In a Scientific Breakthrough, Researchers Have Determined What Women Look For in a Mate

In a Scientific Breakthrough, Researchers Have Determined What Women Look For in a Mate

Well, it's over — you can stop trying to figure out how to find/be the perfect man, science has taken care of that for you.

A group of UCLA researchers have analyzed dozens of published and unpublished studies on women's preferences for mates and how they change throughout the menstrual cycle, and they're pretty sure they've figured out exactly what a woman is looking for in a mate based on where they are in their cycle. What they've found is that ovulating women have evolved to prefer men who display "sexy" traits — a masculine body type and facial features, dominant behavior and certain scents — but these preferences aren't necessarily desirable in long-term mates. 

"Women sometimes get a bad rap for being fickle, but the changes they experience are not arbitrary," said Martie Haselton, a professor of psychology and communication studies at UCLA and the paper's senior author. "Women experience intricately patterned preference shifts even though they might not serve any function in the present."

That's right: evolution has basically forced women to look for a rugged, masculine man for a few days each month, during the time she's most likely produce offspring with genes that set them up for the best chances of survival and reproducing. It sounds a bit silly — but it's just science. 

According to the data Haselton and her colleagues analyzed, the strength of a woman's preference shift wasn't very large, but was large enough to be statistically significant. However, the data wasn't revealing enough to determine which male characteristics are the most alluring to ovulating women. Haselton believes a man's scent could possibly produce the strongest effect on women. 

This is a topic that's been researched and debated since the last 1990s, but with little to show for it. However, this latest research might indicate real patterns and possibly actionable data. 

"Until the past decade, we all accepted this notion that human female sexuality was radically different from sexuality in all of these other animal species — that, unlike other species, human female sexuality was somehow walled off from reproductive hormones," Haselton said. "Then a set of studies emerged that challenged conventional wisdom."

So, as strange as it is to think, yes guys, there's sometimes a real reason why that girl turned you down, and it's all science's fault. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Matt Essert

Matt is the news director at Mic, covering breaking news. He is based in New York and can be reached at matt@mic.com.

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