Study Suggests Women and Men Have More in Common When It Comes To Choosing a Partner


It turns out that men and women may have a lot more in common than we thought – even when it comes to picking someone to settle down with. In fact, reports on recent findings from Northwestern University, where they conducted research through a series of speed dating events.

“When women were assigned to the traditionally male role of approaching potential romantic partners, they were not any pickier than men in choosing that special someone to date, according to the speed dating study. That finding, of course, is contrary to well established evolutionary explanations about mate selection. An abundance of such research suggests that women are influenced by higher reproductive costs (bearing and raising children) than men and thus are much choosier when it comes to love interests.”

“Deviating from standard speed-dating experiments – and from the typical conventions at professional speed-dating events – women in the study were required to go from man to man during their four-minute speed dates half the time, rather than always staying put. In most speed-dating events, the women stay in one place as the men circulate.”

“Regardless of gender, those who rotated experienced greater romantic desire for their partners, compared to those who sat throughout the event. The rotators, compared to the sitters, tended to have a greater interest in seeing their speed-dating partners again.”

There are so many questions that come up. Do you think that speed dating offers scientific opportunities for studying romantic attraction in action? Do you think that in an ever-changing society, women’s and men’s roles in the pursuit of romance are becoming more alike? Please share your thoughts and questions with the rest of us.

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  1. 31
    Curly Girl

    [email protected]: LOL!!! Yes, you are right. Well, I did warn you that I was on my high horse. 🙂

    And here is the correction and how it fits into my argument: 1) in mid-19th C. Darwin posited that all species of life change in response to their environment; 2) in mid-19th C. Mendel, using pea plants, showed that traits are inherited according to certain laws, which we now call “genetics”; 3) in the 20th c. modern geneticists have put the two together to show that a) certain genetic mutations benefit an organism and give it a better chance at survival, promoting natural selection, strongly supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution, and b) DNA can change in response to its environment, in some organisms in as short a time period as an hour (which is why viruses are so problematic–their DNA changes very rapidly).

    So again–why would male DNA (male “wiring”) be stuck in some hunter-gatherer time warp when the rest of the world (for the most part) has moved on?

  2. 32

    @ CG

    You make some very good points. I’ve always thought that this theory about male hunter hardwiring is just an excuse for a lot of bad behavior in modern western society. What about certain indigenous societies in Africa and Asia, which could at least be termed “matrifocal” if not downright matriarchal? If men are hardwired since cave man days to be dominant, why are the men in these cultures subjugated by women?

  3. 33

    FWIW, PMS is mostly a myth that was created by the medical community to replace “hysteria,” which was removed from the DSM in 1952 (the same year the term PMS was phrased).

    Are cramps, irritability and food cravings real? Yes. Do they generally interfere with your life because you’ve become an unthinking slave to their irrefutable sway? No. Women choose to eat buckets of chocolate, snap at their SOs, and then say, “I can’t help it, I have PMS.”

    Honey´s last blog post…Get Fit and Improve Your Dating Prospects

  4. 34
    Curly Girl

    [email protected]: I know, it’s hysterical! The stuff that is supposedly “hardwired” into the male is always that everyday sexual stuff that is reprehensible to women–like ogling, cheating, sex without commitment, chasing tail, demanding obeisance, etc. You never hear that “hardwiring” argument in defense of other “traditional” male behaviors like paying the bills, taking out the trash, cleaning the gutters (stuff guys don’t want to do for the so-called “weaker” sex)–or, on a darker note–things like torture and rape and war (stuff guys do but that “good” guys don’t want to be associated with). No, it’s always this stupid, passive-aggressive b.s. It’s like someone wrote an article in Maxim or GQ and every guy who read it said, “Yeah–that’s what I’ll tell her. I just can’t help myself! It’s my WIRING!” And all those guys who read that article spread the word. Even though we see men going on hunger strike and denying their physical impulse to eat, we see men being tortured as prisoners of war and not revealing state secrets; we see men going through the intense pain of chemotherapy so that they can fight cancer; we have Ghandi who slept in the same bed as his 13-year-old niece to wrestle with his inappropriate sexual impulses–and STILL we have guys checking out the chippy on the street while on a date with YOU and pretending that it’s OK because “men are just WIRED that way.”

    Toasters are wired. YOU are making a choice to engage in bad behavior.

  5. 35

    I’m not a fan of the “wiring” argument, as I’ve expressed before–mostly because it’s so vague. C.G., you posit that this expression refers to DNA, but there is so much beyond DNA that goes into human behavior. I’m not a credentialed behaviorist, but really, behaviorism is quite complex and takes into account so much more than genetics. (As I mentioned before, in the book “The Brain That Changes Itself,” the author explains that the sexual pleasure centers in the brain are very malleable and easily reprogrammed neurologically–or re-“wired,” so to speak.) So men’s comments about “wiring” could be speaking about social conditioning, or some kind of neurological mapping, or something besides DNA, though men don’t seem to use the expression that way. No one is really very articulate about it, actually.

