Myth #5: Women are more romantic than men.

Truth: Studies show that it’s actually men—not women—who have more romanticized beliefs about love and relationships.

This myth is always shocking to both men and women. Research reveals that men, hands down, hold more idealized views of love and relationships.

Consider these statements. Do you think they’re true?

• True love can overcome any obstacle.
• True love can strike at any time.
• Love at first sight really does happen.
• It’s easy to fall in love.
• There is one person (a soul mate) who will inspire true love for us.

Two leading relationship researchers, Elaine Hatfield and Susan Sprecher, were interested in whether ideas about love and romance differed between men and women. They were surprised to find that
men, rather than women, were more likely to agree with the statements I listed above. Men are also more likely than women to think that if you can just love someone enough, nothing else matters. They also tend to believe that love should be more passionate. Keep in mind, these are all romanticized views and beliefs about love itself—these views have nothing to do with a specific person or relationship. Many men idealize how love should be, even though these beliefs don’t match up with the love they express in their own relationships.

Did You Know?
People who are more romantic tend to experience more love, satisfaction, and commitment in their relationships. However, how romantic a person is does not predict which relationships will last
and which ones will fizzle.

So how can you use this information? We all have different beliefs about romantic love that guide much of our behavior, especially within our relationships, and just being aware of these differences can help you when you are dating. I’ll give you an example that I hear all the time in my practice and with my students.

Alicia recently met a guy who seems head over heels for her. By the second or third date, he’s swooning, confessing his love, texting several times a day, and asking if she wants to get together. It’s not like he is stalking or harassing her, but he seems to have fallen madly in love with her, almost at first sight, and it’s just too much, too soon for Alicia. Alicia tells her girlfriends, “I’m thinking about calling it off with this guy. I really like him, but he seems too needy. It feels unbalanced.” What’s happening here? Alicia and her date have very different beliefs about romance and love: in this case, Alicia’s date believes it’s easy to fall in love, and Alicia thinks it’s not. Alicia is making assumptions about her date based on her own romantic beliefs. Once she realizes this—and once she realizes where her date is coming from—she can relax and let things unfold, telling her date gently that he needs to take it a bit more slowly. And if he won’t slow down even after a talk? Then it is time to break ties with this guy.

The next time you’re in a dating situation, think about your romantic beliefs and how they might impact your first impressions and your own behaviors. Are your expectations too high? Or are you
jumping to conclusions?

Added perspective can really help you see yourself and the other person in a different—and possibly more empathetic—light.

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