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USAT: Men, women flip the script in gender expectation


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Men, women flip the script in gender expectation

A new portrait of single Americans, drawn from a major new survey, suggests the attitudes and behaviors of today's singles are quite unlike their counterparts just a few decades ago.

Findings show men are more interested in love, marriage and children than their peers in earlier times; women want more independence in their relationships than their mothers did; and hooking up and one-night stands aren't necessarily meaningless sexual encounters.

The researchers say the nationally representative survey of more than 5,000 men and women is the largest and most comprehensive study of single adults to date. And it reveals a sea change in gender expectations.

"Men are now expressing some traditionally female attitudes, while women are adopting some of those long attributed to men," says biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who helped develop the survey with social historian Stephanie Coontz and Justin Garcia, a doctoral fellow with the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at Binghamton (N.Y.) University.

"For me, as a historian, it's just amazing confirmation about what has changed in the last 40 years," says Coontz, professor of history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

The online survey of singles ages 21 and older was conducted by market research firm MarketTools for the Dallas-based dating website Match.com. Fisher, a research professor at Rutgers University, is a scientific adviser for a division of Match.com.

Data show men are quicker to fall in love and more likely than women to want children: 54% of men say they have experienced love at first sight, compared with 44% of women; among singles without children under 18, more men (24%) than women (15%) say they want children.

And, across every age group, women want more independence than men in their relationships: 77% of women say having their personal space is "very important," vs. 58% for men; 78% of women say the same about having their own interests and hobbies (vs. 64% for men). And 35% of women (vs. 23% of men) say regular nights out with the guys/girls are important.

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I think part of this is just a backlass against history and previous demands. I think a guy can feel free to be committed to a person or settle down without feeling like he is trapped by the rules of his father. I know many women my age (30) who are very active in trying to shed the 'old rules'. Some of this can be seen in their taking pride in the fact that they cant cook or sew, or that they dont like having a 'steady' boyfriend. My guys and I are all in positions where we can do whatever we want without feeling like we are buckling to historical gender roles. I got married pretty early, and didnt feel that i was being pressed by history, but my wife did have a bit of that struggle. I have really enjoyed learning how to cook, but my wife always sees a future of her mother cooking every meal for the family each time she has to make dinner two nights in a row.

For many of my femail friends, i think the shedding of traditional gender roles has swung to the idea that they have to activley reject the traditional roles in order to not be bound to them. Many of these friends seem to have a tough time enjoying things that are traditional femal roles without feeling trapped. Them, on the other hand, my guy friends and I feel the freedom to do/enjoy whatever we want.

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