Ask Charlie: Man poaching season in Vail?
Vail, CO Colorado
Jane wants Fred, but Fred is with Wilma. Tarzan wants Wilma, or, worse yet, Wilma’s daughter.
Or picture this: Tarzan goes to a bash stocked with brontosaurus burgers and Sabertooth ale. He gets there early; Jane is meeting him later.
Leaning against an acacia tree, Tarzan laps up his ale and scans the crowd, noticing a few stray cave-kittens. No stranger to opportunity, he catches the eye of one or two felines who’ve noticed his jungle-hardened biceps. He gets some looks, but then Jane shows up – she’s looking as hot as the embers searing the brontosaurus burgers.
With Jane and Tarzan in close proximity, Tarzan starts getting looks from even more women. Tarzan’s status has just gone through the roof.
Attention all paired-up Janes: You’d better get Tarzan on a leash, cause’ it’s man poaching time in the male valley – or is it the Vail Valley?
In a closely related story, an experiment with a fish known as the Amazon molly found that a male molly who was rejected by a certain female won her affection after she witnessed him racking up points with other female mollies.
In the experiment, researchers tried to pair a snooty female with a loser. Though he was head over fins for her, his guppy love went unrequited. So the researchers did something interesting. They grouped him with groupies who didn’t seem to mind his company. Indeed, they seemed to enjoy his presence. When the snob saw the guppy groupies fawning over him, she had a change of heart.
Upon noticing all the attention he was getting, the snob “changed her mind” and suddenly chose to chill with the hot stud. The behavior has also been found in birds and other types of fish.
Oklahoma State University psychologists Melissa Burkley and Jessica Parker found that single women really are more attracted to paired-up guys. In their experiment, when undergraduate men and women (both single and paired up) were shown photographs of certain people, a curious bubble appeared in the data.
All of the single women in the study were shown the same photograph of the same man. Half of that group was told he was in a relationship while the other half was told he was single. In the half who was told he was in a relationship, 90 percent expressed an interest in pursuing him. In the other half – the half told he was single – only 59 percent expressed interest. The results were not the same for women who were already in relationships.
Well guys, if you wanna get in a relationship, you’d better get in a relationship. And it looks like we should take the ladies seriously when they say that “all the good men are taken” and that “good men are hard to find.” And, some male readers are asking, what about guys who use glossy hairspray and have a closet full of gator-skin boots?
We humans have been in our current form for about 200,000 years. Language has probably been around for about 50,000 of those years (the time at which language appeared is highly debated among linguists). This means we’ve only been able to mine each others’ brains with words for a relatively short period. Prior to language, we had to gather information about prospective mates by other means.
Thus, physical appearance, resources, high quality hair spray and an extensive collection of gator-boots probably ranked high on the list of things female ancestors looked for in men. Minus the hairspray and lizard-wear, the judgments and preferences of other women apparently loomed large in the minds of single women who were seeking men.
Robert Valko is a graduate of Northwestern University and currently is writing two books on evolutionary psychology. E-mail Robert with column ideas at email@example.com.