Men Want Commitment as Much as Women: Study
By Amy Norton
(Reuters Health) - New research suggests that not only are men not
afraid of commitment, but they may want it just as much as women do.
In what researchers say contradicts the
evolutionary idea that women naturally seek a single, long-term mate
while men prefer to play to the field, the study found that both sexes
typically want a lasting, monogamous relationship.
Investigators found that nearly all the
college men and women they studied said they eventually wanted to
"settle down" with a monogamous partner, ideally in the next 5 years.
Moreover, there were no significant differences in the number of
partners men and women wanted over a lifetime.
This stands in contrast with the
so-called sexual strategies theory, which holds that men generally seek
more short-term sex partners than women do. This is, in part, because at
the fundamental level, men need to invest far less time in the parenting
effort--in contrast to women, who go through pregnancy, labor and
nursing. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense for men to seek out many
more partners than women do.
But this latest study suggests that while
"one-night stands" have probably occurred throughout human history, they
may not have had much effect on the evolution of mating strategies for
men or women, the authors note.
"Our data suggest that men and women seek
to date for a while and then ideally would like to find a long-term
mate," study co-author Lynn C. Miller told Reuters Health.
She and her colleagues at the University
of Southern California in Los Angeles report the findings in the March
issue of Psychological Science.
According to the researchers, their
findings differ from some past research because of the study methods
they used. They point to one study, in particular, that found that on
average, men wanted 16 sexual partners over the next 30 years, while
women wanted four. The problem, Miller and her colleagues explain, is
that using averages can distort the true study results. For instance, if
just a small minority of men wanted dozens of partners, this could skew
the "average" for men overall.
In this study, the investigators asked
266 undergraduates how many sex partners they would ideally like to have
over the short- and long-term. Similar to past research, they found that
men wanted significantly more short- and long-term partners than women
did, on average. But a closer look showed the "average" was not typical.
For example, men wanted an average of
about 10 partners over their lives. However, three quarters of them
actually reported a lower number. Similarly, women wanted an average of
about four partners, but 70% wanted fewer than that. In fact, both men
and women commonly said they wanted one partner over the next 30 years.
In a second group of 346 college
students, about 99% of both men and women said they wanted to have a
committed relationship at some point--typically in the next 5 years. And
although men tended to want more sex partners than women did before
settling down, the difference was not significant, the report indicates.
These findings, Miller said, suggest that
"men and women are more similar than different."
This, the researchers note, stands in
contrast to the sexual strategies theory that men, for any given time
period, will desire more partners than women do.
Instead, Miller said, "there was a
widespread desire for both men and women to find that special
mate--perhaps a 'soul mate'--with whom to spend a large portion of one's
Hormones in Semen Shown to Make
Women Feel Good
LONDON (Reuters) - Hormones in semen
may help to ease female depression because women whose partners don't use
condoms are less likely to feel down. Scientists at the State University of
New York suspect the mood-altering hormones are absorbed through the vagina
and make women feel good but they stressed that their results are not an
excuse for unprotected sex.
"I want to make it clear that we are
not advocating that people abstain from using condoms," Gordon Gallup, who
led the study, told New Scientist magazine on Wednesday. "Clearly an
unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease would more than offset
any advantageous psychological effects of semen," he added.
The researchers assessed the moods of
300 female students using a standard questionnaire. A score of more than 17
was considered moderately depressed. Women whose partners never used condoms
scored about eight on the test while those who never had sex without condoms
scored 11.3. Women who weren't having sex at all scored about 13.5.
Depression in the students who sometimes or never used condoms was more
severe the longer they went without sex.
The scientists said they looked at
other factors, such as the use of oral contraceptives, frequency of sex and
personality type, but found that none could account for the findings. The
magazine said the results are not a complete surprise because scientists
know that semen contains several mood-altering hormones including
"Some of these have been detected in a
woman's blood within hours of exposure to semen," the magazine said. The
scientists suspect semen will have the same effect on women regardless of
how they are exposed to it.