What kind of men do women really want? That’s the question UCLA researchers set out to answer. Is it sexy men that women want or do women feel more satisfied with a guy who’s stable?
It seems for the most part, women want a stable partner. But when it’s ovulation time, they’re more likely to find fault with a partner they don’t find sexually attractive.
.A woman’s menstrual cycle has a lot to do with how she perceives her man. When a woman is ‘fertile’ she’s less likely to feel close to her partner. But the good news for relationship stability is those feelings don’t last long.
Christina Larson, the study's lead author and a doctoral candidate in social psychology at UCLA said in a press release, "Even when these women are feeling less positive about their relationship, they don't want to end it."
In a series of studies, the researchers discovered ovulation is a time when women want to ‘dress up’, wear high heels, tend to talk in higher pitched tones and avoid contact with male relatives.
“A lot of research has shown that women's preferences change over the course of the cycle, but this is the first time that these changes have been shown to have implications for relationship functioning," Larson said.
For their study, the researchers tracked ovulation cycles of 41 undergraduate women who were in long-term heterosexual relationships. They also asked a question about the women’s feelings about their relationships – whether they considered their partners suitable as long-term mates and how their financial stability compared to other men.
At the start of the study the researchers asked the women how sexually attractive they found their mates - "How desirable do you think women find your partner as a short-term mate or casual sex partner, compared to most men?"
Next they asked the women how they felt about their romantic relationship during two cycles of their menstrual period – once during high fertility just before ovulation and once during low fertility. The women said they were satisfied.
But a second set of questions yielded different results. Women who initially responded they found their mates sexually attractive felt closest to their men just before ovulation.
Women who weren’t as sexually attracted to their partners reported they felt less close to their partners during high fertility.
"Women with the really good, stable guy felt more distant at high-fertility periods than low-fertility periods," said Dr. Martie Haselton, a professor of psychology and communication studies at UCLA and senior author of the study "That isn't the case with women who were mated to particularly sexually attractive men. The closeness of their relationships got a boost just prior to ovulation."
The finding could be confusing to men. Haselton says women want a sexually attractive man when they’re fertile because they want someone with good genes for reproduction purposes. Conversely, they need a guy who’s stable.
But sometimes women make ‘trade-offs’. There just aren’t enough men that meet both stable and sexy criteria. Haselton calls the phenomenon the "dual mating hypothesis."
The researchers plan to find out if men even notice women’s behavior changes.
The finding, according to the researchers, has implications that could help couples. Women do prefer sexy guys it seems – but only when they’re approaching ovulation. Women who think their guy is sexy feel closer to their partner during times of high fertility.