What We Thought:
The idea that feminists make bad lovers doesn't just persist among the older generation and fratty douchebag types. After all, isn't that one of the tenets of feminism, that women don't need men? Wasn't it the founders of the modern feminist movement who coined the phrase "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle"? And aren't feminists the ones who refuse to shave their legs and shun all sexy clothing as a byproduct of male objectification and oppression?
So even if we're being as progressive and politically correct as possible about feminists, relationships just aren't their thing, right?
But Science Says...
The raw numbers say otherwise. First of all, women who identify themselves as feminists are, at any given moment, more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than women who don't (yes, "heterosexual," for those of you who secretly assume "feminist" means "lesbian").
But their boyfriends and husbands are surely miserable, right? Having to live with a woman shrieking at them about phallic oppression 24 hours a day?
Well, according to that same study, men who reported their partner was a feminist also reported more satisfaction with their sex lives than those who didn't. So as for the idea that feminists are abrasive, mannish women in flannel, either it's grossly inaccurate, or there are a lot of dudes who are into that kind of thing.
What We Thought:
Society has moved on from the old idea that an unmarried couple getting a place together are "living in sin." It just doesn't make sense, right? It's logical to move in with your significant other before making a legal commitment that is likely to end in tears and a hefty divorce settlement.
This way, you can find out before marriage that Mr. Right leaves the door open when he pees and hogs the remote, or that Ms. Perfect lets her dirty dishes fester in the sink for days on end. It's like a practice marriage. And if you're not compatible, well, you can call the thing off with no consequences.
Give it a rest already, Jack.
Surely couples who live together first are better prepared for marriage than those who learn only after the wedding that the love of their life is a slovenly and irritating human being.
But Science Says...
According to researchers at the University of Denver, couples who lived together before they were engaged have a higher divorce rate and lower marital satisfaction than those who waited until they were married, or at least engaged, to shack up.
Couples who play house pre-engagement are especially doomed for failure if, as many people do, they live together before marriage as a means of testing the relationship. Word of advice: if you feel the need to test your relationship, you probably already know something's wrong with it. For instance, if your boyfriend is cheating on you with a short, balding male prostitute named Fernando. Moving in together isn't going to help.
Actually, he's kind of handsome.
But researchers think this is where another factor comes into play. Rather than treating cohabitation as a profound and lifelong commitment, couples treat it as another stage of dating. So they're quicker to agree to do it than they would be to marry. But once they're living together, they find out breaking up can be next to impossible. Financially they adjust to having just one rent and utilities payment, and all of their stuff is there. A sort of inertia sets in.
After a few years of this, everybody in your life starts pressuring them to get married and they do it, because that's just what people do, dammit.
That's right: A whole lot of married couples out there are only together because one of them was too lazy to round up some friends to help them move that heavy-ass sofa and La-Z-Boy. It turns out that's not all that solid a foundation to base a marriage on.
You win again, La-Z-Boy.
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For more common misconceptions in the dating world, check out 6 Ways You Can (Accidently) Attract the Ladies and 6 Things Men Do To Get Laid That Science Says Turn Women Off.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated 07.30.2010) to see which columnist is currently on the market.