Jan. 12, 2011 at 2:25 PM ET
If you're a lady who just got dumped -- cheer up. It'll win you some points with your next boyfriend, suggests a recent study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.
Learning that a woman kicked her last guy to the curb seemed to make men nervous, the study suggests. But women preferred it when the guy was the one to break up his previous relationship.
The study's lead author, Christine Stanik, speculates that "a man’s willingness to end an ongoing relationship in hopes of finding someone better might be interpreted by women as a sign of status." Stanik received her Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of Michigan, where she conducted the research, and she's currently a post-doctoral researcher at Penn State University
In the study, participants logged on to a fictional online dating site, browsed through fake profiles and ranked how much they'd like to date the (fake) person. After slogging through bunch of trivial information (such as favorite ice cream and favorite color), they reached the kicker: "My last relationship ended because ..." Each of the profiles showed one of three answers: either the person was the dumper, got dumped themselves or chose not to respond to the question. The report drew its research from 198 participants, 102 women and 96 men, whose average age was about 19. Most of the participants -- 75 percent -- were white, and all were heterosexual.
"The sex difference is that women found a man more attractive after learning he had dumped his last partner; however, men found a woman less attractive after finding out the same information," Stanik says. (And sneakiness doesn't help matters: Refusing to answer the question lost points, too.)
"A man taking a dominant role in his romantic relationships may also be seen as more consistent with traditional gender roles," she continues. "A dominant woman may be less acceptable for this reason, or men may just view her as picky or demanding."