You know how you felt when you first realized you were in love: all heart-poundy, tongue-tied-y, top-of-the-world. But do you know how the men in your life feel when they fall? Even though the result is the same — two people totally into each other — psychologists and neuroscientists have found that men fall and stay in love in unique ways.
The old stereotype about guys being unromantic and unsentimental deserves to be kicked to the curb for good. Men are just as likely to fall in love as women are, and in some ways they're more idealistic about it. According to Pew Research, men are more likely than women to believe in one true love, and they're also more apt to want to remarry after a divorce. And romance? Forget about it. A survey from Consumer Intelligence found that only 15 percent of men don't do anything to celebrate Valentine's Day. They're also the ones who spend the most on flowers, candy, dinners out, and other ways to show their love.
When it comes to falling for someone, science shows that men have definite ways of picking a potential mate, use different senses, and use their brains to stay attracted to their SOs. Ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a guy in love? It's pretty fascinating stuff.
Men Fall In Love More Quickly
Women may be the ones who fall for the cute CEO or music teacher in the Hallmark Channel's endless lineup of romantic movies, but in the real world, it's the guys who succumb to romance first. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that, contrary to our beliefs, it's men who fall in love first and say "I love you" before women do. Why? London psychologist Neil Lamont told Broadly that our stereotypes about commitment-phobic men may be all wet: "[T]the reality is [that] a well-lived life for men will typically involve deep and meaningful, loving relationships." Study author Marissa Harrison added that evolution may determine how quickly we fall in love. Women have to be more cautious about picking a partner because their reproductive window is relatively short; men, on the other hand, can father children well into old age.
Straight Men Are Attracted To Happy Women
If you're happy and you know it, get the guy! A recent study published in the journal Emotion revealed an interesting finding about what attracts us to potential partners. Volunteers were shown images of men and women displaying either expressions of happiness, pride, or shame, then asked to rank the sexual attractiveness of each person. Men were most attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to women looking ashamed. (On the other hand, it seems that straight women are drawn to proud-looking men, and not so much to happy ones!)
They Like Physically Expressive People
Got your eye on that cute guy at the party? When you chat with him, be sure to fill up the space. Researchers at Stamford University found that pictures of people showing "postural expansiveness" — a wide stance, broad hand gestures — got the most positive responses from speed-daters. This gives an impression of dominance, which can be seen as an attractive quality in both men and women.
Men Use Their Eyes More Than Their Noses
When it comes to attraction, men are more likely to go for partners on the basis of looks rather than smell. Although both genders use cues such as vocal tone and smell when picking romantic partners, women appear to have a keener sense of smell and respond better to olfactory cues. (One well-reported study showed that women feel less stressed after smelling their partners' worn shirts.) Men are more visually oriented when it comes to attraction, South African sexologist Dr. Marlene Wasserman told the Sunday Times. Fun fact: straight men also look for women with a proportional waist-to-hip ratio, which signals fertility.
Playing Hard To Get Works... Sometimes
Do guys prefer aloof Elsas to approachable Annas? It depends. Researchers from Hong Kong asked male college students to participate in a study in which they went on a speed date with women who acted either hard-to-get or warm and positive. Some men were paired randomly with their dates, and others were allowed to choose their partners. When the dates were chosen for them, the guys reported that they found the "easy-to-get" women more desirable. But when the men were allowed to choose their dates, they found the ice queens more intriguing. In other words, playing hard-to-get only works if he's interested in you to begin with, explained Psychology Today.
Their Moms' Age Influences Them
When picking partners, men tend to be attracted to women around the same age as their moms. In one study published in Proceedings of Biological Science, men rating the attractiveness of women in photos tended to prefer younger women if their own moms were younger than 30 when they had children, and gave higher ratings to older women if they themselves were born to older moms.
Their Brains Keep Them Focused On You
If your sweetie is totally into you, a supermodel could move next door and it wouldn't have any effect. Scientists mapping the brains of men in committed hetero relationships found that the "happy" hormone oxytocin increased activity in the brain's reward system when the men looked at photos of their partners, but not so much when they looked at pictures of unfamiliar attractive people. Maybe that's how the phrase "I only have eyes for you" came to be?
They're More Romantic When They're Committed
Good news for us: Men who are in it for the long haul may be more likely to shower us with thoughtful gestures. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour asked both monogamous and non-monogamous men to look at romantic images. The committed guys "showed more reward-related neural activity" than the players, reported the researchers, indicating that men in solid relationships find more pleasure in romance. (How many days till Valentine's Day again?)
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