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Why Find My Own When I Can Take Yours?: The Quality of Relationships That Arise From Successful Mate Poaching

  • Charlene F. Belu (a1) and Lucia F. O'Sullivan (a1)


Mate poaching occurs when a person attracts another, whom he or she knows is already in an exclusive relationship, into a sexual or romantic relationship. Mate poaching is involved in the evolution of many relationships. Yet, little is known about the quality of these relationships. We examined relationship quality between individuals whose relationships were formed via mate poaching versus not (i.e., a relationship formed serially without overlap with another relationship). We compared ratings of quality from the perspectives of poachers, poached, and co-poached individuals. Adult participants (n = 660) in a romantic relationship responded to questions assessing relationship quality. Those in relationships formed from poaching rated their relationships as lower in relationship satisfaction, commitment and trust, and higher in jealousy, and had higher rates of romantic and sexuality infidelity in their current relationship compared to individuals in non-poached relationships. Those who were poached from an existing relationship rated their current relationship as lower in commitment than did those who poached their current partner into a relationship. The study also provides first insights regarding relationship quality for those who identify as co-poached. We discuss these findings in terms of implications for understanding how relationships are formed and the qualities of those that endure.


Corresponding author

ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE: Charlene Belu, Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 4400, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 5A3. Email:


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