The Dating Game: Intrasexual Competition at its Worst

So I was reading an article about a study undertaken by one of the profs at my alma mater, the University of Ottawa.  The study was in regards to “Intrasexual Competition”.  What is that you ask? Well, essentially it’s when women compete against other women and men compete, sometimes aggressively, against other men for their ideal partner of choice.  Males usually use direct aggression while females use indirect.   The process favors the strongest, most competent, adversaries leaving the inadequate lonely and alone.  This might be something you’re familiar with from watching those animal documentaries where the males fight to become the alphas that the females want … wait, are we still talking about the animal kingdom here? I guess we aren’t really that different than other animals are we?!  So, back to that study.  This research focused on “intrasexual competition” among women, not men. But it is worth discussing what men do in comparison.  So what were the findings? Let’s discuss!

Intrasexual Competition: Direct versus Indirect Aggression

Direct Aggression is just how it sounds.  It’s competing physically against another person in order to win the prize.  This usually takes the form of fighting or some sort of crazy macho display of manliness like those big loud cars or a duel of some sort.  That’s how men show their dominance and women eat it up like it’s the last crumb of their favorite cake.  Me included.  It’s ingrained in us.  It’s our primal instincts.  Women inherently want the man who will be the leader of the pack, the alpha male.  These days those men are few and far between and they are usually not the ones who want to be the family man.  The ones who do want to settle down are not usually alphas unfortunately.  So that leaves us with a dilemma.  Do you go against your natural instincts, your primal instincts, and settle for second best? But, are they really second best? Perhaps things have changed, I don’t know.

intrasexual-competitionOK what about Indirect Aggression?  This is where the study paper “Do human females use indirect aggression as an intrasexual competition strategy?” looked at women competing for men and dirty tricks they pulled to get the man they want.  The author found that “human females have a particular proclivity for using indirect aggression, which is typically directed at other females, especially attractive and sexually available females, in the context of intrasexual competition for mates.Interesting.  This includes not only enhancing their physical and sexual attributes to be attractive but it ALSO includes being catty and putting down other women, or their competition, by spreading rumors and just being plain nasty.

According to the paper, women are hardwired to eliminate the competition the best way we know how, with our gift of gab.  These women are also statistically more successful at landing the men they want.  The author states that “girls who use indirect aggression are more likely to date early. They have more boyfriends. They have sexual intercourse earlier in life. They even live longer. And women who are attacked in this way are less likely to date or compete. They are also more depressed, more anxious, suffer low self-esteem, and even more suicidal.” Wow! So there you go.  What was that book that was so popular a while back? Oh yes, “Why Men Love Bitches“.  I guess there is some evolutionary truth to it after all!

What This Means For Your Dating Life

Well it means that we can’t deny that our primal instincts play an integral part in our dating life.  It’s just who we are and we need to be aware of it.  However, we don’t have to let it take over.  We still have our logic, common sense and free will to choose the right path for us.  Dating really is a game and you need to know how to play the game in order to win.  How do you play? Well, by putting your best foot forward at all times (nothing wrong with primping and fluffing your feathers) and being true to yourself.  Just like any game you can’t cheat or play dirty.  Remember, there’s always karma.  You want to be successful then be smart about your dating choices, don’t give “it” up too early, don’t be over eager and don’t overshare.  Be open and honest at all times about your intentions and expectations.  There you go, not so hard.

Does that go against who we really are inside? Well, I think we don’t have to be aggressors in order to get what we want.  We need to be assertive.  That’s something completely different.  Assertiveness is being able to state your wants and desires and not settling for less, being able to say no and walk away without worrying about what others think, be proud of who you are and be true to you.  Put out positivity to the world and that’s the reward you’ll get back.  Plain.  Simple.  In the mean time, go get ’em tiger!

What do you think dear readers? Have you be party to some intrasexual competition? What did you do? How did you react?  Do you agree or disagree with the study? I would love to hear about it in the comments! 

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva


  1. I’ve never been a part of intrasexual competition as I have just been myself and that has usually worked. I do agree you have to be assertive or else you won’t get anywhere, you just have to be true to yourself.


  2. Interesting study. As you say, every woman has a choice as to how she can live her life. Your fate is what you make! One would have hoped that the women’s movement would have brought women together, but it seems to have done just the opposite (or maybe it’s always been this way).


  3. LOL! This is amazing! A scientific look at why women scratch and claw at each other. I never knew the why, but I guess this all makes sense now. Good-looking and confident women are at the top of the food chain because they bring down all of their competition. Hilarious! I’ve got to discuss this on my show.


  4. Ok Suzie A., I love your insights and you write beautifully. I’ve just read several article’s of yours in a row I have to ask you to Keep Writing; you’re great! Now to comment on this write up, it’s a real issue, especially among women and teenage girls. I have an 18 year old and the term “mean girls” is a real term and for a good reason. Where men are concerned, they have that cave man genetic mentality, the strongest, the fittest, check buck up and all of that. Where women are more, well, back stabbing bitches. I’m just sayin’. But I digress, back to your question. . . I do agree with the study actually, “women are hardwired to eliminate the competition the best way we know how, with our gift of gab.” And I would add also the gift of manipulations within that gab. I’m just sayin’.


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