Poaching, promiscuity, and deceit: Combatting mating rivalry in same-sex friendships


  • Portions of this article were presented at the 10th annual convention of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society in Davis, California, June 1998. The authors thank Annie Banh, Christine Garver, Shifteh Houshidari, Robin Landers, Yen-Chi Le, Dee Posey, Hillary Procknow, and Ahlelie Valencia for help with data collection and data entry, and the members of the Evolutionary Psychology Research Group at Florida Atlantic University for help with data collection. David Buss, Barry Friedman, and Martie Haselton provided helpful comments on previous drafts of this article.

should be addressed to April L. Bleske, who is now at Vanderbilt University, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Box 512 Peabody Station, Nashville, TN 37203. april.bleske@vanderbilt.edu.


If humans faced recurrently over evolutionary history the adaptive problem of competition with same-sex friends for mates, they may have evolved psychological mechanisms designed to prevent and combat mating rivalry with same-sex friends. Four studies were conducted to test hypotheses about the design of these mechanisms. In Studies 1 and 2 (N= 406 and N= 342, respectively) we found that, as predicted, people experience more upset in response to imagined rivalry from a friend than from a stranger. In Study 3 (N= 455), in which a between-subjects design was utilized, we found that women's, but not men's, willingness to become friends with a member of the same sex is lower when the person is described as sexually promiscuous. In Study 4 (N= 169) we found that people report being deceived by friends about mating rivalry more often than they themselves report engaging in deceit about rivalry, and women more than men deceive each other about how sexually experienced and promiscuous they are. Discussion addresses implications of the findings and the use of an evolutionary approach for understanding conflict in same-sex friendship.