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Epistulae Ciceronis
A Perfectly Squiffy Jag

Why women prefer attached men.

03.03.06 Friday
01:52 am - Why women prefer attached men. Previous Entry Share Next Entry
This topic has popped up on my journal before. Over and again I find that most women are attracted to attached men (e.g., in a relationship, married). Some girls will passionately disagree with this; most, however, will offer the explanation that him being attached means that he's commitment oriented. I don't personally agree with that rationale, even beyond the obvious loophole that if a guy cheats on his wife for you then he's obviously not commitment oriented.

The one explanation that I've been told that makes some sense is that it's safe. You can flirt with a married guy and it's just practice; there's a ready-made excuse to reject him (should it be necessary) and he's less likely to be clingy. This is pretty much identical to the classic reason why women like gay men, which I suspect is a very similar dynamic and leads into my own interpretation...

My personal theory on this has to do with confidence and validation. I think that confidence is sexy and I think there is a certain confidence afforded by attachment; this is contrasted to a desperate single who will fuck just about anything left in the bar after last call. Likewise, if a guy who doesn't need sex or attention because it is waiting for him at home is interested in you then obviously you are a step above the rest; in a certain competitive spirit, it is more validating. It's the same reason why power is attractive; it's more exclusive.

Really, though, this is speculation. I'm not a girl. And conversely, I've been told that most men are simply oblivious to attachment; they will pursue a girl no more and no less than if she were single not because they (don't) respect commitment but because they are not paying attention to obvious cues (like, say, a wedding ring).

That said, what do you think? And, as usual, I'm not looking for obvious ideological textbook answers. Further, just because you're an exception doesn't mean this isn't a trend. And obviously I'm not talking about the lecherous old forty year old who sits in the corner of the bar leering at the hot twenty-somethings that are completely out of his league.


{int i; i=78; i++}

comments
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ianmackayeslove [03.03.06::10:33]
I think one of the reasons is because women (and people in general) want what they can't have.
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tyrven [03.03.06::12:28]
I want Jude Law.
Well, that cinches it. - meowlet [03.03.06::03:10]
Re: Well, that cinches it. - tyrven [03.03.06::10:27]
wishesforfishes [03.03.06::10:59]
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tyrven [03.03.06::11:49]
I don't really believe in unconditional love, but I definitely agree that some people are more committed and genuine than others. And yeah, I always want the other kids toy -- especially when it's a hot girl.

That said, I don't think it's being a jerk. I think it's their commitment to keep, not yours. I've always thought the term "home wreaker" was nonsense for that reason. It's like -- she didn't make a wedding vow.

Oh, and why are poolboys never considered home wreakers?
meowlet [03.03.06::03:11]
tyrven [03.03.06::10:37]
wishesforfishes [03.03.06::08:32]
tyrven [04.03.06::12:05]
audiguy [03.03.06::11:08]
I think you have to allow for a certain amount of self destructive behavior in women that pursue attached men. They already know they're going to get hurt before it even starts.

I do believe the theory that the girl feels validated by sleeping with an attached man, but I believe its a false validation. That if they really understood the dynamics of a long term relationship, and how men think then there isn't much to gain from it. Sure there is a lot of excitement in the tease of it, and in not being able to really obtain what you want. Like a lot of things in life the tease is just an illusion.

Chasing the drama. Why are so many women drama queens?

A married man could easily be way more desperate deep down inside then a single man. Desperate to find something he's missing, or something that he hasn't felt in a long time. He doesn't want to leave his wife, because his wife essentially has become his mom of sorts in his mind. Aren't married men the ones who visit strip clubs more often? Aren't married men the ones that visit street whores?

