What does it mean to be a man these days? With gender roles and traditional norms continually being challenged, it is a divisive question to answer. Thankfully, new research by University College London (UCL) released a study about what the modern man really cares about, and the results may surprise you while proving the topic is more orthodox than one might expect.
For starters, the component that makes the modern man happiest is — get this — marriage. That’s according to 56 percent of the sample, which then ranked both love (what’s marriage without love?) and children as what makes them feel the most satisfied. You might find this result suspect, as millennials have reportedly “killed marriage” (as well as home ownership, cereal, J. Crew, diamonds and so on. However, these headlines aren’t exactly wrong about these metaphoric homicides; Pew data reveals more people than ever don’t want to get married. Researchers attribute the trend to both limited income millennials regarding marriage as sort of an archaic formality in today’s society.
So, back to these guys who believe in the sanctimony of marriage. The study surveyed 2,000 British men and assigned their answers on a “positive mindset score” between zero and five. Turns out, men in relationships scored higher on the scale with an average of 3.6 and singles resided toward the bottom at 3.2. Married men scored even higher than those in long-term relationships, giving credence to the sanctity of marriage and its dwindling belief system.
The research, commissioned by grooming company Harry’s, dispels another common misconception: not all men are obsessed with hooking with the help of Tinder, and are looking for long-term or monogamous relationships. The research found that when men enter romantic relationships, they hope to get married. They are not, in fact, just looking for regular sex, as so many are led to believe.
Similarly, nine in ten men classified romance as “important” or “very important,” something less than 80 percent of men assigned those to their careers. Likewise, romance scored higher on the scale than personal growth.
This isn’t the first study to dispel the societal belief that men are scum when it comes to romantic relationships. Research conducted by Dr. Gwendolyn Seidman went as far as to suggest that men are more romantic than women when examining men and women on a popular measure of romanticism known as the Romantic Beliefs Scale. When tasked to answer sappy questions on love and romance, men outscored women by a considerable amount. For instance, 48 percent of men claim to have fallen in love at first sight compared to only 28 percent of women.
These results are good news, guys. For the better half of the decade, it appears men have made some serious strides in the romance department. Research published in 2010 revealed men struggled with chivalry and romantic behavior. In the study, commissioned by chocolatier Lindt Lindor, women lamented they’d prefer a passionate love letter (or poem!) over a text about compliments on their appearance.
Because the suggestions offered in the study are admittedly scarce, Playboy spoke to Dr. Kat, sex and relationship therapist and resident sexpert at Adam & Eve to offer some additional insight on how men can be more romantic with their partners.
If you live together, offering to chip in with daily responsibilities will get you somewhat far. If you don’t live together and she has a ton of things on her plate, ask her how you can help. “Reduce your stress as a couple and for her,” she begins. “Daily stresses such as chores and child care can add up quickly sapping the romance out of even the best of relationships. Share or hire some chores out.”
REGULAR DATE NIGHTS
Dr. Kat explains that investing time and attention into your partner’s sexual and nonsexual interests will help, too. So try to schedule a regular date night that caters to her interests now and then, be it a new restaurant, wine-tasting, cooking class, whatever. “These small efforts can show her you care and help build goodwill in your relationship. This can mean more romance and more sex for you,” she describes.
If money is tight, offer a massage that gives you both permission to touch one another in new ways. Touch releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, helping her feel closer to you and more romantic.
SEX HELPS, TOO
You know what else releases oxytocin? Sex. In that vein, Dr. Kat suggests you experiment with sex toys, working your way from beginner up. “Research shows that the more she masturbates, the more confidence she’ll have in herself to feel romantic,” she adds.
If nothing else, the U.K. study proves that while the definition of love and commitment might seem blurred beyond comprehension, men — no matter their age, race or sexuality — still value the tradition of marriage and finding true love. No matter how much our gender roles have evolved, some of our core desires (you know, to not die alone) remain the same.