstile sind Alterseinflüssen unterlegen. Schlussfolgerungen Im direkten Vergleich von Mann und Frau in den einzelnen Beziehungsstadien zeigen sich im Liebesstil und in der Persönlichkeit bedeutsame Differenzen. Dabei fallen erstmals in einem Gendervergleich männliche Probanden durch eine stark signifikante risikobereite Persönlichkeit auf, und hier vor allem unter den frisch getrennten und frisch verliebten Studienteilnehmern, nicht jedoch unter den Lang-zeit-Verliebten. Dies deutet auf einen ambivalenten Nutzen der Risikobereitschaft für das Führen einer Beziehung hin. So vermag es der Initiation einer solchen dienen, auf Dauer jedoch einer stabilen Paarbeziehung schaden. Während ubiquitär dem Mann ein spielerischer und promiskuitiver Umgang mit der Liebe bescheinigt wird, weist der frisch verliebte Mann der Romantic Love Studie dazu einen verminderten Hang auf. Dies ist möglicherweise ein Hinweis darauf, dass die junge Liebe seine spiele-rische Seite mildert oder aber, dass Männer mit niedrigen Ludus-Werten für das andere Geschlecht in Bezug auf Partnersuche einen besonderen Reiz ausstrahlen. Die weiblichen Probanden neigen hingegen in ihrer Persönlichkeit vor allem unter den frisch Verlieb-ten vermehrt zu Extrovertiertheit. Äquivalent zur Risikobereitschaft bei den Männern dieser Kohorte könnte diese Persönlichkeitsausprägung den Beginn einer Beziehung erleichtern oder aber die junge Liebe fördert die Extraversion-Anteile in den verliebten Frauen. Und während die Männer zu Beginn einer Beziehung wenig Ludus besitzen, ist dies bei den Frauen in langjährigen Partnerschaften der Fall. Für die Frau scheint in dieser Beziehungsphase entweder die Partnerschaft einen dämpfenden Effekt auf ihre spielerische Seite zu besitzen, oder aber ein Mangel an Ludus stellt einen Vorteil für das Führen einer langjährigen stabilen Partnerschaft dar. Ganz klar unterscheidet sich allerdings die Frau dieser Kohorte vom Mann dadurch, dass sie in ihrer Liebe romantischer ist. Während zuvor meist dem Mann mehr Eros zugeschrieben wird, ist es hier erstmals die Frau, welche sich als die Romantikerin in einer langjährigen Beziehung erweist. In Bestätigung früherer Studien, welche Neurotizismus mit beziehungsschädigenden Eigenschaften sowie einer Frauenwendigkeit verbinden, weist die frisch getrennte Frau im Vergleich zum Mann ein verstärktes Maß an Neurotizismus auf. Insgesamt zeichnen sich die Frauen in ihrer Gesamtheit als manischer und neurotischer aus als die Männer. Hier zeigt sich allerdings, dass mit dem Alter diese Aus-prägungen sinken, ein Hinweis darauf, dass die Beziehungsfähigkeiten der Frau mit dem Alter steigen könnten. Im Vergleich der einzelnen Geschlechter zwischen den einzelnen Kohorten deutet darauf hin, dass vor allem die kontrollierte Persönlichkeit – unabhängig ob bei Mann oder Frau – einen positiven Einfluss auf die Stabilität, nicht jedoch die Zufriedenheit einer Beziehung besitzt. Unterschiede zwischen den Geschlechtern zeigen sich jedoch im Bindungsverhalten und in der Bedeutung der Leidenschaft in den unterschiedlichen Phasen der Beziehungen. So erweist sich die Frau in einer langjährigen Partner-schaft als zärtlicher als die frisch verliebte Frau und verbindet auch mehr Leidenschaft mit Beziehungs-zufriedenheit als diese. Bei den Männern ist genau das Gegenteil der Fall. Eine mögliche Erklärung hierfür könnte darin liegen, dass sich die Frauen der Romantic Love Studie umso sicherer in ihrer Beziehung fühlen, desto länger diese andauert. Insgesamt zeigte sich jedoch, dass – entgegen der gemeinhin propagierten Unterschiede – zwischen Mann und Frau in Aspekten der Liebe beide Geschlechter in der Romantic Love Studie verhältnismäßig wenig signifikante Differenzen aufweisen.
