They are the three little words at the heart of every serious relationship. And for years, there has been a perception that women, rather than men, are almost always the first to confess ‘I Love You’. But it turns out that it’s men who not only fall in love earlier but are also more likely to declare they are smitten sooner than their female lover. Researchers in the US found three times as many men as women were the first to utter the words ‘I love you’ in a relationship. This was despite the fact that most people polled by researchers thought it was women who were the hopeless romantics and that men almost always kept their emotions hidden.
Previous studies have found that not only are women more expressive about how they feel but that they are expected, by both sexes, to be ones who fall in love first. The reality, according to the findings by psychologist Marissa Harrison, from Pennsylvania State University in the U.S., is that women are actually more circumspect than men when it comes to romance. Professor Harrison interviewed 172 college students on whether they had ever been in love and, if so, whether it had taken days, weeks or months to realise they were infatuated with their partner. They were then asked how far into a relationship they got before they openly declared their emotions.
The results, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, showed men were more likely to fall in love within a few weeks, while most women said it took several months. Men were also more inclined to tell their partner they loved them much sooner in the relationship. In a report on the findings Professor Harrison said, “Men reported falling in love sooner and three times as many men as women said ‘I love you’ first to their partners.” This suggests that women tend to be more pragmatic about love than society tends to believe, perhaps not always rushing fool-heartedly into a relationship. Perhaps women are perceived as less rational about love because they have a greater capacity for processing emotional experiences.