I'd find it really hot if a girl just slept with a married man because she wanted to use him for the sex, but unfortunately its usually the other way around, and the man has the ultimate excuse. The best part is that he doesn't have to pay to keep her at bay when he doesn't feel like talking to her. No resentment, no expectations.
[User Picture]
tyrven [03.03.06::12:02]
I don't know if it's false validation if it's validating in the moment, although it's probably based on misperceptions. Just like a lot of women (and men) get validation from sex in general, based on the assumption that it means someone likes them. And, of course, on hindsight we realize that fucking != liking, but at the time it sure felt the same. I guess it's just a matter of how far removed that moment of hindsight is; when it's the next morning it feels like shit; when it's a few years later, we just chalk it up to evolving values.



audiguy [03.03.06::04:39]
tyrven [03.03.06::10:42]
wishesforfishes [03.03.06::08:41]
Re: For the record... - audiguy [03.03.06::10:05]
Re: For the record... - tyrven [04.03.06::12:16]
Re: For the record... - tyrven [04.03.06::12:12]
[User Picture]
patrick [03.03.06::11:12]
Are you finding a lot of girls hitting on you lately?
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tyrven [03.03.06::12:05]
Well, I've been a bit of a recluse lately so this doesn't relate too directly to me. It came up in conversation with Katie today, though, and I decided it was a topic worthy of resurrection. I've definitely noticed this in the past, though. When I wore a band on my wedding finger I noticed it a lot as well. And even now, it seems that girls become more flirty when I tell them I'm in a relationship. It's curious.
katethoughts [03.03.06::06:17]
tyrven [03.03.06::11:36]
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joannemerriam [03.03.06::11:44]
I have a thing about cheaters, so it doesn't work for me, but I do like to flirt with attached men - in the sense I would flirt in front of Alan - because it is harmless and fun, and you know nobody is being mislead or hurt by it. I think a lot of women do want the forbidden fruit.

It's been my experience that men are totally oblivious to my wedding ring and any other cues that I'm not single - I live in a college town and look young, so expecting me to be unattached is not so far out there, I guess. I am flattered by it (in a "yeah, I still got it!") way unless they're offensive or persistent. I agree with your confidence theory, as it explains why I get hit on so much now compared to when I was single and pretty much convinced I was worthless. That's just not attractive.
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tyrven [03.03.06::12:17]
When I was single and encountered a hot girl there was definitely a type of performance anxiety - like a need/desire to impress her. At which point I usually start saying the stupidest things. Being in a relationship, it buffers the sexual tension and need for that validation and so it's easier to be myself and just hold a conversation. I suspect that is a huge part of it.

I agree that feeling worthless is rarely attractive in either sex, although there is also the stereotype that a) men feed off insecurity, and b) men are intimidated by confidence. Obviously neither of those are universal, though.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I find the wedding thing peculiar because it's one of the first things I notice about people. Not because I'm sensitive to their attachments per se (although I tend to be, if only because I'm lazy and don't want to compete) but just because it tells a lot about a person. Ever since I put together what a wedding ring was it's the first thing I look for on men or women.

That said, it doesn't surprise me that most men are oblivious; feeding stereotypes, it's hard to notice a rock when your eyes are fixed to their rack ;-).
joannemerriam [03.03.06::05:03]
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mcfnord [03.03.06::12:07]
i believe so long as you are focused on anything else interesting, even your art, this attracts women for the challenge to distract you and the light it brings to your life.
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tyrven [03.03.06::12:27]
Ha! That makes women sound so EVIL. Which, of course, is spot on.

Perhaps related: if you follow the stereotype that women (culturally speaking) want to be pursued then a response of disinterest might be taken as insulting. I've got this sense from women before; while they may be annoyed when old men leer at them, it's even worse when no one seems to notice them ("Are you calling me fat?!"). In that regard, the disinterested guy represents a challenge and his acknowledgement provides more validation/ego boost.

And certainly that makes sense. Particularly given social roles.
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sarcasticwriter [03.03.06::01:06]
You ask some good questions.

All I know is that, every time I'm attracted to a guy, it turns out he's married. I have no idea why this is. Maybe I'm just attracted to the kind of guys who get married. Maybe I'm attracted to the safety of their stability, or something.

