What A Man's Hands Could Say About His Dating Style

Photographed By Lauren Perlstein.

The jury is out on whether humans are "meant" to be monogamous, and it's not likely to reach a consensus anytime soon. Some see monogamy as an unrealistic social construct, while others view it as a natural relationship state. Then, there are those who see relationships through gendered lenses and believe men are inclined toward promiscuity, and women toward exclusivity. Assuming a man is more likely to be promiscuous by virtue of his gender, however, is a mistake, observes a new study published in the journal Biology Letters. But, researchers did discover a potential way to predict a man's tendency toward polygamy (defined, in this case, as having multiple sexual partners not necessarily multiple spouses). Look at his ring finger — not to see if there's a wedding band on it, but to assess its length; a long ring finger is one indication that a man prefers playing the field to playing house. The researches concluded that monogamy-inclined and polygamy-inclined profiles exist among both men and women.

To examine how genes and environmental factors influence a person's sex life, the researchers looked at the ratio of index-finger length to ring-finger length in 742 British women and 572 British men. The ratio between the digits is a reliable indicator of prenatal testosterone exposure: The longer the ring finger in relation to the index finger, the higher the exposure. Researchers also evaluated these volunteers using the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory, which measures promiscuity along a spectrum and indicates whether an individual's dating approach skews "short-term"  or "long-term." While the correlation between female ring-finger length and female mating strategy just missed the mark of statistical significance, researchers did establish that men with relatively long ring fingers are more likely to be promiscuous. (Not that you should bust out the measuring tape on your next date.)

The study's main point is that genetics and environment are much more accurate predictors than gender of a person's relationship patterns. Among the men whose finger lengths were measured, 62% displayed a short-term dating style — but, with 50% of women also favoring short-term dating, there were plenty of "promiscuous" people on both sides of the gender aisle. Those percentages don't seem far off when you consider that social factors influence how we date, too. Outside of the lab, men are often rewarded for promiscuous behavior, while women are often expected to be monogamous.

The bottom line: Biology isn't destiny. The fate of your relationships is not determined by the shape of your hands — and this study serves as added confirmation that it's not determined by your gender, either.
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