Popular opinion states that men and women differ so much that they might very well come from different planets. And while we wouldn’t really agree with such extreme stance (there is more difference between individuals than between men and women as groups, as research shows), it is true that men, in general, tend to act differently in relationships than women. Whether it is the biology, the evolution itself, or it is the psychosocial factors, the culture and its influence on a developing mind in childhood, the results is that men still present the ones that are expected to be strong, tough, composed and rational. But how this transfers to romantic relationships of modern men, what is a myth and what is the fact? The following paragraphs will try to outline this complex issue.
Women are more emotional and romantic
Let us begin with the first deeply held popular conviction, and that is that in relationships, women are the ones who are more emotional and more romantic. Although it may come as a shock to many, women are actually more practical when it comes to love than men. Men, in fact, tend to be more romantic, they foster the belief in love at first sight, they are convinced that they would find a way for the relationship to work if they truly love someone, and they state that there is nothing they wouldn’t do for someone they love. Compared to women, who are more pragmatic in this area regardless of what everyone might think, men more often believe in truly loving only one person in a lifetime (which doesn’t exclude dating many other, but this special feeling is more commonly reserved for that one woman in a man’s life).
Men seek the same things as women
Apart from being, in fact, more romantic than women, men tend to seek pretty much the same things from their love partner as women do. Men, same as women, search for a kind and intelligent person, with an exciting personality. While it is true that men do rate physical appearance as more important than women, studies have shown that, in practice, such gender difference disappears. Men and women choose their future partners based on physical attractiveness equally. It is possible that men are just more vocal (or honest) about how important the looks are. So, men do feel attracted by physical characteristics of a woman, but equally so do women. And men, same as women, search for a person with a set of psychological characteristics that they would find appealing when they want to date her and develop a romantic relationship with her.
Men, in fact, are more romantic than women
Now, we learned that men are more romantic and less superficial than usually considered. So, when they enter a relationship, how do they behave? It is a general belief that men tend to be more withdrawn and more inaccessible, especially when a conflict arises. This is somewhat true, and the cause of such state of affairs is partly in the cultural influence that dictates how men ought to behave, and partly in the dynamics of the relationship itself. More precisely, the way in which the partners communicate and interact is what will determine how the men behave, and the same goes for the woman. In other words, both men and women might find themselves in the position of a demander or the one who withdraws when facing a demand. Yet, the modern Western culture is arranged in such manner that men usually find themselves in the position of the stronger and more reserved partner who is often flooded with demands for emotional closeness, for example. And when one partner demands that certain needs are met or that affection is expressed in such and such way, and does it more and more intensively, the other partner will inevitably begin to withdraw. And women are usually the ones demanding certain things, as they are the less strong halves of the relationship, while men then tend to be the ones who withdraw and seem aloof. When the roles change, as in an experiment by Klinetob and Smith (1996), men show the same behavior as women usually do in real-life situations and vice versa. This difference expands on any conflict men and women have in their relationship, and men then come off as distant, detached, and unemotional. But it is not so. They are just put into that role and have no choice but to play it.
Men in relationships don’t really differ that much from women; surely not as much as any individual person differs from the other. They seek someone who will respect, love, and cherish them. What a man in a relationship needs is someone who will inspire and support him, and who will be there by his side through good times and the bad.