Here’s a poorly kept secret: Men are also from Venus. That’s what I’ve learned after six years of writing for The New York Times wedding section—also known as the Ladies’ Sports Pages.
Sure, a few thousand years’ history of raping and pillaging suggests otherwise, but beneath the stubble and the Sportscenter addiction, most men are as confused, vulnerable and romantic as women when it comes to falling in love.
Did I mention I’m also one of those men?
Yes, I’m a single guy who has written about thousands of weddings (always the wedding columnist, never the groom). And it’s been an education—and a relief—to learn I’m not the only hopeless romantic with a Y-chromosome. In fact, I’ve found that men harbor just as many romantic fantasies as women.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t noticed differences between the sexes: Women seem to view romance as a state of being, while men tend to look at it more as a sequence of specific actions. Women share their emotions with greater ease. And a BIG difference is that women get much more excited about planning their wedding (even before they have a particular bridegroom in mind).
But it may be comforting to know that when it comes to the thrills, chills and spills of mating in the 21st century, men are equal and eager participants. If you’re not convinced yet, consider the evidence:
1. Male Pattern Boldness. The assumption seems to be that romance is something specifically associated with women, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. When I think of a grand romantic gesture like a candlelit dinner at a four-star restaurant or a surprise tropical getaway, there’s usually a guy involved. Putting it another way, in order for a woman to get whisked away for a weekend in Bermuda, someone has to be doing the whisking.
2. Breaking The Ice Takes Extra Strength Antiperspirant. My favorite part of interviewing bridal couples is hearing about their first dates. What I’ve learned is that for every woman changing outfits three times, there’s a guy going full-force on the underarm protection. I talked to a multi-millionaire real-estate executive who had to change shirts halfway through the first date with his fiancee. And a world-famous artist told me he arrived an hour early, nervous about making a good impression.
3. Heartbreak Is an Equal Opportunity Biohazard. Anyone who thinks only women are emotional wrecks after breakups hasn’t been out with a drunk male who’s just been dumped. I had one friend who was inconsolable after the former figure skater-turned-lawyer he’d been dating for a year left him. And when I say inconsolable, I mean it was all he talked about. For months. Why did she leave? What could he do to get her back? And where would he ever find anyone as perfect as she was? (Perfect except for the dumping him part.)
4. Who’s Your Daddy? Forget every “Sex and the City” episode you ever watched, because the truth is most men want to be husbands and fathers. I’ve interviewed countless men who planned their careers around providing for a family at a time they were single and unattached. They made choices based on paying future college bills before even having the benefit of a steady Saturday night date. According to the 2012 “Single in America” survey sponsored by Match.com, there are significantly more single men who want to get married and have children than single women.
5. Diamonds Are Forever. When someone gets down on one knee on a white sand beach or in Times Square, that someone is often a guy. And that guy likely has a ring in his hand that represents the bulk of his disposable income (and possibly a chunk of his 401K). He has not made this decision lightly. He has choreographed the moment in his mind over and over, fearing anything less than a euphoric response. Romantic risk-taking doesn’t get any bigger. And there are a whole lot of grateful jewelers, caterers, and florists. Oh, and some very happy brides.