New research into ‘mate-poaching’ – the process of deliberately seducing another person’s partner – shows that committed relationships can be disrupted by someone who is significantly richer and better looking than the partner of the person being seduced.
Psychologists from Regent’s University London and Oakland University in the US, surveyed 125 men and 90 women to establish how much wealthier and more physically attractive than their current partner a poacher would need to be to successfully lure them away from their partner.
Dr Alastair Davies, Lecturer in Psychology at Regent’s University London is lead author of the research, titled ‘Don’t you wish your partner was hot like me?’, which will be published in the ‘Personality and Individual Differences’ journal in February 2017. He explains:
“Our study indicates that poachers who are sufficiently wealthier and more attractive than the partner of the person being poached can successfully entice people into one-night stands, sexual affairs, or even new monogamous relationships.
“However, to achieve this, the extent to which poachers need to be wealthier and more attractive than the partner of the person being poached needs to steadily increase as the level of commitment in the existing relationship increases from ‘just dating’ to being married.”
Central to the research is the concept of “mate-value” – the sum of traits perceived as being desirable in a romantic partner, in this case wealth and physical attractiveness, adds Dr Davies.
He continues: “Our research also suggests that individuals with a mate-value higher than their partners are less likely to be satisfied with their existing relationship, making them more likely to succumb to the advances of a poacher.
“However, if partners in a couple have similar mate-values, they are less open to being infiltrated. This is because they are more likely to be satisfied with their existing relationship, and so less tempted by poachers, even those with a higher mate-value than either of them.”
Dr. Davies concludes that the new data could prove useful for relationship counsellors who, by assessing the relative mate-values of partners in a couple, could judge whether the relationship is likely to be successfully breached by a poacher.