Amber Madison goes on a mission to find out, interviewing 1,000 single men in 10 cities, and writing a book that exposes the truth about what they want and why they want it.
All guys are a-holes. It’s a belief we hold near and dear to our hearts. It’s why they just want sex, why they don’t want to be your boyfriend, and why they’re destined to cheat with the nanny. We think we know these things about men as well as we know the facts of history or anything else — hell, as far as we’re concerned, the Constitution might as well include something on guys’ jerkishness. But what if we don’t actually know men at all?
What I’m about to reveal to you probably runs completely counter to everything you think you know about guys. It’s probably the biggest cover-up in United States history. I might be assassinated for divulging the truth: Guys aren’t a-holes; they’re giant pussies! And I mean that in the best possible way.
How do I know this? Because I’ve spent the last year and half studying them. I traveled around the country interviewing them, and asking them to fill out 40-question surveys about their thoughts on sex, love and dating. I stalked straight, unmarried men ages 20-45 in fast-food joints, office courtyards, parks, coffee shops, and bars. I asked them questions like: What matters more sex or relationships? What turns you off on a date? How nervous do you get beforehand? What are the signs you like a girl? The signs you don’t? How soon is too soon to have sex? And what makes you question your relationship?
I was kicked out of more places then I ever imagined possible. I ended days more exhausted — physically and emotionally — than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I lost my wallet, my keys, the 450 surveys I collected in Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco, and even my boyfriend of two years. But, this is what I found …
Men are nothing like we believe them to be, and certainly a far cry from how they’re often portrayed in the media. They seek out relationships and they value emotional connection. A full 73 percent said their primary interest in women was to have a long-term relationship (18 percent said it was short-term companionship, 8 percent said their primary interest was sex, and just 1 percent said it was to impress their friends). Add it up and that means 91 percent of guys are primarily interested in women because they want some sort of personal connection and companionship — not because they “just want to get laid.”
No matter what guys claimed as their “primary interest,” 99 percent said they would want to be in a relationship if the right girl came along. The “right girl” isn’t some big-busted threesome-loving bimbo either. I asked guys to rate how important various traits were in a girlfriend on a scale from 1 (not important) to 5 (very important). High rankers were humor, intelligence, and being nice and caring. And of all the traits I listed, looks came in last. Guys want a girlfriend who’s smart, funny, and sweet more than they want one who’s hot!
Not only do guys want relationships, but also once they’re in them, they value those relationships more than beer commercials might have us believe. Guys don’t look at their girlfriends as a ball and chain: 96 percent of guys in serious relationships say their girl is at least as important as the fellas, and 76 percent say their girlfriends come first.
Furthermore, you don’t need some self-help book to teach you how to “get” your guy to propose. The vast majority of men I interviewed said they wanted to get married some day. A guy I met in Denver who had survived a near death experience said his “dying thought” was that he should have married his long-term girlfriend (after living through the incident, he did). And I cannot tell you how many guys would slip in comments about “their future wife” or “the one” in conversations that were about sex, dating, hook ups, or even another topic entirely. There aren’t TV shows like “Groomzillas,” or “Say Yes to the Tux” but that doesn’t mean that marriage isn’t on a guy’s mind.
What blew me away the most is how guys — when talking about dating and relationships — sound so similar to women when they discuss those same things. I met two men in their mid 20s who were in the midst of a lengthy analysis of the “smiley face” a girl sent at the end of a text message. I talked to other guys who worried they might scare a girl off by saying, “I love you.” And I listened to men explain their frustrations with the insensitive behavior of their girlfriends. Of course, it took a while for guys to actually open up, and the first five minutes of many conversations (mostly in bigger groups) were usually spent weeding through generic sex jokes and other macho comments.
But my scientific conclusion over all: Guys aren’t a-holes. Most men are not the commitment avoiding, freewheeling sex fiends women make them out to be. But here’s where it gets tricky: many men still like to act like they are. Why? For one, being a sensitive relationship-seeking being isn’t exactly in line with our culture’s ideas about what it means to be “a man.” And beyond that, this a-hole stereotype gives men a huge amount of power in their intimate relationships.
A guy once told me, “Why would a guy admit he likes a girl, ask her out on a date, and risk rejection?” He concluded it was better to just try to hook up with her and that way if she rejects him then he’s not as exposed. If guys were to admit they want more than sex, it would expose their vulnerability in relationships. Better to have us think they’re incapable of genuine romantic feelings because it makes them seem invincible. It gives the illusion that men control relationships because “we want them” and “they don’t.”
Like the Wizard of Oz, guys seem so intimidating. But pull back the curtain and we see they’re not these mighty a-holes; they’re just these vulnerable guys clutching their joysticks. So instead of trying to fight their sleazy reputation, many guys embrace it. Worst of all, some think it’s the only way we’ll like them.
The shared sentiment among many men I spoke with was this: “I’ll stop being an asshole when girls stop going for assholes.” From a 35-year-old I met at a farmer’s market in LA: “Women are so strange, in my experience with them. I could treat the same girl with kindness and respect and she would turn away. I could reverse it so quickly by being a jerk and she would turn back.” From a 24-year-old I met at a bar in Atlanta: “Guys act like jerks because if you are too nice you will not be taken seriously.” And from a 26-year-old I met on North Beach in Chicago: “Guys are usually selfish and jerks to girls. But girls seem to respond positively to those guys most of the time.”
There you have it. Many guys will act macho, sex hungry, and emotionally uninvested because they think that’s the type of man women are attracted to. That’s right, like a mating dance between exotic birds, the a-hole dance is something many guys are putting on in order to attract us.|
Deep down, however, the vast majority of men are fully functional human beings who want relationships more than they want sex. I know that can be hard to believe because every time you turn on the TV (Two and a Half Men, Family Guy, Rules of Engagement, How I Met Your Mother), walk into a book store (Tucker Max, He’s Just Not That Into You, The Game) — hell, even talk to your friends, there seems to be mounds of evidence that points to a different conclusion.
But that’s a sales angle rather than a reflection of reality. Like the useless products you see in infomercials on the Home Shopping Network, they’re selling it because we’re buying it. And when you actually ask guys themselves — not entertainment executives, middle aged men and women who write obnoxious self-help books, or so-called “dating coaches” — guys aren’t actually that bad. Knowing that makes the process of dating MUCH less intimidating.
Copyright © Amber Madison/2015 Singular Communications, LLC.