A survey released by the dating Web site Chemistry.com reveals that men are more romantic than women. But you knew this already. During any long relationship men spend thousands of dollars on romance while women spend whatever it costs to purchase a new scented candle every six months. Men drive the romance because romance leads to two important things – having sex and not getting yelled at.
The two factors are equal in value. At the beginning of any relationship, sex is the prime motivator for men. As the relationship matures, sex takes a backseat to not getting yelled at. This is because getting yelled at also means not having sex, so the man is punished twice, like when he watches a chick flick starring Barbra Streisand.
The survey says men today are playing a bigger role as “romantic drivers,” a term that, unfortunately, has nothing to do with what happens between consenting adults in a moving car. Men, according to the Web site, are the ones who long to hear declarations of love and receive sentimental gifts. I know that sounds goofy, and you have every right to think “WTF?”, but this survey is backed by honest-to-God science. Chemistry.com actually employs a Chief Science Advisor. Her name is Dr. Helen Fisher. It is Fisher’s job to help single people hold the beaker of desire over the Bunsen burner of opportunity in order to boil the mysterious red liquid of romance (AKA bromine.)
I spoke with Fisher over the phone. She is a biological anthropologist who has published books on attraction. Time magazine called her “the queen mum of romance research.” I wanted to ask Fisher about the survey and what it says about men and women. But I also figured – when am I ever going to talk to the Chief Science Advisor for a dating Web site again? So I fired away with these very scientific questions about dating Web sites.
Me: As Chief Science Advisor, is it your opinion that global warming is to blame for the large number of men who are shirtless in their profile pics?
Fisher: (Laughing) No. Don’t forget we evolved from the grasslands of Africa millions of years ago. For millions of years, men were not wearing shirts. They are used to showing off their upper bodies. The way the upper body is sculpted is a very good indication of testosterone levels. Testosterone is more than just testosterone. People who are very high in testosterone also tend to be analytical, direct, decisive, tough-minded and good at math, computers, science, engineering and mechanics. If he’s got his shirt off, he’s advertising more than his pecs. He’s advertising some things about his personality, and a little bit of a “What, me worry?” thing.
Me: It is my experience that many women on dating Web sites are pictured holding apple martinis. As Chief Science Advisor, can you tell me if there is anything in the chemical composition of appletinis that makes the women who drink them terminally single and repulsive to men?
Fisher: (Laughs more; seems genuine) There is nothing in a martini drink that makes her repulsive to men unless she has five of them in her hand. Those people are directly advertising that they are big drinkers and they want a big drinker, too. They’re a party girl. ‘I’m fun. I’m exciting. I’m going to be good in bed.’ They are going to get what they asked for – a party boy. If that’s what they want, that’s fine. The geeks don’t want them. Intellectuals don’t want them. The emotionally sensitive don’t want them. The playboy will have five drinks with them and take them home. It’s a mistake, I think. They’re young.
Me: Some of the women I have met on dating Web sites did not look like their profile photos. As Chief Science Advisor, can you tell me if it is possible for a woman to age seven years and gain 25 pounds between the time she posts her profile picture and the moment we meet?
Fisher: (Laughs more; now she is just flirting with me) Men lie about two things and women lie about two things. Men lie about their height and how much money they are making. Women lie about their weight and their age. A woman will give you a picture that makes her look 25 pounds thinner and seven years younger.
Then Fisher confirmed what those of use who are good people know deep in our hearts, but will seldom admit.
“I hate to say this, but courtship is really not about honesty,” she said. “Courtship is about winning. No sensible peacock tries to make its tail look smaller. No good antelope makes it antlers look littler. Both men and women, when they go to court, try to exaggerate because they’re interested in winning. What they’re hoping is that their personality will be so charming that you will quickly get over the fact that they lied to you about their age and weight.”
And that right there is why so many people think dating Web sites are BS. The sites themselves are just the means people use to meet each other. It is the users who are full of it. We are the liars. But we blame the means by which we lie – the site.
Not that everyone in the world is a slippery character. There are a lot of good hearts out there, as evidenced by Fisher’s survey.
Turns out some 55 percent of men want to hear “I love you” on Valentine’s Day. That is compared to 45 percent of women. I do not doubt this. Valentine’s Day is a $17.6 billion holiday, and I will go out on a limb and guess that $17.599999 billion of that is spent by men.
Fisher said the survey results expose a popular misconception about American men.
“Americans don’t understand this. Men are just as romantic as women are,” she said. “When I saw that men are statistically much more likely to want to hear those words, ‘I love you,’ it actually didn’t surprise me. I looked at it and thought, ‘Oh, God, America needs to hear this.’ Men fall in love faster than women do. Men have more intimate conversations with their wives than women do with their husbands because they have fewer intimate, close male friends. Men are two-and-a-half times more likely to kill themselves when a relationship is over. Men are more likely to remarry. Men actually think sex is more intimate than women do. There is a lot of data out there that men are just as romantic as women. Americans are convinced that women are not as sexual as men and men are not as romantic as women are and they are incorrect on both.”
The survey also said that 39 percent of men want to see their dates in semi-dressy evening wear while 34 percent of women prefer their man in jeans and a nice shirt. We don’t need science to verify this claim. We have Mariah Carey. In a recent feature about entertainment mogul Nick Cannon, Entertainment Weekly revealed that Cannon’s wife Mariah Carey prefers the way her husband looks in jeans and a shirt compared to formal wear. Cannon, for his part, said that he prefers the way women look while gliding along the bottom of swimming pools, which is the main reason he married Carey. (This is probably not true.)
Fisher said that men are more visual than women and that appearances matter more to men. Hence the $21 billion women spend on cosmetics every year. “Women are interested in what’s in your wallet. They’re not as interested in what you’re wearing. As long as you are attractive and fit in with your surroundings they can go with the flow,” Fisher said.
In summary: Get comfortable with the fact that you’re the romantic one. Dress however you like – she does not care. And lie your ass off about how much money you make. She won’t call you out on it. She’s probably 57 years old.