Dr. Helen

Is the Need for Approval from Women Killing Men?

There is a article from “The Journal of Evolutionary Medicine” by Susan G. Brown, Susan Shirachi, and Danielle Zandbergen that reports some interesting news about why men are so reluctant to see a doctor for medical help. The article, entitled “Female Choice and Male Stoicism,” found:

Men consistently report that they are healthier than women but have higher mortality rates. We hypothesized that men were sexually selected to present themselves as healthy to possible mates, according to predictions from health selection theory. The present study tested this theory by contrasting known influences of female mate choice with male’s reactions to a health problem (flu symptoms, reaction to vog (air pollution associated with volcanic emissions in the Hawaiian islands) or a headache). Participants viewed three sets of slides contrasting male facial symmetry, physique, and status with stoicism (defined as ignoring a health problem) and were asked to choose which male they preferred as a long-term or a short-term mate. Participants preferred stoic men who worked even though they were experiencing health problems as long-term mates, disregarding the male’s facial symmetry and physique. Status also significantly affected long-term mate choice. In short-term mate choice, participants shifted their preferences to symmetrical faces and mesomorphic bodies, signals of attractiveness, disregarding stoicism. In conclusion, our data provide support for health selection theory. Additionally, preventive health measures directed at men should recognize their reluctance to recognize minor health problems and focus on techniques that enhance men’s perception of their health symptoms.

So, women prefer their longterm partner to be high status and stoic, according to the study, which means that men might be working long, hard jobs that are stressful and increase the risk of a health or emotional problem. Then, rather than complain, a man may go untreated so he will remain stoic in the eyes of his partner and therefore be more desirable to her.

In the old days when a doctor wasn’t of much help anyway, this strategy may have made sense. But today, doctors can help with many problems that men have and men are realizing that being expendable does not have the perks it once did as anything masculine is now referred to as “toxic masculinity.” All this stoicism will get a man is maybe laid, maybe not, and maybe sick or an early grave.

So why bother with the stoicism? And why risk your own life so that a woman will be glad you aren’t causing her any trouble? If you have a health problem, make an appointment with the doctor or take steps to treat it. Don’t let the need for approval from a woman jeopardize your health or your life.