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Study: women prefer men with a history of exes

Women are likely to find a man more desirable if he has had one or two romantic relationships.

Women are likely to find a man more desirable if he has had one or two romantic relationships. Photo: Getty

Relationship baggage is something we all try to avoid but a recent says women prefer men with a history of exes.

Australian researchers have found women are likely to find a man more desirable if he has had one or two romantic relationships, rather than none.

But men with five or more previous relationships were deemed unattractive.

Published in the journal Human Nature, the study looked at how females choose a partner, whether they do it independently or base their decision on a man's previous relationships, a phenomenon known as “mate copying".

The study involved 123 female university students. The students were shown pictures of men either alone or with one, two or five women. They were then asked to rate the men's desirability.

“Men were described as currently in a romantic relationship; having previously been in one, two, or five relationships; or not having had a romantic relationship in the past four years,” explains the study.

The researchers discovered that women found men with one or two previous partners more desirable than those with none.

"Our results suggest that women do not always make mate choices independent of one another [and] there appears to be a significant desirability advantage for men who have been previously selected as a romantic partner," lead author Ryan Anderson told the ABC.

"We found that in terms of desirability … one or two was really desirable, but when you go to five, the guy becomes really undesirable," says Anderson.

For whatever reason, a man with five or more past relationships could be viewed as promiscuous and not being able to commit to a serious relationship.

Interestingly, researchers found that age had an influence over the process.

Younger women were more likely to rate men’s desirability based on the number of partners they've had.

"Older women have had more relationship experience, on average, and therefore will probably be more confident in their decisions," says Anderson.

While desire is one thing, the idea of falling in love appeals to a lot of us.

So how can you make someone fall in love you?

In her book “Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose”, the author, Ayala Malach Pines, defines five factors that aid falling in love.

But there needs to be some sort of attraction to begin with, says individual and relationship therapist Sherry Marshall.

“Love is not that same as infatuation but there are some techniques we can use to make somebody fall in love with us,” she says.

Proximity
Once the attraction has formed, repeated exposure amplifies what is already there.

“Repeated exposure tells us that the person, or thing, is not dangerous, so we can relax and enjoy the encounter,” says Pines, in her book.

However proximity works both ways - if the dominant emotion is feeling annoyed, then spending too much time with a person who annoys will only intensify the feelings.

Character
Before looking for love it’s important to work on being happy within yourself first. Pines says people with more love interests tend to have higher amount of self-confidence.

Other than self-confidence, Pines says people tend to be attracted to people “who make us feel good, people who are warm, sensitive, and funny".

But for most of us there needs to be a physical or emotional attraction first, says Marshall. “A lot of time the attraction grows over time as we get to know the person more.”  

Similarity
Despite the saying, opposites don’t attract. The more couples have in common, the more compatible they feel.

Pines found, “That in one-third of cases, similarity played a role in the initial attraction.”

When it comes to emphasising similarities, Sherry Marshall says: “Let the person know you have what they need.”

Arousal
“A man or woman who meets a potential partner after the excitement of winning a great promotion is more likely to fall in love than he or she would be on a routine day. Likewise, a man or woman is more likely to fall in love when mourning a terrible loss,” says Pines.

In fact, a common form of arousal is when you’re on the rebound.

Marshall says, “Being on the rebound is cliche for a reason.”

When we are on the rebound we are often very vulnerable and the way we make ourselves feel better is to meet someone quite quickly.

Beauty
Which attracts us more, personality or appearance? In an analysis of the romantic attraction interviews, Pines found, “Personality traits play a more important role in falling in love than physical appearance, and appearance plays a far more important role for men than it does for women.”

As well as letting your personality shine, Marshall also says things like giving your love interest compliments and making eye contact can help boost their feelings towards you.

But do we really want to make someone fall in love with us?

“Being ourselves and really trusting that we’ll make a life together, that’s more grounding,” says Marshall.

“If you aren’t yourself it’s not going to last anyway.”

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