The most recent Singles in America survey, organised by dating site Match, found that men say they fall in love more often than women.
Match surveyed over 5,500 single people in the US (not just Match users); according to their results, men say they have fallen in love an average of 3.3 times, while women say they have fallen in love an average of 2.3 times.
In the past, scientists have studied gender differences in when and how people get starry-eyed and, interestingly, their research doesn’t exactly line up with the Match survey findings.
A 2010 study by Andrew Halperin and Martie Hazleton at the University of California, Los Angeles, for example, found no difference in “lifetime number of loves” between heterosexual men and women.
The UCLA researchers did find that men reported a higher number of “loves at first sight” and loves that were not reciprocated.
But when they controlled for sex drive, the UCLA researchers learned that men and women said they’d experienced love at first sight at about the same rates. That suggests, the researchers write, that “some men might be reporting some episodes of sheer sexual desire as ‘love at first sight’.”
Another study, published in 2011 by Marissa A. Harrison and Jennifer C. Shortfall at Pennsylvania State University, found that heterosexual men reported falling in love sooner than heterosexual women and that three times as many men as women were the first to say, “I love you” to their partners.
That finding seems to go against gender stereotypes: The majority of participants in the Pennsylvania State study said women would be more likely to say, “I love you” first.
At this point, it seems unclear whether and exactly how the process of falling in love differs for men and women. Taken together, though, these findings do suggest that the notion of women being more prone to fall in love is outdated — or, perhaps, was never true in the first place.
Regardless of what scientists have found, if you’re planning to say the “L” word to your partner this Valentine’s Day, try not to worry about gendered expectations around who should say it — or feel it — first.
Masking or feigning your emotions is probably one of the worst things you could do for your relationship.
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