The desire to get married is a basic and primal instinct in women,” observed the late, great Nora Ephron. “It’s followed by another basic and primal instinct: the desire to be single again.” Relationship wisdom is full of such emphatic generalisations but, according to that eternally reliable media source “a recent study”, women do appear to fall in and out of love more extremely than men.
A behavioural economist, Saurabh Bhargava of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has published a new study in Psychological Science, the leading journal in the field, which has a number of striking findings. The first is that women reported having feelings of love almost twice as frequently as men. The second is that, over the course of a long relationship, women on average experience a much steeper decline in these feeling compared to their male partners.
Whereas men showed a 9.2% reduction in their romantic feelings towards their spouses, women underwent a 55.2% drop. A similar effect is seen in the realm of passion, where marriage leads to a 55.3% decrease in women’s desire for their partners, and a much smaller deterioration in ardour from men.