It was a Thursday evening in July, my cousin had his friends over his house and he was going on and on bragging about how he wears the pants in his relationship. He kept saying he calls the shots. He says he cannot stand women, implying that all women are the same. He says women always talk about their feelings and wine when he doesn’t text them all back. My fists were tightening up. It took me a couple of minutes to realize I was turning red. He asked me what was wrong and I stormed off. He was completely oblivious to how I was feeling. Society believes and follows pop culture influenced stereotypes on gender differences among romantic relationships instead of actual self-reports.
Jessie Bernard’s book, The Future of Marriage, argued that men and women hold very different beliefs and expectations about marriage. Bernard argued that the differences were so blunt between men and women that all marriages consist of two relationships, ‘his’’ and ‘hers’. Since Bernard's publication, many scientific and pop culture writings and studies have been examined, highlighting the different ways that men and women think and feel about relationships, and the way the genders behave towards one another.
A study was done by a college class at Stanford University in Northern California to examine the accuracy of people’s stereotypes about gender differences in relationship Sahota 2 attitudes and behaviors. Men and women who were in dating relationships self-reported on their attitudes toward marriage, levels of commitment, and fidelity. In order to examine stereotypes about gender differences, participants completed questionnaires a second time, responding, as they believed a typical member of the opposite sex would. Differences between actual gender differences (gathered information from self-reports) and stereotyped gender differences were examined. Men and women did not differ in their self-reported attitudes toward marriage, commitment, or fidelity. They were consistent with stereotypes, however, women viewed men as having more negative attitudes toward marriage, lower levels of commitment, and higher levels of disloyalty than men themselves had reported. Men were somewhat more accurate in their observations. That is, men’s observations of women’s attitudes toward marriage and commitment matched women’s self-reports. Surprisingly, men perceived women as being less faithful in relationships than women themselves had reported. These findings are suggesting that stereotype inflation can lead to many relationship problems.
When one browses in any bookstore, looking for books on relationships, one is likely to find many titles aimed at solving relationship problems. If one looks closely, many of these books will have to do with men who fear intimate relationships and cannot commit such as Steven Carter and Julia Sokol’s (1987) “Men Who Can’t Love”, and George Weinberg’s (2002) “Why Men Won’t Commit”. This represents how popular culture has embraced this mindset that there are distinct differences between men and women. Men and women tend to perceive each other in ways that fall in line with gender stereotypes. For example, Tommy Spaulding’s “It’s Not Just Who You Know,” suggests Sahota 3 that men are viewed as more accepting of extramarital sex. Women are seen as more likely to want commitment because they will benefit more from being in a committed relationship rather than being single. Majority of these books just inflate general stereotypes forcing society to believe these mindset. Sarah McGeown’s research and findings were put into her book, “Psychology of Gender Differences and Romantic Relationships,” which supports the perspective suggesting that gender differences in relationship behaviors and attitudes result from different obstacles to reproductive success that men and women faced in their inherited past. For