The more women a man thinks are into him, the more women he’ll chase after. This increases his chances of passing on his genes.
Men and women often don’t get each other when it comes to dating. Men will hit on women who are giving no signs of interest in their advances.
“There are tons of studies showing that men think women are interested when they’re not,” says Dr Carin Perilloux from Williams College in the US.
She and her colleagues tried to find out why this happens by taking a systematic look at how things go wrong between men and women in dating. It’s evolution that explains why men and women often don’t get each other, their study concludes.
The study involved nearly two hundred men and women speed-dating. Before the dating began, the participants rated their own attractiveness. Each person was then paired with someone of the opposite sex for three minutes, after which they switched tables for another high-speed date.
They did this five times and after each speed-date the participants rated each other on three scales: how attractive the other person was, how hot he or she was to you, and how hot you were for him or her.
The men who believed they were hot were more likely to think women wanted them, even if this wasn’t the case. And the guys who made this mistake the most were the ones the women thought were less good-looking.
In other words, it seems like the uglier a guy is, the more likely he is to mistakenly believe he’s sexy and that women want him. The men the women thought were attractive tended not to make this mistake.
To make matters worse, the sexier a man thinks a woman is, the more likely he’ll think she wants to jump in bed with him too. When in fact she isn’t interested at all. And as if that weren’t bad enough, it looks like women have a tendency not even to notice when a man is making a pass at them.
If the results of the research are true, then it’s no wonder dating can be such a confusing mess. It could make it seem amazing that men and women are ever able to hook up and have sex. But Dr Perilloux thinks it could all make sense from the perspective of evolution.
“There are two ways you can make an error as a man,” she says. “Either you think, ‘Oh, wow, that woman’s really interested in me’—and it turns out she’s not. There’s some cost to that.” The costs could be a blow to the man’s ego or reputation.
But the other error is much worse: “She’s interested, and he totally misses out. He misses out on a mating opportunity. That’s a huge cost in terms of reproductive success.”
So this means it shouldn’t be surprising that there are so many men who think they are God’s gift to women when in fact they aren’t that good-looking.
A guy who thinks he’s sexy but isn’t still manages to have more sex than a guy who thinks he’s unattractive. As a result, the unrealistic guys pass on their genes more often than the realistic ones do.
Men and women can both learn an important lesson from her research, says Dr Perilloux. Women should try to communicate clearly so that men understand when they don’t have a chance. And men should keep in mind that the more attracted they are to a woman, the more they’ll feel she is into them, even if that’s completely wrong.
That may sound tough, but Dr Perilloux points out taking her advice could help women avoid uncomfortable situations and help men steer clear of heartache.