Mate Retention Tactics in Spain: Personality, Sex Differences, and Relationship Status


concerning this article should be addressed to David M. Buss, Department of Psychology, A8000, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712. Email:


ABSTRACT Mate retention is an important problem in romantic relationships because of mate poachers, infidelity, and the risk of outright defection. The current study (N=892) represents the first study of mate retention tactics conducted in Spain. We tested hypotheses about the effects of gender, relationship commitment status, and personality on mate retention tactics. Women and men differed in the use of resource display, appearance enhancement, intrasexual violence, and submission/self-abasement as mate retention tactics. Those in more committed relationships reported higher levels of resource display, appearance enhancement, love, and verbal signals of possession. Those in less committed relationships more often reported intentionally evoking jealousy in their partner as a mate retention tactic. Personality characteristics, particularly Neuroticism and Agreeableness, correlated in coherent ways with mate retention tactics, supporting two evolution-based hypotheses. Discussion focuses on the implications, future research directions, and interdisciplinary syntheses emerging between personality and social psychology and evolutionary psychology.