Joel Wade, PhD, a Bucknell University researcher who previously studied how men and women fight (and kiss and makeup) differently, focused on how men and women react to relationship situations in a new study. In a survey of just under 100 individuals, the majority of them in their early twenties, Wade asked both men and women which scenario they found most upsetting: Finding out a partner’s feelings weren’t as strong as their own, or finding out their partner didn’t see them as sexually attractive as they saw their partner. Both sexes felt that a partner whose love wasn’t equal to their own was worse than unequal sexual attraction.
Dr. Wade was intersted to find that in this study, published in the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, men and women were on the same page when valuing the various types of attraction. Emotional commitment and sex both play a role in a relationship’s success—but Dr. Wade didn’t expect commitment to trump sex for both genders, he explained to Reader’s Digest. “It’s surprising that men and women don’t differ on this opinion.”
Wade does note, however, that cross-cultural research on this topic is needed in addition to analyzing older men and women’s views on these two scenarios. “The takeaway, which is surprising, is that individuals want to know that their level of love for, or emotional commitment to, a partner is reciprocated, and that reciprocated love is more important than reciprocated sexual attraction,” he says.