Jane Want Relationship, Tarzan Want Sex.
April 26, 2001 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Jane Want Relationship, Tarzan Want Sex. A study seems to confirm what women have long suspected -- women seek security in relationships, while men stick around for the sex.

The study says that in most species, monogomy is the top choice when fertility is hidden. Wonder if they took into account the Pill? ;)
posted by jennak (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'm not sure you actually need scientists to write a paper like that. You can just take a look at Maxim, FHM, Loaded and those other guy magazines and come to the same conclusion...
and jennak, no, I don't think they took the Pill into account -- I mean, if you ever find any facts that go against your neat little theory, just ignore them. Or you'll lose your teaching job
posted by matteo at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2001

Here's the link to the New Scientist article itself.
posted by briank at 1:43 PM on April 26, 2001

You know, I don't buy this hypothesis at all. I know way too many men (a vast majority of the single ones, in fact) who are dying to find a long-term relationship and are completely the marrying-settle-down kind, and way too many women (ditto) who are sexual mercenaries, who treat their bodies as god's gift to men and run screaming at the first whiff of commitment.

I really don't mean to be inflammatory, and I know that this problem has always been around in various forms since time immemorial, but this is one of those stereotypes that bugs me to no end. I know too many women from Mars and men from Venus to put any stock in these things, and thanks to the Cosmos and FHMs of this world that encourage ignorance between genders, there's less understanding about how other people think and are than even ten years ago (when I first entered the dating pool).

Articles like this just seem to polarize and alienate a lot of people about whom I care deeply.

Okay. End of rant.
posted by chicobangs at 1:50 PM on April 26, 2001 [1 favorite]

"Attention, recruits!" shouted the sergeant. "I will now explain the only real difference between men and women to you in terms that even your hormone-addled brains can understand!" As a classroom full of Army recruits looked on, he turned to the blackboard and wrote six words.



"Any questions!"
posted by kindall at 2:15 PM on April 26, 2001

chicobangs: Did you read the article? It suggests clearly that men desire monogamous relationships because, given that we can't know when any given woman is fertile, there's not much reason to have sex with someone else if you can get it more easily from your mate. They proved it, using math!

Men and women are both from Earth, where we evolved to behave in the very different and confusing ways we do. Those marrying-settling-down men you know want a woman more than they want a family; those sexually mercenary women you know want men more than they want sex. And, at some possibly unconscious level, the men want women with whom to have sex, and the women want men with whom to have families.

(Obviously, I'm generalizing from my own broad acquaintance and experience, here...)

An interesting experiment suggests itself. I recall reading of research that suggested that men are measurably more attracted to women who are in estrus - something about odor? Whatever the signal is, if the NIE study is right about hidden estrus being an advantage to a women in keeping a man monogamous, then maybe women in relationships can mask or mute the signal? That would be measurable, and dispositive.
posted by nicwolff at 3:13 PM on April 26, 2001

Alright, nicwolff, I might have shot my mouth off a bit more than the article merited, but I just don't see that the going-halfway line that the article is where I (with my, I repeat, limited experience) would draw it.

I don't actually have an alternative, so I can't argue the point so much, except maybe personally (maybe).

But the estrus-odor thing sounds like it holds some water. I see that making its way into the perfume/cologne market very soon. The ability for both genders to be able to give that effective a come-hither or go-yonder pheromone would help things immeasurably.

