THE BLOG
13/02/2015 07:42 GMT | Updated 14/04/2015 06:59 BST

The Psychology of Valentine's Day - Who Says 'I Love You' First and Who Really Means It?

In recent psychology research, nearly nine out of ten people believed that it is women who fall in love first in a romantic relationship.

In the study, entitled, Women and men in love: Who really feels it and says it first?, seven out of ten people believed that a woman will say, "I love you" first.

The authors of the research, psychologists Marissa Harrison and Jennifer Shortall, argue that there is a widely held belief that women are more romantic, and tend to fall in love faster than men.

The authors of this new study report that across the world, and no matter the culture investigated, females tend to use the phrase "I love you" more than males. Women and men do differ in their expression of emotions - women tend to be more expressive, and also women are expected to be more outwardly emotional.

However this new recent study, indicated that although both men and women believe that women will fall in love and say "I love you" first in a relationship, women may not be the greater "fools for love" that is widely assumed. The results of the study, published in the 'Journal of Social Psychology', in fact found that it was women who had a more pragmatic and cautious view of love.

The research from Pennsylvania State University, found men reported falling in love earlier and expressing it before women.

In response to the question, "In your most recent committed, romantic relationship, who said 'I love you' FIRST?" 64% of men compared to 18.51% of women reporting they said "I love you" to their partners first, so three times as many men as women said, "I love you" first to their partners. These results back up other research where men generally report falling in love and saying it first.

The authors argue this suggests that women tend to be more pragmatic about love than society tends to believe, i.e., not rushing foolishly into a relationship.

Participants were also asked, "How far into a committed, romantic relationship would you want to have sex with a partner?" and women reported a desire to wait longer to have sex than men. Men's responses indicated that they anticipated wanting to have sex at the same time they would know they were in love.

One theory as to why men in fact tend to say 'I love you' first is because men are expected to take the initiative in relationships. Also this verbal declaration may prompt women to reciprocate and commit. Perhaps men use this phrase first in a relationship as a tactic for sex.

Previous research has found that women listed their partners' expressions of "I love you" in their top ten romantic acts, but men did not.

If men believe that women find "I love you" to be romantic, men may communicate what their partners want to hear to get sex.

Another theory is that the public's perception of women as the more romantic gender might simply be due to the fact that men report being and are perceived as more sexual than are women, and are therefore viewed as less romantic.

Men reported falling in love with their most recent, committed partner in about a few weeks to a few months, and women reported falling in love in about a few months.

These findings corroborate that men are more likely than women to say, "I love you" first to their partners.

This suggests that women, relative to men, are making more careful assessments of their partners before committing sexually and emotionally to a relationship.

In another recent study, entitled, ''Love the Way You Lie'': Sexting deception in romantic relationships, the prevalence of lying during sexting (mobile phone text messages involving sex or romance) was examined. More than one third (37%) of those who had ever had a committed relationship and approximately half (48%) of active sexters had lied to their committed partners during sexting about what they were wearing or doing.

The research, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, found lying during sexting was much more common among women than men: 45% of women and 24% of men had lied during sexting with committed partners.

The authors of this current study, psychologists Michelle Drouin, Elizabeth Tobin and Kara Wygant, from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, report that previous research also found that 28% of men and 67% of women who had experienced intercourse had pretended orgasm. Also previous studies found 57% of men and 69% of women indicated that they had pretended to be aroused or enthusiastic about a sexual act.

The study found that even though women lied more than men during sexting, women lied less frequently during sexting than they deceive during face-to-face sexual acts.

Given that lying may not be a healthy or helpful relationship practice, the authors of the current research argue that people should perhaps consider foregoing the false descriptions of sexy underwear and wild sexual acts during sexting, and instead describe the television shows they are really watching in their flannel pajamas.

All this research demonstrating the extent of deception between men and women suggests love might be a game to many, particularly in the initial stages.

But it's also in healthier more serious relationships where the game eventually gets abandoned, and greater honesty becomes the new rule.