Home > Man Law > Guest Post – A Fish Called Trinie: Why Evolutionary Psychology Tells Us That Wingwomen Work Better Than Wingmen by Pete Waters

Guest Post – A Fish Called Trinie: Why Evolutionary Psychology Tells Us That Wingwomen Work Better Than Wingmen by Pete Waters

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A Fish Called Trinie:  Why Evolutionary Psychology Tells Us That Wingwomen Work Better Than Wingmen by Pete Waters of AskRomeo.com

I’ve read the recent UML posts from Trinie Le Blanc and Alex Cross with interest, and with no disrespect to my bro Alex, I have to agree with Trinie on this one.  Here’s why.

While Alex scores some solid comments here (which I think is the appropriate metaphor here), in my opinion Ms. Le Blanc still wins on points.  Here are my thoughts on Alex’s comments, based on a point-by-point discussion of his article.

1. The one thing that no… well very, very, few wingwomen can do, is fall on a grenade.”

Jessica Biel "Stealth"

"Trust Me, bro, she digs you. I'll go chat her up, then you can follow me in."

The implicit assumption here is that two guys (Lead and Wingman) are “engaging” two targets (chicks).  First off, this implies from the start a semi-adverserial relationship which we’d probably be better off dispensing with to start.   While a woman’s friend does deserve to be paid attention to, if only out of common courtesy, if she can see that her friend likes you and she approves of you (i.e. you have shown her that you are worthy of her friend), there will be no “grenade” to fall on. She will willingly excuse herself to go to the bathroom or get another drink (which may or may not even be empty). There is no need for “us” versus “them” thinking and therefore no need for tactics to somehow disarm obstacles that stand in the way of her affection. Especially not her friends. “Give, rather than get” is our philosophy at AskRomeo.  Second, while a Wingwoman is obviously lacking the motivation (and, most likely, the equipment), to “fall on the grenade” and engage the Friend, if a Lead and his Wingwoman enter a group of several women (more than two; at least three, and six is not unreasonable), or a group women and men, then “keeping the friend happy” is a non-issue, because the Friend can fall back to the rest of the group for company. This is the most common occurrence anyway.   It’s rare for girls go out in two’s, and for just this reason.

2.  “The problem is this, and I’m just going to put it out there, guys really have a hard time legitimately being friends with women we find attractive.” I semi-concur with this, also known as the “When Harry Met Sally” Principle:

Harry: … no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.

Sally: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?

Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail them too.

(This line of dialogue got a lot of discussion in the popular press in 1989 when the movie came out, mostly in the form of women asking, “Do men really think that?”  The general answer was… yes.)

However, notwithstanding that, there are some women that I simply won’t go after… Mostly married female friends, wives of my guy friends, girlfriends of my guy friends, and (insert hillbilly joke here) women I’m related to by blood or marriage.  That’s actually, for most guys, a reasonably-sized pool of women.  (And if that’s not that case for a particular guy, then it might be worth that guy’s time to start shifting at least some of his efforts from searching for girlfriends and/or hookups and just work on enlarging his circle of female friends… More on that below. )

3.  “…women can be incredibly competitive, so your 7.9 “wingwoman” is not going to set you up with the 9.3 supermodel, it just doesn’t happen. They’ll gladly set you up with someone of their own perceived hotness level or lower, but if the “wingwoman” is really that hot, I refer back to argument #2…” I can see the idea behind your thinking, but I disagree.  If she knows that it is just not going to happen between the two of you (based on my number 2 above), she has no reason to compete.  If she’s your buddy’s wife/girlfriend or your sister-in-law, that’s just not going to be an issue. She’s settled in her relationship and you’re in her Friend Zone.  (Unless the three of you — you + her + her guy – are into something kinky, and in that case, what are you doing out in a bar with her, vice indoors somewhere?  But I digress).

Granted, women constantly compare themselves to each other, but if you and your platonic Wingwoman are being AUTHENTIC with each other, then just make a deal:  if I’m not attracted to the girl you’re pointing out, that’s it, move on.  We’ve all heard David D’s phrase, “Attraction is not a choice.”  You and your Wingwoman have to acknowledge that.

Another thing that one of our coaches, Allen, always mentions is that levels of attraction are completely subjective.  A woman who is my perfect 10 may not be anywhere close to that for someone else.  Given, there are common factors which make a woman attractive, but the minute differences within those common factors can cause a woman’s perceived attractiveness to vary drastically for different men, and even more so between a man and a woman.  So while you may believe a woman is more attractive than your Wingwoman, there is no guarantee that the Wingwoman will feel the same way.

