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Men Want Commitment as Much as Women: Study
By Amy Norton NEW YORK (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 life."

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 testosterone.

"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.