Tuesday, April 05, 2005

On Gender Differences in Love

So, in order for you to understand my rant, I'm going to have to give you a brief psychology lesson here. You may be surprised by what you read here as it isn't necessarily common knowledge and is, in fact, counterintuitive.

So, as we all know, girls and guys tend to self-segregate when it comes to peer groups, particularly at a young age. This is one of the most profound psychological findings on child interactions. The main hypothesized reason for this, is that girls and guys have different interactions styles and different styles of influencing others. All in all, males tend to perform more dominance establishing interactions, such as physical and verbal aggression. Girls genereally find this to be distasteful and so don't really enjoy this sort of interaction. This results in the self-segregation described earlier

Because guys tend to interact predominantly with other guys, they really only get practice in this dominant style of interaction. Girls meanwhile are learning how to try to maintain relationships with each other and solving conflicts in a bit more of a tactful way.

Now here is the interesting bit that you want to pay attention to. At some point, as most of us hopefully know by this time, guys and girls begin to interact and have relationships and such. Guys start interacting with girls, and their more amicable means of interaction makes them be like "Oh shit, this is pretty sweet. I like having someone be nice to me instead of exerting their dominance over me all the time, plus, it's so much easier to exert my dominance over her" (We are of course speaking in general terms of interactions here, I am no way saying that women are submissive. Women certainly have other more covert means of getting their way. It is just psychological fact that women rarely use overt means of coercion or dominance exertion.) Meanwhile, women go the opposite direction, suddenly their interacting with individuals who are used to exerting their domiance and using generally aggressive tactics of interaction, the exact reasons they withdrew from interacting with guys in the first place.

The result of this is that guys initially fall in love faster than women do. Shocking eh? Bet you thought that girls fell in love faster, yeah I did too. I thought the me tending to fall for girls faster than they fall for me was just some sort of function of who I was as opposed to a function of my gender. Interesting to find that I'm normal. Well, at least in regards to this subject.

That's all established theory based on empiracal research.

Now, here's the part where people who know all the other stuff already might be interested. Well, I'm actually more interested in hearing a response to my thoughts here. I would wonder about guys who tend to hang out with mostly girls, or girls who hang out with mostly guys. Would the result of such interaction be that girls who hang out with guys would tend to fall in love much faster and that guys who hang out with girls would tend to fall in love much slower? This seems to be the logical conclusion that can be drawn. If girls are being socialized in the male pattern of behavior, they should experience the male consequences and vice versa. Taking this a step further into a possibly controversial realm, what about stereotypical homosexuals? Do gay men who exhibit generally effeminate characteristics fall in love less quickly then men in general? or gay men who do not exhibit generally effeminate characteristics? Do gay women who exhibit generally mas.....You get where I'm going with that question, same thing as with gay men but flipped.

I find this all to be very intriguing and I may have to look into some of this stuff further. Love is probably one of the most intriguing psychological phenomena to tackle, particularly because it's such a daunting task with such a dynamic existence. Neuroscientists claim that love is an effect of chemical interactions in the brain, but that's why neuroscientists are such miserable people...that and the fact that they have to memorize all those chemicals and what all the parts of the brain do ***shudder***

Your eyes shine like oceans and I'm swimming inside - Welbilt

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

*deep breath*

I'm not sure if girls can be completely socialized in the male pattern of behavior. While hangning out with men and adopting some of the interaction styles, I think that they are still reinforced generally according to female stanards (especially by mothers). I think that it is more a realization that that type of interaction will get the right results in that atmosphere, so I'm not sure what kind of consequences that would have for their tendency to fall in love (perhaps none).

That said, from the homosexual men I've known, I've found many to follow the typical male pattern of falling quickly and hard. However, there are so many other factors in that case (e.g. the smaller availability of potential partners). Same with homosexual females.

Furthermore, this "gender socialization" is not the only possible explanation for they differences in "quickness" of falling in love. There is also the evolutionary theory of females just being more selective. If males fall quicker, they are more likely to stay with the female and not run off to sow their wild oats, so to say. Also, men might also just be likely settle for the first good thing to come along and let that mar their perspective of other females. Perhaps it's even related to Dweck's theory, in that men might be more likely to have an entity theory of their attractiveness (so if they got something good, they are not sure if they can get something better, so they give up?) where as females, with make-up and all might be more likely to believe they can improve their attractiveness to males (work out, change their hair, etc). Or females might just be less likely to settle in general.

An interesting comparison would be (sic!) to compare the "quickness of falling in love" with perceptions of attractiveness. (if you do this study I get credit for the idea!!!) ha!