Men Slow Down For Love

Everything always goes back to evolution, doesn’t it?

This interesting new study from Seattle Pacific University found that men adjust their walking speed to match their romantic partner’s pace — a phenomenon not seen when men walk with female friends.

So, your height generally determines your walking speed. Those with long legs/strides, tend to walk faster than those who are shorter. Therefore, men generally have a faster optimal walking pace than women. Your optimal walking pace is the speed at which you are moving most efficiently, not wasting energy. When people of different optimal walking speeds walk together, someone needs to adjust their speed to accommodate their walking partner.

The study looked at different pairs as they walked around a track – heterosexual couples, people with a same-sex friend, people with an opposite-sex friend. They also looked at individuals walking alone to gauge their pace and optimal walking speed.

What happened? When a romantically involved couple walked together, the man always slowed his pace to match his female partner’s optimal speed. This occurred whether or not the two were holding hands.

In contrast, when men and women in platonic friendships walked together, both parties altered their speed. Men slowed slightly, and women sped up, to meet in the middle. When walking with someone of the same sex, men sped up so that both guys were chugging along at about 4 percent faster than their preferred pace. Women, on the other hand, slowed so that both walked about 3 percent slower than usual.

So, what’s the connection to evolution? Well, many hunter-gatherer groups split into same-sex teams for long-distance travel, to prevent either from having to pay an energy penalty to match each other’s pace. Today, however, with romantic relationships, men may have evolved to care and connect more with their partners, unconsciously taking the energy hit so that the woman can save her effort.

I guess we have come a ways farther than the cave men after all…

What do you think about this? I think that the difference between a man walking with a romantic partner and a female friend is rather interesting…


Photo credit: Mike Baird’s Flickr page

To read the full article, click here.




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Categories: Statistics


I'm a married publicist who holds a Master's degree in psychology, with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. I'd like to make the world a better relationship at a time.

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One Comment on “Men Slow Down For Love”

  1. November 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Kinda nice to think men would slow down to walk with their partner.

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