    I always think that when a guy is talking about his “wiring” as being the reason for certain behaviors/predelictions that what he is saying is that he is having a physical impulse that he has no control over or fears he has no control over. And yes, it usually seems to be an excuse for bad behavior, as Cilla points out. What men don’t realize is that women don’t want the excuse OR the behavior–and we don’t want to be cast as your jailers or your mothers, monitoring behavior that you claim you have no control over. So to many women that phrase becomes something of a showdown–it says, “You have to accept this thing that you don’t like, this thing that threatens you.” Followed by “every guy is this way–if you don’t like it, are threatened by it, there is something wrong with YOU.” Even though, clearly, not every man responds sexually in the same way, so part of this argument is defensive in intent (there’s safety in numbers, so to speak). Even men on this board who are very quick to accuse women of bias and generalizations and prejudice are very quick to speak on behalf of all men when it comes to sexual response. 🙂

    But this question is about ways that men and women are alike. Here’s one: both men and women get aroused in equal measure by watching porn. I wish I had the study to link you to–but the upshot is that surface skin sensors attached to viewers of a porn movie show equal states of arousal. On leaving the screening, however, more women deny that arousal. Were they less aware of it than men (after all, girl boners are less obvious, shall we say) or were they afraid to admit their arousal? Neither interpretation is comforting.

    What is comforting about this: men want women, and women want men–in bed, at least!

    Hmm…now let me go get my guy… all this writing is setting off a sweet little longing in me…..

  6. 36
    Curly Girl

    Honey, you are so right!!!

    Lesson: We all need to take responsibility for our hormones!

  7. 37

    @ Steve – I did my dissertation partly on this topic, so I’m pretty confident in my opinion, as it’s pretty scientifically informed.

    What your friends are suffering from is NOT PMS as it was originally conceived of, and promoted by, the medical community. Interestingly, while PMS is described with practically an infinity of symptoms, every medical description I have seen also states that PMS does not interfere with ordinary life. If it does, it’s not PMS. The “new” PMDD, perhaps.
    .-= Honey´s last blog ..Good News Follows Good News: Or, LinkedIn Works!? =-.

  8. 38

    @ Curly Girl #33

    I LOVE your closing thought! Made my day!

  9. 39

    @Honey, comment #34

    I have to call BS on your opinion. You personally may not have a problem with PMS. I have at least 3 close friends who spend at least one weekend a month locked in their rooms, curled up on their beds waiting for it to go away.

    Yes, they can cowboy up if they need to go out and do something, but it is no small effort.

  10. 40
    Mikko Kemppe

    @ Honey, I would sincerely like to know more about how do you view hunter-gatherer societies based on the work you have done with the anthropologists.

    I agree with many of the women here that I don’t think men should ever use the “hard-wiring” argument to justify bad behavior or mistakes made.

    I think this is what makes it so hard to try to discuss our differences in a more positive light. We men have have a history of using our differences, whether it is racial, religious, or gender, to justify horrendous acts of violence or discrimination.

    So no wonder when we try to talk about our differences we often come across as arrogant or total jerks. But I think it is important that we learn to explore our differences with the positive intention to try to learn to respect and understand our differences.

    Brain scans, for example, clearly demonstrate that our brains are different. Under a similar emotionally stressful situation, 8 times more blood flow enters in to the limbic system in woman’s brain than man’s . Women have much more connective tissue between the different parts of the brain than men do. Women see more colors than men. Men have on average 30 times more testosterone in their blood than women. Under stress, when measured by cortisol levels, man’s cortisol levels drop (lowering man’s stress levels) when the production of testosterone is stimulated (these are behaviors like watching TV, lifting weights, playing basketball, sleeping, etc.). However, woman’s cortisol levels don’t drop when the production of testosterone is stimulated. Woman’s cortisol levels drop when the production of oxytocin is stimulated lowering woman’s stress levels (these are behaviors like holding a baby, hugging, talking with a good friend, etc.). So the argument, I think that many of us men are trying to make is that our biology and brains are different.

    This does not mean that one sex is better than the other. But it does mean that if in our relationships and while dating we want to assist each other in producing the hormones and brain chemicals that are most beneficial for us as men and women, it is good to be aware of these differences.

  11. 41

    Mikko, I kneel and bow to you..

  12. 42
    Mikko Kemppe

    Hahahaaa :). Thanks Hunter!
    .-= Mikko Kemppe´s last blog ..I am smart, independent, successful, and educated, why aren’t men attracted to me? Read the answer here, and discover the solution. =-.

  13. 43

    I agree with the brain scan comment.

    Don’t forget, men change after 50 years old, our testosterone level decreases, men are no longer as aggressive.

    1. 43.1
      Mikko Kemppe

      Now that is very true also, especially in the western world due to our toxic lifestyle. However, in some parts of the world like in some the isolated tribes of Pakistan, China, and Ecuador, men’s testosterone levels have been shown to continue to be high well in their 80’s and 90’s.
      .-= Mikko Kemppe´s last blog ..Mikko, How Do I Make Sure I Don’t Just End Up Dumped After Sexless Dates? =-.

  14. 44

    …ahhh, yes, lets not forget, statistics of isolated tribal males in other parts of the world…the women from this blog may want to go there some day….

  15. 45

    @ dadshouse:
    Interesting you should mention attending a speed dating event in Silicon Valley. I’m going to my first one soon (in Silicon Valley) mainly out of curiosity. I’m hardly frumpy or dumpy, but no bombshell either. I realize there’s not much time to take in anything much besides looks and the potential for “chemistry”. I’m just now starting to process how badly the cards are stacked against me (woman, 40, divorced, no kids) since most men my age or slightly younger seem to be looking for late 20s or early-mid 30s women, and I must say, it doesn’t exactly encourage me to get “out there.”

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