Men are more interested in Valentine’s Day than women. That’s according to a new poll from The Inner Circle dating app, which surveyed members in both New York and London – two of the most notoriously hardened-hearted cities – and found that more than half of men thought you should celebrate the day, regardless of whether you’re in a short or long-term relationship. What’s more, men spend double the amount on gifts than women do, with 70% believing it’s more romantic to date on February 14th than any other day of the year.
But is it breaking news? Think about it. Even our fairytales give us a clue to men’s romantic inclinations. After all, it was Prince Charming that launched a mass shoe-fits-foot hunt upon meeting Cinderella – she’d merely been desperate to escape poverty and eternal housework. And it’s backed up by social science. When researchers have measured who’s more of a sucker for grand passions and grander ideals, men have come out wallowing. This is according to something called the ‘romantic beliefs scale’, which assesses to what extent a person agrees with statements including “If I love someone, I know I can make the relationship work, despite any obstacles,” and, “The person I love will make a perfect romantic partner; he/she will be completely accepting, loving, and understanding.”
What’s more, there might just be an evolutionary scientific reason for why men are biologically inclined to greater romance. Scientists theorise that romanticism is a symptom of having easier mate choice, with the fact women have to worry about whether someone is able to provide for them an inhibiting factor when it comes to loving with wild abandon. And while it’s not a hypothesis to which the entire academic community subscribes, it’s certainly one theory which helps counter the notion that women are the over-idealistic ones.
Now I would definitely consider myself a romantic – from dressing up as someone’s dream harajuku girl to living and loving long-distance between two continents (and racking up credit card debt to fund it), I’ve certainly but the efforts in to constructing love’s young dream. But then I’m a sex and relationships journalist with a penchant for melodrama.
In fact, I’ve also been lucky enough to know men for whom no amorous travail would be too far. From borrowing me a pet when I missed my family cat and needed something to cuddle, to painting my portrait (very, over-flatteringly, I might add), I’ve definitely been the recipient of many a male-confected gesture.
And then there’s my current partner. Not content with nursing me back to health after anaphylactic shock on our fifth dinner date (side note: it was at a naked restaurant), last Valentine’s he turned his bedroom into a private disco for us, complete with DJ set and glitter ball, and this year was meant to be working on the other side of the globe but changed his ticket at the last minute for a February 14th return date. I, however, have been scrambling around for a last-minute present and am wondering how I’m going to get all the cleaning done in time before he makes it home.
To be frank, it’s never occurred to me that men are any less interested in romance than women. We’ve finally begun to discount the idea that men are inevitably more interested than women in anything that stirs the loins – so why would it be any different when it comes to gestures that swell the heart? It seems they merely pretend not to be interested when in the company of other men for fear of coming across as something less than manly. Which is a shame because it seems that men have so much power to positively influence one another when they so choose – and that’s for bad or for good, as we’ve seen with the men that have stuck their head about the parapet recently, denouncing harassment.
Setting aside The Notebook for a second, there’s plenty of deeper cultural evidence to demonstrate just what romantic thinkers and doers men can be. From the works of Shakespeare to the construction of the Taj Mahal, culture may be embroidered with the sighs and woes of many a lovestruck maiden, but it’s also bursting with the tales of pining guys. At the Inner Circle where I moonlight as a dating coach, it’s the men that come forward desperate for advice on how to woo the girl whose profile they can’t stop visiting, not the women.
So this Valentine’s Day, maybe it’s time to give men a break – and simultaneously expect more from them. Let’s celebrate men celebrating romance. We can accidentally on purpose lose a shoe or two if it helps.