... "Fall in love at first sight" is an aesthetic idea that suggests the occurrence of strong attraction between two parties at first sight (Lu et al., 2020). As a saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and they attract and approach each other constantly (Harrison & Shortall, 2011). This is due to the sexual pheromones secreted by men and women with mature gonads, which are transmitted through sensory organs to the nerve center to induce sexual motivation (Grammer et al., 2005), whose behavioral manifestations are closed to each other. ...
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Given the difficulty in identifying individuals with different degrees of ovarian development, we developed a new device utilizing the hypothesis of mutual attraction behavior between male and female crabs with mature gonads by releasing the sexual pheromone so they could be examined. From a total of 40 female crabs, 10 were isolated within half an hour. Histological analysis showed that the ovaries of crabs in the isolated group were in stage IV, while those of the control groups were in stage III. In addition, progesterone (PROG) in experimental groups was significantly reduced compared with the control group (p < 0.05), but no significant difference was detected in estradiol (E2). In response to the different developmental stages, hemolymph biochemical indices and the determination of gonadal fatty acids profiles were explored. The results indicated only C18:4 showed a significant difference between these two groups. A transcriptome was generated to determine the genes involved in the mutual attraction process; differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were significantly related to gonadal development. Therefore, the device can be used to isolate Chinese mitten crabs with stage IV ovarian development.
... Less research has examined whether such sex differences persist once a relationship has formed. Some studies have suggested that men may fall in love more quickly (Harrison & Shortall, 2011) and declare their love for their partners earlier on in the relationship (Ackerman et al., 2011). On the contrary, a wellpowered cross-sectional study found no gender differences in the tendency to rely on romantic partners as attachment figures across different relationship lengths (Heffernan et al., 2012), suggesting that men and women may become attached to new partners at similar rates. ...
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Dating is widely thought of as a test phase for romantic relationships, during which new romantic partners carefully evaluate each other for long-term fit. However, this cultural narrative assumes that people are well equipped to reject poorly suited partners. In this article, we argue that humans are biased toward pro-relationship decisions—decisions that favor the initiation, advancement, and maintenance of romantic relationships. We first review evidence for a progression bias in the context of relationship initiation, investment, and breakup decisions. We next consider possible theoretical underpinnings—both evolutionary and cultural—that may explain why getting into a relationship is often easier than getting out of one, and why being in a less desirable relationship is often preferred over being in no relationship at all. We discuss potential boundary conditions that the phenomenon may have, as well as its implications for existing theoretical models of mate selection and relationship development.
... Recent research has also drawn attention to gender socialisation and established beliefs about love which foster stereotyped gender schemes and values (Bisquert-Bover et al.; Bucx & Seiffge-Krenke, 2010) which determine adolescents' experiences and interpretations of love in their first affective relationship. Indeed, Caro and Monreal (2017), and Harrison and Shortall (2011), highlighted the importance of identifying false romantic beliefs at this age in order to avoid their future reproduction and to improve the quality of future relationships. ...
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Understanding the construct of romantic love is an important task in societies all around the world. However, instruments designed to assess this construct are scarce and most of them were developed more than a decade ago. De la Peña, Ramos, Luzón, and Recio (2011) proposed the Myths, Fallacies and Erroneous Beliefs about the Ideal of Romantic Love Scale. In this current study we provide the psychometric properties of this scale in a representative sample of adolescents. The analytic strategy included both Exploratory Factor Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis. We achieved a best-factor structure using a unidimensional model of romantic beliefs which also had an adequate estimated reliability. In agreement with descriptions in the existing academic literature, the resulting romantic beliefs factor was significantly related to hostile and benevolent sexism, although slightly less so in the latter case. Finally, differential validity was examined using ‘gender’ and ‘having a partner’ as independent variables; the differences in romantic beliefs according to these variables also agreed with previous reports in the literature. We provide a thorough discussion of our results and highlight the implications of our findings for clinical practice.
... To make sense of these apparently counterintuitive gender differences, the authors who defend the position of women associating love more romantically with romance, turn to evolutionary psychology. The authors are based on the premise that women tend to be more pragmatic when looking for a partner (Harrison & Shortall, 2011). In other words, men are more likely to feel that love must develop slowly and to be cautious before promoting a sexual affective bond in a medium or long-term relationship -a less romantic attitude. ...