Once I find out they're married, the attraction sloughs off significantly - but that's something of a deliberate effort.
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girl19 [03.03.06::05:11]
Maybe like in my case you are attracted to the safety in the instability?
sarcasticwriter [03.03.06::07:05]
girl19 [03.03.06::07:12]
sarcasticwriter [03.03.06::07:16]
herbaliser [03.03.06::08:25]
tyrven [03.03.06::11:42]
girl19 [04.03.06::01:16]
tyrven [03.03.06::11:40]
girl19 [04.03.06::01:15]
tyrven [04.03.06::01:17]
girl19 [04.03.06::01:24]
tyrven [03.03.06::10:19]
girl19 [06.03.06::11:04]
tyrven [07.03.06::06:12]
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girlstyle [03.03.06::03:11]
I'm going to agree with you completely about the safety of shamelessly flirting with the unavailable but I will argue that it's just flirting that's guaranteed to not be taken seriously rather than a legitimate attempt to score.
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tyrven [03.03.06::10:30]
That makes sense. That's how I am with waitresses. I like flirting with waitresses because they like flirting with me because they think it'll get them a bigger tip (and, well, it probably does). It's totally safe because it's almost become a social role; I've never asked a waitress out or been asked out by one, and yet that never feels like rejection. It's just a game. Safe.
tyrven [03.03.06::10:34]
girlstyle [04.03.06::01:59]
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karinkarinkarin [03.03.06::04:48]
you think that guys aren't like this?

read mansfield park.

Miss Crawford: "And besides, Miss Bertram is engaged. Remember that, my dear brother. Her choice is made."

Mr. Crawford (unmarried): "Yes, and I like her the better for it. An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged: no harm can be done."

and then of course he goes on to have an affair with Miss Bertram after she gets married.
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tyrven [03.03.06::10:50]
Yeah, but that's pretty much the theme in all of Jane Austen's books; I don't think it's relevent to today's culture at all. She has a beef with the arranging of marriages and is projecting a romantic variation of the classic knight-in-shining-armor fantasy onto her time period. The male's are almost plot devices - concepts that will save the fair maiden from the trecherous grip of a loveless marriage.

That said, I think men DO pursue attached women. I just don't think it's a FACTOR in their pursuit, generally. I think it's complete ignorance (or otherwise arrogance). I think presented with a married and single girl a guy would choose whichever is more fuckable; the ring wouldn't make any significant difference.
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Ok I want to reveal a secret - girl19 [03.03.06::05:01]
It is a secret that may well validate your point.

Over this past weekend I found myself unwittingly attracted to a married man. I niavely assumed that a married man would not hit on anyone other than his wife in a serious manner. And so needless to say I was a little shocked to notice a wedding ring while in an act that Ill leave to the immagination.
In retrospect I am not surprised by the event for the reasons you just stated. I was attracted to an air of confidence, sweetness, passion, and a lack of 'need'. (That should have been my first clue) Also I was attracted to the idea that there was no chance that he could possibly ever leave me because there was absolutely no chance for commitment. Which is a little bit different of a perspective than the one you stated I think. The relationship was unruinable because it was ruiend before it began. This is a pattern for me and so I recognize that I held true to that pattern. (which attraction in itself at this point should have been the deal breaker)
Im still not so sure wether or not he falls into the forty year old learing at a twenty something year old, I suppose my obvious interest negates the learing part. But he is a forty something year old and I am twenty something. So I suppose the validity of my comment is up to the reader.
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Re: Ok I want to reveal a secret - tyrven [03.03.06::11:01]
That's interesting. And I agree that it's not about "commitment" -- while I've been told this over and again, I think that's a total horseshit excuse. In fact, to further validate your point, I think the idea that women are more commitment oriented than men is largely biological and cultural conditioning (biological only because the consequences of sex for a female are potentially more long-term and disabilitating); in a practical psychological sense, though, I think while only few women will admit it, there is something appealing to completely detached sex. I think this is most obviously stated in the study done a few years ago that focused on the type of men women sleep with vs. the type of men women marry -- and of little surprise, they were very, very different. What we find sexually attractive doesn't necessarily correlate to personality traits that translate to good fathers or stable longterm relationships.

And, really, the same is probably true of men as well. There are certainly girls that I'd sleep with but would never marry. Women who think that men are not commitment oriented quite possibly fall into that classification (or they're just attracting the wrong types of men). I know other women who find that men are clingy and too quick to fall in love; typically these are more mothering types. I'm sure the psychological implications are clear.
Re: Ok I want to reveal a secret - girl19 [04.03.06::01:27]
Re: Ok I want to reveal a secret - tyrven [03.03.06::11:04]
Re: Ok I want to reveal a secret - girl19 [04.03.06::01:23]
Re: Ok I want to reveal a secret - tyrven [04.03.06::01:39]
Re: Ok I want to reveal a secret - girl19 [06.03.06::11:05]
[User Picture]
herbaliser [03.03.06::05:26]
The real reason is because guys dress funny and don't shave when they are single.
brothersterno [03.03.06::05:35]
totally agreed.

