02.20.2008  BY EM & LO

Just when we thought we were going to have to shoot ourselves if we read one more article indulging in the caveman mystique and characterizing men and women as two completely alien species when it comes to sex and relationships, we read Redbook's "11 Don't-Tell-the-Wife" Secrets All Men Keep" on WebMD--and then we locked and loaded our finger guns. By our count, at least 7 of the 11 "secrets" could apply to women--having fantasies about the hot mail-carrier and enjoying a hobby to get some time away from your spouse are not gender-specific phenomena--and most of the rest are just tired stereotypes or cheap shots: "We're terrified that you'll become your mother." Release the safety.

But then right before we were about to pull our thumb triggers, we read about this glorious study on the mating motivations of teenage boys, summarized in a New York Times blog:
The boys were asked their reasons for dating and were allowed to mark more than one answer. Notably, being physically attracted to someone wasn't the primary motivation they gave for dating. More than 80 percent of the boys noted 'I really liked the person.' Physical attraction and wanting to get to know someone better were the second most popular answers.
Among the boys who had been sexually active, physical desire and wanting to know what sex feels like were among the top three reasons they pursued sex. However, the boys were equally likely to say they pursued sex because they loved their partner. Interestingly, only 14 percent said they sought sex because they wanted to lose their virginity, and 9 percent did so to fit in with friends.
We'd say it was a miracle if we hadn't always believed, deep down, that men aren't the one-track-minded jerks the media (or they themselves) usually portray them as. But then it got even better when we read another study, this one on the discrepancy between what people say they want in a mate and what they actually choose, covered in a Newsweek interview with the researchers:
We all live in a culture where we're bathed in this idea that women are more interested in earning potential than men are. So when we're asked what is it we desire, we say, I'm a man; I'm more interested in beauty. That's what's sensible to them in the absence of doing a careful analysis of everyone they've ever been attracted to....It's not that looks don't matter, or earning potential doesn't matter, or personality doesn't matter. It's that they matter equally strongly for men and women. Looks are most important, personality is second and earning potential is third--at least in the first month of dating.
Evo psych takes two bullet wounds to the gut and we can holster our index fingers for another day.

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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

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