Have you ever noticed how the universe likes to play this weird cosmic joke where when you're desperately single, it seems like no one is attracted to you... but when you're actually dating someone, everyone suddenly comes to their senses and starts hitting on you? Ever had that happen?
Well, apparently, this annoying cosmic joke is something that actually happens, and there's a legit scientific explanation for it.
According to a recent study published in Scientific Reports, men who have girlfriends receive something called an “attractiveness boost” and are suddenly perceived as hotter than they'd normally be, which is acknowledged and appreciated by other women who happen to be in the vicinity, since it’s basically as if the girlfriend is approving the dude in question as a certified hottie.
For the study, the researchers asked female participants to rate pictures of men, men’s hands, and abstract art, and told the participants how the other women in the study had voted. It was discovered that after hearing how others had rated the pictures, the women altered their ratings to match the others.
"Women in our study found men's faces more attractive if other women had given that face high ratings. But the same goes for pictures of abstract artworks," said head researcher Dr. Kate Cross. "Women appear to copy the mate preferences of other women, but this might simply be because humans have a general tendency to be influenced by the opinions of others.”
Think of it this way: If you go out with some friends and someone tells you your outfit is hot and that you look incredible, you’re going to be influenced by their opinion and you’re probably going to see those particular clothes as a lot nicer than you originally did.
In this case, with the “attractiveness boost” that comes from having a girlfriend, it’s as if your girlfriend is holding a neon sign that says: “This man is sexy and super dateable” with an arrow pointing at you. And obviously, other women are going to notice that and find you sexy and super dateable.
The researchers say this happens because of something called mate-choice copying. When a man is chosen as potential partner by someone, it tends to mean he is “higher quality” than all the other dudes who are single, which makes total sense when you think about it. Clearly, he has some endearing qualities that appealed to his girlfriend, which makes other women around take notice and want to be with him as well.
"Social influence affects every area of our lives, and this could include partner choice," explained joint author Dr. Sally Street of Durham University. "But there isn't, at the moment, clear experimental evidence of a specialized mate-choice copying mechanism in humans."