As much as men are criticized for keeping their feelings to themselves, social scientists have discovered one area where guys are more open and vulnerable than women in relationships: They have no problem saying “I love you” first.
This isn’t the first time data has shown that all men are simps. Previous research on American couples found that although a majority of men expect that women will say “I love you” before them, men are more likely to utter it initially — a finding researchers called the “male confession bias.” The study authors also found that men are more likely to do this before having sex, suggesting a possible transactional element to the eager profession of love.
Given that the previous study was conducted over a decade ago and only among U.S. participants, it made sense to retest the theory. So Christopher D. Watkins and an international team of researchers surveyed 1,428 people across Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Poland, France and the U.K. about who said “I love you” first in their past and present romantic relationships. As part of the study, participants were also asked questions to determine their attachment style.
The results echoed past research in that men were again more likely to say “I love you” first, but researchers also found that women were more likely to report this happening than men. “This may suggest that social stereotypes associating women with romantic intimacy, or motivated reasoning on these issues to maintain a particular self-image, might shape people’s memory of this episode,” the study authors wrote. Essentially, some bros who said “I love you” first just don’t want their researcher buds to know about it.
The study found as well that men with more avoidant attachment styles were less likely to say “I love you” first, the same goes for men who live in countries where single women outnumber single men. Likewise, the one country where the “male confession bias” didn’t check out was France, where men and women both reported saying it equally. Also, no differences in gender “were observed in the duration before thinking about confessing love or level of happiness at hearing a love confession,” which researchers believe means that men may say “I love you” earlier, but both partners are equally happy about hearing it.
So if you’re nervous about telling your girlfriend you love her, don’t be. And if you really want to hear her say it first, try taking her to Paris.