Sexual Strategies

This week’s cover story on the New Scientist magazine is about sexual strategies – the different approaches men and women have to sex.  At the time of writing you can still read the original article here, but New Scientist tends to take stories down after a while so the link may not work when you come to try it. But it is a long article in any case so here is my summary, and what it means to your own dating strategy.

Lynda Boothroyd of the University of Durham investigated what affected whether men and woman were more likely to be monogamous or promiscuous.  This was a scientific study, so there were no moral judgements involved.  The most interesting finding was that people were able to very accurately predict just from their photos whether people were more likely to be monogamous than promiscuous.  The more attractive a face was, the more likely people were to rate them as promiscuous.  And this was indeed the case.

This isn’t all that surprising on one level of course – the more attractive a person is the more opportunities they are likely to have.  As is usually the case when it comes to sex, blokes are more straight forward.  The better looking guys are more likely to stray. That is about all there is to it, and I guess it is easy enough to interpret.  For a man, biologically speaking, there is a lot to be gained from sleeping with as many females as possible.  Good looking guys have the wherewithall to attract the partners and it isn’t surprising to see them taking advantage of it.

Women are more likely to shop around when they are ovulating, even when in a stable relationship.  It isn’t perhaps as obviously a good strategy for women to pursue lots of sexual partners, especially when they already have a partner who they could cheese off.  Maybe this is why this strategy is limited to times when women are fertile.  The risk is more worth it.

I usually try and see what advice can be given from research.  It is a bit trickier this time.  For men, if you are planning on dating a married woman you will do better to look for attractive ones.  For women, beware of men on internet dating sites.  There is a good chance that they are married and looking for a fling.  (I know, I know, you already knew that….)

The original reference is Evolution and Human Behavior, vol 29, p 211, and don’t forget that evolution is the key to attractiveness.