1. Headline
  1. Headline
By
updated 6/23/2011 7:14:21 PM ET 2011-06-23T23:14:21

Dump the stereotype of the manly commitment-phobe. A new study finds that not only do men often say "I love you" first in relationships, they're often happier than women when they hear the three little words said to them.

  1. Stories from
    1. It's a Girl for Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis
    2. Elisabeth Röhm's Blog: Gone Baby Gone
    3. See the Stunning Photos From the Little People, Big World Wedding
    4. Pennsylvania Parents Charged with Homicide in Starvation Death of 9-Year-Old Son
    5. Shailene Woodley Dyes Her Pixie Bright Blonde! (PHOTO)

The bigger happiness boost comes when a woman confesses her love prior to the couple having sex, researchers reported in June in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

From an evolutionary perspective in which men value the opportunity to reproduce and women value commitment to raise offspring, the findings make sense, the researchers wrote. Men may prefer a pre-sex confession because it comes with the promise of getting some action in the near future. Women, on the other hand, would prefer the post-sex confession because it means the sex comes with a commitment.

The researchers recruited 45 students and other passersby at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and asked them whether they thought men or women said, " I love you " first more often in relationships. Sixty-four percent said women were most likely to drop the L-word first. On average, the respondents predicted, women would say "I love you" 23 days before men.

In fact, the researchers found after surveying about 100 undergraduates and 47 heterosexual couples of all ages, between 61 percent and 70 percent of people said the man had said "I love you" first in their past or current relationship. On average, men considered saying "I love you" 42 days before women did, suggesting that the difference was not just based on women waiting for men to make the first move.

Further study showed that, when asked to imagine a scenario in which their girlfriend said "I love you," men reported the biggest imagined happiness boost if the confession came before the two had ever had sex. After sex, men reported a slightly smaller happiness boost when the confession was made.

Women, in comparison, were less impressed with pre-sex confessions, but became significantly happier if the "I love you" came after the couple had started having sex.

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

Vote: Who said I love you first in your most recent relationship?

More on TODAY.com

  1. Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer

    From the moment you hear the words ‘You have breast cancer,’ it’s almost like you’re shot out of a cannon. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed.

    10/1/2014 10:52:45 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:52:45
  2. Want to help? A guide to breast cancer charities

    In the United States an estimated 296,000 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and almost 40,000 women and 410 men will die of the disease. That's one death every 14 minutes, according to the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

    10/1/2014 10:45:11 AM +00:00 2014-10-01T10:45:11
  3. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
  1. Nbc News

    9 things we learned from Brian Williams' Facebook chat

    10/2/2014 1:41:28 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:41:28
  1. Noel Vasquez / Getty Images Contributor

    Mila Kunis,  Ashton Kutcher welcome baby girl

    10/2/2014 1:24:09 AM +00:00 2014-10-02T01:24:09
  1. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    Secret Service director resigns amid scandal

    10/1/2014 7:30:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T19:30:52
  1. Texas Ebola patient had contact with kids

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a press conference on Wednesday that “some school-age children” had been identified as having contact with the man diagnosed with the first case of Ebola in the United States. 

    10/1/2014 5:37:52 PM +00:00 2014-10-01T17:37:52