What predicts intimacy in relationships for men vs. women?

Updated: Apr 21

Sapiens prefer others who resemble themselves as mates and best friends. This curious preference, dubbed homophily is especially strong when it comes to hobbies, moral beliefs, and taste in music.

A survey based study by Eiluned Pearce et al. has uncovered some interesting gender differences in aspects that are important for homophily. The study found that in romantic relationships, intimacy was correlated with similarity in financial prospects, outgoingness, dependability and kindness for women. For men, no trait was important. Longevity of romantic relationships were predicted by - time spent together, gift-giving and supportiveness for women, but only the frequency of face-to-face interaction for men.

When it comes to BFFs, similarities in education, humour, dependability and happiness improved intimacy in women. In men, the prominent traits were - time spent together, financial prospects, outgoingness and dependability. In men, shared history had a positive effect on intimacy; while it had a negative effect on intimacy in women.

The study found that gift giving does not help intimacy in friendships among women, but that it does among men. This is a reversal of its effect in romantic relationships for women. The fact that gift-giving negatively effects intimacy of BFF relationships in women is intriguing. The authors observed that since “gift-giving is associated with forms of strict reciprocity in relationships” it may hamper the formation of “deeper emotional ties”.

Read more about the study here.