THIRTY-one-year-old Brenda, a Spanish Town cosmetologist, said she has never been involved with a single man. “Why get involved with a man who is likely to take set on you?” she justified, explaining that she agrees with the theory offered by experts like Psychologist Dr Leachim Semaj, who believes these women want the perks of a relationship without the added responsibilities.
Dr Semaj said single women often find married men or men who are involved in stable relationships more attractive, as they do not want the responsibility that goes with being a wife.
“Wife is a management post, she doesn’t want the responsibility of that,” Dr Semaj said. “So there are many women who want the relationship but they don’t want to be the wife. They want the economic support and the emotional support, but without the responsibilities, so they will easily — and often and eagerly — facilitate an outside relationship with a married man.”
“I have always been involved with married men,” Brenda said, almost proudly. “Right now I have been involved with my man for almost two years and he takes care of me. I am not the ironing clothes and washing clothes type, and if I go home and don’t feel like cooking, I don’t cook. He has his wife who does all of that and I am quite alright with that. I make sure to tell him, ‘don’t leave your wife for me’.”
She said single men want women to do too much for them, and that’s not her style.
And Dr Semaj said this is true of a large number of Jamaican single women.
“I have told young men who play hide and seek in relationships that the fact that they are married actually makes them even more attractive to other women,” Dr Semaj said. “You don’t have to tell the women — the majority of Jamaican women — you don’t have to tell them that you are single to get access to them. The idea of a married man is attractive to them, because they want the relationship, they want the involvement, but without the responsibility of being a wife.”
In Who’s chasing whom? The impact of gender and relationship status on mate poaching — research carried in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, based on the Master’s thesis of Jessica Parker of Oklahoma State University’s Department of Psychology — the conclusion was that single women were more interested in pursuing men who were less available to them.
“A commonly heard complaint among women is that ‘all the good men are taken’, but is it possible that this perception is really based on the fact that taken men are perceived as good?” the report said. “...The attached man has demonstrated his ability to commit and in some ways his qualities have already been pre-screened by another woman.”
Thus if the man is married or in a stable relationship, he is more attractive to others, because he was attractive enough to the woman who dated and wed him.
In fact, Brenda said she had always admired her man’s wife, as she realised that he knew how to treat a woman based on his treatment of the wife.
“He would sit up at nights with the baby and allow her to sleep... things like that,” she said. “I thought that was sweet.”
“Not every woman is running down a ring,” Dr Semaj said.
And, explained 39-year-old Curtis A, the reason women make this choice may have even more sinister overtones.
“Once upon a time, no matter how I approached a girl she just would not give me any talk,” he said. “And I know I am not bad looking. The funny thing is that they were always asking if I have a woman and when I told them no, they asked why, and asked if I beat women or something bad.”
Curtis said even after telling them he really was an affectionate guy, they didn’t seem interested. But after he got involved with a woman and started a steady relationship, the women came calling.
“I loved my girl so I never disowned her,” he said. “Whenever they ask I will tell them yes I have a girlfriend, and that’s the time when it seems like they want to take talk from me.”