Are women the driving force behind relationships? Oxford researcher says, yes

Carolyn Morris
Shine OnApril 24, 2012

In today's relationships, women are calling the shots. Or at least, they are the ones making the most phone calls according to recent research.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, analyzed the calls and texts of over three million cell-phone users for a seven-month period, researchers found that women in their reproductive years called and texted a member of the opposite sex, presumably their partner, more than any other person. Men, on the other hand, were more varied in their contacts.

"It's the first really strong evidence that romantic relationships are driven by women," the study's co-author, Oxford anthropology professor Robin Dunbar tells BBC News .

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Dunbar thinks this is a sign that women are running the show when it comes to modern society.

"Men's relationships are too casual," he tells BBC News. "They often function at a high level in a political sense, of course. But at the end of the day, the structure of society is driven by women, which is exactly what we see in primates."

Researchers analyzed a total of three billion calls and a half billion text messages. And while some might argue that cell-phone use is not the best indicator of how close we are to the people in our lives, Toronto psychotherapist and relationship expert Kimberly Moffit, thinks it's a pretty good gauge.

"Technology has certainly changed the way that we interact with our loved ones," she says. "It's absolutely indicative. Who are we texting? Who are we reaching out to? That's certainly a sign of who's on our mind."

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The research also showed that by around the age of 45, women had switched their cell-phone attention to a younger female, thought to be an adult daughter.

"What seems to happen is that women push the 'old man' out to become their second-best friend, and he gets called much less often, and all her attention is focused on her daughters just at the point at which you are likely to see grandchildren arriving," says Dunbar.

Moffit has seen many examples of this, including within her own family.

"I speak to my own mom everyday. And my husband speaks to his parents about once a month," she says.

While men might be committed husbands, they typically won't feel the need to reach out to their spouse throughout the workday, says Moffit.

"Women are natural communicators. During the day, on a general level, women will want to reach out for communication, closeness and intimacy more than men."

The study also shows that during the first seven years of a relationship, men tend to call their spouse the most, but then the focus shifts to friends. Moffit says a possible explanation for this is the need for lots of communication while a couple's children are young.

Do you believe that women have a greater emotional need for communication with their partners throughout the day?

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