Do Women Really Want What They Can't Have?


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We have all heard the saying "All the good guys are taken" but is it true? Or do women really want what they can't have? As a female myself, I see a taken man as off-limits and do not necessarily find them as more attractive than single guys. If you asked my male friends, however, most will say they get more attention when they are in a relationship than when they are single. So I decided to investigate this issue further to see if and why women really want what they can't have.

There are different explanations for why women find men more attractive when they are attached. The article "Why are we attracted to taken men (and women)?"  gave a couple of reasons why. In the article they said that Helen Fisher, an anthropologist from Rutgers University, blames this on the chemical known as dopamine:  

                     "the chemical increases in our brain the longer it takes for a pleasure to be fulfilled, hence we actually enjoy yearning for something we know we can never actually have."

The article also explained the "mate copying syndrome" which means that women are attracted to taken men because they know they are already accepted by another woman. When women see other women approach a guy, they want to approach that guy too. Another reason could be that because a man is in a relationship, he has more self-confidence and therefore more attractive and noticeable to women. All women want a perfect boyfriend who is good to them and when women see a man already being that perfect boyfriend to someone else, they instantly desire him. Clinical psychologist Shreya Gandhi said "the reality is that we women are often unable to see the appeal of someone who is available precisely because they are!"

Social psychologists at the Oklahoma State University published a report on "mate poaching" in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. The people in the study were given the same picture of an attractive person of the opposite sex and some were told that the person was in a relationship, while the others were told the person was single. Ninety percent of the single women were interested when told the man was taken and 59 percent were interested when told he was single. This study shows that women are more attracted to a man who is already taken and not available to them.

What surprised me in this study was that this theory is not true for men. The single men preferred a single woman over one who was in a relationship. Could this be because men generally have a higher self-esteem than women? Or maybe they just don't have the same desire to want what they can't have like women do and they are more realistic. I am curious to find out why this theory is not the same for men and women but from what I have researched, there are psychological reasons why women are attracted to men who are less available to them. Do you agree?

1 Comment

I just read an article in Cosmo that was about nearly the same study! I think this is really interesting, and quite frankly, I watch it happen every weekend when I go out! My friends are always going after guys who have girlfriends. I think the saying "you always want what you can't have" holds true for women and not men because men think about things differently. Men aren't as motivated as women are to reach their goals, in this case, achieving a sexual relationship with a taken woman. If the hottest girl at the party is with another guy, they usually move on to the next best thing they can find. I've found from personal experience, that women tend to settle less. They seek out partners that will satisfy them long-term (boyfriend types of guys), not just a one-night stand. Men on the other hand (at least college men) are usually just looking for a hookup and will settle with just anyone. Because women are more picky, this may be why they keep going after taken men. They want what they want.

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