Just in time for Valentine's Day, a new survey of more than 5,000 men and women conducted by a market research firm for Match.com is shining light on just how backasswards singles' behavior and expectations are these days. In fact, we're so screwed up when it comes to looking for love that we've totally "flipped the script in gender expectation," says an article in USA Today.

OMG. Dating is hard enough without having to account for a game-changer! Who do we blame for all this gender role confusion? Hmmm ... I believe it's four women from New York: Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York, and Miranda Hobbes! That's right -- the girls of Sex & the City may now be in their mid-to-late 40s and early 50s, but their infectious storylines planted a seed that has now grown into a social beast that CANNOT be tamed.

The seed was first planted all the way back in 1998, when the show was in its first season. Remember? (Well, you probably don't have to remember too hard, being that thanks to the glory of syndication, it's airing on E! EVERY NIGHT.) Carrie -- then a redhead! -- made it her mission to "have sex like a man." She spied an ex-boyfriend at a bar and vowed to her gay hubby Stanford that if she went home with him, she wouldn't let her heart get involved. Instead, she'd get her kicks, then hit the street. No emotions involved; no strings attached! (Goes to show that the recent rom-com starring Ashton and Natalie was just a wee bit late to the party, huh?)

The show went on to follow Carrie & Co. for six seasons, as they ran around Manhattan, hooking up, falling in love, getting engaged, getting divorced, poppin' out a baby or two, etc. -- all while remaining as fiercely independent as possible.

I was about 17-18 when I first started watching SATC, and both consciously and subconsciously, I gleaned A LOT of info from the show on how to act in the adult world of dating. Clearly, I wasn't alone.

Data from the survey show that across every age group, women want more independence than men in their relationships: 77 percent of women say having their personal space is "very important," vs. 58 percent for men; 78 percent of women say the same about having their own interests and hobbies (vs. 64 percent for men). And 35 percent of women (vs. 23 percent of men) say regular nights out with the guys/girls are important.

Think that Aidan, the almost-too-sweetie pie who wanted to tie Carrie down with a ring and some kiddos, is an anomaly? Nope -- looks like his type has become moreso the status quo than commitaphobe Mr. Big. The survey found men are quicker to fall in love and more likely than women to want children: 54 percent of men say they have experienced love at first sight, compared with 44 percent of women; among singles without children under 18, more men (24 percent) than women (15 percent) say they want children.

What about when it comes to those notorious, NSA hook-ups that the SATC gals piled on episode after episode? Well, apparently they can lead a few of us to love after all. Thirty-five percent of survey participants had a one-night stand that turned into a long-term relationship.

Over a decade after Carrie first "got to wondering" about sex and love, more women are working while their men become stay-at-home dads, more couples are having kids and then tying the knot, and MANY more people are making booty calls. Yeah, this survey only reinforces the fact that we're dealing with a totally different dating landscape than previous generations did. Patti Stanger, Millionaire Matchmaker and ever the traditionalist when it comes to gender roles, probably hates it. But it may be a good thing after all. Hey, if it means women are better able to find a partner who complements us, individuality and all, I'm a definitely a fan.

How do you feel about the way dating and relationships have changed in the last 10 or so years?


Image via João Carlos Magagnin/Flickr