Of course, implied in all this is that the Wingman / Wingwoman relationship can be symbiotic.  After all, in the case where she is available and the two of you actually are platonic friends (which actually IS possible), she might see a guy whom she wishes would come over and start a conversation, and if she’s not the type of girl who’s comfortable with Coming On Strong (many aren’t), then you, as a guy, can strike up a convo with that guy and allow her to ease her way in.  Sure, that guy might eventually strike up a conversation with her on his own anyway (and if she’s a smart girl who expects men to act like men and take the lead, she’ll want him to), but the smart girl stacks the deck in her favor.

“Is the speargun symbolic of anything? Well, now that you mention it…”

The Most Important Attractor – Now Proven by Real Scientists!

And speaking of stacking the deck in one’s favor…   The real reason that the whole idea of using a Wingwoman is WAY superior to using a Wingman is due to the one of the most powerful signs of High-Status Male, to which women are almost always attracted (see my previous article for UML).  AskRomeo’s approach to dating says that there are Four Characteristics of a High-Status Male that women find attractive:

1.  Protector of Loved Ones

2.  Leader of Men

3.  Ability to Emote

and the most important one:

4.  Pre-selected by Other Women

I discussed the first two in my first article for UML.  However, it’s number 4 that really counts the most… we list the most powerful factor last.

Consider the following.  Under which of the following scenarios would a woman find a guy the most attractive?

1.   He walks into a bar alone.

2.  He walks into a bar with another guy, clearly his buddy.

3.  He walks into a bar with two other guys, clearly his buddies.

4.  He walks into a bar with a girl.

5.  He walks into a bar with two girls.

6.  He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously (based on, say, body language) his girlfriend.

7.  He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously his girlfriend, and she’s hot.

8.  He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously his girlfriend, and she’s hot, plus another girl who appears to be the girlfriend’s friend.

9 .  He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously his hot girlfriend, plus another girl who appears to be the girlfriend’s friend, and the friend is also hot.

10.  He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously his hot girlfriend, plus other girls who appear to be the girlfriend’s friends, and some of the friends are hot.

11. He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously his hot girlfriend, plus other girls who appear to be the girlfriend’s friends, and all of the friends are hot.

12. He walks into a bar with a girl who is obviously his hot girlfriend, plus other girls who appear to be the girlfriend’s friends, and all the girls (including his girlfriend) are super-hot and are wearing the uniforms of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders.

I don’t think you need to be an evolutionary psychologist to figure out that I have deliberately listed the above scenarios ranked in order of increasing degrees of how much the Typical-Woman-in-Bar will be attracted to The Guy:

1.  In the first scenario, Guy By Himself, Typical-Woman-in-Bar will think:  (a) Best Case:  he’s meeting someone who hasn’t arrived yet; (b) Medium Case:  he’s socially inept and can’t get his buddies to hang out with him tonight; (c) Worst Case: he has no friends so he has to go out by himself: or (d) Call 911 Case:  he’s a serial killer looking for his next victim.

2.  In the Last Scenario, Guy Surrounded by Redskinettes, Typical-Woman-in-Bar will ask herself “Who is that guy and what is his mojo?  I have got to find out.”

Well, while it turns out that you don’t need to be an evolutionary psychologist to figure this out, it does help, because some evolutionary psychologists actually have used our tax dollars to study this.  (Science we can use – yeah!)  Head-shrinkers Jessica L. Yorzinski and  Michael L. Platt of the University of California, Davis published a scholarly paper discussing this phenomenon (available here in its unadulterated scientific-journal form and here in more pop-sciencey versions).  They presented to a group of 30 male and 30 female experimental participants (all red-blooded heterosexual undergrads) multiple pictures of couples (i.e. each picture showed a guy and a girl) and told the participants that “the people in each photograph were engaged in a long-term romantic relationship but their relationship ended.”   They then asked the participants of the experiment to rate the relative attractiveness of the opposite-sex people in the photos, and whether and how much they would be interested in dating the guy or girl in the picture.  Next,

…the participants then indicated their willingness to engage in a long-term relationship with each potential mate. We found that both men and women expressed more interest in engaging in a relationship with a potential mate if that mate was [previously] paired with an attractive partner.”

Or, in plain English, a girl would be more attracted to a guy whose ex-girlfriend was hot than to a guy whose ex-girlfriend was not.


