Psychologists investigate: What are the best ways to infiltrate a romantic relationship?

What is the best way to sleep with a woman who is already in a relationship? A new study, published in Human Ethology Bulletin, sought to provide some answers by examining the perceived effectiveness of various mate poaching tactics.

“My co-author and I were interested in studying this topic because we wanted to see if there was a catalog of behaviors that men use to infiltrate a relationship for a one-time hookup. Men and women cheat on their partners, and we were interested in understanding the behaviors that a third party individual would use to gain a one-time hookup,” explained study author James Moran of Bucknell University.

The researchers surveyed 168 male and 280 female U.S. college student to see what was considered to be the most effective actions when it came to attracting a person who was already in a romantic relationship.

Men were more likely than women to view “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 effective ways to infiltrate a relationship.

On the other hand, men and women tended to agree that “Being attentive,” “complimenting her,” “spending time together,” “being compassionate,” “doing school work together,” “offering her help with problems,” and “hanging out with her friends or getting close with her friends” were effective acts.

“The average person should understand that men and women perceive infiltration acts differently. That is, they see one-time sexual hookup behaviors differently. Specifically, men tend to think drinking and getting drunk with her, talking badly about her boyfriend and touching her sexually are most effective in taking a woman away from her partner,” Moran told PsyPost.

“These behaviors are not seen as effective acts in women’s opinions. This disagreement leads to a mismatch. There are certain behaviors they do agree on, such as behaviors that show altruism and caring.”

The study has some limitations.

“A speculation that this study raises is that it was specifically done on college-age men and women and therefore, these behaviors may not transfer to older adults,” Moran explained. “That being said, there are still a lot of major questions that need to be answered. Specifically, a study should be done looking at long-term poaching in men, as well as short-term and long-term mate poaching in women and in homosexual couples too.”

The research only examined the perceived effectiveness of mate poaching tactics. Whether the tactics actually work is another matter.

“This project adds to the abundant research that states both men and women have different sexual strategies,” Moran said. “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.”

The study, “Sex and The Perceived Effectiveness of Short-term Mate Poaching Acts in College Students“, was also co-authored by T. Joel Wade.