Nothing Personal, Dad: Your Daughter's Not Calling Because She's Fertile

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals

fertile women

Sorry, Pops, but right now she's definitely not thinking about dear old dad. Credit: Stockbyte, Getty Images

When a woman is, ya know, fertile, she wants a guy like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp standing by.

Right, ladies? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more. Say no more.

However, the last guy she wants around is her old coot of a father. That's just icky.

Psychologists have already established how women appreciate manly faces, masculine voices and a certain amount of macho swagger when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest.

It makes sense from a Darwinian perspective.

Now, a study out of the University of Miami says that's all true, except when the manly face and masculine voice belongs to the woman's father. Fertile women apparently avoid their dads like the plague. Literally.

That also makes sense in terms of evolution. Our ancestors developed an instinct against inbreeding so as not to muddy up the gene pool.

"Evolutionary biologists have found that females in other species avoid social interactions with male kin during periods of high fertility," Debra Lieberman says in a University of Miami press release. "The behavior has long been explained as a means of avoiding inbreeding and the negative consequences associated with it. But until we conducted our study, nobody knew whether a similar pattern occurred in women."

Researchers looked at the cell phone records of 48 women of reproductive age. They noted all calls with parents over the course of a billing period -- identifying how much time was spent talking to mothers as opposed to fathers.

Naturally, they also tracked each woman's reproductive cycle.

"Women call their dads less frequently on these high-fertility days and they hang up with them sooner if their dads initiate a call," says Martie Haselton, a UCLA associate professor of communication in whose lab the research was conducted, in the press release.

Fertile women were about half as likely to call their fathers as they were the rest of the month. That didn't stop their fathers from calling them, of course. This gave researchers another basis for comparison.

It's all quite logical, Lieberman, an assistant psychology professor, says in the press release.

"In humans, women are only fertile for a short window of time within their menstrual cycle," she says. "Sexual decisions during this time are critical, as they could lead to pregnancy and the long-term commitment of raising a child. For this reason, it makes sense that women would reduce their interactions with male genetic relatives, who are undesirable mates."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.