Stealing Someone Else's Partner Doesn't Work. Here's Why

Contributing writer By Charlotte Lieberman
Contributing writer
Charlotte Lieberman is a New York-based journalist who received a bachelor's degree in English from Harvard University. Her articles have been featured in The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Guernica,, and BOMB among other publications.

"How did you meet?" is a common, and often quite revealing, question that most couples get asked at some point or another.

Answers run the gamut from "online" to "through friends." But one of the most common ways couples get together, according to a recent estimate, is through so-called "mate poaching."

It is what it sounds like: one person swoops in and poaches their love interest away from their previous partner. This phenomenon may sound more innocuous than the word "poaching" might suggest, but mate poaching isn't without its consequences.

A new study in the Journal of Research In Personality reveals that partnerships that result from mate poaching are not the healthiest relationships. In fact, study participants who left their previous partner for a new person reported feeling "less committed, less satisfied and less invested in their relationships," as articulated by the authors.

In the first part of the study, involving 138 heterosexual participants who were followed for up to 36 months, men and women who were "poached" reported cheating more, feeling increased levels of dissatisfaction and dwindling commitment. A second sample group, comprised of fewer participants, confirmed these results.

As the publication name suggests, this study is one concerning personality. Those who leave one relationship for another may exhibit a set of personality traits that make them predisposed to "poaching" or being "poached" — to pursue someone in a committed relationship, or to leave a committed relationship for what is an arguably riskier alternative. According to the study, some of these traits include lower empathy and narcissism.

This makes sense, intuitively. That said, the conclusions drawn by the authors are indeed general: the samples were made up of all heterosexual participants, indicating that a sweeping conclusion cannot yet be made about all relationships resulting from mate poaching.

The researchers themselves have admitted to the need for further research. We will be awaiting their upcoming findings and conclusions!

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