Question of the Week

Scientifically, the film with the best theme tune is:

See Results

Geek of the week

Nominate someone...

Nominate a Geek. Email [email protected]

Sex Games On MySpace

Sex Games On MySpace

By Birch, Steer, Impey & Hall

There’s nothing like getting hitched to stir a man’s sexual interest – in other women.

That’s according to a new survey carried out by The Null, which probed sexual behaviour in web communities. Far from cementing a steady relationship, tying the knot seems to give men a sudden urge to start playing the cyber-field.

Our findings suggest that married men have far more online contact with women than those yet to seal the deal. A simple ring on the finger means a man is likely to have a whopping 35 more female friends than a man in an unmarried relationship.

Curiously though, marriage seems to have the opposite effect on women, who on average have around 15 fewer male friends when wed.

The question is: are these patterns of behaviour reflected in the real world, or is the internet an ecosystem in its own right? Is online flirting just an outlet for frustrated hubbies, or does it say something deeper about our offline relationships?

In truth, these results come as no surprise if you consider the conflicting interests of the sexes when it comes to mating.

Females, limited by their baby-carrying capacities, are looking for stable father figures to sire their offspring. A woman wants a man who is going to stick around long enough to change the odd nappy and knock up a quality tree-house. When in a relationship she’ll want to keep her options open for as long as possible, just in case a better offer comes along. Hence the higher proportion of male acquaintances during courting. But once she’s made her marital bed, she’ll lie in it.

From the lads’ point of view, however, reproducing is less about breeding with the right woman and more about breeding with as many women as possible. An unlimited potential for creating genetic heirs via multiple mates makes infidelity the thinking man’s choice.

However, men still want to make sure at least some of their kids get a good start in life. A man’s best strategy to ensure his genes get passed on might be to help one woman (his wife for example) bring up the kids whilst sneakily sowing a few extra seeds elsewhere and hoping for the best.

So perhaps this explains our results. By showing less interest in other women, men in relationships are attempting to recommend (disguise perhaps?) themselves as faithful long-term partners. But once he’s bagged his belle, a bloke is much more likely to go chasing a few flings.

Our study also threw up a few more interesting nuggets:

If you’re concerned by the inordinate amount of time your current squeeze spends embellishing their profile page on MySpace, fear not. ‘Pimping’ your MySpace – changing the layout, colours and fonts of your profile – has no discernible effect on the amount of attention you receive from the opposite sex. So fellas, you can pimp to your hearts’ content but it won’t win you any admirers.

The Null also found a much higher number of men than women listing themselves as unattached. Clearly if the online community represents a true cross section of the population, this can’t be the case. One possibility is that men are fibbing about their relationship statuses to help them charm the cyber chicks.

The take home message then, is that relationships - wherever you conduct them - are complicated. The internet is just another place for guys and girls to get together. But let’s not forget: infidelity is infidelity wherever you do it, and lies roll off the keyboard far more easily than they do off the tongue.

If you want to check our facts and figures we've uploaded a pseudo-paper here - it's a bit dry so only go for it if you're feeling brave!

More Null research:

Women show their dark side
The solution to global warming
Why toast falls butter side down
The ultimate tea-time dunker

Some other useful bits and bobs:
Want to join the online community? Try MySpace or Facebook, and keep checking back at the Null - our new community pages will be up and running very soon.  Read more about the evolution of sex and sexual strategies in Matt Ridley's fantastic book The Red Queen.

Image: Marta Rostek
Your Say:

Hmmm, interesting. There are a few questions I'd like to pose...
  1. Are there less married men identified on myspace because the married ones are dreaming of/fibbing about being single or are they so busy, working all the hours of the day and night to feed the family, that they have no time for myspacing?
  2. Do the "married" myspace men get more women on their friends lists because women feel they will be less creepy? They are essentially as good as gay and so can be classed as mates and not potential cybernetic perverts. I would imagine married myspace men get accepted as friends by women far more easily than single men...unless the photos/blurb of the singles is particularly attractive!!
Kay, location unknown

More stories from the Null

Guilt Edged Science
  Geek Pop '08 Festival
Top Ten Made In Britain
  Top Five Narcoleptic Dogs

Return to the top »

Share this

Bookmark this article at Digg Bookmark this article at Bookmark this article at Slashdot Bookmark this article at StumbleUpon Email this article to a friend

Have Your Say:

Share your opinion:




Register with The Null
14 Aug 2010
Website by Forward Slash Media and Bristol Developers