By NICK CHILES
Apparently one of these days my oldest daughter will slide in and replace me as the most important confidant in my wife’s life.
According to a new study that was published in the journal Scientific Reports, women shift the focus of their attention and friendship to their adult daughters as they age, permanently relegating their husbands to second-best-friend status.
Since I got two girls in my house, I might as well begin my countdown now. My days are numbered. Poor me. The dog doesn’t even like me. Pretty soon I’ll be the old guy in the corner, by myself, mumbling to myself.
So how did researchers come up with this entertaining bit of sociological excavation? They analyzed nearly 2 billion cellphone calls and a half billion text messages in an unnamed European country. They found that while men tend to maintain a woman as their closest confidant throughout their lives—presumably their wives—the female of the species is not quite so loyal.
Ruth Mace, an evolutionary anthropologist at University College London, told the Los Angeles Times that by using the raw data of telephone calls, the study doesn’t have to worry about the political correctness that would cause people to hesitate in giving truthful answers in phone or written surveys.
“If I said, ‘Were you equally close to your son or your daughter?’ you wouldn’t want to answer that question,” Mace said. “But if you’re looking at phone calls, you’re getting a statistical picture that is quite unbiased.”
The researchers found that in early adulthood, both men and women focus their attention on the opposite sex. But as they get into their 40s, the focus of women switches to their daughters; the focus of men remains their wives. When it came to second-best friends for men, they didn’t have a strong preference for sons or daughters.
It’s not hard to see the consequences of women switching their allegiances to their daughters when they start to age. I just have to look to my own parents. I always wondered whether it hurt my dad’s feelings over the years that my two sisters and I were much quicker to call Mom to chat than we were to call him. Now that I am starting to be able to see this all from his perspective, and I can see my friendless future stretching before my eyes, I believe I have my answer: Yes, it does hurt.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.