Do men and women have equal "relationship drive?"

There are many people who insist that women, contrary to popular belief, have just as strong a sex drive as men.

That had me thinking: Do men and women have equal “relationship drive?” (that is, desire for romantic companionship with the opposite gender?)

I know this is hard to parse because many people get in relationships with “getting laid” being a significant motive. But consider the following factors:
(1) Women have more of a biological clock to deal with than men;
(2) Women typically have more of an emotional-support network among themselves than men do;
(3) It’s more common for men to initiate (i.e., ask someone out on a date) than women;
(4) Most romance novels and movies are made for a female audience;
(5) There’s usually more social pressure on women to get married than men;
(6) On the Internet, you may be more likely to read about men complaining about their lack of a girlfriend than women complaining about their lack of a boyfriend;
(7) Women often recover from a breakup more easily than men.

What do you think?

ISTR statistics that show (at least in the U.S.) that men are more likely than women to marry again after being divorced or widowed, that men who are divorced or widowed have a higher suicide rate and a higher overall death rate than women.

If that’s true, it suggests that men need relationships more than women.

I don’t know that this necessarily speaks to your question, but women initiate many more divorces than men do. I would interpret this as reflecting a greater dissatisfaction rate in relationships.

On a related note, supposedly lesbian marriages break up more often than gay male ones.

I voted equal, but I meant equally likely. I think it’s much more individualistic and not gender-driven. Some folks are okay being alone, some are driven to be coupled up.

There’s also a huge age-related bias in all this. What motivates 20-somethings is very different than what motivates 40-somethings or 60-somethings.

It’s often said that men marry for companionship, while women marry for support. “Support” was once heavily economic. But nowadays in the West “support” should be thought of more as emotional support than simply a meal ticket.

It’s clear that men and women are collectively driven by different innate and socially determined needs. And that individuals of both flavors are all over the map in what they value and why they value it.

My vote would be that there *might *be some overall net bias one way or the other. But it will be small, and meaningless in the sense that you can’t make a useful prediction from it. It’s the sum of a vast number of competing causes none of which can be pointed to as “the reason” for the difference.

I’d go so far as to suggest that as between the factors of sex, age, social class, religion, country/society of origin, birth order, etc., that sex is one of the more minor variables. We’ll find stronger correlations in some of the others.
A bit like a racist who sees all social phenomena through a racial lens and with race as *the *defining social characteristic, the OP’s question assumes sex (i.e. gender, not intercourse) is *the *defining social characteristic of tendency towards relationships. IMO it isn’t.

I was going to say that men have a stronger relationship drive, but then I remembered that social loners are more likely to be male. So I don’t know.

I agree with LSLGuy. The variables are just too great to generalize an answer. Age, financial situation, and health all significantly influence a person’s motivation to want a relationship. Over the course of my own life, I’ve swung from one end of the relationship-seeking pendulum to the other.

This is how I feel. I’ve scared a couple of women off because I was being too romantic. At least that’s the way I saw it. I’m sure they just saw me as being too clingy. Then there are other women who fell absolutely in love with me while I felt apathetic. So of course THAT didn’t work out.

Now I’ve found a woman that gushes when I write her poetry and loves my romantic side. So I guess we’re both at a perfect balance.

It really is just a numbers game.

IMO it depends largely on where you are in life. Women have a larger incentive to initiate a committed relationship if they are oriented toward having children, or prospectively will find themselves in a scenario where they will need to rely on someone for emotional and financial support (beyond what their earning capacity offers.)

I think one of the largest drivers for a woman to decide to marry or exclusively couple is seeing her same age peers making that decision. If all your friends are marrying and having kids and being wives and mommies etc (and assuming it’s not terrible for them) being in with the in crowd and not being left out is a big incentive.

I’m one of the guys who thinks most men aren’t all that fired up to have kids. They’ll go along, but most are ambivalent. And FWIW, every time I trot out this opinion I’m derided for it; folks insist that simply isn’t true.

