For centuries Americans and people just about everywhere else, have believed a lot of things about women that we now realize aren’t true. Among them, the credos that a woman’s place is in the home and that aging single women—long called spinsters—are sad misfits. Decades of marches, articles, books, law suits and national, regional and local discussions have finally uprooted these and many more wrong beliefs about women. This national survey furthers that cause. Indeed, it shows that women seek more independence in a partnership than men do.
But I have long wanted to bust myriad myths about the other half of the human race–men. Single in America does it in spades. This national survey clearly shows that men are just as eager to marry as women are; 33% of both sexes want to say “I do.” Moreover, men in every age group are more eager than women to have children. Even young men. Among those between ages 21 and 34, 51% of men want kids, while 46% of women yearn for young. Men are less picky too. Fewer men say it is important to find a partner of their own ethnic background (20% of men vs 29% of women said this is a “must have” or “very important”); and fewer say they want someone of their own religion (17% of men vs 28% of women said this is a “must have” or “very important”). Men are also more likely to have experienced love at first sight, as well as open to introducing a date to their parents sooner.
Perhaps most impressive: In a committed relationship, men are less likely to say they need personal space (58% vs 77% of women); less likely to want nights out with friends (23% vs 35% of women); less eager to own their own bank account (47% vs 66% of women); and less likely to want to take a vacation on their own (8% vs 12%). Remarkably, men under age 45 are also more willing than older men and women to enter a committed relationship with someone who has everything they were looking for in a partner, but whom they do not find sexually attractive. And just as many men under 35 believe you can stay married to the same person forever (84%).
I study the brain in love. My colleagues and I have put over 60 men and women ages 18-57 into a brain scanner to study the brain circuitry of romantic passion. We found no gender differences. This Single in America study supports what I have long suspected: that men are just as eager to find a partner, fall in love, commit long term and raise a family. It’s an illuminating, indeed myth-shattering, new set of scientific data. And the sooner we embrace these findings, and fling off our outmoded and unproductive beliefs about both sexes, the faster we will find—and keep–the love we want.
About Dr. Helen Fisher
Dr. Helen Fisher is an internationally renowned biological anthropologist and one of the world’s leading experts in the science of human attraction. In addition to serving as the scientific advisor for both Chemistry.com and Match.com, Dr. Fisher has authored many articles in scientific journals and published five books including Why Him? Why Her? (Henry Holt and Company; 2009). As a research professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, she focuses on the role of biology in human sex, love, and marriage.
For more information on our “Single in America” study:
- “Everything You Think You Know About Singles is Wrong” by Match.com
- “Aren’t You Glad You Weren’t Single Fifty Years Ago?” by Professor Stephanie Coontz
- “Why Monogamy Matters” by Dr. Justin R. Garcia
- “Can Love Last?” by Dr. Bianca Acevedo
- “What does the Match.com 2011 Survey tell us about Singles and Money?” by Dr. Jonathan Rich