What Makes a Man
Fall in Love?
Why we can’t let love in until you’ve
shown us the way—and the simple words that
can unleash our deepest affections.
Question: Guys, do you believe you’ve met your soul mate?
Yes, I’m with her right now: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 percent
Yes, but we’re no longer together: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 percent
Yes, but we were never together as a couple: . . . . . . . . . 9 percent
No: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 percent
T HINK OF A GREAT RELATIONSHIP AS
though it were a great meal: A delicious, meaty steak
of sexual passion accompanied by a fine, delicate
wine of romance and commitment. Both of us want
it all—the perfect, satisfying course. And we need
both—steak by itself is dry and unsatisfying; and wine will get you tipsy,
but it won’t satisfy your hunger. Now, before the metaphor police revoke
my license, let me simply push this analogy a little further: Men are a little
more focused on the meat of the relationship, and women a bit more on
the wine. But both sexes want to get up from the table completely satisfied.
2 M e n, L ove & S ex
Need evidence? More than three-fourths of men believe in soul mates (see
above). And when we asked our guys to choose between meeting the love
of their life or having amazing sex for six months, 92 percent chose falling
in love. (The other 8 percent were probably Maxim readers.) Consider what
these three men said about the experience of falling in love:
q“We need to feel love, loyalty, and chemistry above all else,”
says Ian, 31.
q“Men also feel the butterﬂies and giddiness that women do when they’re
in love,” says Robert, 26.
q“Women don’t realize most guys are in love long before they are
willing to admit it to anyone,” says Drew, 30.
So why then does it always seem like women are leading the relationship
toward commitment, and men need to be
dragged along like a preschooler to a dentist
appointment? Because in the early-on Strat- NOT THAT!
ego game of dating, we need to see where
SAY THIS: School was a
you’re moving first. Consider this: Less than breeze, but I was awful at
half of men say they’re typically the first ones
NOT: I graduated magna
to say ”I love you” in a relationship, and more cum laude.
women than men initially broach the subject BECAUSE: Perfection is
of taking the relationship to the next level. intimidating. Flaws are
That points to the notion that what men
SAY THIS: What makes
really want when it comes to love is your you happy?
assurance—your permission, really— NOT: Where do you see
that it’s okay to let the butterflies out yourself in five years?
of the cage. BECAUSE: He needs to
know you’re interested in
him, not a lifestyle.
Michael, 37, a restaurant owner in
North Carolina, says he’s cautious about SAY THIS: I love my
expressing himself early on—not because family—even if they’re hard
to deal with.
he’s complacent or wants to play games or
NOT: I can’t deal with my
wants to make the woman squirm like a family.
mouse in a cat’s mouth. He holds back BECAUSE: The more
because he’s waiting to get the signal that accepting you are of them,
the more accepting you’ll be
it’s okay to press the accelerator. of him.
W h a t M a ke s a M a n F a l l i n L ove? 3
“I love to hear that I’m her dream come true, or some version of that, if
that’s the case,” he says. “I need a little praise and attention, just as much as
she needs it from me. That’s the sign I need. Then, I know I can give her
what she needs.”
Chris, 29, a recently married public defender, agrees. “Men need to be told
that they’re wanted,” he says. “Women forget that if they like a nice guy,
that the nice guy might be too nervous to tell them what he feels.” And
then he added this interesting insight: “Women need to be more open to
being hurt the way guys are every day.”
Hold on a second. Guys are hurt more often than women?
Hmm. Think about it: In the romance game, it’s usually the man who
makes the first move (usually after you’ve dropped him countless hints
waiting for him to finally pick up on them). But in doing so, men open
themselves up to more rejection than a telemarketing trainee. And believe
me, even George Clooney has a psychic master list of turn-downs that he
still winces over from time to time.
So once a man has crossed that first barrier—okay, you like him, it’s
safe—he’s reluctant to cross the next. Like monkeys in a lab, we’ve been
shocked plenty of times before, and if we’re in a safe place with you, we’re
happy simply to stay there. So it’s a delicate balance—a woman needs to
signal that it’s okay for him to take the next step, without making him feel
as if he’s being pushed toward it. Let him know that you feel there’s
something really special between you. Let him know it’s okay if he lets
himself feel that, too. But proceed cautiously—there’s danger ahead, as
HOW DO I KNOW WHERE THIS
RELATIONSHIP IS HEADING?
I’ve been seeing a guy for about three weeks, and I feel like it’s going to
be pretty serious. After the first two dates, we’ve been seeing each
other a lot. Last week, we got together twice during the week and twice
on the weekend. I’d like to talk about where this is headed, but I don’t
want to scare him away. I just want to make sure we’re both on the same
page about where we are, whether we’re seeing other people, and
where this might go. What’s he thinking?
