She loves you, she loves you not

Whether in fiction or history, women have often gotten a bad rap for being fickle. But it may just be evolution. A landmark meta-analysis suggests that ovulating women have evolved to prefer mates who display ‘sexy traits’ (think muscular build, dominant behavior, symmetrical facial features). UCLA psychologist Martie Haselton, who is one of a handful of pioneers in research on behavioral changes at ovulation, explains that sexy traits are not typically desired in long-term mates.

“Women who were partnered with men, who at one point in the study they rated them as very satisfying long-term partners, but not the sexiest guys around –  those women experienced increases in attraction to men other than their partner on fertile days of the cycle. So, it’s as if women on fertile days place a premium on male partners’ sexiness and if their male partner isn’t sexy, then women start to notice other men.”

While these findings may seem depressing, Haselton argues that just understanding this can help couples improve their relationships when in conflict.

“Once you understand how your mind works, what the mechanisms are that might otherwise be passing under the radar of conscious awareness, you can ‘mind hack’ and do things to achieve whatever your goals are – so, to maintain a happy relationship with your partner, or maybe it’s to have a wild sex life, but whatever it is, if women understand that there are these patterned changes across the cycle, then they can probably make better sexual decisions.”

The mere notion that a woman’s mate preferences could shift at high fertility has been a source of debate since the late 1990s, when the first studies that hinted at such a change began to appear. Since then, several papers failed to replicate the early studies’ results, casting doubt on the hypothesis.

“Until the past decade, we all accepted this notion that human female sexuality was radically different from sexuality in all of these other animal species – that, unlike other species, human female sexuality was somehow walled off from reproductive hormones. Then a set of studies challenged conventional wisdom.”

One hypothesis for why this mate preference shift occurs is that it may be an evolutionary adaptation that served our ancestors’ reproductive interests long before modern medicine, nutrition and sanitation greatly reduced infant and child mortality rates.

2 thoughts on “She loves you, she loves you not

  1. u14008077

    Maybe women are more aware of their feelings at that specific time of month and a sexier guy makes her realise this feeling even more. The very satisfying long-term partners will start to argue during this time without them really knowing the real reason for the conflict between them. Women sometimes do not understand themeself because of these hormones and then the partner will understand her even less and she will start looking over her shoulder to sexier men.

  2. Matuma Gwangwa(u14078687)

    Although women are usually referred to as complicated creatures,they shouldn’t let hormones change their present life situations if not permanent.Ovulation comes for a short period of time.This shouldn’t bring about any changes with your life-long partner.You chose him and you can’t expect him to be much more sexier than he is right now.I believe being attracted to the other male person comes with thoughts you create in your mind…and you can control that!

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