There are a fair number of gender stereotypes when it comes to dating, but a large proportion of them seem to surround heterosexual men and commitment. You might be tempted to hear everything you believe about men playing the field, but there are plenty of myths about men and commitment that aren't true.
"There are many stereotypes about men and commitment, in part because pop culture perpetuates the idea that desirable men are players," relationship expert and counselor David Bennett tells Bustle. "The truth is that there are many men who are very happy and faithful in committed relationships and are even more commitment-oriented than many women."
When it comes to gender stereotypes surrounding dating, the heterosexual male who won't commit is the most false one that continues to persist. The degree someone is willing to commit has little to do with gender, just as stereotypes surrounding dating aren't universally applicable. Separating fact from fiction can help you better navigate the dating world — and maybe even help you take the plunge in your dating life.
Here are seven old wives' tales about identifying males and commitment that just aren't true — no matter what STEREOTYPES TRY to tell us.
1. Men Are Wired Not To Commit
Many people believe that men are hardwired to want to have casual sex and avoid settling down, but this isn't the case for everyone. "A recent study did find [that there are] brain differences between non-monogamous and monogamous men," says Bennett. "However, the study did show that there are plenty of men who are firmly committed to their significant others and seem to be wired for commitment." Whether or not you commit may have something to do with brain chemistry, but has little to do with gender.
2. They Only Commit For Sex
This is a bad one. The prevailing notion is that if a man does commit, it's because commitment means consistent sex. Luckily, this isn't the case with all identifying males, and far from the truth for many. "Research shows that men commit for largely the same reasons women commit, and these are social and emotional, as well as sexual," says Bennett. It's time to clap back at the problematic notion that men are driven solely by sex. In fact, experts have found that men and women crave sex to the same degree.
3. They Are More Likely To Cheat
Over time, men have been unjustly labeled as sex-crazed animals who are more likely to cheat because — once again — sex is their sole motivation. Not true. Recent research out of Indiana University found that men and women cheat at about the same rate. "Most men put commitment before random opportunities to cheat," psychotherapist Judi Bloom, PsyD, MFT tells Bustle. Cheating is not gender specific, just like commitment isn't. In fact, most people's reasons for cheating have little to do with their gender identity, and more to do with issues in relationships as well as personal motivations.
4. Men Are Afraid Of Committing
Many people think that identifying males fear commitment, but rather they are afraid of committing to the wrong person, a fear that's pretty universal. "There is more opportunity then ever to meet new people, so they can keep their options open longer until they meet the right match (just as women can)," says Bloom. "In fact, more men want marriage — they live longer, healthier lives that way! Other men want to establish their careers first without the distraction or time demands of a relationship." But the timing of when to commit and who to commit to isn't unique to heterosexual men. Circumstances outside of gender often predict whether someone is willing to commit — like what stage someone is in in their life and whether they are ready to settle down.
5. Men Need More Freedom & Independence
Some freedom is important for any partner, regardless of gender, to keep a relationship healthy, but most men don't necessarily forego relationships just for the sake of freedom. "Although men are sometimes afraid they will lose their freedom and independence if they settle down with one partner, what they really desire most in a relationship is respect, appreciation, and trust," says Bloom. "If those are given the rest will follow." But fear of losing freedom isn't unique to men, but rather, anyone who has reservations about settling down.
6. Casual Hookups Have Ruined The Potential For Commitment
There's a lot of talk about millennial hookup culture and what it has done for relationships, but it's not all doom and gloom. "Men struggle with the desire for closeness versus vulnerability," says Bloom. "They are not taught to express their feelings, so those emotions common to women are more uncomfortable for men. Although the internet sites have made sex more readily available, it can leave them feeling empty and depressed, since it is a temporary high but doesn't fulfill emotional needs." In this case, one stereotype informs another. Because men have been conditioned against showing their emotions, the narrative that men are looking for casual hookups prevails. But this has less to do with gender, and more to do with a lack of communication about needs and expectations in relationships.
7. Men Aren't As Romantic As Women
Women are often portrayed as the ones who care about fantasy and romance, but the opposite may actually be true. Research has found that men tend to score higher than women in questionnaires that test for romanticism. Men are more likely to experience love at first sight, say "I love you" first, and place a greater emphasis on the importance of feeling passion in their relationships.
Despite what you may see on TV or hear from your friends, not every stereotype about men and commitment is actually true. In fact, the more we perpetuate stereotypes, the greater harm we do when trying to have healthy and successful relationships with one another.