Women prefer sexy guys when they are ovulating reports new study

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
sexuality, sexual attractiveness, ovulation, sexy man, stable man

According to a new study, women who have a stable guy as a partner rather than a sexy one are more likely to have negative feelings toward him just before ovulation. Conversely, women who have a sexy guy as a partner are more likely to be more attracted to him at that time. UCLA researchers published their findings in the November issues of Hormones and Behavior.

“A woman evaluates her relationship differently at different times in her cycle, and her evaluation seems to be colored by how sexually attractive she perceives her partner to be,” noted Martie Haselton, PhD, a professor of psychology and communication studies at UCLA. For the study, Dr. Haselton and UCLA doctoral student Christina Larson recruited 41 undergraduate women in long-term heterosexual relationships and tracked their menstrual cycles. With the goal of determining how stable and sexually attractive the men might be, the investigators queried the participants regarding their partners For example, they asked, “How desirable do you think women find your partner as a short-term mate or casual sex partner, compared to most men?” Then, just before ovulation, when fertility was at its peak, and at a low-fertility point, the women were then asked about the quality of their relationship.

The researchers found that, overall, the women’s commitment to and satisfaction with their relationships did not appear to vary much with fertility; however, women with less sexually attractive partners appeared to feel less close to their partners as they moved from their least fertile to most fertile period. Conversely, women matched with the most sexually attractive men seemed to experience the opposite effect. In a statement, Dr. Haselton explained, “Women with the really good, stable guy felt more distant at high-fertility periods than low-fertility periods. That isn’t the case with women who were mated to particularly sexually attractive men. The closeness of their relationships got a boost just prior to ovulation.”

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The researchers found the same trends when they repeated the experiment another group of 67 women. In this phase of the study, the researchers added a new questionnaire that had the women rate their partners’ flaws, such as thoughtlessness, moodiness, and childishness. Women paired with less sexually attractive guys were significantly more likely to find fault with their partners during the high-fertility period than the low-fertility period.

The investigators explained that the sometimes conflicting desires for stability and sexiness in a partner could be derived from mating strategies designed to benefit our female ancestors a long time ago. Dr. Haselton noted, “Since our female ancestors couldn’t directly examine a potential partner’s genetic makeup, they had to base their decisions on physical manifestations of the presence of good genes and the absence of genetic mutations, which might include masculine features such as a deep voice, masculine face, dominant behavior and sexy looks.” She added,
“In the reproductive arena, women probably evolved to desire men who could contribute both quality care and good genes. The problem is that there is a limited number of potential mates who are high in both. So many women are forced to make trade-offs.”

The researchers noted that “Mr. Stable” need not be concerned too much about their findings because the apparent negative feelings during ovulation do not appear to affect long-term commitment. Ms. Larson explained in a statement, “Even when these women are feeling less positive about their relationship, they don’t want to end it.” She added that the research team was interested in whether the changes in behavior are apparent to guys. She said, “We don’t know if men are picking up on this behavior, but if they are, it must be confusing for them.”

Reference: Hormones and Behavior

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