"Fake" Facebook Relationships: Do They Make You More Attractive?

02/21/2013

10-facebook-faux-pas-1I am often asked by people playing the dating game, “Why does it seem like when it rains, it pours?” Singles often observe that once they enter a relationship, there’s a sudden flood of interest from people who never seemed romantically interested before. If being in a relationship makes your perceived attractiveness skyrocket, should people just change their Facebook status to “In A Relationship” to attract potential mates?

Madeleine Davies reported on something relevant to this idea earlier in the week, when she described the new phenomenon of being able to purchase fake Facebook relationships. For a fee of up to $250 a month, agencies provide these faux Facebook relationships for people who want to create the appearance of being in a relationship. I suspect that some profiles are purchased with the idea of increasing one’s attractiveness (and upping his or her dating stock). Does this deceptive strategy actually work?

When people try to woo away someone already in a relationship, researchers call this “mate poaching,” and roughly 80% of people in relationships report receiving mate poaching offers. In a study by David Schmitt and colleagues, 57% of men and 44% of women admitted to trying to poach someone else’s mate. So, maybe there is something to this idea of being more attractive once you’re in a relationship.

However, even if people could get past the moral hurdle of lying about their relationship status, maybe they should think about the type of person who likes to mate poach. Schmitt also found that many mate poachers tend to have the following set of personal characteristics: sexually attractive, disagreeable, unconscientious, unfaithful, and erotophilic (horny). It's not a coincidence that these characteristics typically belong to the type of person who is likely to cheat once you’re in a relationship with him or her.

So, even though the extra romantic attention you receive once you’re in a relationship can seem sadly wasted, the newfound attention might be coming from the type of partners you wouldn’t want anyways. And who really wants to pay $250 a month for a fake girlfriend anyway?

More on Relationships:

The Risks and Rewards of Online Dating

5 Tips for Starting a Relationship

10 Facebook Faux Pas in New Relationships


Ty Tashiro is the author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love, an entertaining look at why modern dating is so challenging, why people can easily make bad partner choices, and how science can help us make smart decisions in the search for enduring love. It's available on Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble. Dr. Ty received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota. His research has appeared in top academic journals and he has been an award-winning professor at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado. Follow him on facebook and twitter.
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