Are men really only after sex? Commercials, ads, sitcoms, reality shows and popular magazines certainly tell us so. There are guys in beer commercials ogling babes. Characters in sitcoms who thrive on double entendre jokes showing they are always on the prowl to score. Steamy hot tub scenes and couples rushing into the bedroom on singles-themed reality shows. Even guys who cheat on the "Bachelorette." Newspapers and popular magazines feature male politicians or celebrities who are cheating on long-suffering wives right on their covers. Tiger Woods being the latest and not the greatest.
Are men shallow creatures who are ready to jump at the chance of escaping commitment, looking to cop a feel, or more from any woman they meet?
No, no and no! Sand, Fisher, Rosen & Julia Heiman, Director of the Kinsey Institute, say we should pay attention and ask men, rather than presume we know. And they did just that. The researchers conducted an eight country random survey of 27,839 men ages 20-75 (Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2008, vol.5, 583-594). Using a tool (pun intended) called the Mens' Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) the authors found that men's perceptions of masculinity and quality of life differed markedly from the stereotypes above. Interestingly enough, the study also compared men with and without erectile dysfunction. Amazingly, there were no significant differences between those two groups on the MALES items.
So what is most important to men if it's not a great sex life? Drum roll, please!
Across all countries, being seen as a "man of honor" was the single highest ideal in the masculinity section of the study --far more important than "being physically attractive," "having success with women," or "having an active sex life." Together with "being in control of your own life" these two attributes accounted for about 60% of the responses.
The MALES findings are in agreement with what I have found in over 25 years of clinical practice and discuss in the paperback version of Love in 90 Days. I've included a new chapter called Dating Games Men Play in which I detail 16 different problematic male relationship patterns. Despite fears of being vulnerable, of being loved and loving, most men want to be honorable rather than be cads. Only three of the 16 types are rated unworkable for lasting love.
For example, a small percentage of men are caught in what I call the Player Deadly Dating Pattern. These are often the "hot bad boys" who can be enormously infatuating to women because of their smooth romantic alpha behavior. But under that seductive bravado they are usually insecure, have low self esteem and a "me-first mentality." These are the men who value conquest over being connected and honorable. For these reasons, the Player can pose a great deal of difficulty for women who want a lasting love relationship. In Part II of this article we will examine other juicy nuggets in this landmark study as well as some of my other clinical findings with single men.