“We found that men and women differed slightly in their mate-choice copying behavior. Women showed an overall greater reliance on the decisions of same-sex partners than did men, although both were influenced by partner attractiveness. This pattern was especially prominent when the attractiveness of the same-sex partner was low: women were less interested in engaging in a long-term relationship with the mate while men’s interest in the mate was not different from their initial evaluations.”

In other words, it makes more difference to a woman that the guy’s ex-girlfriend was hot than it does to a guy that her ex-boyfriend was hot.  This is particularly true if the guy’s ex was not attractive… For women, the negative effect of a guy having an unattractive ex-girlfriend was greater than the positive effect of a guy having a hot ex-girlfriend.

I could write an entire article on what this study says about the “guys care more about looks than women” stereotype… and in fact, I’ve been promising Ethan that article for a while now.  But for now, let’s put this in biological perspective:

Because females are generally more selective in their choice of mates compared to men (due to differential parental investment), they may be more skeptical of mates [who were previously] paired with unattractive partners while males may have a high baseline interest in all potential mates.

Or, chicks are predisposed to be more careful who they mate with, because the consequences of pregnancy are so great for them, while guys will, in the words of Harry, nail just about anybody.

Okay, we all already knew all that, but now we know why!

(In a further scientific study seeking to prove the obvious, and hopefully funded with even more tax dollars, Ethan and I will endeavor to prove that fire is hot and that water is wet.)

Troy McClure, Call Your Agent

The experiment conducted by Yorzinski and Platt of UC Davis obviously involved humans (well, undergrads, but that’s close enough).  However, the “preselected by other females” effect that usually allows a male to get more Tang than a space shuttle astronaut actually exists throughout the entire animal kingdom.  Yorzinski and Platt further state that

Overall, our results also align with previous studies on mate-choice copying in non-human animals. Females of species from diverse taxonomic groups change their mating decisions based upon the mating choices of other females.

In fact, this effect has even been shown to exist in fish.

“Hey there sexy… The way the other mermaids are hanging around you, I’m thinking you must have the biggest pocket protector in school.”

Fish, like any critter on dry land or not, are genetically predisposed to mate with potential partners who appear to have the best genes, in order to give the offspring the best chance of surviving.  In the case of the sailfin molly from the Comal River in Texas, when it comes to mating, the males may pursue, but the females of the species get to do the choosing (just as they do in most bars, barbecues, and sorority houses in Texas, and pretty much every venue everywhere else on Earth).

However, animal behaviorists (who obviously need to spend more time out of the lab) have observed that female sailfin mollies tend to spend more time swimming around big healthy male sailfin mollies than small runty ones.  In other words, all other things being equal, in their quest for males with the best genes, they naturally tend to flirt with big healthy jocks more than with pint-sized nerds.

So, scientists being what they are, two researchers named Klaudia Witte and Bianka Moltemeier from Universität Bielefeld (Bielefeld University) in Germany decided to make all other things unequal and screw with the tiny brains of some sailfin mollies.  The following is quoted from my Psych 101 textbook, page 361:

Under most circumstances, the female sailfin mollies from the Comal River in Texas show a mating preference for larger males.  However, what happens when a female sailfin molly observes another female showing a preference for a smaller male?  To answer this question, researchers arranged a set of tanks so that female sailfin mollies swam in a large tank that had two smaller tanks at each end [separated by glass]…  In the initial phase of the experiment, a large and small male fish were put in small tanks at either end…  The females spent considerably more time swimming in proximity to the larger male.  In the second phase of the experiment, a second female was placed in another small tank so that she appeared to be swimming near the smaller of the two males.  The original female had 20 minutes to observe the second female fraternizing with the smaller male.  In the final phase of the experiment, the experimenters removed the second female and again observed the original female’s preferences… In the second preference test the pattern had largely reversed.   The female sailfin mollies were now spending most of their time swimming near the smaller males.”

Or, in other words: female-validated mojo counts for more than muscles and good genes. This applies all the way down the food chain to, at least, fish.  It certainly applies to humans. In other words, the best way for a stereotypical nerd to take the cheerleader away from the captain of the football team is to have accepted by, and by implication “pre-selected by”,  numerous female friends. We can further extend this concept thus:

Being pre-selected by other women – especially hot other-women – carries more status and more attraction mojo than looks, muscles, clothes, cars, money, or a bank account.   (This is one of AskRomeo’s most powerful Rules of Attraction.)

