If your relationship is on the rocks, perhaps best to avoid Southern Europe, South America, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. These are the nations with the highest rates of mate poaching – a term for deliberately pursuing someone already in a relationship. The information comes from the International Sexuality Description Project, which anonymously surveyed 16,954 people from 53 nations.
The countries with the least mate poaching? Africa, South/Southeast Asia, and East Asia.
People who engage in mate poaching possess similar personality traits across all regions, as do those who frequently receive and succumb to the poaching attempts by others. These poaches possess three characteristics ominously referred to as the “Dark Triad” – narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. These traits lower their inhibitions about mate poaching or being poached.
Men were more likely than women to report having poached or been poached on a short term basis. That was especially true in countries with higher gender inequality.
Another study indicates that the social acceptance leads men, but not women, to endorse riskier, more aggressive mating strategies compared to control and sexually excluded study participants. Those riskier strategies include sexual aggression, high-risk mate poaching behaviors, and high-risk mate retention tactics.
However, it takes two to tango. A 2009 study found that only single women were more interested in pursuing an attached target than a single target. This is compared to both female and male study participants who were either single or in a relationship.
Successful long-term mating requires fending off potential mate poachers and preventing your mate from being poached. As a result, humans have evolved to have “mate guard” instincts that are triggered by different variables unique to each gender. Men’s instinct to “mate guard” is strongly triggered after being mated to young and physically attractive women, being confronted by interested richer, more powerful rivals, and/or by having their partner show signs of an affair.
Women’s mate guard instincts are an almost mirror reversal of men’s. Theirs are triggered by having a man who is rich and powerful, beautiful female rivals, and seeing their partner show signs of emotional attachment to another woman.
Maybe that’s why the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills seem so catty?