“I love you.”
It’s an excruciatingly common misperception that straight women throw themselves headlong into the classic three-word declaration, desperate to know “what we are” and “where we’re going.” But studies show heterosexual men tend to fall in love, or believe they have fallen in love, much faster than their female partners.
One such study surveyed 172 college students. “Men,” it said, “reported falling in love earlier and expressing it earlier than women reported. These results indicate that women may not be the greater ‘fools for love’ that society assumes.”
This finding was at odds with the students’ preconceived notions, says psychologist Marissa Harrison, who co-authored the study. “Women are assumed to be emotional; sometimes overly so, or rash,” she tells Broadly. “Both men and women in our study presumed that women would fall in love and say ‘I love you’ faster than men.”
Neil Lamont, a London-based psychologist, thinks people generally tend to see men as more pragmatic or even commitment-avoidant. “[But] meaningful relating is as important to men as it is to women. And while societal and cultural norms may have dictated that men should be strong and resilient, the reality is [that] a well-lived life for men will typically involve deep and meaningful, loving relationships.”
Men are far more inclined to get fired up about a mate but also more likely to look around.
As for why they might fall in love faster, Marisa says women are evolutionarily more cautious—with good reason. “I think women unconsciously postpone love compared to men. Women have a lot more to lose reproductively by committing to the wrong man. They are born with a finite number of eggs, yet men produce millions of sperm on a daily basis. Read more