Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal

Article Title

A Review of Literature on Mate Poaching


Mate poaching is the phenomenon in which an individual expresses an interest in another individual already in an exclusive sexual relationship for the purpose of having a short or long-term sexual relationship with them. This article reviews research on the evolutionary significance of mate poaching, mate retention, and mate guarding, which leads to a discussion on the motivations, costs, and benefits present when engaging in mate poaching behavior. Tactics for those who partake in mate poaching, when it is most successful, and the characteristics of those involved in mate poaching are also reviewed. Recent studies seem to suggest that there are personality differences in the individuals who are successful at mate poaching and the individual that is targeted by the poacher. Not surprisingly, type of relationship is a significant factor that influences how successful mate poaching will be. Furthermore, discussion suggests that emotional and psychological pain can result from mate poaching behavior, therefore coping techniques for those seeking therapy should be developed. Similarly, the danger of contracting and spreading sexually transmitted infections (STI) is an important consideration that is addressed.

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