Oh, such weighty matters.
Muscles and romance make a potent mix, according to California researchers who have spent the last four years determining that gym-happy, muscular men have more sexual partners and short-term flings with feminine admirers than less buff peers.
But fear not, gents. The series of studies also revealed that ladies rated men who were simply “toned” as the most sexually attractive, and more reliable and loving.
The research is the first to “quantify” the association between muscularity, sexuality and long-term commitment, according to David Frederick and Martie Haselton, a pair of psychologists with the University of California at Los Angeles’ Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture. They based their conclusions on surveys of 279 men and 223 women.
Men behaving badly tended to have more muscles. Compared to the average Joe, the hard-bodied crowd was twice as likely to have more than three sex partners in their lives, to indulge in one-night stands and to have hooked up with someone else’s sweetheart. On average, they had almost four times as many sexual partners as non-weight lifters, in fact.
But moderation has its charm.
Female respondents “consistently identified the muscular ones as not only less likely to commit but also volatile and domineering. Women rated ‘toned’ guys — the physical type two notches down from ‘brawny’ — as the most sexually attractive,” one of the UCLA team’s surveys found. Another found that women reported their “short-term partners were more muscular than their long-term partners.”
It was the long-term guys, however, who the women deemed more “trustworthy and romantic,” the study said.
“Moderate muscularity demonstrates that men are in good condition, but they’re not so overloaded with testosterone that they are volatile, aggressive and dominant,” Mr. Frederick said. “Women seem to be able to weigh good and bad male traits.”
The research was published in the August issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, an academic journal.
Other researchers are also plumbing the mysteries of romance.
University at Buffalo psychologist Mark Kristal revealed in February that he had mapped out the neurochemistry of “true love,” explaining that romantic stimuli occur in a specific sequence: smell; the presence of pheromones; visual, auditory and tactile cues; the release of the brain peptides vasopressin and oxytocin; and at long last, “bonding.”
Women, meanwhile, subconsciously scan men’s faces for an “interest in children,” kindness, masculinity and other factors, using those cues to determine whether they want a long-term or short-term relationship with the object of their attraction. That’s what a University of Chicago study released last year found, anyway.
A sense of humor also has its role in personal attraction as well. According to a 2005 survey of 120 adults by Canada’s McMasters University, women said that a man with a good sense of humor is one who makes her laugh. Alternatively, a man thinks a woman has a sense of humor if she “appreciates his jokes.”
Last but not least, a University of Pennsylvania analysis of data from 10,526 adults who used a dating service found that people fall in love in three minutes — or less.
“Most made their decision based on information they probably got in the first three seconds,” observed Robert Kurzban, the psychologist who conducted the research.