Ted Mosby from the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” is probably the perfect hopeless romantic.
Ted is fictional, of course, but a group of men created the show, which follows the male character’s years-long quest to find true love. We see Ted’s hopeless romantic side in the very first episode — he steals a blue French horn as a gift for a girl he just met, and tells her that he’s in love with her on their very first date.
A lot of real-world data, however, backs up the idea men are more like Ted than most people might assume. It comes down to basic biology and evolutionary development, according to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher.
“Men are more romantic,” Fisher said during an episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio. “They fall in love faster because they’re so visual. They fall in love more regularly. They want more public displays of affection.”
It’s clear that men’s disproportionately better vision plays a huge role in their romantic tendencies. And that visual strength comes from testosterone. Hormones like testosterone evolved millions of years ago to get males and females operating in a certain way to help them survive. Men were the hunters so they needed more visual prowess, Fisher said.
Research involving transgender people also shows when someone transitions from a woman into a man while taking testosterone, they become more visually attuned, Fisher said. Their visual skills improve and they’re more aroused by visual stimuli.
So it makes sense when surveys show that men are much more likely than women to report falling in love at first sight. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology also found men are more likely to be the first ones to say “I love you” in a relationship, and to feel more happiness when hearing those words for the first time in a new relationship.
A romantic mindset and falling in love at first sight doesn’t make evolutionary sense for women, Fisher said. When humans were first evolving, women had to invest a lot more time and energy into raising children. Falling in love quickly would make it more likely they’d end up with a sub-par mate or miss a better mating opportunity, then waste time raising kids that wouldn’t survive to pass on their genes, she added.
In short, women are biologically and evolutionarily programmed to be choosier than men when it comes to relationships. It’s much less risky for men to jump right in.
Today that translates into men falling in love faster and more often than women. And that’s probably why the show is called “How I Met Your Mother,” not “How I Met Your Father.”
You can listen to the full StarTalk Radio below. The romance discussion starts around the 40-minute mark:
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