Of course, having those things – looks, money, muscles – might also help a guy get pre-selected by other women in the first place(there are plenty of golddiggers out there)… but they are not pre-requisites.  A dude who walks into a room surrounded by a pack of vixens will “socially outrank” a guy who just has money or looks.  Women are genetically wired to respond to pre-selection.  It’s the most powerful of all Attraction Mechanisms.

So, to bring the whole discussion full circle… Trinie, you can wing me anytime.  I’ll return the favor, sweetie.

  1. 5. Willingness to Walk Away
    October 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Great article as always, Pete. Thanks. This made my night 🙂

  2. Coleman Osborne
    October 11, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Great article Pete. Alot of good stuff. Keep it up.

  3. Trinie
    October 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I’m ready anytime, baby! 😉

  4. Beachbum84
    October 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I have a question about the Harry met Sally scenerio. I recently was seeing a woman who was married and had her husband cheat on her. I met her thru work and got to know her and her husband well. She and I started talking and she came onto me and of course things escalated to coffee here and lunch there then to sex. Recently she decided to work things out with her husband and just become friends. Now she doesn’t return any txts or calls. (So after that long story) My question is: can you have a Sally met Harry situation? Can a woman not be friends with someone after sex? U could also blame a sense of guilt here but honestly I don’t think that was the reason. Please advise.


  5. October 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Beachbum — I’ve never been in this precise situation, but I do know this… I always try to stay on friendly terms with ex’s. No hidden agenda, I just hate the immaturity of the common “I now can’t stand my ex” scenario. Sometimes I can do this, and we might stay in touch for years… Calls on birthdays and whatnot. Then, and frequently after she settles down with another guy, the calls stop getting returned. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed.
    My theory is that either she, or maybe he, gets a little weirded out by having an ex-boyfriend call. Like it or not, most people DON’T stay friends with their ex’s, so trying to stay in touch is considered weird, and “secret agenda” is either assumed or just “not ruled out”. So the annual birthday calls and the like fall away.
    In your case, the sex occurred pretty much in the middle of her relationship with her husband / maybe-soon-to-be-ex-husband / husband-again. Also remember that for women, SEX IS A BIG DEAL. The last part of the Harry-met-Sally quote reminds us that guys are always “ready” and to some extent, for us it ISN’T a big deal… “We want to nail them too”.
    But remember that the sexual behavior for both men and women is wired DEEP down, below the level of conscious thought. Because of that, our “sex brains” are “not smart enough” to recognize the existence of contraception. Thus, for women especially, to her instincts, sex equals pregnancy, or at least the possibility thereof. And because the consequences of pregnancy are so great (especially in the tribal societies in which this subconscious belief was forged), women are generally VERY CAREFUL who they sleep with. (Yes, exceptions exist — some modern women get behavior-modified, the way bungee-jumper eventually lose their instinctive fear of heights… but that’s the overall trend.)
    The upshot for you is that in your case, consciously or not, she may have been subconsciously evaluating you as husband or father-of-her-children material. That’s pretty heavy stuff. Now that she’s back with her husband, having the two of you in her life — when viewed from this perspective — is probably more than she can handle.
    This, I believe, is what does in fact make it much harder, in general, for a woman to remain friends with a guy after sex. Guys can tell themselves “it was no big deal”, and for them it was true, but for most women, it WAS a big deal.
    And also, and much more simply, maybe she just doesn’t want her husband to find that you guys did the Wild Thing (assuming that he doesn’t know already, which he might).
    So (and bearing in mind that I’m a dating coach, not a psychologist or psychiatrist, and all I know about this situation is what you’ve written above), I would recommend, since she’s not returning your calls, that you move on. (This is one of those times that “lack of communication” actually sends a message.) Some very primal, elemental emotions may have been let loose here, and it appears unlikely from what you’ve said that you’ll ever be able to put them back in the bottle.
    Sorry bro, but that’s how it looks from here. Good luck!

  6. Beachbum84
    October 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Yes I give full permission for this to be piblished

  7. DJ Long
    October 16, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Great article and validation to my own beliefs and time tested proofs. There are times and places where a male wingman/wingmen is most suitable. But, having a wingwoman as the “ready alert” to swoop in and save the opportunity. In high school, and even now, I find that women circle closer to me because they see I have positive relationships with my sisters, female cousins and long time female friends (many of whom are attractive). In high school, many guys were jealous of my ability to have attractive female friends and those friends would cause other girls to become attracted to me along with my female friends “helping” me meet other females. Life is about options and having alternate means to acheive similar results.

  8. October 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I get so mad when I find out that my one of my ex’s is dating a girl that is homely. ERRRRRRR.

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