almost all guys, when left to their own devices are scrubby. Those that aren't scrubby are borderline gay. There's no other explanation for it.
tyrven [03.03.06::11:13]
tyrven [03.03.06::11:11]
herbaliser [03.03.06::11:19]
tyrven [04.03.06::12:31]
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ingenuemuse [03.03.06::06:00]
I think that I am comfortable around taken men because there is no fear of rejection (it's a given on both parts, therefore it's not really a question at all). Thus I don't have to "perform" for them. This puts me at ease a great amount, so there's no lingering anxiety about how I "come off" to him, or what have you.
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tyrven [03.03.06::11:26]
I can completely relate to this as an attached man; in fact, I just made a comment saying almost exactly the same thing re: "performance anxiety" elsewhere on this thread.
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katethoughts [03.03.06::06:12]
IMO and from what I know about what other women feel, I think it's not that they prefer an attached man, they are attracted to them. I think at heart, women prefer someone with whom they can connect, who sees them and accepts them for who they are. But there is some thrill of the chase in the notion of attracting the affections of someone already committed to another.

I think of it as a power and self-validation thing. Women in general, I feel, feel most powerful and validated when they are attracting the opposite sex. But add in the factor that this man is currently not seeking to be attracted to another woman. This man has just become that much more desirable, because to attract his attention means that you have something incredibly special about you that no other woman can compete with.

I'm not saying I think it's okay to break up relationships, just that I understand the impulse and the attractive quality. Just because one has an impulse doesn't mean they should act upon it.
audiguy [03.03.06::10:45]
That is pretty much exactly in line with the reasons given to me by various girls I've known that have had an affairs with married men. Not so much the notion that the man will accept them for who they are, but that they don't have to question if the man truly does. The married man doesn't nearly have as much pressure, or expectations placed on him as a single man.

That being said as a guy I find it greatly amusing because men are usually always seeking in one way or another. With a man its all about the energy it takes to do something. If he's married then I imagine most of his energy goes to his spouse. If another girl comes along offering sexual favors for very little energy then he's most likely to cheat. Estimates are somewhere around 9/10 guys would cheat if given the chance.

So what has a girl really achieved? She was only special because she didn't demand any work.
katethoughts [03.03.06::11:28]
tyrven [04.03.06::12:33]
audiguy [04.03.06::03:50]
tyrven [04.03.06::12:25]
tyrven [03.03.06::11:29]
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meowlet [03.03.06::07:03]
Hm. I'm sure I could pull some very interesting theories for this out of my hat. But my hat is a yarmulke, and t'ain't got much room for thinkin's.

I just hit on you because you're SO OBVIOUSLY GAY!

j/k I don't even hit on people. Ew. :(
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tyrven [03.03.06::11:48]
Just as I was about to be flattered you pull the rug out from under me!
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amatol [03.03.06::07:24]
I think a lot of good points have already been said, a lot of it is the whole 'oooh she likes you there must be something good' and "I want what she's got". I think women can be very competetive with other women too, maybes it's biology who knows. Personally I don't think I am attracted to men in relationships, yet to be honest I have been with a few guys who were in other relationships... So no one thinks of me as a boyfriend stealin' hoe (or they can if they want) I was generally in the dark about their relationship status, their relationships were either extremely long distant, open, or in one of those break up/get back together/ break up periods... so the vibes I got from these guys was that they were single.

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tyrven [03.03.06::11:58]
I think the competitive point is relatively new to the thread and a good point. I've noticed, in the work field, how competitive if not downright territorial women can be. And, of course, men can be as well -- but that's stereotyical and thus widely assumed and accepted. I think culturally women are, perhaps, less outward about their competitiveness but that doesn't make them any less so without question.

I was going to suggest that I wonder if women are more likely to hit on an attached guy if they feel they are better than his significant other, but then I realized that makes little sense in that the vast majority of the time they are either unaware of her or know little about her. Further, if anything, I've found that if women meet my girlfriend and think she's really attractive then they tend to back off, which is another interesting topic altogether.
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