EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY - Female Short-Term Mating vs. Long-Term
One benefit of short-term mating is resource accrual (Symons, 1979). Women could engage in short-term mating in exchange for meat, goods, or services.
In addition, an ancestral woman might have been able to obscure the actual paternity of her offspring through several short-term matings and thus elicit resources from two or more men (Hardy, 1981). According to this paternity confusion hypothesis, each man might be willing to offer some investment in the woman's children on the chance that they are genetically his own.
Another possible resource is protection (Smith, 1984; Smuts, 1985). Men typically provide protection to their mates and children, including defense against predators and
aggressive men. Because a primary mate cannot always be around to defend and protect a woman, she might gain added protection by consorting with another man.
Finally, Smith (1984) proposed the status enhancement hypothesis of short -term mating.
A woman might be able to elevate her social standing among her peers or gain access to a higher social circle by a temporary liaison with a high-status man.
learly women might gain a variety of tangible and intangible resources through short-term mating.
Genetic Benefit Hypotheses.
Another class of benefits can be called genetic benefits.
The first is the most obvious-enhanced fertility. If a woman's regular mate is infertile or impotent, a short-term mate might provide a fertility backup to aid in conception.
Second, a short-term mate might provide superior genes compared with a woman's regular mate, especially if she has an affair with a high-status man. These genes might give her offspring better chances for survival or reproduction. One version of this is known as the sexy son hypothesis (Fisher, 1958). By mating with an especially attractive man, a woman might be able to bear a son who is especially attractive to women in the next generation. Her son thus has increased sexual access, produces more children, and hence provides his mother with additional grandchildren.
Third, a short-term mate might provide a woman with different genes compared with those of her regular mate, thus enhancing the genetic diversity of her children-perhaps a hedge against environmental change (Smith, 1984). The researchers found that symmetrical men, compared to their more lopsided peers, tended to be more likely to have sexual relations with women who were already in relationships. That is, women appear to be choosing symmetrical men as affair partners, providing one piece of evidence that women might be going for good genes in short-term mating. Furthermore, in short-term mating, women place a great premium on physical attractiveness and "desirability to other women" (Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Gangestad & Thornhill, 1997; Li & Kenrick, 2006; Scheib, 2001). Another study found that for the context of casual sex, women prefer men who are daring, confident, strong, humorous, and successful with attractive women (Kruger, Fisher, & Jobling, 2003). In short-term mating, more than in long-term mating, women also prefer men who have a masculine facial architecture (Waynforth, Delwadia, & Camm, 2005). On the assumption that masculine features are honest signals of good genes, this preference suggests that women are seeking short-term mates for the genetic benefits they provide.
Research has documented several shifts in women's preferences at ovulation compared to other times of their cycle: (1) an increased attraction to men with symmetrical features; (2) an increased preference for facial masculinity; (3) an increased preference for men who are tall (6' or taller) (Pawlowski & Jasienska, 2005); (4) an increased preference for men who display creative intelligence (Haselton & Miller, 2006); (5) an increased preference for men who are physically attractive and muscular; and (6) an increased preference for men who display social presence and direct intrasexual competitiveness-qualities that indicate social dominance.
Mate Switching Hypotheses. A third class of benefits pertains to mate switching. Sometimes a woman's husband stops bringing in resources, starts abusing her or her children, or otherwise declines in his value to her as a mate (Betzig, 1989; Fisher, 1992; Smith, 1984).
Ancestral women might have benefited from short-term mating to cope with this adaptive problem.
There are several variants of this hypothesis. According to the mate expulsion hypothesis, having a short-term affair would help the woman to get rid of her long-term
mate. Because men in many cultures often divorce wives who have affairs (Betzig, 1989), having an affair would be an effective means for the woman to initiate a breakup. Another variant of this hypothesis suggests that a woman might simply find a man who is far better than her husband, and so initiate a short-term encounter as a means of switching mates.
Short-Term for Long-Term Goals.
Another hypothesis is that women use short-term mating as a means to assess and evaluate prospective long-term mates (Buss & Schmitt,
1993). Engaging in short-term mating allows a woman to clarify the qualities she desires in a long-term mate, evaluate her compatibility with a particular man (e.g., sexual compatibility),and reveal any hidden costs he might carry (e.g., existing children, deception). Two clear predictions follow from this hypothesis: Women will dislike in a short-term mate (1) any signals that the man is already in an existing relationship, because this would lower the odds of her successfully attracting him as a long-term mate, and (2) the attribute of promiscuity, since this would signal that he is pursuing a truly short-term rather than long-term mating strategy. Other variants of the short-term for long-term goals hypothesis are that women use short-term mating to clarify the qualities she truly desires in a long-term mate (Greiling & Buss, 2000) or to hone her skills of attraction and seduction so that she can eventually attract a more desirable long-term mate (Miller, 1991).
Women find the attribute of the man already "being in an existing relationship" moderately undesirable in a short-term mate (Buss & Schmitt,1993). If a man is already in an existing committed relationship, it lowers the odds that a short-term sexual encounter with him will lead to a long-term relationship with him.
A recent study examined nine possible reasons for having casual sex. After "I was physically attracted to the person," the second most important reason women cited was: "I actually wanted a long-term relationship with this person and thought the casual sex might lead to something more long-lasting" (Li & Kenrick, 2006).
Mate Manipulation Hypotheses.
A fifth class of benefits involves manipulating her mate. By having an affair, a woman might be able to gain revenge on her husband for his infidelity, thus possibly deterring him from future infidelities (Symons, 1979). Alternatively, a woman might be able to increase the commitment of her regular mate if he saw with stark evidence that other men were seriously interested in her (Greiling & Buss, 2000).
A lot of this stuff is mentioned in The Red Queen.