If you were expecting your man to cherish and protect you in exchange for your dainty subservience, maybe you should rethink that, says a study from the University of Auckland. Because while there are certainly some advantages to women being delicate flowers and men being Don Draper, scientists say that women in relationships based on “benevolent sexism” — the belief that women get to feel loved and men get to make decisions — are less likely to be consistently happy in their relationships than women who have a less vintage view of gender dynamics.
To prove it, researchers had 91 heterosexual couples evaluate their relationship every day for three weeks, taking note of relationship problems and relationship satisfaction. In a second investigation, the researchers had another 86 women, whose partners were presumably spared from this project, evaluate their relationship every day for ten days, documenting all the times their partner became hurtful. And despite the expectations set up by Ozzie and Harriet, it turns out that women who believed in benevolent sexism weathered the ups and downs of coupled life less well than their less benevolent counterparts.
The difference is vulnerability: unlike women in more equal relationships, women who believe in benevolent sexism end up more dependent on their partners for personal satisfaction. Which is okay, sort of, when things are going well. But when the relationship hits a rocky patch, benevolently sexist women end up hurt — depending on someone else only works if the person you’re depending on is coming through for you. And annoyingly, nobody comes through 100 percent of the time.
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