(I still say that the math, especially in a field like this, can prove whatever you want it to prove. I don't disagree with your synopsis, but that wasn't the way I first read the piece.)
posted by chicobangs at 3:30 PM on April 26, 2001

nicwolff, did you read the article? what they proved using math was that when fertility is hidden, the chances for fathering offspring are greater, not their chances for sex (though that may be true, too).

as the article says, females are not necessarily monogamous. chances are men stick around, not for sex, but to protect their biological investment - if they are around one female all the time, there is less chance that she will father offspring with another male.

hidden fertility combined with female non-monogamy also benefits the survival chances of the offspring because it puts paternity of the offspring into question. the males of many species have been known to kill infants they know are not theirs, but if their is a chance they are the father, they will leave the infant alone.

none of this really backs the claim that females want family and security, while males want guaranteed sex. instead it seems like both males and females primarily want control over reproduction.
posted by ira at 4:07 PM on April 26, 2001

Just to prove the exception to every rule or theory, my Mum was my Dad's first girlfriend and they mated for life. At the risk of sounding like a romantic or fool, perhaps there is something to the rumour that if you meet someone, and they're the right person, and everything fits together, there really isn't any reason not to spend the rest of your life with them.
posted by feelinglistless at 4:20 PM on April 26, 2001

and why is that an exception? really?

its a plausible theory, and you can spin Any situation into it and get what you want. I'm inbetween relationships, and ended up falling asleep next to a big crush of mine last night. Even being late for work was worth waking up comfortably curled up together--even though nothing even remotely sexual occured.

So, am i a hopeless romantic to like That more than having slept-slept with her? Or does my genetic make-up prod my brain into realizing that a nice level of romance and comfort and compatibility is the best way for me to have guaranteed sex--long term-- and possible offspring?
posted by th3ph17 at 5:01 PM on April 26, 2001

He was born a fool for love, what he wouldn't do for love, he's a fool, a fool for love. She was six and he was seven, used to send him off to heaven when she said "you are my sunshine"
posted by holloway at 6:12 PM on April 26, 2001

holloway in the house,
posted by th3ph17 at 6:31 PM on April 26, 2001

The initial link is the usual hacked-together obscurant Reuters garble. (No offense, Jennak, but I have to call them like I see them.)

The actual New Scientist article isn't a whole lot better.

"[M]en only stay with women for sex."

"[M]ales don't waste time on mates that won't get pregnant."

These two statements simply don't equate. The actual conclusion that the "mathematical model" might support is that "[M]en only stay with women to breed."

In contemporary usage, "breeding" and "sex" are not synonymous, and anyone writing for a contemporary publication should be aware that shell-gaming one for the other changes the meaning.

"Women only stay with men for security."

Here's a statement which both the New Scientist article and the Reuters page feature prominently, yet neither provides even a shred of backup or support.

Here's the abstract for the actual article, in Animal Behavior. (If you want all 181 K of the full article, you have to pay $35. Should we take up a
PayPal collection for the benefit of the thread?) No mention there of the conclusion that "women stay with men for security," either.

One thing that's clear, though, is that the article is predominantly about how female sexuality may have evolved. The scientists here suggest that "female sexual behaviour can have a significant impact on social behaviour" (duh) but all they conclude from this is that this may have affected behaviors in our evolutionary past.

As we all know, how (and whether) our evolutionary backgrounds influence our contemporary behavior is hotly contested, and this study contributes precisely zip to the argument. The suggestion that this study reveals something about why men or women stay in relationships seems to me to be a complete distortion. It informs us about how New Scientist and Reuters like to see the world more than anything else.
posted by jbushnell at 7:14 PM on April 26, 2001 [1 favorite]

I don`t think this is so much about men and women as it is about male and female. The New Scientist article starts with things observed about other types of animals and a computer simulation of animals that (I`m guessing) have no differentiation or dimorphism or predators or prey or any of the other things that a real life animal might have to worry about.

Then they take their findings from this data and say "hey, humans may be like this," or more precisely "This stuff may explain the multimillion-year evolutionary track that lead to the general tendencies we see today."

The article doesn`t say "Men want sex. Women want commitment. Any apparent deviations from this pattern are indicative of the weakness of your powers of observation. Thank you for your cooperation."

As an aside, there are a couple of interesting book that related to this subject.
posted by chiheisen at 12:30 AM on April 27, 2001 [1 favorite]

I prefer a scientific journal like this one
posted by owillis at 12:40 AM on April 27, 2001

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