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WHAT He’s thinking that, three weeks into dating, he
IT MEANS doesn’t want to have this conversation. To him,
that’s a relationship birth announcement. Today,
. . . He says he’ll we welcome the birth of a beautiful committed couple,
call and doesn’t
weighing in at eight dates, two movies, and six orgasms
He’s thinking like a
jockey at the start of a (five for him, one for her): It’s Bob and Cindy!
horse race. He doesn’t Congratulations! It’s too formal, too official, too
want to pull out of the
gates too fast. Waiting planned. And that formality serves as the fire
a few days allows him extinguisher to the initial spark he’s been feeling.
to set a comfortable
pace before he makes “The only thing worse than a woman who doesn’t
a move. Any longer show any interest after a few dates is a woman who
than that probably
means he’s pulled
shows too much,” says Anthony, 25. Terry, 32, adds:
himself up and plans “Slow down. Please don’t tell us that you love us
on entering another after three weeks.” Think of it this way. You know
race, another day.
how you don’t like when he skips the foreplay and
. . . He calls goes right to the sex? When you talk about the status
you right away of a relationship too early, it’s like skipping the
While he knows he
risks you thinking foreplay of pursuit and going right to the private
that he’s more desper- parts of commitment. If he’s seeing you four times
ate than a virginal oc-
togenarian, he’s try- a week, then it’s a good sign that your relationship
ing to establish in is headed in the right direction. Just let him have
your mind that he’s
not a game-player,
some fun—and some mystery—while he’s
whether he ends up getting there.
being one or not.
. . . He e-mails
instead of calls HOW DO I KNOW WHEN
after a first date IT’S TIME TO TELL HIM MY
He’s written 14 drafts
of that e-mail to con-
vey the perfect bal- I’ve been seeing a man for only two months.
ance of witty, ﬂirty, Perfect guy. He’s funny, has a great job, I love
without making it hanging out with him. We even took this great
seem like he tried too weekend vacation together and everything
hard to be witty, ﬂirty, seemed to click. I just have this feeling that this is
He doesn’t fear conver- going to work, and I’m pretty sure he feels the
sation; he’s just bank- same way. I don’t want to blow it, and while I
ing on the fact that his obviously don’t want to pretend to be somebody
ﬁrst e-mail popping
that I’m not, I also don’t want to do anything that
into your inbox gives
you as much of a jolt could jeopardize the relationship. Any hints for
as you give him. how to take things from here?
W h a t M a ke s a M a n F a l l i n L ove? 5
Two months may seem like a blip on the relationship radar, but for some
guys, that qualifies as a full-fledged era. At this point, men certainly want
some honesty. “If she is more open with me, I’ll be more open with her,
especially at the beginning when you’re both feeling each other out,
emotionally,” says Warren, 33. But that comes with a caution. Feel free
to be honest about your feelings, but don’t make assumptions about his.
Don’t use the word us. At this stage, you’ll solidify your primo status if
you talk about what you like about him, what you get out of a relationship
with him, what turns you on about him. Us scares him;
him excites him. (Yes, we’re our own favorite subject, Male
but that’s just human nature.) It’s a way of saying you Mysteries
love the relationship while giving him the ego-boosting
rush he craves—all without making him think you’re
of men who say
brushing up on the four Cs of diamond shopping. At “I love you” to
this still-early stage, that’s a secret to tip-toeing between escape from ar-
giving him permission to love and giving him a reason
SHOULD I GIVE HIM AN ULTIMATUM?
My live-in boyfriend and I have been seeing each other for about a year
and a half, living together for somewhere around six months. I’m 31 and
my family is giving me a hard time—like I should just go ahead and move
on if he’s not going to be the one because I’m wasting time. My best
friend even says to me that there’s no way he’s going to marry me
because he’s getting all the sex of a nonmarried relationship without
the commitment. I’ve debated a lot about giving him an ultimatum or a
deadline, but something tells me that’s a bad idea. How will I know if
he’s ever going to be ready to make the next step?
You may think that men are afraid of the marriage commitment because
we want to leave options open, because we’re waiting for something better,
or because we fear it’ll be the official end of hot-tub sex. Jay, 30, says a
man’s hesitation isn’t about indifference; it’s actually the opposite. “Men
are just as unsure about the relationship thing as women,” he says. “I’m
getting married in a couple months to a woman I love deeply, who I know
will be a fantastic wife and mother to my future children. Is she my soul
mate? Tough question, but if not, she’s pretty darn close.” When we decide
6 M e n, L ove & S ex
WONDERING we want to be married, we want to do the right
WOMAN thing—for both of us. So should you give him an
My husband ultimatum? I don’t think so. If you’ve been honest
is always telling with him about your feelings for
me that his him—for him, not for “the Male
friends think Mysteries
relationship”—then you’re probably
I’m hot. Why
does he get such at the point in your relationship
pleasure out where you should be able to ask him Percentage of
of that? men who think
Good job, good straight up about his feelings for you. that a quiet
night at home
car, good bank If he can’t tell you what he thinks is the date that
puts them most
account, good and what he feels, well, that’s in the mood
body, good probably your answer. (MH)
they help make
up the equation
that forms the MASCULINITY MASTERED:
hierarchy of What You Now Know about Men
Plus, you’re hot. • If you want to talk about the long-term
possibilities of your relationship, there’s such a
thing as premature enunciation. Don’t be too clear,
too early, about what you think you want from the
• We’re not scared of falling in love; we’re scared of
being told that we’re falling in love. Focus on your
feelings for him, not your feelings for the
• A man is more willing to make a move that shows
his feelings if you do it first. If not, he’ll wait at the
intersection for a very long time before it turns
W h a t M a ke s a M a n F a l l i n L ove? 7
SAY THIS TONIGHT!
The sexiest thing a woman ever said to Joe, 36:
The sexiest thing Amy, 23, ever said to a man:
“Baby, I want you right now.”