Current models of romantic relationship development in cisgender, heterosexual individuals have a gap. They include the initial stages of human courtship—what happens before people become romantically committed (for example, flirting), and they also focus on what happens after a romantic relationship has been established. We focus on the missing phase, which we call the communication of romantic interest. This is the point in this sequence when at least one person’s desire or intention to enter into an emotionally (and, possibly sexually) close, committed relationship is expressed. We compare the verbal and nonverbal cues used by men and women to flirt, based on the literature, to those they use to express romantic interest, based on our research. Finally, we emphasize the need to explore the courtship process for different genders and sexual orientations, which is important for both theoretical and practical reasons.
This chapter explores what love is, how it is related to intimacy, various definitions of both concepts, love in ancient times, the universality of love, the functions that love serves, romantic passion, and the relation of sexual satisfaction and love.
Intimate relationships matter to health and happiness. However, the vast scope of relationship research and the abundance of precise micro-theories has presented obstacles to the development of integrative theories with contextual-behavioral foundations that are oriented towards application of findings in domains of public health significance. Derived from the well-validated Interpersonal Process Model, which described intimacy as a dyadic exchange in which Person A engages in a vulnerable self-disclosure, Person B enacts a response, and Person A perceives the response as responsive, we present an integrative, analytic-abstractive, contextual-behavioral model of intimate relations. The model describes the intimacy process as a set of functional relations describing behaviors and responses of Persons A and B in context, languaged as middle-level terms to facilitate cross-disciplinary applications. Three primary relations of the model are non-verbal emotional expression (Person A) and safety (Person B), verbal self-disclosure (Person A) and validation (Person B), and asking (Person A) and giving (Person B). The model also emphasizes the importance of self- and other-awareness, expressions of closeness, and reciprocity as additional terms. Future research directions and potential applications are discussed.
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Cambridge Core - Social Psychology - The New Psychology of Love - edited by Robert J. Sternberg
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Love ... What is it? Can we define it? What is its role in our lives? What causes love, and what dooms it? No single theory adequately answers all our questions about the nature of love, yet there are many theories that can contribute to our understanding of it. This fascinating book presents the full range of psychological theories on love-biological, taxonomical, implicit, cultural-updated with the latest research in the field. Robert Sternberg and Karin Weis have here gathered more than a dozen expert contributors to address questions about defining love, the evidence for competing theories, and practical implications. Taken together, these essays offer a comprehensive and engaging comparison of contemporary data and theories. As a follow up to The Psychology of Love, which was published in 1988 and edited by Robert Sternberg and Michael Barnes, this new collection engages with the many changes in the study of love in recent years. New theories are introduced as are modifications to existing theories. Focusing not on a single point of view but on the entire range of current theories, The New Psychology of Love provides today's definitive account of the nature of love.
Responses to the question, “What constitutes a romantic act?,” were obtained from 149 women and 48 men. Results suggest a large area of agreement and a small area of disagreement between the sexes as to the nature of romantic acts.
Love is a perennial topic of fascination for scholars and laypersons alike. Whereas psychological science was slow to develop active interest in love, the past few decades have seen considerable growth in research on the subject, to the point where a uniquely psychological perspective on love can be identified. This article describes some of the more central and well-established findings from psychologically informed research on love and its influence in adult human relationships. We discuss research on how love is defined, the significance of love for human activity and well-being, and evidence about the mechanisms by which love is believed to operate. We conclude by describing several key questions and potentially important new directions for the next wave of psychological science. © 2008 Association for Psychological Science.
This exploratory study is aimed to advance the understanding of emotion expression across cultures by focusing on the declaration of love and studying its expression across cultures. In particular, the use of the locution “I love you” was investigated. Results indicate that the use of the locution “I love you” fluctuates greatly across cultures: It is used exclusively for romantic declarations of love in some cultures, but has a much wider distribution in others. Interestingly, nonnative speakers seem to use the locution “I love you” more in English than their native language. Differences are also noticeable within cultures, particularly across genders and age groups. Thus, females tend to use the expression more often than males. In addition, there seems to be more widespread use of the locution now than just a few decades ago.