We’ve all experienced manspreading on a train, plane, or bus at one time or another, even if you know it by another name (say, d*bag, for example).
It’s when a gentleman sits in public transport with legs apart to take up more than one seat to himself, simultaneously diminishing your personal space and crushing your legs in the process. And it’s not just men – women have also been accused of she-bagging, taking up adjacent seats with carrier bags or purses.
Even on a short subway ride, things can get uncomfortable, annoying and downright infuriating. Quickly. So how would you feel about going on a date with one of the offending space invaders?
While we may not appreciate it in real life, a recent study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that when it comes to having an expansive posture in profile pictures, those guilty of man- and woman-spreading on apps like Tinder are actually twice as likely to be rated as attractive by other users.
According to the lead study author, Tanya Vachurkulksemsuk, who studies human behaviour, having the right body language – deemed to be one in which the individual enlarged the amount of space they were taking up instead of making themselves small by keeping arms and legs close to the torso – could boost your chances of online dating success.
Through a series of experiments involving pictures, speed-dating, and a Tinder-like app, those questioned found both genders more attractive when they adopted a confident pose with a dominant and expansive stance. Open posture on speed dates doubled the chances of getting a yes from other participants, while the 853 people shown photos also responded more positively to it.
Oh dear. Science may say that woman/man spreading is attractive, but I’m here to tell you that science is wrong. F**king wrong. At least I hope it is.
Surely we’ve progressed from cave people? And yet all this smacks of men hitting women over the head with their clubs (or iPhones) and dragging them back home, where they can spread out and take up three quarters of the cave. True, the study showed it swings both ways for each gender, suggesting that men aren’t looking to meet meek, submissive females. But do we really all need to pervade a sense of “Here I am, legs akimbo” in order to ensnare a partner, or at the very least get ourselves on a date?
To answer in the affirmative would suggest that even after all the sensitive guys pop culture has rammed down our throats over the last few decades, we still prefer alpha males and don’t have time for wallflower types whose still waters may or may not run deep.
If someone tried to catch our eyes by doing jazz-hands, or grinding up against us on the dance-floor would we be impressed? Perhaps a cheesy pickup line and an overt play for your attention at the bar is what’s needed to capture your attention?
No, me neither. So if these cocky and extroverted attempts to woo us don’t work in real life, why on earth are we falling for these thinly veiled attempts to man and woman spread their way into our lives?
That being said, while it might not be the basis for a lasting relationship with someone, in a fast-paced dating environment perhaps we’re just looking for something that stands out and excites us – and, for better or worse, “contractive” or closed body language just doesn’t seem to do it for us, at least in the early stages.
As Vachurkulksemsuk points out, people are swiping very quickly, without stopping to look closely or evaluate deeply who they pick and who they dismiss.
“What are they actually seeing when they look at a profile picture?” she asks. “Here we’ve identified perhaps one cue they are instinctively picking up on, but it can’t be the only thing.”
So while the blink-or-miss-it intensity with which we date may call upon our neanderthal counterparts to make quick, deeply-rooted decisions based on body language for us, this may not work in the long term. If we start dating and find that the manspreading has crept out of their profile picture and into the movie theatre, encroaching on our personal space and sending our popcorn flying, there probably won’t be a date #2.
So my advice is get as loose as you like in your profile picture. But keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times on the first date.