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A common saying is that women are generally more attracted towards men who are already in a relationship, and this phenomena does seem to have its own place in popular culture that is not matched by a corresponding male preference for women who are already in a relationship.

From an intuitive viewpoint I think it would make sense from the woman's viewpoint in an system of information economics where the fact that a male is engaged in a successful relationship with another female, or several other females, might provide extra and positive information about the evolutionary value of the male.

But how about the possibility for a male to use the same trick?

Is there any empirical evidence for this behaviour at all either in humans or in other species, or is this just a cultural artefact in some human societies? If there is empirical support, is there a consensus on the plausible evolutionary pathways involved here?

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closed as off-topic by Amory, Memming, terdon, kmm Sep 13 '13 at 20:56

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Im not sure this is true. How does one measure 'attraction' anyways? And maybe the relationship has nothing to do with it. Maybe a guys who are desirable tend to be in more relationships, simply because they are desirable – von Mises Sep 13 '13 at 16:23
@vonMises i agree with you girls look to be more attracted after a boy is in relationship,even though they were in touch with the person(boy). – SaiKanth K Sep 13 '13 at 17:17
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about social interactions. – Memming Sep 13 '13 at 18:09
There's tons of evidence and it's all anecdotal. People in relationships tend to be people who it would be good to be in a relationship with, go figure. – Amory Sep 13 '13 at 18:23
up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is a widely researched topic in the overlap between social sciences and evolutionary biology. Evolution has become very influential in understanding human interaction and preferences.

This chapter from "The Adapted Mind : Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture" will give you an idea of how all this plays out in the big picture - its a fairly comprehensive review of many factors considered in human mate choice. The study may be psychological, but the logic is derived from biology these days. (stackexchange won't let me link to google books - you can search for the title and look at chapter 6).

Evolutionary tendencies will favor more successful offspring. But for people it includes not only the genetic qualities of the mate (appearance, height, disease resistance, health) but also social qualities (how reliable or willing a mate is to support offspring).

First off you can see that there are many many factors which women take into consideration in their preferences. Its commonly said they are more complex than men, but that's another question. You have to take a range of factors holistically including the social environment.

I can't find this particular issue addressed in the literature, but I think that it might be attractive to women in some social settings. If there is a lot competition for 'quality' mates or resources for instance - if you have very few secure males or pessimistic females might create pressure which would cause females to prefer males which were successful.

Its pretty easy to feel good about hypotheses like this. I couldn't find a specific study, but perhaps someone else will. There's a lot of such papers out there.

I should say that men are as easily led to do things by 'mate choice' psychology that aren't totally healthy or socially acceptable. That's biology.

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