Can You Blame Your Taste In Men On Your Period?

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Evolutionary psychology is super en vogue these days, and nothing is sexier than, well, sex. So by now we've seen theories about "how our ancestors would have behaved" offered in explanation of mate choice, sexual promiscuity, childrearing practices, and more. In confirmation of evolutionary psychological theories from the armchair, scientists in recent years seemed to find evidence suggesting that women like different types of men at different times in their menstrual cycles (when they are more or less fertile). Unfortunately, a new meta-study shows that these studies were probably flawed.

Basically, evolutionary psychologists hypothesize that women would basically prefer men of "high genetic quality" during fertile times, even if those relationships were short-term, because that would ensure that their babies received better genes. The rest of their cycle, women might prefer to bond with more "provider"-type men, in the hopes that those men would support them materially in the raising of offspring (which may or may not be biologically the provider guy's).

The recently-released meta-study on female cycles and mate choice, conducted by researchers in the psychology department at the University of Southern California, looked at 58 other studies to determine whether they, taken together, do in fact support the evolutionary hypothesis. Unfortunately, it turns out they don't — the studies reaching this conclusion suffered from methodological problems, like overly broad classifications of women's fertility window. There just isn't much evidence that women do in fact prefer manlier men (e.g. "bad boys") for hookups when they're fertile. Although it was a neat theory, you probably can't blame your poor taste in men on your period after all. You can maybe blame your homicidal urges and strong desire for carbs on that, though.

Don't worry though, there are plenty more adventures in evolutionary psychology to be had! Certain kinds of jaws in humans apparently protect against injuries related to being punched, so perhaps that's why women prefer men with strong jawlines? And even if women's mate choices aren't affected by menstrual cycle alone, there's some reason to believe that hormonal contraceptives do affect mate choice. After all, these contraceptives (like the pill) work by basically making your hormonal levels close to that during pregnancy, and a biochemically pregnant body probably wouldn't be too driven to make good mating choices at that time because it already thinks it's knocked up. And the debate about whether humans are "naturally" monogamous will probably never die, so there are still plenty of opportunities to worry about your life choices and their evolutionary suitability.