See problems as challenges, not threats


Because ovulating (i.e., high-fertility) women are both more attractive to men and also more attracted to (desirable) men, ovulating women may be perceived to pose heightened threats to other women’s romantic relationships. Across 4 experiments, partnered women were exposed to photographs of other women taken during either their ovulatory or nonovulatory menstrual-cycle phases, and consistently reported intentions to socially avoid ovulating (but not nonovulating) women - but only when their own partners were highly desirable. Exposure to ovulating women also increased women’s sexual desires for their (highly desirable) partners. These findings suggest that women can be sensitive to subtle cues of other women’s fertility and respond (e.g., via social exclusion, enhanced sexual attention to own mate) in ways that may facilitate their mate retention goals while not thwarting their affiliative goals.

{ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Continue reading }

Using luteinizing hormone tests to verify ovulation, across two studies (Samples 1 and 2), we found that women whose partners were relatively low in sexual desirability felt less close to their partner (Samples 1 and 2) and were more critical of their partner’s faults (Sample 2) on high-fertility days of the cycle just prior to ovulation compared with low-fertility days of the cycle. Women whose partners were relatively high in sexual desirability felt closer to their partner (Sample 1) and more satisfied with their relationship (Sample 2) on high- than low-fertility days of the cycle. There were no such shifts in women’s commitment to their relationship. Therefore, partner sexual desirability predicts women’s high-fertility assessments of relationship quality but not their intentions to stay in their relationship, consistent with the dual mating hypothesis. These findings suggest that variations across the ovulation cycle in women’s reproductive hormones play an important role in relationship dynamics.

{ Hormones and Behavior | PDF }

images { 1. Frederike Helwig | 2. Bonnie and Clyde (1967), publicity still, Faye Dunaway }