Taken, But Available
Not every couple has a cute (or even socially acceptable) answer to the oft-asked question: "How did you two meet?" That's because for a surprisingly high number of couples, the answer is: "Oh, I stole him/her away from someone else."
According to research from Bradley University in Illinois, nearly 20 percent of relationships are the result of "mate poaching." That's backed up by a separate poll by the International Sexuality Description Project, which found that 18 percent of married men and 11 percent of married women said they lured their spouses from other partners.
And those were just the "successful" cases. A full 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women all over the world admitted to trying to do it.
It certainly plays out in the tabloids: Brad and Angelina. Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady. Sienna Miller and Balthazar Getty. LeAnn Rimes and married co-star Eddie Cibrian. Claire Danes and Billy Crudup.
Is it the very reason that the person is committed to someone else that makes them so attractive? Perhaps. An Oklahoma State University study found that single women were more interested in pursuing men who were already in committed relationships.
Study participants filled out a survey on personal preferences, including what they look for in a romantic partner, and were shown pictures of people with whom they were "matched" - all men got one photo, all women got another. Half the group was told the match was single; the other half was told the match was in a relationship.
Men, they found, were interested overall in their match, single or not. But women were most interested if the person wasn't single. Given the option, 90 percent of women said they would pursue the attached man, while only 59 percent said they'd go for the single one.
One theory? Being in a relationship means the person is capable of...being in a relationship. "It's shown that he's able to commit," says study author Melissa Burkley. "He's done it once, he can do it again." It also shows he or she has "resources." There must be something good in there if someone else is involved with him or her.
So, go ahead and "save" your prize from their supposedly unhappy current union, but know your happiness together may be short-lived. Someone who allowed you to lure him or her away from another relationship is probably just as likely to be stolen away from you by another singleton on the prowl.
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