When I sat down to write this edition of the “Definitely From Different Planets” series, I thought I knew where the article would lead: that women looked to the future sooner than men, often too soon, sometimes even jeopardizing a relationship because of not being able to live in the moment. But as I was doing my research to support this assumption, I found some opposing research results. For instance, a Pew Research Center for the Pew Global Attitudes Survey proves that it is actually men who look to the future, and with a positive outlook, more than women, although women reported being more satisfied with their lives. Another study from MIT shows men plan for their financial future (i.e. retirement) while women focus more on family and being surrounded by grandchildren as they age.
As it turns out, figuring out how men and women view the present vs. the future is trickier than I thought.
In and Outlook
When it comes to dating, the way men’s and women’s brains work do impact how they each consider a relationship. A woman who is of marriage and childbearing age will be looking for a mate who is generally ready to settle down, with good genetics for procreating. Women who want to have children have a biological clock ticking that causes them to have to take meeting and judging marriage-eligible prospects very seriously. Men may have an idea of an ideal age at which they want to be fathers, but biologically there is nothing stopping them from being flexible with that time frame as it is with women. Some men may date with marriage and children on the mind, but for the most part, they are looking for someone they are enjoying the company of at that very moment. Men are not picturing prospects in their wedding dress or what their kids would look like.
Women who are older, and maybe also divorced or widowed, have more of a mindset of looking for someone whose livelihood is similar and will enable them to enjoy the rest of their life together in the same capacity (working, traveling, being with family, etc.). Again, many men are relationship-minded, but for the most part are just looking for someone they are attracted to and enjoy being aronud. Chemistry plus conversation equal a great date and this is the equation that leads to further dates together. For men, it’s often as simple as that.
Live, Laugh, Love
The problem with always looking into the future is that women may forget to enjoy the present. If you have this idea in your head of what you want the father of your imaginary children to look like (because you think you can control genetics) then you may overlook lots of great guys as you scope out just the ones who fit your appearance criteria. Similarly, if you are only looking for someone who is ready to get married, regardless of where you are in life, then you may not see that person who would be a really awesome partner standing right in front of you.
Women may complain about men not taking dating seriously enough, but men are actually considering all prospects and not judging them based on who they might be in 40 years or what genes they might be able to pass on. More women ought to take note of this approach and enjoy each date for what it’s worth. Use that measurement to decide if you want to keep getting to know the other person rather than making assumptions of who you think they will be in the unforeseen future. As for guys, you might be thinking about your future in positive terms, but it’s important to understand and be sensitive to the reasons why some women might be more relationship-minded from the get-go.
You may also be interested in Definitely From Different Planets: Communication Conundrum