Sexes’ differences good for Valentine’s Day

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Get this: men and women are different.

Italian researchers made this “groundbreaking” discovery in a recent study.

According to Psych Central, the study, led by Marco Del Giudice, Ph.D., of the University of Turin, used “new and more accurate methods to measure and analyze personality differences.”

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Researchers administered personality tests to more than 10,000 people – approximately half men, half women – that assessed 15 personality traits, such as warmth, sensitivity, perfectionism and so on.

Here’s where the study is unique: By assessing multiple traits rather than individual traits, as prior male-female studies have done, the researchers concluded there are significant differences between the sexes.

And in my humble opinion, nothing illustrates those differences better than Valentine’s Day.

I’m certainly no expert on what women think, but doesn’t Valentine’s Day fill most women with hope?

They dream of romance, surprise and having sweet nothings whispered into their ears — and if such things happen, they hope their husbands don’t find out!

Most men have the opposite point of view. To us, Valentine’s Day is a contrived undertaking that makes mandatory the things – flowers, dining out, expensive jewelry – that should be reserved for the times when we do something really stupid and are desperate to make up.

I was raised as the only boy among five sisters. It was obvious to me early on that males and females have different priorities. My sisters were perpetually angry at me for failing to change this thing they referred to as the “toilet paper roll.”

Differences between the sexes are illustrated in the typical romance novel, read almost exclusively by women, which is filled with prose such as this:

“He was tall, silent and handsome, yet he knew everything she was thinking at every moment and he really cared and understood what she was thinking because it was important to him that he knew what she was thinking … .”

If there were such a thing as a male romance novel, it would read much differently:

“She poured the Guinness carefully, bringing forth a frothy head without spilling a drop. Smiling, she looked deeply into his eyes and said, ‘I brought you extra bleu cheese for your hot wings.’”

It’s true that, over the past three decades or so, there has been some effort to pretend that many differences don’t exist between men and women.

It’s true that a slew of men’s magazines have headlines on their covers that are almost identical to headlines on the covers of traditional women’s magazines (“How to Style Your Hair to Win Her Affection!”).

It’s true that way too many men are getting misty at baby showers and clapping enthusiastically the first time Junior uses the “poddy” for “No. 2.”

And it’s true that most every dad is depicted on television as a soft, bumbling idiot, whereas most every mom is portrayed as a masculine, decisive figure who keeps the household together.

But aren’t these scenarios mostly fictions?

Heck, we’ve come so far in our thinking in so many areas. Can’t we just take our level of understanding one step further – into the realm of reality and common sense?

Why do we need studies to validate what is obvious? Most people know that males and females are remarkably different.

Our differences are good – particularly on Valentine’s Day.

It is only when the two truly opposite forces called man and woman come together that romance may occur.

And if a fellow is lucky to have a fine lady in his life, the contrivances of Valentine’s Day won’t bother him much in the end.

Tom Purcell is a nationally syndicated humor columnist.