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Women who feel less desirable than their partners may attempt to compensate for this by investing more in their relationships, according to a new UK study.

Dr Chris Bale of the University of Huddersfield in UK found that how desirable women think their partners are to others can affect how much time and effort they invest in the relationship.

One hundred and ninety two women (aged 18-60 years) completed an online survey on self-esteem and relationship behaviour. Using a series of rating scales they reported how they felt about themselves, their current partner and the things that they did to maintain their relationship.

The results indicated that women who felt more desirable than their partners had higher levels of self-esteem and engaged in less behaviour designed to maintain and enhance their relationships.

However, women with lower levels of self-esteem reported putting more effort into activities designed to prevent their partner from becoming involved with someone else. “These results represent women who feel that they have fewer desirable qualities than their partners attempting to make up for this imbalance by investing more time, effort and economic resources in their relationships,” Bale said.

“However the present research is preliminary and limited in that it surveyed only UK women. Further research should be conducted in a variety of cultures and it would also be interesting to see whether similar results are found in men,” Bale said.

The study was presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Harrogate.

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