Amber Madison traveled the country asking straight single men to fill out a questionnaire about sex, love, dating, and relationships. She learned that men are much less dickish than pop culture would have you believe — but many of them aren't above lying for sex.
Madison's research, written up in the new book Are All Guys Assholes?, isn't completely scientific. She made an effort to include men of different races, interests, and professions, but her sample wasn't randomly selected. And most of the men who filled out a questionnaire knew they'd be handing it over to a woman — even though they remain anonymous, this may have had some effect. Still, Madison talked to over 1,000 men in several cities, and her findings, while perhaps in need of further research, are certainly interesting. Below are five of the most illuminating.
Okay, bad news first. According to Madison's survey, 44% of men would "take a girl on a few dates, text her frequently, and fake an interest in her or her life (but not fake your willingness to have a relationship) just to get her in bed." Worse, 35% of the dudes Madison surveyed said they'd "lie about the degree of commitment they were willing to offer a girl in order to sleep with her." So, the stereotype that men will romance a lady just to fuck her is true for a significant percentage of guys. One caveat is that dudes turned out to have pretty broad definitions of lying. Writes Madison,
If they didn't explicitly tell a girl they didn't want a relationship, they felt they had lied about their relationship intentions. I also spoke with guys who didn't believe a girl would ever want to have sex outside of a relationship. These guys literally thought that when a girl they weren't exclusively dating slept with them — in any situation — it was because they had somehow made her think a relationship was possible. They couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that maybe sex was all she wanted too.
So some of their lies were those of omission, and some were the result of reductive ideas about women's sexuality. But those probably didn't account for the whole 35%. If nothing else, though, this finding may make Madison's other, more encouraging conclusions more believable — if guys were just trying to look good for her benefit, they would have pretended they never lied.
In Madison's survey, 73% of guys reported that "their primary interest in women is someone to have a relationship with." Another 18% were mainly looking for "companionship or short-term dating." Just 8%, meanwhile, were primarily looking for sex. And nearly all the men Madison talked to — 99.2%, that is — said they'd "want to be in a relationship if the right girl came along."
Most men also hoped their relationships would eventually lead to marriage. Ninety-five percent said they'd like to get married someday, and the average age by which they'd like to do so was 32.5. Of course, none of this means that individual men won't be commitment-phobic in individual situations — but at least in Madison's sample, the idea that men are all looking to delay marriage as long as possible seems not to be true.
Madison asked men rank the importance of various traits in a girlfriend on a scale from 1 to 5. Sixty percent of guys gave humor a 5 (very important), and 54% scored "being nice/caring" a 5 as well. But only 30% assigned a 5 to looks. And on average, men ranked humor, intelligence, and niceness ahead of physical appearance.
Men also cared about personality in dating scenarios. When asked what turned them off most on a date, the highest percentage — 35% — cited "best personality/attitude," which encompassed "bragging, being materialistic, having no sense of humor, and being dumb" among other problems. The next most common turnoff, at 20%, was "bad conversation" — women talking too much, too little, or about "superficial things like the weather, money, shopping, social drama, or ‘things of no substance.'" Writes Madison,
What are the dating faux pas that suck guys into that black hole, never to be heard from again? I'll give you a hint: It's not that you weren't cute enough, didn't give him an over-the-pants hand job, or weren't wearing your "sexy jeans." The reasons guys gave for losing a girl's number after a date weren't very different from the reasons we might lose a guy's.
Dating books frequently advise women to act cool and aloof, forcing men to fight for their attention. But according to Madison's research, this is pretty pointless. Fifty percent of the men she talked to said "a girl asking them out was a turn-on." Forty-five percent were neutral, and only 5% were against it. And when it came to contact with a girl they were already dating, the numbers were even more striking. Sixty-seven percent said they liked being contacted by girls between dates, via text or phone, while 20% said they liked it, but would prefer that texts outnumber phone calls. Just 2% said they'd rather be the ones to initiate contact. Madison notes that men are turned off by constant texting (just as most women would be), but she explains,
A guy who likes you want to hear from you; you don't have to worry about "bothering" him or looking stalker-ish. Crazy, I know, but guys actually have feelings for girls they date and are excited, yes, just to talk to them.
There's a cultural expectation that the man in a straight relationship is supposed to say "I love you" first, just like he's supposed to do everything first, from initiating the first date to proposing. But as it turns out, men aren't particularly comfortable with this. When Madison asked them why they'd hold back on saying "I love you," even if they'd been dating someone a while and had strong feelings, the most common answer (at 34%) was "I'm scared to tell her/want her to say it first." One guy explained, "The girl should always say it first so I'm not in the awkward position of waiting for her to say back," while another said, "I always let her say it first because I am a pussy." Especially if they've been reading ladymags or dating books, women may think that saying "I love you" first is a surefire way to scare a man off. But, says Madison,
If you've been with a guy for a while and it's starting to get serious, don't worry if he's not dropping L-bombs. There's a good chance he's waiting on you to say it first. So if you're ready to take the relationship there, here's your green light to do it.
In general, Madison found that men are people, think of women as people, and appreciate being treated like people — with consideration, honesty, and a little confidence. None of this will be shocking to most men, who have long known that they are actually human beings. But when a big chunk of the dating-advice industry is devoted to convincing women that men are in fact giant penises, any evidence that they might have thoughts and feelings is pretty groundbreaking. Again, Madison's findings don't meet the highest of scientific standards — but they're more scientific than most of the "men are from Mars" bullshit out there, and a lot more useful.
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