Men. Women. Dating.

It’s all so simple…and all so complicated. Or is it?

According to Carolyn Bradshaw and her colleagues from James Madison University in Virginia, “Analysis of the relative benefits and costs associated with dating and hooking up suggest that women benefit more from dating while men benefit more from hooking up.”

That may be news to the Ivy League set; however, the regular Joe is familiar with the phrase, “Why pay for the cow, when you can get the milk for free!” And, I believe women have their own version about pigs and bacon.

But this isn’t about pitting men against women.

According to the study, men and women often have different expectations from a relationship. Men tend to value their sense of independence and believe a one night stand, “no strings attached” arrangement is the way to maintain it. Women, on the other hand, prefer to date with the prospect of a committed, long term relationship. Even when they engage in one night stands.

It seems no matter how advanced we think we have become as a human race, it all goes back to our basic instincts: men like to go out and hunt; women like to stay in the cave and do everything else….even if that means doing it in stilettos and a business suit!

Now, before you begin to think all men are Neanderthals, remember the purpose of hunting was about survival of the clan. So let’s look closer at the experiment.

Bradshaw’s experiment exposed college students to a variety of dating situations and then analyzed the results to determine what motivated men and women to hook up or to date.

Overall, both genders preferred traditional dating over hookups; however, the female group was less inclined to prefer the more casual “hook-up” over committed dating.

However, both males and females in this experiment did agree on one thing.

When they were with someone who they saw the possibility of a long term relationship, they preferred dating in the traditional sense. It was when the future prospects with that person were less clear they preferred a more casual arrangement.

The study also revealed no matter what the initial intentions of the dating style, both genders considered the perceived benefits and costs of both the casual and committed relationship before getting involved in any of them.

In other words they ask themselves which offers the biggest reward with the least amount of risk?

Sometimes the hunter-style wins: track, chase, devour for immediate survival, and then move on.

Sometimes the fisher-style wins: put your lines in the water with the right bait and lure the desired object towards you.

Sometimes the farmer-style wins: plant seeds, nurture, water, provide shelter and sunshine, and allow solid roots to grow, year after year.

Sometimes…people evolve, moving from hunter to farmer.

What’s your dating style? Are you a hunter? A fisher? Or a farmer?



Photo credit:

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.