The bottomless mysteries of our relationships — and corporate desire to offer a product as the key to those mysteries — results in a lot of dubious data for your delectation.

British papers this week, for example, seriously depleted their supply of punning “pants” headlines and David Beckham underwear shots to report on a study of men’s gitch-buying habits and what they tell us about modern couples.

“Study” is a grand word for what was really a customer survey British retailer Debenhams released to the media in hopes of a little publicity and a few sales of underwear.


Among the shocking findings: For most of their lives, guys let women buy their skivvies. The job falls first to their moms, and then girlfriends and wives.

It’s hardly a revelation that women are the biggest buyers of these items. The ab-enhanced models on the packaging do not seem designed to coax cash out of the wallet of the typical straight male.

There are, of course, exceptions, and here is where the alleged insight into relationships comes in. Men, according to the crack scientific team at Debenhams, will shell out for new underwear when single, desperately trying to head off a breakup, or looking for a new relationship.

The message from Debenhams might be parsed thus: Girls, better come in and stock up to ensure your man isn’t getting any ideas. If he’s purchased some of our quality men’s undergarments, thereby making himself irresistible to the ladies, he may be up to something.

There’s also a less-than-subtle hint to the single man that perhaps what you need in order to correct that condition is a requisition of underwear, and Debenhams disinterestedly puts the recommended dosage of this cure at somewhere more than 31 pairs per annum.

I’m not sure I follow the logic of this dating strategy. It seems to me that if a potential mate is seeing you in your underwear, things are already going quite well. Certainly, if one is expecting company, a pair without holes is ideal, but beyond that, are brand and vintage really likely to make much difference?

Single women, Debenhams doesn’t explicitly say, but would probably agree, might take to patrolling the underwear racks to spot the eligible, though this seems a little sad.

In all, Debenhams’ survey tells us little about our relationships apart from the fact that they sell underwear and very much would like to sell more.

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