Science of Love, Sex, and Babies

Are women more interested in men who are taken?

Posted in news by jenapincott on August 25, 2009

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If you believe that all the good men are already taken, doesn’t it follow that you’d be more interested in a married (or otherwise engaged) guy? It’s been found to be true of other female animals — even fish and birds — they all prefer to “poach” males already chosen by other females. And I describe in BLONDES, studies have found that men who are in the company of an attractive woman (especially if they’re smiling at him) are more desirable to female judges.

But are women more likely to chase that guy if he’s already taken?

Psychologists at the University of Oklahoma wanted to know, so they recruited nearly 200 heterosexual men and women, some of whom were single and others who were in relationships. Told only that they were participating in a study on attraction, they were shown a photo of an opposite-sex stranger and answered questions about their attraction to that person: How likely would you show interest? How likely would you be to initiate conversation? How likely would you be to initiate a romantic relationship with this person? The psychologists also attached a relationship status to the person in the photo: either single or in a relationship.

Turns out the relationship status made a tremendous difference — but only when it comes to women choosing men, and not the other way around. As expected, women in relationships were less attracted to the stranger than single women were, regardless of the man’s relationship status. But here’s the interesting result: single women were more attracted to the man, and more likely to initiate a relationship with him, when told he was in a relationship than when told he was single. According to the psychologists, an attached man signals desirable resources and a willingness to commit to family life. He’s been tested, “pre-screened.” Simply put, commitment makes men more attractive.

As for men, a woman’s relationship status, at least in this study, had little effect on her attractiveness Single men were slightly (although not significantly) more attracted to the woman when told she was single. Attached men were slightly (although not significantly) more attracted to a woman when told she was attached.

Of course, bear in mind that this study is based on photos and is hypothetical. I suspect a man’s partner has some influence over whether a single woman dares move in on her territory. Is she beautiful? Is she the jealous type? And what happens after a divorce or break-up? Is a divorced man more attractive than one who never committed?

9 Responses

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  1. […] It’s science — married men are more attractive to women — that’s right, ladies, I’m […]

  2. BahaiDoves said, on August 26, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    The link using the anchor text ‘Psychologists’ is broken. It should be directing to:

  3. girlslashwoman said, on August 28, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Oh wow, I’m absolutely the opposite. When a guy is taken, I back off quicker than a deer from a crunched twig. Something about them just makes me less willing to put myself out there- as if there is just no point in even trying.

  4. Lits said, on September 8, 2009 at 4:19 am

    I would agree with this based on personal experience because I recently realized that i was attracted to my ex boyfriend who is now married. It seems crazy to me when i feel this way because i dumped him because he wouldnt commit after dating 5 yrs and now that he is married, i am suddenly finding myself liking him and igniting old (good) memories of us together.

  5. order skelaxin said, on September 21, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    It`s out of the question.
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  6. Fiyola Hoosen said, on October 4, 2009 at 2:40 am

    This is interesting indeed. I can’t say that a man’s marital status makes him more appealing to me, 99,9% of the time I find men appealing because of other factors. If those factors are present in a married man then I am likely to find him atractive as a result of that and definitely not because he is married!

  7. spam said, on December 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I may be attracted to a married guy but will set limits and boundaries. My hubby is currently in a relationship with a divorced friend of him. It’s been months now and me and my family are devastated. I’m in a point of giving up our relationship now. I have attempted to win him back multiple times, I have sincerely motivated myself to improve to his conformities as a wife , I love him dearly and would all be willing to forgive him . But everything seemed futile as he recently verbalized to me he has no love for me anymore and too late for me to do anything to please him. Thats very tragic and painful.You would not even want to try to fit into my shoes. To get involved with a married guy and subsequently ruining a family is indeed more than a tragic. Its a lifetime trauma.

  8. Pamula Affeld said, on February 28, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Great information in your blogpost, I saw a report on television yesterday about this same thing and since I am getting married in two weeks and the timing couldn’t have been better! thanks for the tip!

  9. […] And some research indicates that a wedding ring on his finger only makes many women want him more. […]

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