Anyhow, with that full disclosure of my viewpoint, I don’t think the part I quoted above is all the unique to women.

In and shortly after finishing their schooling the single guys all hang out together, go drinkin’ and chasin’ every Friday night, softball or hunting or fishing or … on Saturday, etc. Then one by one their pals get paired off, then married. And pretty soon the just-us-dudes club is down to one or two members.

Who in turn become pretty interested in settling down too so they can join the recently growing club of husbands doing husband social stuff and later dads doing dad social stuff.

I don’t know if it is true in general or not but I know that it isn’t true for me. I love being a father but I hated being a husband (slave in my view) so the whole marriage fell apart after the kids were born because there was no need for it anymore as long as we could work out a suitable arrangement. Most of my true male friends are like that too. They either don’t like their wives very much or already got divorced but all of them remain devoted fathers and some have full custody because they fought for it and won.

My view is a little more cynical. I truly believe very few men like being married at all but they are afraid of the consequences if they decide to get out. That isn’t a unwarranted fear either. You run the risk of serious financial consequences including your home, shared friends, influence on your children’s lives and the standard half your stuff.

Women completely control most relationships and have fewer obvious penalties for terminating them for whatever reason they feel like. This doesn’t always work out well for them in the long-term but they don’t have the same mental list of things that they will lose instantly if their performance review doesn’t go well. In fact, they don’t even have a performance review even in the metaphorical sense. All they have to do is not do something obviously terrible and most men are complacent enough to stick around out of sheer inertia and the fear of the penalties given above.

I believe you are correct when you say that there are many factors involved but I also think there are some strong paradoxical trends as well. Women tend to seek out relationships for their own sake but they are also more likely to constantly re-evaluate and abandon them when they aren’t getting the benefits that they expect. Men don’t care about relationships themselves nearly as much but they are more likely to stick with what they have once they are in one for fear of losing much more.

Concisely written. I agree with much of it.

Sometimes it takes more than half a lifetime to find someone you truly like. And most importantly, continue to like, after years of being together. I am divorced from the father of my kids because after 17 years of marriage we both changed in ways that became incompatible for the other.

I don’t have the personal experience of an unhappy marriage, but I have thousands of hours of sitting locked in a broom closet or nursing a beer while conversing with guys who have.

And what you (@Shagnasty) say is certainly the consensus view. Whether they’re still married to the problem or not. Most have gone to great lengths to keep their relationship with their kids going despite the inherent obstacles of our occupation.

Your conclusion rings particularly true: “Women tend to seek out relationships for their own sake but they are also more likely to constantly re-evaluate and abandon them when they aren’t getting the benefits that they expect. Men don’t care about relationships themselves nearly as much but they are more likely to stick with what they have once they are in one for fear of losing much more.”

“My other friends are all married” ranks right up there with pregnancy as one of the many Really Bad Reasons To Get Married. :rolleyes:

Taking social direction from the actions of admired, or at least respected, same age peers who seem to have successful lives and relationships is fundamental to a lot of human social behavior. An individual’s choice to get married may be a bad one in a specific circumstance, but you would have to be oblivious not to assign it some weight as part of the decision a making process. Sometimes things are happening because it’s time for them to happen. Cleaning up your act and getting into a committed relationship because that’s what your friends are doing is a normal part of maturing.

I think for a significant number of people intent/drive do not predict outcome. My best friend has been single for about 20 years, and I’m pretty sure he has wanted at least a steady girlfriend (and made attempts to do so) during all of that time. When I went 3-4 years between relationships, I would have liked having another relationship sooner.

I’m talking about people who do not love, or sometimes even really like, each other, or are massively incompatible, getting married for this reason.

But they might not be loners by choice.

But a lot of them are.

Not so sure about that. I’m a single male nerd, with dozens of peers. I don’t know any who were single by choice. Many are in dire straits over the lack of romantic relationships, as the years go by.