written Tunde Ajaja - Nigeria
What is it in married men that attracts single women or ladies? Or does that common saying that 'the food on someone else's plate always looks tastier and better' also apply to such women's choice of partner, whether for sex or marriage? This phenomenon is called mate poaching.
According to a clinical psychologist, Dr. Valerie Golden, mate poaching has become a robust phenomenon. When single women see a moderately attractive male, they are more interested in him if they believe he is already in a relationship.
In fact, one study found that 90 per cent of single women were interested in a man who they believed was married, while a mere 59 per cent wanted him when told he was single, while another previous study found that about one in five long-term relationships begins when one or both partners are involved with someone else.
This implies that the era of seeing men as the only gender that readily wants to lure a man out of his relationship is long gone as women now seem to be at the forefront.
One could also wonder if single women are simply taking a cue from the preference of married women, because a study once showed that when deciding if someone is attractive, people take cue from others. This probably underscores the reason why married women are wary of single ladies lurking around their husbands.
Many people are used to the fact that married men have extra-marital affairs due to reasons ranging from lust, excitement, revenge, to family issues etc, but for single women who have the option of dating single men to prefer married men may be a little surprising. Why would single ladies/women venture into such?
Ordinarily, one would expect that a married man is no longer available, but studies have shown that women who are single are particularly attracted to men that are either in committed relationship or married as against bachelors.
Beyond the pecuniary gains that such single women or ladies may look forward to, the studies showed that such men are seen as having the ability to be committed and have more experience in knowing and meeting the needs of a woman than most bachelors who mostly want to enjoy the moment and move on to other things.
In a study, researchers from the Oklahoma State University in the United States showed 100 female university students pictures of both married and single men and asked them how attractive they found them and which of them they would try to start a romance with.
Some of the students were single while others were married and the pictures of the men were labelled as either married or single.
On the other hand, a group of men were shown several pictures of some women; single and married.
When asked for comments after viewing the photographs, it was gathered that single women were significantly more interested in the married men, while married women were far more interested in single men. On the other hand, single men were most drawn to the single women.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and reviewed by Daily Mail, pointed out that single women are four times more likely to find a married man attractive than someone who is unattached because the fact the man already has a mate adds to his 'desirability' factor.
In contrast, married women were far more interested in single men – suggesting they either respected the bonds of wedlock more, or yearned for a free spirit.
"Single women in this study were significantly more interested in the man when he was attached and this may be because an attached man has demonstrated his ability to commit and in some ways, his qualities have already been 'pre-screened' by another woman," the researchers added.
The study added that men were rated more desirable when they were pictured surrounded by women than when alone or with other men, the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B reports.
Talking about the science of attraction, a psychologist, Anthony Little, said just as female birds and fishes find the male specie more attractive if they have already seen it in the company of another female, such phenomenon also extends to humans.
Findings showed that some women go after married men having lost their partners to friends and prefer to shy away from any feeling of sisterhood, hence, go after whoever they find attractive regardless of who is pained.
A sex and relationship advisor, Dr Pam Spurr, said only the commitment to marriage would reduce things like mate poaching. "I think this is only going to get worse unless we have a sea change in relationships. Increased adultery is eroding strong relationships, and until people take marriage more seriously and don't look for an easy way out, mate poaching may continue to be an issue."
Meanwhile, one of the reasons highlighted by the study as to why single women are more attracted to men who are taken was that the single women believe that the men who have been chosen (whether in marriage or relationship) must have been chosen for good reason, hence, such men tend to be good men.
Another reason highlighted was that married men are no longer afraid of commitment, and that a man willing to commit himself and alive to responsibilities is much hotter than a man who is not.
There is also a reasoning that there are a number of sexually active young women who are not socially or psychologically ready to get married and would rather have an affair with a married man, who would be less demanding, than a single man who might be pressing towards marriage.
They however pointed out that honesty, trust, availability, spending holidays and family time together may not make it to the priority list in such a relationship, but that it gives the woman some breathing room, in which case nobody is on her neck and she is not accountable for every action taken.
They stressed that it is usually done by single women who do not want to be under any man's control or strict monitoring, women who have decided never to trust a man or those who simply want to make money out of the man.
"For these women, feeling superior has less to do with the man in question and how desirable he is, but more to do with being more powerful than and superior to the other woman," the study said.
Reacting to the study, a psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, said if similar studies were to be conducted in this part of the world, the results are likely to reveal that such single women are attracted to married men because of the financial status and the likelihood of being well taken care of rather than the men's physique or good looks.
"The reason a single woman would be attracted to a married man may have little to do with his physique or how handsome he is, but she may be considering the fact that the man has a big pocket and may be able to care for her need. So, the pecuniary gain and the sheer social value of being seen with somebody who is well recognised in the society are factors such people may consider.
"Also, married men already have the experience; they tend to be people who have some level of influence, authority and sizeable income in their control, which may guarantee the woman opportunities like jobs and business connections. So, they are people who are likely to be made already. Things like physique, good looks and the man's sexual prowess may be added factors but not the priority."
Elegbeleye added that some women may also do such to derive some pleasure in competing with another woman. He said since some young men of today are not ready for commitment, the single women may not want to lose out, hence, seeing dating a married man as an option.