Entries in mate retention (4)


Some Things You Know You Have Before They’re Gone

A wise man (with amazing hair) once crooned “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. The statement’s intended interpretation is that we often take for granted the positive characteristics of our romantic partners up until the moment the relationship is lost.

But is it possible that there are some things we do know we have before we’ve lost them, and that we go out of our way to hang on tight? In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Joshua Oltmanns, Patrick Markey, and Juliana French hypothesized just that. Specifically, they argued that people in relationships are especially in tune how their own physical attractiveness stacks up relative to their partner.1 And when an individual perceives their partner is the relatively more attractive one, they will do things, subtly and not so subtly, to keep their hotter partner all to themselves.

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Pill Use and Mate Retention Tactics: Blame the Estradiol

image source: static.oprah.comThe majority of American women have used a hormonal contraceptive. According to a recent study, women taking hormonal contraceptives, and their male partners, display more “mate retention” tactics (i.e., doing things to keep their partners from straying, such as looking especially sexy or showcasing resources) compared to women, and male partners of women, who do not take hormonal contraceptives. Analyses revealed that it was the synthetic estradiol rather than progesterone that likely causes these effects.

Welling, L. L. M., Puts, D. A., Roberts, S. C., Little, A. C., & Buriss, R. P. (2012). Hormonal contraceptive use and mate retention behavior in women and their male partners. Hormones and Behavior, 61, 114-120.


Too Sexy for Your Peers: Women’s Indirect Aggression Towards Other Women

New research suggests that women who wear sexy clothing and show cleavage alienate other women. While waiting to participate in what they thought was a study of conflict, pairs of women witnessed an attractive woman in sexy clothing enter the room and talk to a research assistant about setting up the cameras. The researchers recorded responses of the women in the waiting area during the provocatively dressed woman’s presence and after she left the room. The women in the waiting room rolled their eyes, looked at the provocatively dressed woman in disgust, made negative and mocking comments, and laughed at her when she left the room. Apparently this sexy woman was quite threatening. When the same woman entered the room in khakis and a crew neck t-shirt (i.e., not provocatively dressed), the women barely even noticed her!

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Negging: Do Women Really Like Guys Who Treat Them Like Crap?

A few years back, Neil Strauss published a book entitled The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. The book chronicles Strauss’ journey from “chick repellant” to a master of seduction, a feat he accomplished by hiring a very expensive pickup “expert” to teach him the tricks of the trade. Among the things he learned was a technique known as “negging,” which essentially involves belittling a woman upon meeting her. The idea is that by lowering her self-esteem through a mild insult, she will be more easily seduced. In other words, if you can undermine her confidence, she’ll be more likely to settle for you instead of holding out for a better guy.

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