Cheating happens. A lot. Around 20 to 40 percent of married men and 20 to 25 percent of married women will have an affair during their lives. But although both men and women cheat, the strategies they believe will convince a potential mate to cheat on their significant other tend to vary. In other words, what men think will work probably won’t, because it’s not what women want.

Researchers at Bucknell University set out to determine the kind of behaviors that heterosexual men use to “poach an already mated woman for a one-time sexual experience.” Despite the creepy Planet Earth-esque terminology, what the study revealed about the male strategy to making a one night stand happen with someone who’s unavailable is misguided, and maybe a little dark.

In a two-part study, researchers first polled 41 heterosexual male college students to see what strategies they thought would work to get an invitation to go home with a woman that was in a relationship.

The most popular strategy by the men surveyed was “drinking and getting drunk with her,” the second: “Talking badly about her boyfriend openly,” and the third: “Touching her, in general,” and the fourth: “Texting her.” Out of 18 strategies, “offering to help her with her problems,” “being compassionate,” and “hanging out with her friends/getting close with her friends,” were at the bottom of the list.

While the researchers note that drinking might have been a popular choice because the survey was of college men, they also noted that several other studies suggest that drinking with a woman is empirically seen less often as an act of seduction and more often consistent with actions suggesting sexual exploitability.

One thing that wasn’t suggested at all as a tactic for acquiring a hook-up with a lady that’s taken: showing her that you have material assets. The finding reinstated the researchers’ guess that a show of wealth is more of an option for men who are trying to steal a gal for a long term relationship rather than a one night stand.

In the second stage, researchers then polled 168 men and 280 women in an online survey to review their thoughts on the 18 options. The study found a clear distance between female and male perceptions:

Men rated the acts “Drinking or getting drunk,” “talking badly about her boyfriend,” “Touching her,” “Texting her,” “Going to parties,” “Flirting,” “snapchatting her,” “Touching her sexually,” “Secretly meeting up,” “Smiling at her” and “Dancing with her” as more effective actions than women did.

However, both men and women agreed that “complimenting her,” “offering her help with problems,” “spending time together,” “being attentive,” and “hanging out with her friends or getting close with her friends” could also be effective.

This study shows that although altruism and empathy are perceived as good strategies for connection by both sexes, the male interest in dissing a woman’s current partner, or touching her, are areas in which there is a huge disconnect between what men think will work, and what’s actually an effective act of seduction. At the very least, when it comes to cheating.

“This project adds to the abundant research that states both men and women have different sexual strategies,” study author James Moran told PsyPost. “Specifically, mate poaching research is still in its infancy and there are a lot of avenues that researchers can explore. These behaviors are interesting and complex and should be studied further.”


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