Study: Men Subconsciously Try Not To Cheat

A man hides his eyes as a woman passes.
Love, Self

Men in committed relationships subconsciously deny the attractiveness of young, fertile women.

Despite what many women may believe, men work really hard at "relationship maintenance." Even on a subconscious level.

According to The New York Times, researchers at Florida State University conducted an experiment on students aimed at studying how well (or poorly) we naturally work to maintain our relationships. They parked a 21-year-old female in a lab, then brought a series of men into the room—all of whom believed the woman was just another student taking part in the study—to complete a puzzle of Lego blocks together. The woman was dressed simply—a ponytail, no make-up, no perfume, jeans and a tee—and specifically trained not to flirt with the males she encountered in the study.

When it was over, researchers asked the men to rate her attractiveness. Past research has always indicated that guys find women more attractive in the most fertile stage of their menstrual cycles. And again, that was spot on—but only for single men. When the gal was rated by a guy in a committed relationship during her most fertile phase, she suddenly became way less attractive. The Pill Affects Partner Choice

Huh? Why? It's scientific, of course.

On a subconscious level, this girl's fertility posed a threat to their long-term love. In order to combat temptation, committed men convince themselves that women at peak fertility just are not very hot. This is what evolutionary psychology calls "relationship maintenance," which we have to admit is sort of an awesome concept.

"It seems the men were truly trying to ward off any temptation they felt toward the ovulating woman," said Dr. Jon Maner, who worked on this study with his colleague, Saul Miller. "They were trying to convince themselves that she was undesirable. I suspect some men really came to believe what they said. Others might still have felt the undercurrent of their forbidden desire, but I bet just voicing their lack of attraction helped them suppress it."

Past studies have shown large, noticeable shifts in male behavior when a woman is at peak fertility. For instance, during ovulation lap dancers get higher tips, the pitch of a woman's voice rises and is more attractive to men, and guys even rate a woman's scent as more desirable. But this new research shows a more subtle phenomenon. Voice Most Sexy During Ovulation

"The fascinating thing about this time is that it flies under the radar of consciousness," U.C.L.A. psychologist Martie Haselton said. "Women and men are affected by ovulation, but we don’t have any idea that it is what is driving these substantial changes in our behavior. It makes it clear that we're much more like other mammals than we thought."

Research that shows guys are definitely, albeit subconsciously, working toward monogamy? We've got to give it up for the boys.