Men seek long-term relationships when women are in short supply, a fascinating study has found, adding that this situation makes them more interested in settling into a committed, long-term relationship.
“When women are difficult to find, a man should attempt to attract and maintain a single partner and not fight with other males – it is not what women want,” the authors noted.
For women in urban environments, it may be challenging to nail down a single, committed partner.
Women in rural places may find it easier to find a partner ready to settle down and commit, they pointed out.
For the study, researchers studied 13,000 Makushi people in Guyana who live in savannas near the southwest border with Brazil.
“Commitment to a relationship is influenced by the availability of partners. So we can think of the number of men and women in a population as a potential mating market where the principles of supply and demand hold sway,” explained anthropologist Ryan Schacht from University of Utah.
“When you belong to the sex that is abundant, you must cater to the preferences of the rare sex,” Schacht added.
When women are difficult to find, they become valued resources.
“So men will attempt to attract and maintain a single partner because it is costly to lose a partner when partners are rare,” he noticed.
The findings suggest just the opposite of the conventional view that when men outnumber women, there are more likely to be male-male fights and increases in sexually transmitted diseases.
The results may not apply to everyone, “but we expect to see some of these general preferences hold,” Schacht added.
“It is time to move away from stereotyped assumptions of men having certain behaviours and women having others in terms of relationships. Sex is one of many things that matter. Partner availability matters, socioeconomic status matters, the quality of available mates matters,” Schacht concluded.
The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.