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Men often the first to utter ‘I love you’

Updated: May 29, 2014 4:32PM

‘I love you.” Those three little words have the power to change your life and redirect the course of your destiny. Yet, for many couples, taking that bold step and confessing one’s feelings isn’t always easy.

Interestingly, a new study has found that when it comes to confessions of love, men often are the first to declare their feelings. Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t as quick as men to confess their love, despite their reputation for being emotionally-driven and relationship-oriented.

According to the study, which appears in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, two-thirds of couples report that male partners said “I love you” first.

However, although men say “I love you” first, researchers caution that their motivations for sharing their feelings are different than a woman’s motivations.

The study found that while men consider saying “I love you” a full six weeks before their partners, they are also more likely to enjoy hearing those words if they haven’t yet had sex. On the other hand, women are more likely to enjoy hearing “I love you” if sex already has occurred.

What accounts for this gender disparity?

It could come down to our differing biological cues. While men are programmed to spread their seed far and wide, women are programmed to select a fit and suitable mate.

For early humans, achieving and surviving a pregnancy wasn’t easy, and neither was caring for a young child while dealing with the dangers of wild. A woman with a newborn baby needed a partner to help provide and protect the child, and so it didn’t behoove her to have many partners. Instead, she chose only the fittest, most able mates who could be certain to help protect her and the newborn child. Men, on the other hand, didn’t have to worry about the dangers of pregnancy, so causal sex came with little to no risk.

Thousands of years later, these cues might still dictate our social behaviors. Some men might realize that professing their love will make a woman more likely to engage in sex with them, so they confess their emotions to illustrate their commitment and “seal the deal.” Meanwhile, women see sex as part of a bigger picture (i.e. a commitment to fidelity and monogamy), and this is why they crave those three little words after the act.

In other words, he offers intimacy because he wants sex, and she offers sex because she wants intimacy. Unfortunately, these differing expectations and needs can muddy the waters between couples. In the early days of dating, it can complicate relationships because women might use sex as a way to establish commitment, when in reality, all their partner might be looking for is a night of fun. Just because sex has occurred, it doesn’t mean that a commitment has been made, which is why it is so crucial to have that talk before you hit the bedroom.

These differing needs can complicate long-term relationships. Men often require sex to feel intimate with their partner, while women require just the opposite. When the sex isn’t there, he stops showing affection, which in turn makes her want to have less sex. It’s a vicious cycle and a good example of why it is so important for couples to communicate their needs.

And, it doesn’t matter which one of you said “I love you” first, just take some time today and tell your partner all over again!

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