Men with girlfriends are more appealing
Single women are much keener on pursuing a man who’s already taken, than one who is single, a new study says.
‘The single women really, really liked the guy when he was taken,’ says Melissa Burkley of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, who conducted the ‘mate-poaching’ study with her colleague Jessica Parker.
They asked 184 heterosexual students at the university to participate in a study on sexual attraction and told the volunteers that a computer program would match them with an ideal partner.
The most striking result was in the responses of single women. Offered a single man, 59% were interested in pursuing a relationship. But when he was attached, 90% said they were up for the chase.
Burkley and Parker speculate that single women may be more drawn to attached men because they’ve already been ‘pre-screened’ by other women and found to be satisfactory as a mate, whereas single men are more of an unknown quantity.
Burkely said that similar mate-poaching strategies have been reported in birds and fish.
‘The next question is why,’ says Burkley. So in further studies, she plans to further explore women’s motives for pursuing taken partners. Apart from the explanation of ‘pre-screening’, another possibility, she says, is that in US society, women are socialised to be competitive, so they derive self-esteem by mate-poaching from rival women.