Women who are cheated on 'win' in the long run; new women 'lose'

Credit: George Hodan/public domain

Women who lose their unfaithful mate to another woman actually win in the long run, according to new research.

"Our thesis is that the who 'loses' her mate to another woman will go through a period of post- grief and betrayal, but come out of the experience with higher mating intelligence that allows her to better detect cues in future mates that may indicate low mate value. Hence, in the long-term, she 'wins,'" said Craig Morris, research associate at Binghamton University and lead author on the study. "The 'other woman,' conversely, is now in a relationship with a partner who has a demonstrated history of deception and, likely, infidelity. Thus, in the long-term, she 'loses.'"

Research on the effects of mate loss has focused on a breakup's short-term consequences, such as emotional distress, but the to mate loss have not been previously explored. Researchers from Binghamton University and University College London conducted an anonymous online survey of 5,705 participants in 96 countries; this was the largest-ever study on relationship dissolution, particularly as regards to cross-cultural experiences and age variation. Their findings show that there are consequences of female intrasexual mate competition that may be both evolutionarily adaptive and also beneficial in terms of personal growth, and that may expand beyond mating and into other realms of personal development.

Morris, a biocultural anthropologist and evolutionist, has highlighted how certain breakups seem to hit people very hard in past research. This new research highlights the ways in which humans - women, in particular - have adapted to cope with breakups.

"If we have evolved to seek out and maintain relationships, then it seems logical that there would be evolved mechanisms and responses to relationship termination, as over 85% of individuals will experience at least one in their lifetime)," said Morris.

What can women learn from this?

"They can learn that they are not alone—that virtually everyone goes through this, that it's okay to seek help if needed, and that they will get through it," Morris added.

Going forward, the research team will look at how people of different life experience, age and relationship history process breakups, as well as how the (enormous) number of non-exclusively heterosexual respondents process .

The study, "Intrasexual Mate Competition and Breakups: Who Really Wins?," was published in The Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition.

Explore further

Women hurt more by breakups but recover more fully

More information: The Oxford Handbook of Women and Competition, dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199376377.013.19
Provided by Binghamton University
Citation: Women who are cheated on 'win' in the long run; new women 'lose' (2016, April 26) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-women.html
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Apr 26, 2016
If a man meets 2 women he will want to impregnate the both of them. If a woman meets 2 men she will want to mate with the better of the 2. This is the main difference in reproductive strategies between males and females.

How does a woman go about determining relative quality? She will want to compel the 2 men to compete for her. Further, she will want to choose the best possible mate for each and every child she wishes to bear.

So biologically speaking, genes do not care about fidelity. This does not mean fidelity is not important, nor that it hasn't been selected for biologically. Beyond the traditional need of women for protection and assistance in securing food and shelter during pregnancy and child rearing, fidelity promotes stability and harmony within the tribe. This is true whether the preferred arrangement is monogamous, or polygamous when necessary to replace fighters lost in conflict.

So it would seem that group selection is the main determinant of fidelity.

Apr 26, 2016
"There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection" (Darwin, 1871, i, p. 166).

"Let it be borne in mind how all-important in the never-ceasing wars of savages, fidelity and courage must be. The advantage which disciplined soldiers have over undisciplined hordes follows chiefly from the confidence which each man feels in his comrades..."

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