Saying "I love you" is a matter of evolutionary economics

Men and women say "I love you" at different points in their relationships, and they say it for very different reasons. It turns out that even the timing of "I love you" is all about following our ancient evolutionary drives.

Here's what a new MIT study found: In two-thirds of the couples sampled, men were the first to say they loved their partner. Men also consistently said that they were happier if the woman said "I love you" a month into their relationship if they hadn't had sex yet. Women, on the other hand, preferred to hear "I love you" after they had started having sex.

This is the absolutely amazing conclusion that the researchers came to from that data, which gleefully combines evolution with economics:

The researchers theorized that a pre-sex love confession may signal interest in advancing the relationship to include sexual activity - which is what men want, evolutionarily speaking, so as not to lose an opportunity to spread their genes. They want to "buy low," as the article put it. Women, who have more to lose if they get pregnant, prefer a post-sex confession as a signal of long-term commitment. They prefer to "sell high."

Furthering the point, the men happiest to get a pre-sex love confession were those interested in a short-term fling, while both men and women seeking a long-term relationship were happier hearing "I love you" post-sex. Despite birth control and egalitarian values in modern society, these primitive patterns persist in the subconscious.

You know, science and romance aren't actually opposites. But studies like this aren't exactly helping that argument...

Via the Chicago Tribune. Image via.