bffPlanning to ask a cycling woman–such as your BFF or female neighbor, classmate, colleague or bandmate–for a favor that involves her lending or giving you something or that takes up her time?

You may want to avoid making your request while you’re in Week 2 of your monthly cycle (the week leading up to and including ovulation).

Why? If the woman you’re asking also happens to be in Week 2 of her cycle, she’s likely to give you less than you want or turn down your request altogether. And this is especially true if she perceives you as attractive, flirtatious or charming.

That’s the word from a new study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior that found when a woman is in the fertile phase of her cycle, she’s less generous with other women who are also in their fertile phase who she perceives as a potential romantic rival.

You don’t even have to tell the woman you’re requesting a favor from that you’re in your Week 2 for her to know. She’ll actually pick up on it nonconsciously due to high-estrogen clues that show you’re close to ovulation, such as your voice getting clearer and higher, your facial features becoming more symmetrical and the way your body scent changes. And once she detects that, it’s game over for your favor.

This isn’t a deliberate snub, mind you. Truth is, this stinginess is something fertile women don’t even realize they’re doing. The study authors theorize it’s simply part of the competitive drive that automatically comes out in all of us cycling women during our fertile days that makes us want to outshine other fertile women who might get in the way of us landing a new mate we want or who could possibly lure away the mate we currently have.

The researchers go on to explain that by keeping more of our resources–time, money or valuables–for ourselves rather than share them with other Week 2 women during our high-conception days, it ensures that we have enough resources to guarantee a competitive advantage. For example, we’ll have more money for clothing, makeup or jewelry or we’ll have more time to devote to doing our hair or nails to make ourselves more attractive.

Plus, being miserly helps guarantee that the other women remain at a romantic disadvantage because it ensures they won’t have as much as we do to entice a mate.

Again, this is all happening without us actually realizing we’re doing it. It’s just evolution’s sneaky, meddling way of ensuring that we continue the human race by snagging the most eligible partner–even if it means looking pretty tight-fisted to our best friend.

So, what can you do with this information?

If there’s a favor that you really want another woman to grant and you don’t know where she is in her cycle, try to ask for it during the second half of your cycle–your Week 3 and Week 4, which lasts from the day after ovulation to the day before your next period. The same study found that fertile women weren’t stingy to other women who were in this phase of their cycle. That’s because the risk of conception is low on these days, so it doesn’t trigger feelings of competition. Which means that the chances of you hearing a “yes” are significantly higher.

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Gabrielle Lichterman is a longtime women’s health and lifestyle journalist whose articles have appeared in dozens of major magazines and newspapers around the globe including Cosmopolitan, CosmoGIRL, Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Daily News and Woman’s World. Gabrielle began developing Hormonology® and the Hormone Horoscope® in 1999 and has been sharing menstrual cycle-related research and tips through her apps, blog, book, newsletter and magazine articles ever since.

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[Photo: Nick Harris]