Austin Matchmaker

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Why Do Single Women Like Married Men?

Do you ever wonder why single women like married men? Like a moth to a flame, single women are drawn to a man in a relationship and are sometimes successful in poaching someone else’s mate.  Mate poaching is a term coined by David Buss in his book entitled Evolution of Desire. It describes the behavior of men and women who purposely seek out people who are already in committed relationships.

A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that of the single women in the study who were told their “match” was currently in a romantic relationship. 90 percent said they would pursue the man knowing he was not single.mate poaching is commonly depicted in movies, television shows and tabloids. But this study provides the first empirical confirmation that most single women actually do or would engage in mate poaching.

Mate poaching appears to be prevalent worldwide.  One study* suggestis that as many as one in five long-term relationships began when one or both partners was already in a relationship.  As a professional matchmaker, I often get to work with clients who are living with the aftermath of a mate poaching scenario. Sometimes as the poacher, sometimes as the “poachee”.

The psychological and emotional impacts have often caused significant pain, and rarely live up to the expectations of the persons involved. I have interviewed over 3000 singles and helped over 1000 people on their journey to finding love so that’s why I know so much!

So why are single women more interested in men who are attached?

Single women engage in mate poaching for many reasons. Some possible reasons include: A taken man may be seen as more of a challenge. Women may be socialized to compete with other women for men’s attentions.

This chase for a taken man’s attention is thrilling.  Or, they may see themselves as “saving” the man from an unhappy relationship.

Plus, taken men have already proven they have resources and are willing to commit.  Here are some other possible reasons:

1.   Women want what’s off limits

In the Garden of Eden, Eve sinks her teeth into the one piece of fruit that God instructed her to avoid. This began a long line of women who wanted, oh so badly, what they could not have. We see the same trend continue today with women. It starts with longingly at designer shoes, fawning over limited-edition jewelry and above all, chasing after already spoken-for men.

Be it human or handbag, the more tantalizingly out of reach it is, the more appealing it becomes.

2.   Power and Control

Some women will say they Mate Poach because they like being the “one in control” of the relationship.They feel that they can “leave it anytime they want” and there are no “strings attached”. When a person must feel like they are in “control” , it is usually because they have a fear of abandonment or commitment.

The women who go after married men may feel safe because they have been abused or hurt in the past. The result is that  they think if they “control” a man, they feel safe. In reality, the woman engaging in “Mate Poaching” is controlled by the desires of the married man. He is the one who chooses when to see her, if he will leave his wife, and is usually the one who ends the affair.

3.  Low Self Esteem

For women who base their self-esteem on their appearance, they may use mate poaching as an attempt to protect and restore self-esteem. A woman who successfully lures a man away from his partner may use this “success” to convince herself.  She will think she is more attractive, more desirable or just generally better than his current partner.  These feelings of superiority provide a boost to her self-esteem.

4. Women want an ego boost

Man or woman, the ultimate ego boost is the knowledge that you’re not just hot, but irresistibly hot. Consider this: If a man risks his entire relationship– commitment be damned — for one exceptionally steamy night with another woman.  That other woman will go home feeling like she has one-upped Helen of Troy.

That’s bragging rights to the max. A shot of confidence like that could make up for a long dry spell of celibacy or jump-start a love life. Plus, if she’s unable to win him over, there’s a net to catch her: “Of course he’s not interested in me; he’s in a relationship.”

5.  Women see taken men as having desirable qualities

To help you further understand how women perceive the dating pool, think of men like parking spaces surrounding a popular restaurant on a Friday evening. The best ones, meaning the ones closest to the restaurant, will be occupied almost solidly until closing.

But as one gets farther from the front door, the parking spots aren’t as good, so they open up with greater regularity or, in some cases, remain open permanently. In short, women believe that men who are single are single for a reason.

Backward as it may sound, the ones who aren’t available may feel like they are the ones worth going for.

6.  Women like a challenge

Women who demonstrate the right combination of warmth and affection can bag a single guy like candy on Halloween.

Taken men, on the other hand, are tougher to get. For starters, they’re probably content with their current girlfriend and not too keen on gambling that relationship.

You’d think this would deter an aggressive girl, but no. With two hearts that stand to gain (and only one to be crushed as collateral damage), the stakes are too high to back out. Also, what if he’s not as happy as he looks? Women know a man loves to be fought over, and there’s potential that his girlfriend under-delivers. Hello, window of opportunity!

7.  Women can be ultra-competitive with other women

Some women simply have it out for their own gender. In grade school, they pulled pigtails; now that they’re older, they pull boyfriends. Some are out for revenge, others make a sport of seeing if they “can get him,” whatever the emotional cost.

Women size up their competition and somehow rationalize that her boyfriend is begging to be with a real woman — no offense to the tramp he’s with.  Women aren’t always down with waiting patiently for a taken man to free up. They want results, and they want them yesterday.

8.  Taken men have confidence

Take a look around the next time you go out. The most confident guy in the room isn’t the one usurping attention or emptying his wallet on drinks for the gang. When a man has a beautiful successful woman on his arm., what better proof exists that he is successful, intelligent and endlessly charming?

Men who enjoy this luxury are infinitely more natural, comfortable and cool. They worry little, stress out even less. This all adds up to a man with incredible romantic gravity who pulls women into his orbit.

So now, we have explored some of the reasons why women tell us they mate poach.  What this study didn’t address are the consequences of this behavior.  And the consequences can never be “Happily Ever After,” because, no matter what, someone is going to get hurt.

Consider the woman who is attracted to the taken man because of the competition for someone else’s guy?  While the competition may be stimulating, what happens when you get the guy?  Kind of like the car-chasing dog that doesn’t know what to do when he finally catches one. The Competitor Poacher may find herself right back out there looking for the next conquest.

It is the thrill of the hunt that gets her going.  Or what about the woman that poaches to boost her self-esteem?  Or to convince herself she’s “still got it”?  What happens when the poached man decides to stay with his mate, or move on?  What will that do to her ego then?

When a woman believes that a taken man has all the qualities that make him desirable, she may go to extraordinary lengths to steal him away. She thinkgs that since  someone else took him, he’s worth taking for herself.  How do you reconcile that assessment with his willingness to walk away from that commitment to be with someone else?

A “taken man” who won’t stay taken is missing some of the key qualities that my clients put at the top of their list.  When they are looking for a mate, they want to person to have honesty, integrity and loyalty.

Regardless of the reason, Mate Poaching can lead to emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual pain and/or harm for the women engaging in the behavior . The happiness and satisfaction of a married man and his family can be affected  by these affairs.  While this study gives some credibility to the idea that it happens in real life like we see on TV, it doesn’t make it right.

You should first be the kind of person you are looking for. You should be honest and behave with integrity.  And if you keep that in mind, mate poaching will stay where it belongs…..on the Lifetime movie of the week.