Do Men Really Want It - Attachment, That Is? the Jury's Still out on How Much Men Want Love

By Gwen Florio Knight-Ridder Newspapers | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 19, 1994 | Go to article overview

Do Men Really Want It - Attachment, That Is? the Jury's Still out on How Much Men Want Love


Gwen Florio Knight-Ridder Newspapers, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


OK, all you single women out there; you cynical, jaded, illusions-faded babes; you been-there, done-that, heard-that-line, fell-for-it-anyway, how-could-I-have-been-so-stupid, men-are-the-scum-of-the-earth types.

It's going to be all right.

Guys are coming around.

They say they don't just want sex anymore. They want an emotional attachment.

Get real, you say. You want proof.

Well, the proof that women seek can be found in a couple of new surveys.

One, a recent University of Chicago study hailed as the most comprehensive of its kind since the Kinsey studies in the late 1940s and early 1950s, showed that married people have the most sex. Another, lighter study by Mark Clements Research of New York, compared Americans' attitudes on sex to those a decade ago. Both surveys covered things such as the age at which people first have sex and how many people they've slept with.

But, amid all the juicy stuff was a warm, fuzzy and oh-so-hopeful detail. Namely, this:

For women, sex without intimacy is barely worth doing at all. Eighty-six percent of women interviewed for the Mark Clements study said they wanted "emotional attachment" - to use the survey's term - when they slept with someone. That percentage is unchanged from 1984.

But men! Ten years ago, only 59 percent of the men surveyed said they couldn't care less (OK, we're putting words in the surveyor's mouth here) if they ever saw a woman again after the deed was done. But now, 71 percent of men say they, too, want emotional attachment.

Do they really mean it? Or, as several women suggested, is it yet another line - the new, improved version of "I'll respect you in the morning?"

Actually, sociologists say, it's a little of both.

"I really think that for men, it's part of a gender spin," said Edward O. Laumann, one of the University of Chicago researchers and one of the co-authors of "The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. "There are really two cultures of gender about these sorts of things."

But let's put numbers aside for a minute and talk to real guys - who say that yes, they have indeed changed.

Take John Dailyda, 40, of Barrington, Pa., who characterizes one-night stands as "a little boring. Like unfulfilling, maybe?"

Divorced three years ago, he thinks that "getting married again is a nice idea."

So does Michael Brown, 30, of Camden, N.J. "Men definitely need to take more responsibility" in their relationships with women, he said. "A lot of men," he said, "think with their sexual thing. That throws a man off."

Brown was spending a day last month at Camden's Wiggins Park with his 5-year-old cousin, Jamal, whose father isn't in the picture. "You can't just game on any old girl who falls for your line," he said, caressing Jamal's hair, "because we've got little kids to think of."

Now, you'd think comments like that - coupled with the fact that single men outnumber single women in Philadelphia and all of the surrounding counties - would make women swoon. Think again.

"I think it's a pose," said Melissa Feldman, 33, of Philadelphia. "I think men just say that to get more one-night stands."

Feldman, a museum curator, and a friend, 30-year-old artist Emily Steinberg, were hanging out last month, enjoying a balmy weekend. Despite the brightness of the day, they took a decidedly dim view of the survey's results.

Men, said Feldman and Steinberg, have learned their lines well. …

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