Dating, like politics, is a blood sport. It is not for the faint of heart. Scholars have long known that dating involves competition. Women prefer men with status, so males compete for status in a wide variety of ways. Men show off their wealth, engage in dominance displays (including physical fights), spending hours at the gym working on their upper bodies (upper body strength has been linked to status across a variety of studies), and men jockey for attention by being loud, assertive, and domineering. Achieving status is important for men. It increases their chances of finding the best mate. Of course, men while competing with other men, also have to treat women with love, respect and understanding.
New research shows that women also compete with each other, but in less aggressive ways. When picking a partner, men prefer youth and beauty, not status. So, women don’t engage in status competition, but they engage in beauty wars. This new research shows that women are more likely to engage in competition by belittling or putting down each other. Women gossip, point out flaws, and engage in disparaging comments about their competitors.
The main point of this new line of research – both men and women engage in intrasexual competition (they compete for mates), but they just do it in different ways.
A link to a New York Times articles about this latest research.