We’re at the back end of what is known as the media ‘silly season’, but there still seems to be some life yet in the dying embers. Hot on the heels of this week’s revelations that bacon, sausages – and all the other foods that for three decades and more have been blamed for causing the Western World’s obesity and diabetes crises – are actually not so bad for you at all, comes a widely-covered story today reporting the finding of an American university research study which has discovered that de facto men suffer far greater pain from the break-up of a relationship than women.
Apparently 5,705 men and women across 96 countries took part in the study conducted by researchers at Binghampton University in New York State. Research associate Craig Morris told reporters that it all boils down to biology – women have more to lose by dating the wrong person and therefore are better at accepting a relationship is over and moving on to select a new partner: “Put simply, women have evolved to invest far more in a relationship than a man. A brief encounter could lead to nine months’ worth of pregnancy, whilst a man may have ‘left the scene’ literally minutes after the encounter”.
The outcome is that women in the survey acknowledged suffering greater emotional investment and pain when a relationship ended than the men did. However, their need to choose a ‘good’ mate also makes women very selective about whom they date. It also means they are adept at enlisting the support of their friends to pull through, ‘get over’ the failed relationship and move on to choose someone else.
In contrast men are more competitive in their approach. As a result, the pain they feel at loss of a female that they regarded as a ‘good catch’ can be felt very deeply and for much longer, even years, as it sinks in that they must now begin competing all over again to replace what they have lost … or worse, still, perhaps come to the realisation that it is irreplaceable.
Further, because women have more to lose by choosing the wrong partner, they are also far more likely than men to pull the plug upon an unsatisfactory relationship – hence the fact that 70% of divorces in the United States are filed by women.
I’ve been thinking about these findings for several hours now and am somewhat confused, but perhaps not appreciably more so than normal when trying to understand the complex nature of relationships between the sexes.
There’s something fundamentally true and reassuring in the proposition sometimes broadcast that – ultimately, in this day and age – the woman does the choosing.
I ‘get’ the concept that the female tends to be looking for the perfect mate to provide her with the strong, healthy genes that will result in her offspring having a greater chance of surviving to adulthood and thereby passing on hers to future generations.
In this situation – say take the nightclub scenario – the girls are surveying the male ‘talent’ that arrives, looking for ‘the right one to mate with’. The males, like peacocks, parade around looking for females who seem to be receptive to the potential of a coupling, hoping to get lucky, i.e. be chosen for one. That’s why you’ll find, and indeed most of us back in the day tried it as a standard plan of campaign, so many males milling about, deploying the cheesiest of chat-up lines.
I can remember my younger brother detailing his own strategy at university thus:
“I used to be completely straightforward about it. Grab a girl, get out on the dance floor – and, about three minutes in (to be heard amidst the din of the thumping music) used to below in her ear a query as to whether she’d like to come back to my place for sex. About 80% of the time the target would turn on her heel and walk away, either without a word, or after slapping me and/or giving me a piece of her mind for being such an arse. However, the remaining 20% of the time, they’d either stick around (presumably to see how things developed from there) or else grab their handbag, take my arm and join me upon a stroll to the exit. I used to reckon that a hit-rate of 2 in every 10 was good enough for me …”
You could call this the ‘Queen Bee’ syndrome, I suppose. The female makes the choice and the male worker bees (I think the bee world has male worker bees) mill around, hoping and waiting for the chance to ‘do the deed’.
Obviously – writing as someone who’s been the object of female worship for most of my adult life – there are the occasional downsides to being identified as an Alpha male in the ‘potential mate’ stakes. Yes, you get plenty of opportunities and approaches, but the trouble with being a sex symbol is that you’re never quite sure whether the women are after you because of your mind and personality, or just because you look hot.
It won’t perhaps surprise you that I’d far rather be appreciated and lusted after for my mind than my body. My mind is generally fixated upon being fed, drinking alcohol, watching sport and enjoying a wide variety of experimental sexual practices.
If only I could find a lady who was of a similar disposition.